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Ludwig Göransson and Ghost – two of Linköping's musical superstars

Linköping has generated a host of musical artists, including the likes of Lasse Winnerbäck and Louise Hoffsten. Among the hottest international music exports from the city is Oscar-winning composer Ludwig Göransson, and of course, Tobias Forge, who has taken the world by storm with the rock band Ghost.

At the Oscars in Los Angeles on 24 February 2019, Göransson was awarded the Oscar for best film score in the film Black Panther, and in September 2020, the accolades continued to pour in when he was awarded the Emmy for best original score in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

“It was an incredibly happy and wonderful feeling, a little difficult to describe. Winning an Oscar has been a dream of mine since I started my career. Winning these amazing awards has created important new contacts, new fun and exciting projects. Among others, Christopher Nolan contacted me and wanted me to write the music for his new film Tenet. I also got to help produce some songs for Adele's new record”, says Ludwig, smiling.

A lot has changed for the 38-year-old from Linköping since he started writing music for films and TV.

“I have always enjoyed films and the music has made a strong impression on me. The music allows you to highlight strong emotions and characters. You paint a picture with the music, different characters have different themes, it's important that the music reinforces the emotions in the film. My first TV series Community had a large music budget, and the music played a very important role. It’s so much fun to write music that is performed by a symphony orchestra”.

Music was part of growing up

Ludwig med sin mamma och pappa

Ludwig grew up in Tornhagen, with his father Tomas, mother Maria and older sister Jessica. Ludwig was introduced to the world of music at an early age. His father worked as a music teacher, his mother played the piano and his older sister played the violin – and the family home was often filled with the sound of music.

“I taught Ludwig to play the guitar when he was only six, and I remember that he always found it very easy to learn to play different instruments. I remember being very impressed by that and his tremendous dedication. Even at a young age, he was very serious and good at planning. He could keep at it for several hours a day after school, wrote his own songs and composed”, says Tomas.

“I got an expensive, very nice electric guitar when I turned nine and I knew very early that I was a good musician. Dad gave me lots of praise and helped me. He encouraged me to write my own music, which I recorded on a tape recorder in our basement music studio. We played a lot together and he arranged concerts for the rock band we had at our music school. It was so much fun performing in front of an audience. I started dreaming of becoming a great electric guitarist like my idols, Metallica, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai”, says Ludwig.

During his intermediate and upper level compulsory school years, he attended Folkungaskolan, where he specialised in music.

“I liked going there because I became more and more interested in music. I also went to Linköping's cultural school, where I first played recorder, then saxophone, drums and electric guitar, and was in rock bands and big bands. My new friends were very into music, and they all played some kind of instrument. I learned to read sheet music, about theory and music history. It got a lot out of it.”

Marvel and Star Wars

After graduating from the upper secondary music school at De Geer in Norrköping and earning a degree in jazz from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Ludwig decided at the age of 20 to devote himself completely to becoming a film composer. He moved to the United States and enrolled in the screen scoring programme at the University of Southern California. There, Ludwig became acquainted with well-known film composer Theodore Shapiro. Through hard work, Ludwig made an impression on the composer and earned his role as an assistant.

“Theodore was like a mentor and opened the door to the industry”, says Tomas.

Since 2008, Ludwig has composed music for many major films and TV series, including the Marvel and Star Wars franchises. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Serena and their two sons Romeo and Apollo.

“Family is incredibly important to me, and I spend a lot of time with them. Of course, my family back home in Sweden also means a lot to me and it's always great to come back home to Linköping”, says Ludwig.

“This summer, I am currently busy working on my latest project, the music for the film Oppenheimer by Christopher Nolan, which premiers in July”.

Papa Emeritus i full utklädnad

In 2022, singer/songwriter Tobias Forge released his fifth album with his band Ghost – the group he formed in 2008, which has achieved widespread success in many countries. The band has not only made an impression with its many hit songs, they are also known for their elaborate costumes. Tobias started out as the ghostly papal figure Papa Emeritus, which has evolved into Papa Emeritus IV today.

“I have been very interested in masks and make-up ever since I listened to Kiss and Alice Cooper. It's about what kind of image you want to create. I think it's fun and makes you stand out from the crowd a little”, he says.

It was only after hosting the classic “Sommar i P1” radio programme in 2017 that he became more of a household name and revealed himself outside of his stage costume. Tobias was born in Linköping and grew up in the city until the age of 16. He then moved to Stockholm with his mother for a while, and returned to Östergötland's largest city when he was 25.

Tobias currently resides in Sweden’s capital once again with his wife Boel and their two children, twins Morris and Minou.

“I had a great childhood, music and film were my biggest interests. I was really an omnivore, though as I got older, I started to lean more towards hard rock, punk and then death metal. It was everything from Guns N’ Roses to the Rolling Stones and Nirvana. Over the years, I played in different bands, and I don't think I ever dreamed of doing anything other than working as a musician”.

The 42-year-old is highly driven and something of a perfectionist with a high need for control. He knows exactly how he wants his own music to sound.

“So it may not always have been so easy for others to work with me. Ghost has been my thing. I write the lyrics, the music and I am the singer. I have shuffled band members over the years, but there are now a total of nine of us in the group, where I and one other member live in Sweden. The others live in North America, and we mostly get together when it's time to go on tour. It still works quite well”.

Multiple awards

Tobias’ previous bands never quite had a major breakthrough. But Ghost is another story. The band has received several Grammys, the Rockbjörnen and P3 Gold Awards for, among other things, hard rock/metal band of the year and live group of the year.

“For the first time, I was able to make a living from music. In the past, I have had to do other work on the side. Somehow the timing was right for me with some more melodious death metal and rock songs; success is of course wonderful”.

Ghost’s popularity in Sweden was perhaps most evident when the band played a show for 13,500 fans at the Stockholm Globe Arena (now the Avicii Arena).

“But the biggest audience we performed in front of was in Rio de Janeiro, 85,000 fans screaming and dancing. That time it was a concert that included Iron Maiden and Foo Fighters, among others”.

Tobias has performed the most in the US.

“We usually tour even to smaller towns and often draw a good crowd. There will be a new tour there this year, and so I will typically be away for around three to four weeks at a time. It might sound difficult to combine that with family life. But overall, I probably spend more time at home than most people. After I have been home for a while, our two children almost start to wonder what my job is, ha-ha”.

He still has relatives and friends in Linköping, and goes to visit from time to time.

“I feel very much at home in Linköping too, and it would be so great to perform at the Saab Arena sometime soon. It's been quite some time since we played in the city”, says Tobias.