From charting consistently on Billboard to composing films to producing music for Grammy winners, Roman Molino Dunn (also known as Electropoint) barely has time to stop moving. This year alone, he has upcoming work with RuPaul’s Drag Race dolls Honey Davenport and Aja, and already has landed a major deal with cosmetic giant Kiehl’s by scoring a recent commercial of theirs with K-Pop superstar Hwang Chi-Yeul. Dunn was putting the final touches on an upcoming project that features a whole bunch of Real Housewives of New Jersey, but he managed to grab some time away from the studio to chat with me about how his passion for music developed, what it was like being featured on The Howard Stern Show, and what it’s like to help bring the musical talents of so many RuPaul’s Drag Race ladies to the masses.
Michael Cook: When did you know in your life that making music was your truest passion?
Roman Molino Dunn: It was quite early on, I started taking formal lessons when I was four years old. My dream was always to be a composer, but I had no idea that it would manifest itself through being a music producer and film composer. As a kid, I studied piano, guitar, voice, saxophone, marimba, conducting, music theory, and composition. I was gearing up to go to college for music composition, which I eventually did. I studied classical composition and thought I would be a concert hall composer, but it wasn’t until I opened a recording studio that things really went from just writing music (literally on paper) to composing and producing music for commercials, films, and artists.
MC: You have crafted music for other artists, scored films, and made some of your own music. What do you think is your favorite aspect of your career and why?
RMD: Oh wow, that’s probably the hardest thing to nail down. I absolutely love that I have a variety of projects to keep life interesting. At the end of the day, scoring films and producing music for artists isn’t about my vision, it’s about helping someone else achieve their musical goals. Composing music for picture is about helping a director tell their story; I am really just the vehicle through which they can compose their music. Producing for an artist is about crafting a track they truly believe in and love enough to share with the world. As such, in both instances, I need to put my own musical desires aside and never be sensitive to revisions or direction. Because of that dynamic, having multiple projects of varying media types and flavors helps me keep a sense of balance. There are incredible joys in creating music for others, and I honestly see them as being equally rewarding; every single day I am truly grateful that people hire me to make music.
MC: As a music producer, you have crafted music for massive corporations like Tom Ford, Donna Karan & NBC. What is it like being in the studio and creating the sound that will define a product or brand?
RMD: It’s such a rush when I get a commercial job. Usually, they are very fast turnaround (i.e. “we need that yesterday”), and they need multiple options, so it is both a literal rush and a figurative rush. To explain the process a bit, I get a final or mostly final cut of the commercial, and sometimes there is what is called “temp music” already in the commercial. The temp music is often a famous song or even just stock library track that the editors are editing with. I then create something in that sound-world that syncs up with the video. I am expected to do multiple concepts and the director and/or client choose their favorite, then we fine tune the chosen piece to their specifications. It’s basically a very short movie, and it’s particularly cool because it’s like scoring but with styles of music that are usually reserved for artists, like pop or EDM or a hybrid. Sometimes it’s classical-based, but a lot of times if they are hiring a composer it is because they are looking for something unique. It is really amazing when you finish a project like that because even more people hear that music than a movie soundtrack or a track for an artist.
MC: Your work with Adam Barta & Tan Mom received so much attention on The Howard Stern Show. Tell me about how ended up teaming up and what it was like getting the thumbs up from The King Of All Media?
RMD: I’ve actually done a lot of work with Adam in the past (and a lot coming up!!). I met Adam a few years ago through Kasha Davis. I’ve done songs for her over the years and on one song she brought in Adam for a feature. A year went by, and Adam and I connected on Facebook and decided to do some work together (a song for WE Tv’s Dr. Miami). Since then I’ve done a lot of great work with Adam, and he always has incredible ideas for collaborations. He did a song with Tan Mom a few years ago but wanted to do a fresh, new one. I thought it would be a fun project, but had no idea how viral it was going to be. The process was something else! I basically made an instrumental and then Adam and Patricia came into the studio and free-styled Adam came up with that insane hook and we went with it. Patricia dropped a ton of catchphrases, I tuned that all up, chopped it together to make some phrases, and the rest is satellite radio history!
MC: You have worked with so many of the Drag Race girls, from Alexis Michelle to Bob the Drag Queen. How did those relationships get started? And what was it like developing music for such diversely talented performers?
RMD: The very first RPDR contestant I ever worked with was Mimi Imfurst. I’ve produced for her a lot over the years, including her most recent Hedwig anniversary album. Mimi introduced me to Sherry Vine, who I have done a lot of parody work with. Sherry knows everyone in the drag world, and I was really blessed that both Sherry and Mimi loved my work enough to recommend me. Through them, I ended up working for Latrice Royale, Phi Phi O’Hara, Kasha Davis, Alexis Michelle, Eureka O’Hara, Monét X Change, Honey Davenport, Pandora Boxx, Peppermint, Bianca Del Rio, and quite a few more. Some of them I’ve done full albums for, some singles, and people like Bianca and Bob I’ve had the pleasure of having them featured on duets with Sherry Vine. In fact, there are a lot of local drag queens who are legendary in their own right that I have worked with, like Paige Turner and Lady Bunny.
Developing music for such a group of diversely talented performers has been an incredible journey. My composition teachers taught me that if you really wanted to be a composer you had to be able to listen to any style of music, analyze it, and then be able to write/produce in it. Working with artists who do everything from Hip Hop to EDM to Jazz keeps me happily on my toes.
MC: Word is, you have music coming with some of the Season 11 girls, Honey Davenport perhaps? Anything you can share about that?
RMD: Sure thing! I have a new song coming out with Honey, and it’s turning out super hot. It’s something we started discussing even before Season 11 came out. I don’t think it’s like anything you’ve heard from her so far, and I don’t wanna give away too much but it’s going to be a real sexy, sun-drenched, ear-worm.
Aside from Honey’s track, I am doing a few other similar projects. One song is for Pandora Boxx, which is much harder hitting than her previous projects. That song is all mixed and mastered and is going through the marketing planning phase, but keep an eye out.
Another track I’m really excited about is a song with comedian Daniel Franzese (of Mean Girls fame). I don’t wanna give too much away about that one, but it’s really awesome to work with a comedian who is pushing the boundaries.
I have two new ones with Adam coming out: one specifically for Howard Stern with Adam and Medicated Pete and one with NJ’s own Lovari. In fact, that one we are just about to shoot the music video for with a ton of Real Housewives of New Jersey!
MC: When you’re not creating music, what do you do to keep your creative juices flowing and to really decompress?
RMD: Turning off the music is a hard thing for me to do. I’m blessed to do what I love for a living, so it’s almost impossible to separate work from play. I suppose I have some morning rituals that provide decompression, namely going to the gym and sauna just about every morning as early as I possibly can. And the thing that warms my heart and reminds me of what the meaning of life is, and this the only reason to make music, is experiencing love. My wife is truly the most amazing soul, and her understanding of the crazy hours I work to balance scoring, producing, and running a recording studio is what makes my life work. Music, for me, is so much beauty, and nothing is more beautiful than love – in whatever form that takes.
MC: What’s next for you?
RMD: I am grateful that my projects have been getting bigger and better, but I love doing what I’m doing so I am not planning anything too different; just more scoring and more producing!
MC: What gives you the most pride in your career and as a person?
RBD: Seeing my clients succeed. I really truly believe that making music is only just a gift, but that my purpose in life is making music for others. I don’t think pursuing my passion is as important as pursuing my purpose, and when I see that my efforts have truly advanced a client’s career or project I am incredibly proud.
Art Courtesy of Roman Molino Dunn (via Jason Carrasquillo)
Group Shot Courtesy-Adam Barta (Instagram)