Composers Hans Zimmer, Terence Blanchard & Ludwig Göransson

Composers Hans Zimmer, Terence Blanchard & Ludwig Göransson



(upbeat music) – Gentlemen, welcome, and
thank you again for doing this. The first question I'd like to ask is, was there a movie you've
seen in the last year or so where you were particularly
impressed with the score? Terence, why don't you go first? – It's hard for me to
answer that question. I don't get a chance
to see a lot of movies, obviously, you know,
between my touring schedule, teaching, and a lot of
things that I've been doing. It's hard, but I love all
of these guys' work though. I mean when I listen to
some of the stuff he's done with so many brass players on a scene, I would have never thought of that, and the stuff that he did in the film, some of the rhythmic stuff that you did was really killing it. I would have never thought of that. That's the things that I love
about being in this business. The thing that I love about
this kind of situation is that we get a chance to share the ideas. Because we all work in a vacuum, we're all sitting in a room by
ourselves for the most part. – Every time we do the
composer round table, everyone says that. That's great to just actually talk. – Well, hang on a second. Speak for yourself young man.
(laughing) There's nothing stopping you. I mean, am I saying you can't come over, or you can't come over and we can just go and start playing some music and– – No, no, no, no, yeah. – But you're always on tour. – Oh, shut up, that's– – [Terence] We were just
talking about that, right? – So untrue, so untrue. Well, that's because nobody came over.
(laughing) I was sitting there all by myself. – Didn't you just say you
had 28 dates added to the– – Yeah, yeah, okay. – And I'm the touring musician, all right? Yeah, right, okay, yeah.
(laughing) – But the bottom line is,
okay, answering your question, as soon as somebody asks
me have you seen anything that absolutely amazed you,
my mind goes blank, right? I think that's what usually happens. But I remember seeing
this guy's work and going, oh yes, I know what that is about. I understand what that is. That is great, that is stretching it, that is going to Africa. That's doing the real work
and, I just loved what you did. And I seem to remember
telling you at the time. So you know this isn't just…
– I really appreciate it. – Ludwig, how about you, anything? – I mean, I'm sitting here very humbled to be here surrounded
by two creative geniuses that I've been studying my whole career. And I think what especially is something that I've been listening
with your music for years and years is like the
way you guys bend genres and take different music and combine them. And that's always been
extremely inspiring to me. – All right, well– – One of the things I
love about film music is, if I want to go and do
my psychedelic country and western heavy metal album,
there is probably a movie that is, there's a producer
sitting somewhere going, banjos and fast guitars, I need it. You're required to experiment. That's the call. The call is to go and try
something new, you know? – Well being a performing musician, being a jazz musician,
for me, I've always wanted to write bigger pieces. I've always wanted to do
something in other areas. And trying to do that as a jazz musician, that's damn near impossible. But, having an opportunity
to work in the film world, I get a chance to experience
a lot of different things, writing for orchestra, writing
for electronic instruments, writing for a lot of
different type of other types of music that we'll bring into the fold, so to speak. And then the crazy part about it is that then it starts to influence
what I do in my live show. So then I still have to figure
out, okay that works there. How can I take some of those
elements and incorporate that into what I do as
a performing musician? So the thing that I love
about film is the possibility of just experimenting in
so many different genres and having that just be a part of your entire musical experience. It's not, like he said,
it's not just a film thing. But, it's like you're bringing
all of your experiences to bed to create something unique. – Okay, on the projects
you worked on this year, was there a moment where
you had a breakthrough, or an aha kind of moment? – Well, for me, working on Black Clansman, it's a tough subject to deal with. I didn't think it was
a real story at first. But I kept trying to think
about what would be the sound that would exemplify what most
African Americans were going through at that time? The thing that I kept thinking about was, when Jimi Hendrix played
the national anthem. ("Star Spangled Banner" by Jimi Hendrix) To me, that was one of
the most patriotic things I've ever heard creatively
done, because not only did he play the anthem, but
the way he played it, it seemed like it was screaming, we're Americans too, you know? And dealing with this
topic, with this policeman who was a rookie, who decided
to infiltrate the Klan, I thought it was an incredibly heroic act, but one that still was saying, hey man, we don't need this division. We're all Americans. We all belong to this country. And we all have something to contribute. So the aha moment for me was to say okay, well let me take that
sound, or that sonic idea of Jimi Hendrix, and use
that as the focal point behind what it is that we're
going to do for the film because I feel like oddly
enough, we're still saying this. We're still screaming
to be considered equal. ("Photo Ops" by Terence Blanchard) By doing that, the music didn't take on a reflective kind of personality. It took on something that's currently relevant, unfortunately. – Yeah, yeah, Hans, how about you? Breakthrough moment on Widows? – Listening to him, I'm going
to tell you the same story. 1983, I was, Stanley Myers, the composer, Stanley Myers' assistant on a
television show called Widows. And it was amazing because I thought, here's somebody writing about the sort of casual brutality that happens
to women on a daily basis. And this series, it's amazing. It's going to revolutionize
the way women are going to be treated in the world. And when Steve McQueen came to me, we always were talking
about the last five years, what are we going to do next? And he said, what about Widows? And you know, at first,
I was just really excited because I had a connection to it. And then, I suddenly
realized that it was terrible that it was so relevant
to do this movie again. Because if anything,
things had gotten worse. I look at the way Steve makes a movie, and I go oh, that's the melody. All I am going to do, is I'm
just going to be an orchestra. I'm just here, just a
little bit here and there. And the movie, the tune is
already completely established by the artistry that is Steve McQueen. – We got to start thinking
like professionals. We're in business together. There's not going to be some cozy reunion. After this job, we're done. We have three days to look
and move like a team of men. The best thing we have going
for us is being what we are. – Why? – Because no one thinks we have
the balls to pull this off. – You've all worked with the
same director multiple times. So Ludwig, on Black Panther,
how did that help you? – Well, I worked with Ryan Coogler for my whole professional career. I moved out here from
Sweden to study at USC, and he was studying directing at USC, and I was studying film scoring at USC. And he was one of my
first American friends. He came up to me at a party
and we started talking about Swedish music artists. And I was like, how do
you know about Lykke Li, or Little Dragon, and
all this name dropping of all these Swedish artists? And then I started talking about film. And so we just kind of hit
it off right off the bat. And then, his first student
film was a five minute short. And then, Fruitvale
happened, Creed happened, and then Black Panther. So we have the same kind of relationship that we had 10 years ago. But it's just on a bigger scale. And so what is so unique
about our relationship is that we get started so extremely early when we start working. He sends me the script as he's writing it. So at that time, I'm reading
the script for Black Panther. And I'm like, the only way
I could score this would be for me to go to
Africa and immerse myself in the culture, research, learn and study with some of the best
musicians in the world. And I could do that because I was, normally you have three
months to score a movie. But, here, because I read the script, and I had six months before
they starting shooting. So I went and did all
my research and studied, and I was able to have
something really unique. – Terrence, how about you with Spike? How has that relationship evolved? – A very similar fashion, actually. You know, Spike, he gets
excited and he'll call me up, Terrence, I'm getting ready
to do blah, blah, blah. I'm sending you the script. And he will send me the
script well before he's in pre production, you know? So for Blackkklansman, I had the script. And I'm sitting down, trying to figure out what it is that I'm going to do, and try to come up with ideas. And since it was set in the '70s, we had an initial conversation
before we started the shoot, where he said listen, I think
I'm going to have an R&B band be a part of the orchestra. And I said dude, that's
exactly what I was thinking. You can't have a movie
with those bell bottoms and platform shoes and Afros without that. And the cool thing about Spike
is that while he's shooting, he'll send me stills so I can get a sense of what it looks like,
and get the tone of it, and what I'd normally
do is I'll take those and I'll make them my screen saver. So I'll engross myself
with the look of the film. And in Blackkklansman, they
were some stark images, especially in the latter part of the film where Harry Belafonte is giving a lecture to some young college students. Those are some tough photos to look at. But I use those things to kind of put me in the mindset of the piece in general, and just so I can stay focused. But we start well in
advance before anything. As a matter of fact, one of the things that's really interesting
about working with Spike is that he'll already know
what scenes he wants to shoot based on music, before he starts. And sometimes it may be a song, sometimes it may be a piece of score,
or something like that. But he's thinking about that before he starts pre production. – I want to talk about representation. Obviously, it's a very large
topic in Hollywood these days. How does the film world, film music world, how does it become more inclusive? And has it become more inclusive
recently, do you think? – I keep talking to my
musician friends about it because it's a particularly
interesting one, I think, to talk to amongst musicians. And I just want to see
with you guys if you think I am remotely right, because
like I have this band, and they come from every
continent and every nation, and every creed, and every gender. And the only two things
I'm asking of them, blow my socks off when you play, and try to be on time when you come. (laughing) But I don't care about the rest. So we're very inclusive. And the other thing, which I think musicians automatically do, it's not just about that
we play well, we learn how to listen to each other. I mean, when we play together, we develop this acute sense of this is how you're going to make a
piece sound beautiful? How will you support the other musician? So I think we're naturally
inclined to be more inclusive. – I think for musicians,
we have a certain type of open approach because
there's a saying one of my teachers used to
say, "But can he play?" If you can play, you're accepted
automatically, like that. I don't think the issue
is with the musicians. The issue is in the industry itself. There's one film that,
you know, the 25th Hour, when I was working with Spike. Man, we found this Muslim
cleric to just come in and sing on the opening credits. Didn't give him any
music, just say hey man, sing what you feel. And it was beautiful,
you know what I mean? So it wasn't like we were
trying to go get somebody to emulate, no we went
straight to the source, just like he did, You know what I mean? So with musicians, we are all inclusive because we are fascinated, I know for me, I'm
fascinated by what people do. We basically all use the
same chromatic scale. We have these different instruments that can create different
colors and rhythms, and all this stuff. And to go to other parts
of the world to figure out, to see how somebody can
take that same thing and come up with something unique, is a fascinating prospect for me. – Both of us worked
with Baaba Maal, right? We are casting an instrument
as much as an actor. And even if you don't
understand the words, instinctively you know
there is somebody telling you a profound story with their voice, or with their instrument. And filmmakers get to have the pleasure of seeing these amazing
actors come as the last actors that get cast, are such
incredible artists. And it's not that they serve the film, they elevate the film, you know? And word needs to get
out that they can come from any culture, and from any gender, and from anything. They're all out there
because everybody has a story to tell, and they're people who are, I mean, Baaba Maal, I'm sure
you had the same conversations, sort of, with him. You know what amazed me is his background. It's history, 2,000 year tradition of telling the history of his people. And we get to go and put
that into our little movie. I mean, it's quite an honor. – Yeah, I mean, when I went to Senegal, he invited me to come with him on tour. I wasn't even sure that
I was going to be able to record with them, so– – So we both played with them.
(laughing) – I went on to tour,
and he started playing at 3:00 am in the mornings. And we'd been traveling for three days. And we just saw him entering the stage, and it was a magical moment. And he played up 'til sunrise. And that was like aha feeling for me. Like, how can we capture
this feeling in the movie? ("A King's Sunset" by Ludwig Goransson) And then, I spent two weeks
with him in his studio. And everyday it was new
musicians coming in, and like I heard there was a group of talking drums players coming in, it was six talking drum players, and that instrument is such
an interesting instrument that we really never heard
in cinema before, so. And I sounded really regal to me, so that became T'Challa's theme. And you can play, you can
talk with this talking drum. So I asked the talking drum player how would you say
T'challa's name on the drum? And he played T'challa, that
rhythm, da da da, da, da, da on the drums. That become–
– That became the theme? – That became the theme, and right away, I sent that to Ryan because
it was in a voice mail. He was working on the movie at the time. A couple of days later, we
were recording a Fula flute, which is from the Fulani tribe, and I never heard that
type of instrument before. You can scream into the
flute, and the flute player, I told him about the
Killmonger's character, and he kind of started playing. And it transformed into another person. It started screaming
Killmonger's name into the flute, and that aggressive sound was something that I also never heard before. And I recorded it on my
iPhone, sent it to Ryan, and he was in pre production. And he sent it to Michael B. Jordan, as he was preparing for his role. So– – That became the Killmonger theme? – That became the Killmonger theme. – Wow, that's amazing. We have to wrap it up, but I want to ask one more fun question. When you were 17, what
was your favorite song, or your favorite piece of music? Ludwig, why don't you go first? – When I was 17, okay, when I was 17. That was a long time ago, I was– – Well, if it was a long
time ago for you (laughing). – That was my last year of college. And I was really into, that was actually, when I was 17, that was the first time I got an opportunity
to write for orchestra. So before that, I was
a metal guitar player. I played Metallica. I had just got into Pat Metheny, and jazz, and Kirk Rosenwinkel, and
Keith Jarrett in high school. And then in my last year of high school, I got an opportunity to write
for a symphony orchestra, a five minute piece. And at that time, I was
listening to I think, Nightmare before Christmas and Star Wars. (laughing) And, so my orchestra piece
was very much a combination of those two pieces of music. But when I heard my music
in it performed live for the first time, by
an 80 piece orchestra, hearing that, it changed my life. – Terrence, how about you? – It's Miles Davis, Miles Davis dude. Miles Davis, there's two albums, one with him playing My
Funny Valentine live, a lot of concert, and then
him doing Porgy and Bess. But My Funny Valentine
really got me because I had been listening to Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Charlie
Parker, and all of that stuff. And to hear all of those musicians, I would hear them play these notes, and then Miles would just
say, "Bo, doi, doi, doi." And it just caught my
attention immediately. I'm sitting there saying,
well what is this? And then to go from that, to hear him with Gil Evans, Do Porgy and Bess with these great voices that Gil would use that were so different than anything that I had ever heard
before, it literally stopped me in my tracks. I remember my father
offering to give me cash to go out because I was
sitting in the house on the weekends,
(laughing) playing these records, you know? He's like, man, go do something, you always sitting in the house. But I was so captivated by this stuff because I didn't know what jazz was. I was still trying to figure it out. So I would literally play
all of these records man, I would play one track,
and I would just listen to the bass. And I would go back
and I would just listen to the drum line. And I'd go back, listen
to each instrument, trying to figure out
what was jazz, you know? So it allowed me to understand
how these guys communicate, but that Gil Evans thing
man, it just blew me away with just the orchestration
and how everything came together to create this very
unique but powerful kind of musical experience. – Hans, how about you? You're 17. – 17, I can pretty much tell you exactly. I'd gone through my blues
phase in my 12, 13, 14, as a rebellion against the classical music I was fed on a daily basis. And as I found my way
back to classical music, and I remember being obsessed
with the last movement of Mahler's Second Symphony, which I would just keep
playing over and over. But at the same time,
I discovered Kraftwerk, and Tangerine Dream. And partly what I thought
was so interesting, was that there now was a new German music that wasn't based on the blues. Because popular music in Europe, you know, Stones, etc. had basically
stolen everything from America, and had
made that their language. And suddenly, there were
these electronica musicians, whose vocabulary was
classical music again, if they knew it or not. – I think that was great, and thank you for the great conversation. – Thank you.
– I appreciate it. – No, thank you for the
honor of being with you too. (upbeat music)

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