Mac Quayle Q&A: ‘Mr. Robot’ composer

“We started in a place which was wrong,” readily admits composer Mac Quayle as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his work on “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” This first installment of the FX anthology series “American Crime Story” dramatizes the 1994 murder trial that dominated the airwaves and forever changed the landscape of 24-hour news coverage. “We were really trying to punch up the drama,” Quayle explains, “really accent a lot of the emotion, really push the story, and relatively quickly we learned that’s not what it needed.”

After discussions with executive producer Ryan Murphy, Quayle found, “what served the show the best was to be more subtle, and to just let the story and the actors do their work.” Ultimately, he believes, “it’s a sad story. Two people have died, and so many lives are affected by that. The music was certainly, in all the themes for everyone, on the darker side. It was definitely intentional to be more melancholy, to be more tense.”

Quayle received his first Emmy nomination last year for another Murphy anthology series, “American Horror Story: Freak Show.” He returned for the latest installment, “Hotel,” which allowed for something new. The early discussions were that the sounds should be very electronic,” he reveals, “so right there, that made it pretty easy to have it exist in a whole other world from ‘Freak Show.’” In this case, Murphy, “does love a really strong theme,” because “there’s a lot of scary, shocking moments, and the music rides right along with it and pumps up the adrenaline and fear.”

As well, he found time to score Murphy’s “Scream Queens,” where once again, “the idea was to do something all electronic.” However, “it’s a horror-comedy series, so I knew that the music couldn’t be too serious. It needed to always have some fun in it.”

And we talk about  his work on “Mr. Robot,” the USA Network hit drama series about an anti-social computer programer (Rami Malek) recruited by a mysterious anarchist known only as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). “It’s an attempt to get inside Elliot’s head, where there’s obviously so much going on,” he explains. “He’s paranoid; he thinks people are following him; there’s stuff going on that he doesn’t understand; this mysterious Mr. Robot all of a sudden is showing up in different places and knows things about him. So the music was really just there to help the audience feel it, rather than just understand what was happening.”

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UPLOADED Jul 14, 2016 3:28 pm