Hi reddit!

I am composer Mac Quayle. My TV projects include American Horror Story: Freak Show, Mr. Robot, and Scream Queens. I have also scored for films such as Austism in Love, LA Slasher, Drive and The Normal Heart.

Starting at 12pm PT / 3pm ET, I will be answering your questions here. I am new to reddit but I am very excited for your questions!

Connect with me on twitter: @MacQuayle

Listen to some of my work here - on Soundcloud

My Proof: https://twitter.com/macquayle/status/631943448644452352

Ask Me Anything!

EDIT: Thanks so much for all your great questions! I had a fun time, and definitely will be back again soon. Don't forget to tune in next Wednesday for the second-to-last episode of Mr. Robot! Also, Scream Queens will begin airing September 22nd!

Also, follow me on facebook and twitter! I regularly post my music and other fun announcements there :)

Comments: 111 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

sharkie2020 karma

What are the chances you'll make us all happy and publish the Mr. Robot score as an album?

MacQuayle49 karma

Now that I’m almost finished with the final episode of the season, a soundtrack album is in the works. We will share the announcement on my social media…stay tuned for details.

matthewwcohen18 karma

Mr. Robot is awesome and I love the music. What was your favorite scene to compose too? I would love to hear your insight!

MacQuayle18 karma

It’s hard to pick just one favorite, but here are a few:

-The opening scene in the pilot, when Elliot confronts Ron in the coffee shop

-In episode 5, when Elliot infiltrates Steel Mountain

-In episode 8, when Elliot meets with wh1ter0se

Tuddles2810 karma

Hi Mac! Big fan of Mr. Robot! What would be your dream project?

MacQuayle15 karma

A big, original, and interesting science-fiction film that I would get to score in a very non-Hollywood typical way.

vinickforprez9 karma

Mr. Quayle, how does it feel to be involved on a show, Mr. Robot, that is rapidly becoming one of the most popular this year? Has life changed any as a result?

MacQuayle15 karma

It's very exciting to be part of this show, especially since I am a fan of it. I would be watching it even if I wasn’t working on it. By the way, I’m doing this reddit AMA from the back of my new limo... :)

this_ones_mostly_goo9 karma

Having scored for a variety of shows would you say you find it easier scoring lighter melodies, darker scores or does it really depend?

MacQuayle10 karma

I’m not quite sure why, but I find it easier to write darker music. The lighter, comedic stuff tends to be more challenging for me.

dr_drangus8 karma

Have you already started thinking about the score for season 2 of Mr. Robot? What new ideas and sounds can we expect?

MacQuayle19 karma

I’m told that season 2 is going to be a lot weirder than season 1. I’m working on the final episode of season 1 now and that might give a hint as to the new sounds for season 2.

suaveitguy8 karma

Did you love Forgetting Sarah Marshall?

MacQuayle11 karma

I did love ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall.’ Especially the scene when the composer is told to hold one note down, instead of composing a bunch of music. I think all composers got that joke and it was very funny!

murkler427 karma

How much input do the producers/directors have on what of your music is used? Do you write a lot of material and they pick from it or do you write very intentionally for very specific beats and scenes?

MacQuayle6 karma

My work as a composer is very much a collaboration. The producers and directors have a lot of input and they help me to make the music better.

suaveitguy7 karma

How often does an edit change as a result of the tune? How often do you have to ditch a cool idea because the visuals don't carry on where the music could?

MacQuayle3 karma

Often the editors will cut picture to some of my existing music, so in that case the edit is very affected by the tune. If the visuals don't keep going long enough to accommodate a musical idea it usually means I just have to change the idea somewhat rather than throw it out completely.

bettywhitestillives6 karma

Congratulations on your Emmy Nomination! What was your reaction like?

MacQuayle7 karma

I was eating a bowl of cereal when I found out – and I sprayed milk out of my nose! No, but seriously, I was super excited and humbled to be included in such a list of talented composers.

breakyourwings6 karma

Big fan of your work on American Horror Story! Have you started working on anything for "Hotel" yet? Also, what is Ryan Murphy like to work with?

MacQuayle4 karma

I’m just getting ready to start on Hotel - very excited about it! Ryan is such a prolific talent, and he pushes me to really bring my best to the table to compliment his amazing show.

suaveitguy6 karma

What are the best ways to transition between music/mood? e.g. you have an exciting chase through a stairwell with appropriate music, that cuts to a calm scene in a church. What ways do you handle the transition?

MacQuayle6 karma

Sometimes an abrupt shift in the music right on a cut can be very effective. Other times, it needs to be more finessed.

Of course, it really depends what’s going on in the scene. Is someone being chased, and then all of the sudden they are in the church? If so, we need to keep the tension going. But if we are cutting to a scene in a church, and that’s a totally different part of the story, then we’d have to handle it differently. All of this affects decisions with the music.

hotshotjosh5 karma

Your work on Mr. Robot is really amazing, both my wife and I love the music so far. Really looking forward to whenever we can buy the soundtrack. Question: are you Trent Reznor's doppelganger? You guys have a similar sound, and you look like you could be his cousin!

MacQuayle8 karma

I saw my first Nine Inch Nails concert in the early 90’s - and Trent’s been a big influence ever since! I actually thought Trent looked more like YOU!

brosandprose4 karma

Are there any movies or shows you've watched that had unexpectedly amazing or memorable soundtracks/scores?

MacQuayle9 karma

Of the top of my head and in no particular order…

-The Knick

-The Americans


-Ex Machina

-Under The Skin

suaveitguy4 karma

In your opinion, what makes a song/theme/score 'cinematic'?

MacQuayle7 karma

That’s a hard question to answer. So many different types of music have been used in cinematic ways that it really just depends on how a piece of music works against a theme. Almost anything goes in my book.

otisfunkmeyer4 karma

I am very interested in your technical process.

Are you more of a hardware synth or softsynth guy? Do you have any go to keyboards or VSTs? Do you have a favorite compressor/EQ/fattener or anything that might not be typical that you find yourself using repeatedly? What was your progression in DAWs? Have you always used the same one or did you change over the years? How often do you use samples vs creating sounds on the show?

These are all questions I've found myself asking while watching the show! The scene with White Rose was scored eloquently! Big fan of your work and any other interesting technical tidbits that I didn't think to ask would be super appreciated! Thx!

MacQuayle4 karma

I believe hardware synths sound better, but I haven’t found a way yet in the demanding deadlines of television to get things done without the convenience of virtual synths. They sound almost as good and certainly get the job done. Some favorites include: Zebra, Blue 2, Bazille, Omnisphere, and Predator.

My first sequencer was Performer, and then it turned into Digital Performer, but I then switched to Logic and have been using it for 15 years now. I use a mixture of custom samples and sample libraries.

Thanks you for your kind words and for watching the show!

kilimanjaroxyz4 karma

  1. I'm pretty intrigued by your club mixes (e.g. Britney Spears' "Stronger"). How has that sort of production work fed into your film/TV composing and vice versa?

  2. Could you talk a bit about your collaboration and friendship with Cliff Martinez? In particular, what did the co-composing process look like and how did it differ most from composing alone?

  3. What advice would you give to a burgeoning film/TV composer and producer?

Huge huge fan of your work on Mr. Robot btw!

MacQuayle6 karma

  1. Making dance music has definitely had an influence on my film and TV work. So much of my remix work was done using a lot of electronics and a lot of repetition. I’ve applied both to scoring and find that it can be a very useful approach.
  2. I was a fan of Cliff Martinez before I met him and it has been an incredible experience working with him on so many great projects. My job was to create music within the “Cliff Martinez world” and I found that I was very comfortable there. Cliff would often like what I brought to the table, but of course would guide me in changing it, so that it accomplished just what he wanted it to.
  3. Write as much original music as you can – try to find your own voice. My path has been through working for other composers like Cliff. Try to find someone that you admire and see if they’ll hire you!

suaveitguy3 karma

What are 'hack' things that composers do in scores that bug you? Any cliches that get leaned on too much?

MacQuayle5 karma

I like to think that some of the bad choices that have been made in certain scores are rarely made by the composer. To my ears, certainly on big Hollywood films, I feel like the producers often push the composers to do something very safe. This isn’t always the case, but I feel like I hear it a lot.

Of course, maybe I’m just sticking up for all the other composers out there!

Ahseyo2 karma

What was the most creative, fun and inspiring score for you to compose!?

MacQuayle3 karma

I can’t pick just one because there’s been so many great ones….but I’m very fond of the score I did for an independent documentary called “Beyond Grace.” It allowed me to merge two of my favorite things: electronica and Indian classical music. Definitely inspiring.

imagine_10_years2 karma

What are your expectations for Scream Queens and can you describe some of the music you scored for that show? I'm so excited for it!

MacQuayle4 karma

Scream Queens is such a fun and crazy show. I'm really excited for you to see it! The music so far has been completely electronic, with one foot firmly planted in a retro synthesizer sound of the 80’s. The other foot is planted in one real instrument, which you’ll have to wait to see it and find out what it is.

Yourdomdaddy2 karma

I love the music or Mr. Robot especially. Do you work with the director or creator on which pop songs to choose? Or do you just compose?

MacQuayle2 karma

Typically the composer is not choosing the songs, just writing the background music. The songs they have been picking for Mr Robot have been especially good!

theresnomeinteam2 karma

Hey Mac! Do you ever wish to return to the life of a touring musician?

MacQuayle4 karma

I love performing live, and in recent years was the keyboardist in Donna De Lory’s band. Unfortunately, the demanding schedule of writing music for television has not allowed me to continue that. However, I do hope to some day do some more touring and to experience performing at some really big events.

Anybody out there want a guest keyboard player to come play their big festival show? :)