'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Composer on the Origins of 'Peeno Noir'

Jeff Richmond talks with THR about the amusing song's connection to '30 Rock.'
Courtesy of Netflix

Many television series have tried to mimic the Internet's wide array of camp comedy tunes, but few have managed the universal adoration of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt standout "Peeno Noir." The ridiculously silly and infinitely catchy tune — as performed by Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) — has become nearly ubiquitous, with T-shirts, parody tunes and the belting of "peeeeenoooo nooooiiir!" popping up almost immediately after the show's Netflix debut.

Composer/executive producer Jeff Richmond spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the song's origins, its initial reception from cast and crew and its surprising connection to the 30 Rock universe.

"Peeno Noir" has had such a life of its own since Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt premiered.

I was very surprised and delighted that "Peeno Noir" is its own little sensation. … I don't think anyone knew what "Peeno Noir" was going to sound like while we were shooting it, and everybody thought it was just crazy. Like, "What is this going to add up to be?" You could just feel it. People were like, "Is this going to be anything? What's going to happen?"

We were putting it together in the same, amateurish way that Titus, the character, was putting it together on the show. In his mind he thought, "All I need is my ringtone and some rhyming words and I can make a music video." And I think because of the production schedule, we went into it the same way.

The day we were set to shoot it, we were already behind schedule … so we headed down there quickly, with the beat [playing] quietly on the set, the writers yelling out rhymes that they'd come up with. And Tituss would do it in front of different settings or in the fancy townhouse we'd rented that day. Just whatever we could do to get Tituss on camera singing and rhyming. Once we got all these crazy elements, we basically built the song from there. We laid all the pieces in. We were able to bring Tituss back in and say, "We're going to add a little backup part to this, we're going to pull the elements from this piece of the song and this piece and we'll tie it all together" and in turn tie the whole episode together.

Read more 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' TV Review

Where did the song itself come from?

We had a beat, which we took from an old 30 Rock episode that we used as a ringtone. It was definitely not like how you would go about doing a song musically at all.

Wait — there's another 30 Rock connection to Kimmy Schmidt?

The actual track we grabbed at the last minute to shoot to was the track from an episode of 30 Rock where Denise Richards sang a very short musical video called "La Piscine" [from "Idiots Are People Two!" season six, episode two] about how much she loved the pool.

We needed something; we were shooting in 10 minutes, so Giancarlo [Vulcano, Richmond's music associate] said, "What about 'La Piscine'?" and we said, "OK, perfect." So we basically, in some weird way, have connected 30 Rock and Kimmy Schmidt in the same universe, where Denise singing 'La Piscine' was actually Tituss' ringtone. On some weird level, that's what occurred there. Now the writers and Tina [Fey] and Robert [Carlock, the show's co-creators] will never, ever admit to that because it's my secret, but that's what happened.

How much do you love "Peeno Noir"? Sound off in the comments.

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