More to the Story:
Roman Molino Dunn
By Taylor Harrington 2/4/21 2:23am ET
I’m in a very interesting position that I actually get to deal with these reality stars when they’re at their most vulnerable, meaning they’re in this studio, they’re letting it all hang out, and I’m the only person who gets to see it. Then I have to make sure that I distill the best parts of that for everybody to hear.
Roman Molino Dunn is an award-winning TV and film composer, as well as a music producer who also goes by the name Electropoint, and owns Mirrortone Studios in New York City. I sat down with Roman, via zoom, and learned that there truly is more to his story.
Having studied classical music in Manhattan, Roman truly knows how to bring an idea to life both on-screen and off. His true passion lies in writing songs and producing music for his many celebrity clients and also scoring for TV and film.
Roman’s work can be heard in the psychological thriller Huracán, available on HBO Max, where he was the sole composer of the film’s score.
His music production name, Electropoint, can also be found on a multitude of celebrity music tracks, such as songs from RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Honey Davenport and Eureka O’Hara, and Lovari and Adam Barta’s “No Day Like Today”, whose music video stars some of The Real Housewives of New Jersey and their husbands.
How did you get into the music industry?
I went to school for music composition and I kind of had more of a classical background, but you learn pretty quickly when you come up through that, that that is a very limited part of the music industry. I studied in New York and I had to make enough money to afford an apartment so I started doing anything I could really. The shorter version of what could be a really long version of the last 18 years is that I eventually opened up a recording studio with a business partner. I paid my dues, so to speak, just recording sessions and being an engineer. Eventually, you meet clients who want you to do other things for them, and you transition into doing work in what your actual passion is, which for me was producing for clients. Writing songs for them and producing their music, and then also scoring for TV and film. Without getting into the hyper specifics of who I worked for that led me to work with somebody else, it was kind of just because I ran a recording studio. I met other musicians and then also filmmakers who needed music for their productions. It took me some odd places because there are a lot of crazy celebrities in the music game and ones who aren’t in the music game that just want to make music. There are all kinds of reasons why people come to a recording studio, and it led me to where I am today.
Do you actually use your voice in a lot of your productions?
I don’t really engineer anymore, but when I used to run recording sessions I would do whatever came in and there are lots of commercials that do voiceovers. We do a lot of what’s called ADR, which is when they do dialogue replacement for films and everything in between. So it’s not always music at the recording studio. I do use my voice on some of the music that I’m making. I don’t do any character voices for films or any voiceover work, but in a lot of the songs that I make for artists, my voice is in there either in the backups or we’re using it to make what you wouldn’t know is a vocal, like you, might make something that ends up sounding like a synthesizer, that kind of stuff.
What is the most recent project that you’ve done?
This year, the big one that I’ve been pushing is I just did this film called Huracán, which is on HBO. So that was a big push because it’s on HBO Max, so everybody can watch it. Huracán is Spanish for “Hurricane”, it’s a dark psychological thriller.
How long does it take you to compose something like that?
Sometimes not very long, and sometimes very long. There are two parts to it. So there’s how long it takes me to come up with a concept and execute it, then there’s how long it takes me to handle revisions.
Do you do all of that alone?
For that film I did, but sometimes there’s a larger team. To say I do it myself might be cutting that short. I have other people that work in the studio along with my business partner, but on that film, I was writing, recording, and performing the music myself. The director will give you revisions and stuff like that and it’s the same when you work on a TV show, there are just more people involved. Huracán was unusual in the sense that I had a lot of time to work on it. That was almost a two-year project and that’s rarely the case. It’s usually like two or three months to write the music for the film. I got brought on with that picture when they started writing the script and I was lucky to be brought on so soon.
Did you get the script first or the film first? How does that work?
Normally, you get it once it’s all shot and edited unless you’re lucky enough or have worked with the director before, to actually get one from the moment of conception. So I got the script, even an early version of the script, and I was workshopping ideas with the director before they even shot the movie. So that’s like a really lucky situation. You don’t usually get that as a composer. It’s usually like, Oh, my gosh, we need music. Please help us. In this case, it was a friendship and a collaboration, and that was really cool.
It’s incredible how you can read a script or see a film and you have not only the imagination but then also the ability to make it come to life. Do you have anything that you do in particular to like, get yourself in the zone for writing?
I turn off my phone, I turn off the internet, and I start writing music. When I’m writing my own music, maybe I’ll get into that very connected spiritual place and the place of inspiration. In collab work, like writing for a film or TV show, or even making a song for an artist, sometimes it’s a little bit more pragmatic where I need to replicate something they’re looking for. To get in the zone, I just make sure I get a good night’s sleep and get up and try to do it before anybody else is awake.
So I know that you wrote and did some work for RuPaul’s Drag Race. Can you tell me some more? And have you RuPaul?
The work that I’ve done for it is I make songs for contestants that are on the show. So it’s not like I’m working with RuPaul directly unless she’s watching and wants a song, I’m always here to do that. I started around Season Two with a drag queen, and then there was Mimi Imfurst and I did a bunch of songs for her. She introduced me to other drag queens like Miss Kasha Davis and Phi Phi O’Hara. I mean there was a ton of drag queens for season one through 10 that I have worked with. I went through ten drag queens a year kind of thing. Recently I’ve been doing a lot for Peppermint if anybody knows her, but she’s done a lot of other stuff besides Drag Race, which is really cool. I mean, all of these drag queens are, I always think of them, as beyond Drag Race. They’re all great in their own right. I’m just releasing a few tracks that I did with Eureka O’Hara. She’s on a new show on HBO called We’re Here. That whole world has been insane for me because once you work with one reality star, you then work with another, and then it’s kind of crossed into other genres.
I ran a recording studio so I met other musicians and then also filmmakers who needed music for their productions. It took me some odd places because there are a lot of crazy celebrities in the music game, but also some who aren’t in the music game that just want to make music. There are all kinds of reasons why people come to a recording studio, and it led me to where I am today.
Who is your favorite reality star that you’ve worked with?
I will say honestly, like full-heartedly, almost all of them. When I first started doing this I hadn’t even watched the shows, I was just working with these people because they knew my music. It was really cool to meet them all outside of reality TV because I think there’s that part, which people aren’t understanding, which is that this is not who they are, this is just one part of who they are, and sometimes it’s not even really who they are. They’re all very good, talented, hard-working people. Reality TV gets a crazy, bad rap that these aren’t talented people, but in general, they’re very hard-working, or they wouldn’t be able to maintain that platform. So I’m giving a shout out to all of them. I’ve been really lucky to work with nice people who are making great music, even if music is not their main thing.
So I have to ask you, can you tell me about the tattoos on your hands?
I have sheet music tattooed all over myself. It’s just like, down my arms and stuff. Yeah, yeah. So like I said, I went to school for classical music, and then everybody goes through that phase in their 20s where they’re expressing themselves, and I did it by tattooing my own music all over my body. That’s what happened there. Yeah.
I saw a picture with Margaret Josephs and Marge Sr., from Real Housewives of New Jersey, along with David Yontef of Behind the Velvet Rope Podcast. Can you tell me about that?
I did all this Drag Race stuff and it brought me in touch with Adam Barta, who was very involved with Drag Race through World of Wonder and when I started working with Adam on all the songs, actually, that kind of came full circle now I’m thinking about it, so I’ll get to what those pictures were. It’s funny because one of the drag queens I worked with more recently was Honey Davenport, and I did her song. I mean, that was actually a collab, like, sometimes My name is not on it, like you won’t know because that means in general, they’ve paid me to make their music and like a hired gun. But other times I’ll collaborate and my name will be on the track, like, you know, as an artist. So I was doing this song with honey Davenport, and at the same time, I did a song for Adam Barta and another artist named Lovari, who they brought me in to produce because they were trying to hit the charts. Adam is a very smart music business person, meaning like, he’ll make a song because he knows how he’s going to get it out there to people. So we were successful with that song to get it onto Billboard, but what happened was, Adam had essentially got Marge and Marge Sr. and some of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, like Dolores and some of the husbands, came. On that one my name was on the track and it’s called “No Day Like Today”, featuring Electropoint and that hit the charts, but we did a music video for it that was shot in New Jersey and David Yontef came out, what I was saying was that Honey Davenport also came out for the video with Adam, but Adam didn’t even know I was doing a song with her. He invited her because he knew her, and she was in New York at the time. So we had this star-studded reality TV cast for a music video, and sometimes people spend a lot of money and time on them, but the concept here was like, maybe we can do this thing in a different way, which is just to have a bunch of people who know each other and also are on reality TV, get together and have dinner, and if we shoot it, that’s the music video, and it worked out great. We were all just hanging out, but this is before COVID, this was almost a year ago now. So I posted that picture because that was one of the last in-person music jobs I’ve done, and it really wasn’t that long ago, but it was long enough ago that it feels a little distant… The last time I shot a music video was with a bunch of The Real Housewives of New Jersey and some drag queens, and it’s just a crazy small world, that a lot of the people who are making content in the reality world, they’ve all crossed paths with me.
Have you ever met Andy Cohen?
No, no, no. I mean, that’s the thing about what I do being behind the scenes. Most of the songs I do for the reality stars, they’re pushing on their own platforms and don’t get to perform on the show, necessarily, except on Drag Race. I get to know the people that the viewers don’t know like the music supervisor or the editor, or because there’s a whole team, everybody loves the reality stars, which they should, because those individuals are putting their personalities out there for entertainment. There’s this whole crazy team behind everything that’s happening, and they’re working crazy hard, and I know those people to some degree, but I’m in a very interesting position that I actually get to deal with these reality stars when they’re their most vulnerable, meaning they’re in this studio and they’re letting it all hang out, and I’m the only person who gets to see it. Then I have to make sure that I distill the best parts of that for everybody to hear. So it’s a little different, but I guess to answer your actual question, no, I haven’t met him and I kind of imagine I might not necessarily. It’s usually when people want songs that they reach out to me.
I mean, hey, maybe Ben Cohen will be a little singer in a few years.
Could be anyone, you know? I also have lots of reality stars write to me that they want a song and then they just never go through with it for scheduling reasons or it doesn’t fit into their marketing plan anymore. A lot of times this (making music) is actually part of their branding. They do it when they’re on a big campaign to get back on a show or they need to do everything they can to keep all the fans engaged.
Have you ever turned anyone down for work?
Here’s what maybe explains my position better, which is that I used to have, and I still kind of have remnants of it, but I used to use my given name Roman Molino Dunn just for film work, like scoring television and commercials and movies. Then I used to use my name Electropoint only for producing for reality TV stars because I would not be embarrassed necessarily, but the work, people would judge your work with drag queens as lighter, meaning it’s just more fluffy and entertaining than scoring a movie would be. To answer your question of if I’ve turned away work, I kind of was in a way, like, I didn’t want to affiliate my name with reality TV. Now, it turns out that everybody sees this as a good thing. I can say “Tan Mom”, and you’re not like, “wow, that’s crazy stuff“. I’m proud to have done it, even if it is almost comedy.
We’re all sitting at home watching this stuff, searching for the next viral video, so what you’re doing is spot-on.
I’ve never turned anybody away, I mean, that’s not entirely true. I mean, there’s been some, when I was just producing, composing. Working in a recording studio gets crazy. I’ve had people come in and take off all their clothes and play the tuba. I’ve had people show up with, you know, 30 people and try to do drugs in the studio. I’ve seen some crazy stuff and maybe those people we had to gently ask to leave. But people wanting a song? I haven’t turned away anybody within reason. I mean, there are budgetary concerns. Sometimes a project doesn’t work out, but it’s never been like, I don’t want to work with you because I don’t like what you’re about. I’m generally pretty easy to work with. I just want to help other people make music.
I can’t wait to watch Huracán tonight! Do you get an invite to the movie premieres and stuff like that when you work on these projects?
This came out during Covid, so everything was wild. We were talking before we were doing this interview about silver linings, and yeah, I’d say the silver lining is that people are consuming more media, and so as a content creator, myself, that’s helpful in getting more people to watch what you’re doing. So that was a silver lining, that Huracán ended up on HBO. We knew that distribution was going to happen before the pandemic, but it may have expedited it, and it may have just brought more eyes to it because people were at home. Normally, with a film, there’s a film festival run first. I go to those when I can, and then if there’s a red carpet release, I try to show up. Yeah, for sure.