Pioneering the future of music has always been a North Star for producer, engineer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and entrepreneur Kate Ellwanger, who performs under the moniker dot. “A champion for the often unsung female producer” and independent artist, dot is now integrating web3 into her mission to usher in a new era where music is properly valued and artists are more empowered.
“It felt like a natural progression for me from an ethical perspective,” says dot, discussing her entry point to web3 while on her morning walk in Sun Valley, Idaho with her dog, Pluto, in tow. “Prior to web3 I started an independent record label and production company. Ownership of masters is so incredibly important to me, but is very difficult to do while supporting yourself financially. That’s always been such an issue in the traditional music industry. Web3 just seemed very much in alignment with what I had been practicing, as an artist and as a business person.”
After cutting her teeth as a part of the LA beat collective, Team Supreme, dot founded Unspeakable Records in 2014 with the intent to create more community among womxn in music. What started as an independent record label for female-identifying artists, has since evolved into a production company and label focused on inclusivity, empowerment, and innovation. “Ultimately, a lot of our solutions lie in mutual collaboration and respect,” says dot regarding the ongoing journey to find solutions for inequities. As an artist, mentor, producer, founder, and teacher–dot’s belief in the power of innovation, community, and educational resources has always guided her endeavors. Now, dot is integrating web3 technologies in her business as a natural fit with these core values. “There is something that feels really special about this shift in the way that things are valued,” says dot. “And that’s everything to me.”
Whether she’s hosting artists for creative retreats in Sun Valley, sitting on panels at cryptoart exhibitions, or donating proceeds from her NFT sales to Planned Parenthood–dot relentlessly finds a way to make an impact. It’s only right that in 2021, her solo project took flight with her breakthrough album Life Support, released on Unspeakable Records. Now signed to Alt Vision (management) and Wasserman (booking), dot is juggling tour dates, festival runs, and new releases alongside her active participation in both her web3 and web2 communities–a welcomed whirlwind she says is beyond her wildest expectations.
Along the way, she has minted more than a dozen NFTs on Catalog and Sound–including a 31-track mixtape called Nova Drift featuring 17 unreleased instrumentals and early versions of tracks from the *Life Support *LP–and collaborated on the hedsTAPE project.
Now with the added support of her new team and a community of collectors, dot’s vibrant universe is only getting brighter ahead of her next full-length record expected for release in early 2023. To kick off this new musical chapter, dot dropped the album’s first single “Bounce” on Sound– plus an extended mix as a 1/1 on Catalog–ahead of its upcoming DSP release on October 21.
Having made a habit of blending genres in her past work, dot says she’s taken a different creative approach to the new album. “This is my very first fully dance-oriented record,” says dot. “This particular record is very House, which I am thrilled to be exploring more deeply with this album rather than making a House track here and there.”
A practice in mastering a niche, dot’s inspiration for the upcoming album lies in the process of cultivating a new expertise. “This is the first time that I've dug into a specific genre in far more depth. I think previously, I feared the genre labeling. When I was younger I wasn’t inspired to, or had the discipline to really focus on one sound. I wanted to explore multiple sounds. I wanted to be genre-bending. I wanted to create my own genres. But as I'm getting older, I realize the value in really going deep on a genre, instead of going relatively surface level across many. That's really the driving force creatively behind a lot of this.”
Committed to adding value to the library of her new chosen discipline, dot is wholehearted in her study of House and its history. “I've been doing a tremendous amount of research and homework beyond what’s trending in House right now,” says dot. “I want to know about the history and how it evolved. I want to understand the different club scenes, the fashion, and politics. I want to know more about the origins of the culture and make sure I’m giving my full attention and respect back to this and not jumping on some sort of hype train. It’s so much more than just a formula or types of samples.”
If “Bounce” is any indication, listeners are not only in for an education in House, but a musical treat. Her attention to detail is exquisite. What the passive listener may miss, a reverent ear can pick up in the most nuanced of details on “Bounce” and its extended mix. The sonic landscape carries its listener from start to finish through intoxicating waves tucked, pulsing, and center stage in all the right places. “I may not stay in this genre forever, but if I want to be someone who is creating new sounds, new genres, and blending things in a really meaningful way, it’s necessary to do this deeper work. In order to master your craft and master your artistry, I think it's important to study what has come before you.” Constantly learning from the past to build a more abundant future, dot’s growing constellation is a map sure to lead her to the next frontier.