Earlier this year, we were given this album that was beautifully modern, but was twisted with a nostalgic synth vibes. The album is called Retrofuture produced by the lovely Kate Ellwanger, who goes by the stage name Dot. The ridiculously busy woman, who runs a record label, produces and writes music, goes on tour and more, still took a few minutes to sit down with us!
So, without wasting any more time, I am please to introduce to you, Olympia-native, Dot!
DOT: Of course! Before I got into music production, I was mainly a vocalist and pianist. I grew up in the sweet little town of Olympia, WA, and studied classical music for most of my younger years. This eventually led me to become a voice major at Chapman University’s conservatory of music, where I ended up taking an intro to music tech class with Steve Nalepa. I was instantly hooked as soon as I started experimenting with all of the different DAWs he introduced us to, so I immersed myself in a world of YouTube tutorials on Ableton Live for the rest of my college days.
Steve also recommended that I check out Low End Theory and apply for an internship at Alpha Pup records, which ended up being a life-changing experience — not only was it an incredible gift to be able to learn from the master Daddy Kev, but I also ended up releasing my very first EP on Alpha Pup, and played my first show as Dot at Low End Theory.
Since then, I’ve spent my time creating as much music as I possibly can — for myself, for other artists, for my collective TeamSupreme, for my label Unspeakable Records, and even for a few film/TV gigs here and there.
AM: We love our quirky state capital! Your new album, Retrofuture, is a chill, deft pop album. What inspired this beautiful creation?
DOT: Thank you so much! I wanted to create a record that sounds as if it were a dream of the future from the perspective of the past, so this strange sense of time is the glue that holds all of these songs and styles together. I was also in a heavily introspective phase while this music was coming together (as any self-absorbed human often is), so a lot of the muck I was working through found its way into the record as well.
AM: Well, it turned out wonderfully and we are thankful for it. What tracks from Retrofuture do you enjoy performing the most and why?
DOT: My favorite so far has been “Gravity” because my voice feels the most free and expansive when performing that song, and it makes use of every piece of gear in my current rig. I live-loop guitar, keys, and vocals along with a minimal backbeat, so it’s really fun to create something a little different each time I play it.
I also love playing “Love Is” for the opposite reason — it’s the most minimal and exposed song in my rep, and there are no frills or loops to hide behind. Just my voice and guitar!
AM: You are a busy woman! In addition to your own music, you started your own label, Unspeakable Records. How do you balance and manage your time?
DOT: Meditation and self-care are my saving graces. Balancing so many projects at a time requires a tremendous amount of focus and discipline that has taken me years to cultivate, and I still have my moments of crippling doubt or being overwhelmed, but the rewards are more than worth the effort I put in to my music and business.
AM: Could you tell us a bit about what made you start Unspeakable Records?
DOT: It’s no secret that women are painfully underrepresented in music throughout history, so I wanted to create a platform to amplify our voices in music and art. Not only was it important for me to have a solid business foundation for us to manage our own careers and income, but I also wanted to have a space where women could support each other’s work, learn from one another, and celebrate our successes when we inevitably overcome the extra challenges presented to us.
AM: Couldn’t agree more that women are undervalued and underrepresented. A bit ago you had the chance to play at Seattle’s inaugural Up Stream Festival. What was it like knowing you were part of the first class of artists to be showcased?
DOT: It was a huge honor to be invited back to my home state for the festival! I have so much love for the Seattle music scene, so it was a really cool opportunity to hear such a diverse mix of artists in one weekend.
AM: You also just ended a mini-tour, but should we expect more showing coming for the summer?
DOT: Yes, absolutely — I’m on my way to the East Coast after a brief break in LA, so I’ll be playing about 10 shows over there before heading back west to do some more writing!
AM: We can’t wait to catch your show! Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us!
DOT: Always a pleasure, thank you!
Also, check out the album, Retrofuture, by DOT below and don’t forget to pick up the album on iTunes now!