«I think I’m bringing something new to the table»
Hello Ludwig. Thank you for this interview.
Let’s start with how would you define yourself musically. Because your extensive musical training in all kinds of styles makes us think of a really unique kind of composer…
In these times I think it’s very important to be fluent in every musical language. I define myself as a modern day composer.
Although you have been composing for television for a long time, for really popular TV series, it was surprising to see your name associated with Creed, a film included in the Rocky universe and that in almost all installments, including the last, Rocky Balboa, has featured music by Bill Conti. How did you arrive in the project?
I’ve been collaborating with Creed director and writer Ryan Coogler since we met in college (USC) I started scoring his short films when we where both in our early 20s. I scored his award winning first feature – Fruitvale Station. After that he asked me if I wanted to do a boxing movie, I said yes. I didn’t know it was going to be a part of the biggest boxing movie franchise of our times.
All lists of the best 2015 scores include Creed. Why do you think there has been such a positive reaction to your score? What do you think are the elements that have made your score to stand out from the great production we have enjoyed this 2015?
I think I’m bringing something new to the table. With new I also mean bringing something old back which is very strong melodic themes. Most films today doesn’t have strong melodic themes that you will hum after you leave the theater.
Whats new with my score is that I infuse these big themes with modern style production. I learned a lot of production skills and tricks these last five years producing records.
Never before have we enjoyed such an epic, spectacular and large score by Ludwig Goransson. Does Creed mark a new musical direction in your career?
Definitely, I’ve been waiting 8 years for a chance like this. It’s not easy to get a studio gig when you’re a young composer and I actually thought it would take a little bit longer but I got a shot at it and I was definitely ready.
A grateful respect for the legacy of Bill Conti’s music can definetely be perceived. Not only at a thematic level, but also regarding style, with musical moments that seem taken from the seventies. Is this something that was asked by the director, Ryan Coogler, or you decided that it the best way to approach this score?
I got inspiration from a lot of different places. Why it reminds you of the 70s is that think is has a fusion of jazz and classical which is a big part of my background and musical training. For a teenager today the score sounds like the most contemporary modern score they’ve ever heard.
What did you enjoy most when rescuing these great themes by Bill Conti and this score style from another time?
What I enjoyed the most was the scene towards the end of the movie where I finally use Bill Conti’s Rocky theme and how it blended in so seamlessly with my Creed theme. It sounds like old and new in one piece. I dont consider this blend of score styles sounding old though. Its a fresh and a new sound that I think will make ways for future scores.
The main theme you created for Adonis is powerful, emotive and very consistent with the mythology of the Rocky universe. How did you come to achieve this? What path did you take to get to the point of saying «I’ve got it!»?
I got the trust of the director and he gave me the time I needed to find it. Ryan kept mentioning the word mythological and I thought, how can I make this as big, heroic and romantic all in one theme?
One of the best tracks in Creed is, as named in the album, «If I fight, you fight (Training Montage)». I want to know the cause why this cue does not feature the hip-hop styles and voices we find elsewhere in the film. What is the cause of this change?
But it does! at 00.48-1.00 I have the low 808 bass and voices coming in. Also at 2.50 there’s the hip hop elements coming in again with orchestra on top of it. At 4.35 I have modern day trap drums coming in. It goes along perfectly with the other cues. It’s a medley of all my themes I’ve used in the movie.
What also called my attention was the importance source music has in your composition This music also maintains a thematic consistency with the rest of the score. How do you approach composing this music?
I approached writing Bianca’s songs just like I would with any of the artists I’ve been producing the last years. The only challenging part was that I only had 2 weeks to do it. I also got help from the Bianca actress (Tessa Thompson) who wrote most of the lyrics. Ryan was also giving me direction on what kind of style of music he wanted her to sound like.
We have witnessed for some time film scores focusing more on technique and form than in content. Creed is one of those scores that has «magic», that has real content. What is the secret formula for giving soul to a musical composition?
First of all, you need a director and a film that will allow and encourage the composer to really spread his wings. We never had any temp score in the movie and that made me feel completely free. Second most important thing is that you can’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of failing, you have to experiment to get where you want. You will have to get out of your comfort zone and write something bad first to be able to understand how to make it into something great and amazing.
Ludwig thank you very much for your time. I hope we can again interview you soon thanks to a project as interesting as Creed.
Ludwig Göransson, also known under the stage name Ludovin, is a Swedish composer best known for his work on US TV sitcoms Community, Happy Endings, and New Girl
He composed the score to the critically acclaimed drama Fruitvale Station. The film won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience awards in the Dramatic category at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The same director Ryan Coogler is responsible for Creed, the new film set in the world of Rocky Balboa.