Interviews

7urn.up.th3.t3n5i0n: An Interview with 'Mr. Robot' Composer Mac Quayle

"I think if you compare the volume of the music on Mr. Robot with some other shows it is just way louder, which is kind of a composers dream."


Mac Quayle

Mr. Robot: Volume 1 (Original Television Series Soundtrack)

Label: Lakeshore
Release Date: 2016-06-24
Amazon
iTunes

Mac Quayle

Mr. Robot: Volume 2 (Original Television Series Soundtrack)

Label: Lakeshore
Release Date: 2016-06-24
Amazon
iTunes

"Hello Friend", both the title of the opening episode of USA's Mr. Robot and one of the first lines uttered by the show's hero, introduces to the techno thriller that would become the breakout of last year's summer television landscape. In the first scene alone we see Elliot (Remi Malek), a bug-eyed, nervous young man whose mind is clearly bubbling with energy, as he accosts a man whom he has hacked in a coffee shop.

Elliot's nervous demeanor is made even more palpable when, as the scene progresses, it is accompanied by a slowly building score of pulsating synthesizers. As he reveals to the seemingly average man that he knows about his illegal trafficking of child porn, the intensity is matched by the speed of the score, rising in step with Elliot's escalating energy. This crescendo finally explodes just as Elliot exits the coffee shop, leaving the man to deal with the police, but not before he throws on the black hood that becomes his trademark. Mr. Robot is born.

But, like any work of art, this isn't really the beginning but a culmination of years and years of labor, and this is no truer than for the man who helped create the harried, panicky atmosphere of this, and countless other Mr. Robot moments, Mac Quayle. Quayle has been the principal composer for each and every episode of Mr. Robot, and was recently nominated for an Emmy for his work on the show, but like pretty much every other musician, his beginnings were modest.

"My first musical endeavor was at the age of six when my parents put me in the church choir," Quayle said during a recent phone interview with PopMatters. From there Quayle moved on to piano lessons, high school band and orchestra and eventually rock bands before setting his sights on the big city, where he saw opportunity everywhere.

"I ended up in New York City and found myself in the music industry working as a producer, dance remixer and musician," said Quayle of his early professional years. "Then in the early 2000s when the music industry was showing its first sign of decline, I decided it was time to leave NYC and I moved to Los Angeles with this sort of vague idea of getting into scoring."

Armed with his new goal in mind Quayle began work as an additional composer for CBS's Cold Case in 2006 where he worked on over 80 episodes. Through this, he eventually met composer Cliff Martinez who helped bring Mr. Quayle into the world of movie composition, working with him on films like The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), Drive (2011), Spring Breakers (2012) and The Normal Heart (2014). Soon the duo split, with Martinez heading to television to work with Steven Soderbergh on Cinemax's The Knick and Quayle taking a job on Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story, a move that eventually led to Mr. Robot, where he has found his most success to date.

Mr. Robot, like no other show on television in 2015, grabbed the headlines and attention of viewers for many reasons, but one above all was its distinctly cinematic take on television drama. No more is this on display than in season one's most iconic moment [SPOILER'S AHEAD] in which Elliot finally learns the truth about Mr. Robot, his father, and his own madness. It all begins as he and Darlene sit on a bench in Coney Island and celebrate their impending E Corp hack. All is well in their little world, that is, until the bottom drops out.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.