How The Mr. Robot Soundtrack Moved From TV To The Roxy
Mac Quayle wants you to hear the music from Mr. Robot IRL
Television scores and soundtracks have become an increasingly popular and cherished art. TV critics and fans alike have raved over the sound of Atlanta, Insecure, Stranger Things, Luke Cage and one of the pioneers of the trend, Mr. Robot. But how does an artist or composer take music from a TV show to the next level? By performing it live. That’s what Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated composer Mac Quayle aims to do with his upcoming performance at The Roxy in Los Angeles.
“My vision for this music to be performed is that it’s more like a rock or EDM show than what you might consider to be a typical film or television music concert,” Quayle told Player.One. “They tend to be orchestral based in theaters—everyone is sitting down, they aren't too loud, they are a little more restrained. This music, to me, lends itself to something a bit different, which is it is loud. It’s like going to a rock or EDM show, and The Roxy is a great place for that.”
The live performance is fittingly titled “M@cQuayle_TheMus1c0fMrRob0t.mp3” and takes place Dec. 5. The concert will feature a selection of music from all three seasons of the show, but building a set list was more complex than simply putting all his favorite pieces on a playlist—Quayle had to choose what to perform based on several factors.
“I start looking at which pieces would be feasible, which pieces would be enjoyable to play and hopefully entertaining for an audience. That narrows the list down a little bit. And then I start doing some adaptations to make it playable. It may be a re-arrangement, I may extend it or shorten it. For some pieces, I’ve been doing medleys from one into another. Slowly, the set list grows and I get more and more pieces that will work on stage,” he said.
What makes Mr. Robot so alluring, in both the music score and the TV series itself, is the technique and finesse. Performing live presents different challenges than a recording studio, and to maintain that same feeling, Quayle had to strip down certain elements of the instrumentation.
“You can pack a lot more detail in a recording that will be noticed and appreciated when someone listens to it. But if you try to pack all that detail into a live performance, due to the nature of acoustics and the venue and whatnot, to me, a lot of that can get lost. I like to simplify a bit and pull out some of the details that aren't going to add too much to the performance, clutter it and make it more difficult to perform.”
The instrumentation for the concert is similar to what Quayle uses to record the score for the show. It’s very electronic based, with two keyboard players, including himself. However, Quayle will also add a live drummer to his live performance, something he didn’t use on the show.
“That drummer will be playing some of the electronic sounds, the drum sounds, that are used in the score, but will also have an acoustic drum kit. So that adds this whole other element, brings the energy up a lot from what some of the recordings are and makes it what I hope is an exciting performance.”
Some of the pieces are approaching dance music and Quayle said considering the fact The Roxy has mostly standing room, he wouldn’t be surprised if people were more physically engaged than the traditional instrumental performance. At least that’s the goal. The very first performance, at another Hollywood nightclub for an early summer Emmy promotion event, was the proof of concept.
“We just performed three pieces, but it was in a nightclub with a big sound system and it really showed me that that is a great type of venue for this music. The next performance was in Spain at the MOSMA film festival in July, and we did a full set of music from the show. That was in a theater and it was great, but didn’t quite have the impact that I envisioned for it. I’m thinking The Roxy will be more in line.”
Quayle has been performing live since he was seven. First in the church choir, then the high school band orchestra, then a rock band. Up until a few years ago, he was playing with Donna De Lory. Live performance is one of his early passions, and he sees Mr. Robot as an opportunity to continue.
“This music is important to me. I’m looking forward to The Roxy show as the next step in the evolution of where I think a performance of Mr Robot music could go.”
Quayle’s performance at The Roxy is on Dec. 5. Buy tickets here and catch Mr. RobotWednesdays at 10 p.m. on USA Network.