The Mandalorian Composer Ludwig Goransson On The Surreal Pressure Of Filling John Williams' Shoes
It’s Grammy night in LA, and a man with long brown hair and kind eyes enters from stage left. He’s wearing a white suit – bold choice – with a Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh shirt beneath.
He’s handed the 2019 Song of the Year award for ‘This is America’ as he nears the lectern. But this is not Childish Gambino. It’s Ludwig Göransson, the producer of Gambino’s latest album, and every one of his records that came before it.
Göransson was a trending topic on Twitter the following day. But anyone who clicked on his name found that his partnership with Gambino was just one facet of an unbelievably prolific but young career.
Ahead of The Mandalorian’s November 12 premiere on Disney+ – which today announced its entire launch lineup – we sat down for a chat with the world’s coolest, calmest composer.
GQ: Why did you choose producing and composing over having a solo career?
Ludwig Göransson: I actually wanted to be Kirk Hammett from Metallica – that was my dream. But then I became obsessed with writing and recording my own songs, and the technology that comes with that.
I was able to write a piece for an orchestra and when that was being performed, it was like this divine experience. It changed the direction of the music I wanted to make. I wanted to be able to relive that experience.
Makes sense. You met both Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and Donald Glover after emigrating to LA. How has working with them impacted your sound?
We didn’t just start working together. We became friends first and we hung out a lot and talked a lot. They introduced me to different friends, different cultures, different experiences, and I think my sound is a smash of everything I have experienced.
Did you sense ‘This is America’ was going to resonate the way it did?
Not really. Because we made 80 per cent of the song three years before it came out. I knew it was special; I was a little surprised that Donald put it on the shelf for three years. I was like, “okay, why aren’t you wanting to finish this right away?”
Its cultural impact would have been quite different, had it dropped pre-2018...
Absolutely. He’s always a step ahead of us. He’s a renaissance man.
You’re scoring The Mandalorian. What’s it like entering a cinematic universe that’s been established by someone as legendary as John Williams?
It’s an extreme pressure. A lot of people have very strong opinions about this – you know, Star Wars is like the holy grail of film music.
I’m trying to create something that people won’t expect, but the harmonic language of John Williams’ music is something I want to pay homage to. There’s a lot of pressure but I’m having fun. It’s going to be eclectic.
Speaking of eclectic – let’s talk about your style philosophy. Any favourite designers?
I love Lanvin and Dries Van Noten is always great. Haider Ackerman and also Sies Marjan. I’m about to have my first kid, so I’m all about really comfortable clothes right now, full silk outfits. Ones I can roll out of bed and walk down the street in looking stylish.