The two were introduced nearly a decade ago while Glover was starring in the hit comedy series Community, which Göransson was composing for. After several months of working on set together, Glover reached out to the Swedish composer and requested his help on a side project that would later be called Culdesac (Childish Gambino’s fifth mixtape). Göransson agreed.
Since their initial collaboration, the pair have teamed up on a number of other projects, including Gambino’s debut album, Camp; his 2012 ROYALTY mixtape; his sophomore album, Because the Internet; and its 2017 follow-up, Awaken, My Love!, which is up for multiple Grammys.
Göransson explained Awaken, My Love! was one big experiment, as the team would spend hours in the studio jamming, trying out different sounds, before they got that distinct 1970s funk vibe.
“We didn’t really know where it was going to go. We probably did 15 songs in the studio and a lot of it was really out there,” he explained, before admitting he was unfamiliar with the album’s Parliament-Funkadelic influence. “[…] Something else that I was thinking about as a producer is how do we make funk music in a way that it couldn’t have been made in the ‘70s. It’s not fun if people listen to it and it’s like, ‘This sounds like someone could have made this 40 years ago.’ Bringing in recording techniques and studio elements that didn’t exist back then, and bringing together a mix of genres that weren’t being combined back then. If you listen to 'Stand Tall' for example, how it transition to that synth part at the end. […] Small, little things like that made it feel new and modern but still nostalgic.”
Göransson also spoke about the album’s second single “Redbone”—which is up for Record of the Year—and how the team did not expect for it to become such a major hit. To this day, he’s unsure what led to its success.
“‘Redbone’ was the last song we did. That song was a different idea at first that was already mixed and done for the album. Towards the end of the process of finishing the record, we decided to tweak the song—Donald wanted to change the chorus,” he said. “I don’t think any of us knew it was going to be that kind of a hit. It was very strange the way that song’s momentum built. I guess you could say it went the ‘modern way’ of getting big with the memes and maybe I’m too old but I don’t get how that really started.”
And as for his contributions to Black Panther? Though Göransson described the experience as “incredible,” he admits there were some challenges when creating the score. The obstacles sound very similar to those he faced when creating Awaken, My Love!—having to rework an unfamiliar genre while retaining its essence.
“What I’ve been working with, and really trying to be aware of, is how you take traditional music from these different countries and put electronics and big orchestra on top of that while keeping the same sounds,” he said. “It’s been really challenging. I went to west Africa and South Africa for a month to do research and record a bunch of different musicians for the score. I brought that back to my studio and, for the past year, I’ve been figuring out ways to preserve the essence of that music and try to make it cinematic to fit this superhero universe.”
You can read the full interview at The Fader.