Composer Mac Quayle on Recreating His Emmy-Winning Music For ‘Mr. Robot’ Live at The Roxy

On Dec. 5, composer Mac Quayle will perform his Emmy-winning music from Mr. Robot at The Roxy in Los Angeles.

Appropriately titled [email protected]_THEMUS1C0FMRROB0T.MP3, the concert will feature Quayle and other musicians recreating the electronic soundscape that helps set the often isolating and eerie tone for the USA series. Tickets go on sale today (Oct. 13). 

Quayle, who also scores American Horror Story, Feud, and American Crime Story, talked with Billboard about what it takes to recreate the music live, scoring Season 3 and his most memorable fan encounter. 

The Mr. Robot Vol. 4 soundtrack comes out today digitally and on CD. 

Billboard: What can people expect at the Roxy show?

Mac Quayle: There will be at least two other musicians besides myself, and possibly some other guests. My vision to perform the music of Mr. Robot has always been that it should be a very electronic sound, and best suited to be played loud in a dark room — closer to a rock or EDM show than a film music concert. A couple of live performances that I’ve done so far did not have images from the show, but maybe this one will have something. 

What are the challenges of putting together the music for a live presentation?

The music that accompanies a television show or film is often in quite a different arrangement then what would work in a live performance. So I’ve spent quite a lot of time doing new versions and mixes to come up with a set list that I think would be entertaining for an audience and fun to perform. 

What are your plans, if any, to take this beyond The Roxy? It’s a lot of work for a one-time only evening! 

Yes, it is a lot of work for a one-time-only evening, but this is not a first or last time concert. We performed in Spain back in July, and did a mini set here in Los Angeles in June. Who knows what the future will bring? I’d love to perform this music all over the world. It seems to be quite popular now for composers to take their scores on the road. I especially think this show would go over well at Coachella (laughs).

You won an Emmy for the Mr. Robot pilot. How did you come up with the sonic tone for the show from the start? 

It all began with a conversation with the creator of Mr. Robot, Sam Esmail. He knew right away that he wanted an electronic sound and I really resonated with that as well. All the music I started writing right from the beginning was completely electronic and had a very dark, propulsive feel to it. It has evolved a little since the first season — we’ve used more organic instruments and other sounds that one might not know if they are electronic or natural. It’s really been great seeing it grow.

As you mention, you’re dealing primarily with electronic instrumentation for the score. What’s the key to giving it humanity? 

Well, the last time I checked, I am a human and I’m creating the music so hopefully right there that’s the beginning of it having some humanity. And then as I create, I do a lot of shaping of all the sounds and parts, with the intention of giving it feeling and dynamics. Of course, composing to scenes in Mr. Robot definitely informs the humanity in the music. 

Season 3 just premiered this week. What can we expect musically this season? How many episodes have you already scored? 

We are pushing the sound of the score into a little bit more of an organic direction, but electronics are still the foundation. So far I’ve scored four episodes. And I can tell you without giving anything away, the show has gotten even better than before. I’m a fan.

Mr. Robot has a fervent fan base that devours every aspect of the show, including the music. What’s been your most memorable encounter with a fan of the show? 

I was at the Ghent Film Festival in Belgium last Fall, when someone came up to me on the street and apparently recognized me as the composer for Mr. Robot. They pulled out a picture of me they had printed from the Internet and asked if  they could get my autograph. It was pretty surreal.

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