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Quentin Tarantino's method behind 'Inglourious Basterds' soundtrack mix-tape

August 22, 2009 | 12:37 pm


Quentin Tarantino has some eclectic music tastes -- not that we needed to tell you that. If you've seen "Reservoir Dogs" or "Kill Bill," you know his soundtracks pull unforgivingly from the depths of obscurity.

Why can't he just be like Michael Bay, whose "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" blockbuster was scored with chart-toppers like Linkin Park and the Fray? Or contract a songwriter to pen something that neatly fits the moment on-screen?

"I hate that crap," Tarantino said during an interview at Amoeba Music in Hollywood on Thursday night to promote the release of his new movie, "Inglourious Basterds." The soundtrack, released Tuesday, pairs famed composer Ennio Morricone with deep cuts from David Bowie, Billy Preston and others, as well as relatively obscure pieces from the likes of Lilian Harvey & Willy Fritsch.

"It would've been easy to hire some artist to do the 'Ballad of Shoshanna,'" the filmmkaer said, referring to an integral scene about one of the film's title characters. "And it could be telling her story in a very on-point, nail-on-the-head kind of way."

Instead, he chose the Bowie song "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" to amplify the moment. "You're actually shocked at how well the lyrics to 'Cat People' work to her story," Tarantino said. Tarantino's soundtracks are just about as important as ...

... the action on-screen and every bit as personal. That's why he handpicks each song and painstakingly injects them into scenes instead of simply hiring a music composer to do the work.

"I just don't like the idea of giving that much power to anybody on one of my movies," Tarantino said. "I would much rather work with a music editor than a music composer."

For Tarantino, soundtrack scoring happens throughout the moviemaking process -- starting just after he decides to write a movie and "keeps going until the final editing," he said.

After he finds a song in his record collection that inspires him, he reserves a spot within the score. The library from which to pull is practically endless -- almost like his casting list, which "you only have to be alive to be on."

"But in my music, you don't have to be alive at all," Tarantino said. "I'm looking for that stuff that you haven't heard a gazillion times before."

"It's also kind of a personal mix-tape that I'm making for you," he said. "I like the amateur quality about it."

-- Mark Milian


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Photo: Quentin Tarantino at Amoeba on Thursday. Credit: Sarah Ardalani