Community: Exclusive Interview with Composer Ludwig Göransson
I wonder to myself why more people haven’t heard of Ludwig Göransson. Not only does he compose for three of...
I wonder to myself why more people haven’t heard of Ludwig Göransson. Not only does he compose for three of US TV’s biggest shows- Community, New Girl and Happy Endings- and films like 30 Minutes or Less and Worst Prom Ever, but he also regularly collaborates with music stars like Childish Gambino and Haim. The music to Community, in particular, is one of its most winning elements, and without Ludwig’s score, it might not be as wonderful a show.
Ludwig’s latest project, the feature film Fruitvale, has stormed Sundance 2013, claimed all the major awards and picked up a distribution deal, and his career is only just beginning. So it was very generous of the rising composer, considering how busy he is, to answer some of my questions on Community and his thoughts on music in general.
What inspired you to get into music?
My parents were always very supportive for me to do music, but it wasn’t until I was 9 and heard Metallica for the first time that I got really inspired to start playing guitar seriously.
Was it a lifelong ambition, or something you fell into later on in life? How exactly did you get into composing for Film & TV?
My first job was as an assistant for the composer Theodore Shapiro (Wet Hot American Summer, Dodgeball, The Devil Wears Prada, Tropic Thunder, The Pirates!) – through him I got my first TV Show, Community, and the rest is history.
Did you actively pursue that over purely recording music?
Yes, that’s why I moved to LA in the first place.
Watching Community and then watching, say, New Girl, it’s very obvious that the former is more driven by music than the latter. Do you find composing for something where less music is required more of a challenge?
On any TV show I would definitely say that less music is easier. It can be different working on movies though.
Have you found there’s a big difference between composing for TV and composing for Film?
Yes, it’s very different. Usually in film, the music cues are much longer then the TV cues. Also, the music is louder mixed because you mix the movie for a better sound system instead of TV speakers. Also because of the length of a movie, it’s much more important to tell a story with the score.
There’s a school of thought that feels music is nothing but background, which I personally disagree with. And there are also those who feel scores to TV shows aren’t that important, which is rubbish- look at Murray Gold’s work on Doctor Who, for example? I suppose what I’m asking you is, how important do you think Music is in Film and TV?
I think it’s as important as the sound.
Are there any composers or musicians out there right now that you really admire? Like, really love?
I love Kurt Rosenwinkel, Keith Jarret and Meshuggah.
What’s your working method, if you have one? Are you the type of musician with a urgent need to create every waking moment, or do you find you don’t really produce anything unless you’re truly inspired?
I don’t really believe that you have to be truly inspired all the time. For where I am in my career right now, I don’t have time to stop and think about if I’m inspired or not. It doesn’t matter because there’s too much to do without questioning yourself. Just sit down and start working.
Can you reveal anything about the music of Community Season 4? Can we expect any new recurrent themes or emotional motifs relating the any characters’ arcs, such as Jeff and his Dad?
It’s going to sound very close to season 3, but totally different from season 1. No new emotional motifs planned, there’s already so many motifs and ideas to play around with.
Apart from Community Season 4, and the new seasons of New Girl and Happy Endings, what’s next for you? Do you have any more film work on the horizon, or perhaps another collaboration with Childish Gambino?
I just finished scoring this new drama feature called Fruitvale (starring Michael B Jordan and Octavia Spencer) which just won the biggest awards at Sundance last week. I also just started on a new comedy feature called We’re The Millers (starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudekis). I’m also in the studio with Childish Gambino right now coming up with new ideas for the new album.
Community Season 4 returns to NBC on February 7. Fruitvale has just been picked up for distribution and will likely be released soon. New Girl season 2 is currently airing in The States.