Mac Quayle is a Grammy Award nominated musician who's worked with Madonna, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Britney Spears, Elvis Presley, and Beyonce, just to name a few. What you might not know is that he's also a composer, whose resume includes work on HBO's "The Normal Heart," FX's "American Horror Story: Freak Show," and the upcoming series "American Horror Story: Hotel," "Mr. Robot" and "Scream Queens."
"There is something deeply satisfying about playing along to a scene, and letting the imagery and story guide the music that comes out of me in real time," Mac told AXS in our e-mail interview on Friday. He explained that his attraction to composing came from a desire to interpret what was happening on the screen through his main instrument, the keyboard - and a new career began.
Now a regular collaborator of producer Ryan Murphy, Mac first came to Murphy's attention when he served as an additional composer for Cliff Martinez on "The Normal Heart." An additional composer assists the main composer by collaborating on certain music cues and helping to arrange and deliver the score. Mac also filled that role for Martinez on the films "Drive" and "Contagion," and for Michael A. Levine on the long-running CBS series "Cold Case."
Mac told us that based on his "Normal Heart" contributions, Murphy approached him about writing a piece of music to help define the sound of the third part of the "American Horror Story" anthology, which he envisioned as akin to sci-fi strings from the 1950's. Mac went into his studio, composed a sample, and Murphy hired him the next day. The two of them have worked together ever since.
"Ryan is such a creative and prolific writer and director, and his ideas really resonate with me," Mac told us, "probably because so much of it is really bizarre and unusual."
While it's too early yet to know what sound he might come up with for this year's "Hotel," audiences can sample his music within the new documentary "Autism in Love," which premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Working on an unscripted project meant that he didn't have to enhance a scene; his score was simply there to provide atmosphere in support of what was already unfolding. "I think the tone of the music was for the most part on the positive side of neutral," he told us, "occasionally becoming lighter or darker as needed."
But whether he's working on a documentary or a horror anthology series, he's a prolific musician who enjoys seeing what he can create. "As a musician, there are so many ways to express yourself through playing an instrument," he explained, "performing live, recording in the studio, songwriting and of course composing for various types of media." And he can check just about everything off his list.
For more on Mac Quayle, visit his official website.