Anyone watching television this season is likely to have heard the music of Emmy-winning musician Mac Quayle. The composer’s scores have been heard on FX’s “Pose,” Netflix’s “Ratched,” HBO’s “The Vow,” and Fox Television’s “9-1-1” and “9-1-1: Lonestar.” In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Quayle discusses his frequent collaborations with Emmy winner Ryan Murphy and how music is “a tool for the filmmaker to tell the story.”
Murphy has certainly been Quayle’s most frequent creative partner in recent years. Along with “Pose,” “Ratched” and the “9-1-1” franchise, Quayle has composed the scores for many of Murphy’s projects, including “Feud: Bette and Joan,” “The Politician,” and the “American Horror Story” anthology series. “[Murphy] is a great story teller,” explains Quayle. “Across all of these genres there’s this Ryan Murphy flair that’s in all of them, and I just find that exciting and it keeps me interested.”
For “Ratched,” the Netflix prequel series about the infamous nurse from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Quayle looked back to a couple of Oscar-winning composers for inspiration. “The touchstone for that score was really more like Bernard Herrmann and Elmer Bernstein,” he explains. “We were going for a sort of vintage orchestral sound that would hopefully speak to the period.”
In contrast, Quayle created a more synthesizer heavy sound for the ballroom culture at the center of “Pose.” Quayle explains that the world of “Pose” was far more familiar to him thanks to his experience creating dance music in New York during the 1990’s, coincidentally the time period highlighted in the show’s current and final season. In another coincidence, Quayle describes his surprise when a song he worked on during his dance music years ended up in one of the show’s epic ballroom sequences. “It was kind of fun when that showed up,” he exclaims. “My former self has made an appearance on ‘Pose.'”
“The Vow,” a documentary series about the NXVIM cult, presented a different sort of challenge for Quayle. The filmmakers wanted a blend of electronic music and traditional instrumentation. “In the beginning of the process, it wasn’t really clear as to which instruments. It kind of developed over time as we started writing different pieces to tell this part of the story and that part of the story,” he recalls. “It kind of evolved over the first couple of episodes.” However the composer says that he approaches all film in a similar manner no matter the genre. “It’s actually very similar for me across all the projects,” he says. “It really depends on the filmmaker and how they want to tell their story and how they’re going to use music. But my job is till kind of the same.”
Quayle’s career has brought him an Emmy win for “Mr. Robot,” two nominations for “Feud: Betty and Joan” and another nom for “American Horror Story.”
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