Originally from Michigan, Dunn moved to Seattle in 1993 to explore his interest in film music. He attended the Art Institute of Seattle to study sound design for film, and formed connections with local musicians, including Skerik and Matt Chamberlain. In an interview, Dunn stated, "I'm sort of a frustrated filmmaker that turned into a record producer. The people I met when I moved here spun me in a way that sent me down this path of treating sound the way I would have treated film."
During his studies he received practical experience at Hanzsek Studios under the instruction of Jack Endino. He gradually became involved in the recording and producing of sessions.
As a fan of the band Naked City, Dunn contacted keyboardist Wayne Horvitz in Seattle who introduced him to Eyvind Kang. Dunn received his first credit for a session with Eyvind Kang, resulting in the piece "5th NADE/Invisible Man" on the 7 NADEs album released in 1996. His involvement resulted in a long-term friendship with Kang, through whom he met a number of musicians, mostly in the jazz-rock genre. Dunn was later introduced to the engineer Mell Dettmer and together they founded Aleph Studios.
In 1998 he engineered the live portion of the album Bumpa by Critters Buggin, while he received a writing credit for his involvement with Mr. Birdy's Fryday by the Rockin' Teenage Combo. In 2001 he worked together with trumpet player Lesli Dalaba and guitarist Bill Horist, releasing the ambient album Zahir. He engineered Kang's 2002 album Live Low to the Earth, in the Iron Age.
On November 9, 2018 Dunn released his first solo studio album titled Beloved. It featured guest vocals from Frank Fisher of Algiers and Zola Jesus.
Master Musicians of Bukkake
In addition to his work as a producer and engineer, Dunn is a keyboardist and founding member of the experimental group, Master Musicians of Bukkake. Dunn described the project as "a way to escape how I make music in the studio when I'm doing records for people".
In 2004, alongside his bandmates, Dunn wrote, arranged and produced the first Master Musicians of Bukkake record, The Visible Sign of the Invisible Order. The album was released on Sun City Girls' label, Abduction Records and featured the musicians Eryn Young (vocals), James Davis, Don McGreevy, Alan Bishop, Charlie Gocher, and John Schuller.
When being offered to produce someone, Dunn prefers "people to send the roughest demos possible rather than more elaborate ones. And I try to see if it's music that I - or my aesthetics - can work with. Like, with their vision, and the end goal". He also pointed out that "people themselves are a really big thing for me. I just try to find people that you can spend ten days with in a small room, still enjoy each other's music and company, and be collaborative". As a musician, Dunn described himself "as an arranger in the studio. (...) You have to think several steps ahead as a musician - tuning, performance, rhythm - you have to think about all these layers of how sounds work".
On several occasions, Dunn has expressed a preference for the use of analog recording equipment: "I'm not a huge fan of the predictability of digitally processed music. But when you combine it with analog, you can get a cool medium. I rarely mix in the box, or use Pro Tools to do mixes. Everything is hands-on with faders. I'll start with tape--if it's a rock band, recording to 16-track two-inch tape. It's a beautiful sound you don't hear much of any more. I like the hybrid approach with the soul of tape and the precision of digital."
Dunn credits his open approach in the studio as being influenced by his studies of Buddhism and psychology.
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