Quentin Tarantino, the Oscar-winning director of Inglourious Basterds, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and more, loves to place cool music in his movies.
Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained, contains vintage scores from spaghetti-western maestros Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov as well as new songs from Morricone, rapper Rick Ross, rhythm-and-blues star John Legend and Lafayette’s Brother Dege.
Brother Dege, aka Dege Legg, a Southern-swamp-psych-rock musician turned neo-blues man, caught the break of a lifetime when Tarantino heard his song, “Too Old to Die Young,” on Little Steven Van Zandt’s SiriusXM radio show, Underground Garage. The director loved it enough to buy the CD that the song appears on, Folk Songs of the American Longhair.
“He told his music supervisor, ‘Get in touch with that dude, because I want to put one of his songs in this movie, Django Unchained,’ ” Legg said from the homeless shelter where he works at his non-musical job.
“It pretty much leapfrogged the whole music industry,” Legg said. “Because every big label and indie label, they’re all vying to get their music in movies. But I’ve never been on a record label. I’ve put out all of my own records.”
Having one of his songs in an Oscar-winning hit that’s earned $162 million at the box office hasn’t changed him, Legg said.
“I don’t feel different from how I felt six months ago,” he said. “But it definitely changes the way people relate to you. Whereas, maybe they’d blow you off before, they take me a little more seriously now. It’s created a lot more opportunities for me.”
Legg saw Django Unchained for the first time in Lafayette on Christmas day, the movie’s opening day, with a big group of his local supporters.
“I couldn’t ask for a better director to be interested in my music,” he said. “People associate Quentin with a bold cinematic aesthetic and his exquisite taste in music. To be included in that club is thrilling.”
“Frankly,” Tarantino has said of Brother Dege’s Folk Songs of the American Longhair album, “every track on the CD could have been in the movie. … Almost every song could be a theme song. It’s like a greatest hits album.”
Legg delayed the release of his already completed, forthcoming album, How To Kill a Horse, so as not to confuse music buyers who got interested in him through Django Unchained and its accompanying CD soundtrack.
“But the new album is coming,” he promised.
Before Django Unchained, Legg led rock band Santeria for 10 years. He moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue a prospective recording deal.
“They put a band around me,” he recalled. “I couldn’t tell if the music we were making was unique in a way that I didn’t understand or the worst music ever made. It just didn’t feel right.”
After going home to Lafayette, Legg played guitar in C.C. Adcock’s band, the Lafayette Marquis, for a year. He also formed another band, Black Bayou Construkt, and worked as a journalist covering music. In 2009, Legg began recording the album that became Folk Songs of the American Longhair.
“Even when I played all that loud music, I played the dobro and slide as a way to mellow out and rest my ears,” he said. “But I don’t want to put shame on the name of Delta blues, or whatever it is I’m doing. Historically, a lot white folks screwed the blues up. They added to it but they also cheesed it out, a lot.
“Delta blues is the most amazing tradition. In my opinion, pound for pound, it’s the most emotionally moving music. One dude playing guitar, with all this soul and energy and heat swirling around it.
“I know what I do is not always gonna please the tourists or the purists. But it’s coming man, the next evolution. Blues is not gonna stay stuck in 1930 or 1969 or 1987. This is the 21st century.”