PREMIERE: Gwendolyn Dot Shares Existential Pop Track “placenta et al”

Like many artists, Gwendolyn Dot’s relationship with music began in the church. The Indianapolis-based producer recalls countless Sundays occupying a pew in the church choir, aimlessly following the monotonous melodies of Methodist church hymnals, singing only partially present in a wispy register. She even took twelve years of piano lessons with the minister’s wife. Years later, Dot has transformed her years of more rigid training into a sonic church of her own, one that exists outside the confines of religious tradition or brick and mortar. Her third single, “placenta et al,” from her upcoming record, mystic responsibility, is a reverent exploration into the cycle of life and the divinity of self.

“The placenta, while representing life, also symbolizes death and rebirth,” says Dot. “In a human life we have the potential to go through many cycles of death and rebirth without the heart ceasing.” Dot says the record she has been working on was meant to honor the cycles she has personally experiened, as well as an attempt at letting them go. Instead of embodying the dark aspects of birth and death – fear, uncertainty, pain – Dot’s music uses aqueous production and analog synths to paint a blissful and serene picture of these transition periods. The song sounds like a spiritual meditation, hinting at rebirth as a key component to self-discovery. Dot repeats “return to birth, body, placenta et al,” throughout the song in the same wispy voice she used in her church choir days, only this time she is fully present and intentional. It’s her version of prayer.

Dot’s ritualistic sounding songs are likely due to her own spiritual journey surrounding this record. “This album is entitled mystic responsibility for good reason,” says Dot. “I’ve been exploring my place in this world and attempting to understand this reality, and wondering… What is the self in relation to others? What is my responsibility to my self, to others, and to this planet as an alive entity? Am I god?”

However deep Dot’s questions go, her music is not clouded with the doom normally paired with existential thought. Instead, it is an extraterrestrial escape, inviting others to participate in her inner dialogue – or just let go and dance a little.

Listen to the exclusive premiere of “placenta et al” via Bandcamp below.


PLAYING DETROIT: Whateverfest Brings Detroit’s Disparate Music Scenes Together

When you think about music festivals, it’s easy to picture giant stages, overcrowded drink lines, and teenagers in various species of headwear. Whateverfest – an all-genre, all-ages DIY festival based in Detroit – is pretty much the opposite of that. Born from a “what if” conversation between friends in 2011, Whateverfest has grown from a few bands occupying every apartment in the Hyesta building to over 40 bands, spanning nearly every genre, playing at the Tangent Gallery. This Saturday, May 12th, the fest is returning for its eighth year and is set to go from 12 pm to 6 am the next day.

The fest’s lineup includes a vast array of Michigan bands as well as acts from Toronto (Rooftop Love Club), Chicago (Aathee Records), and Indianapolis (Gwendolyn Dot). One of the original festival organizers, Soph Sapounas, says that the event’s musical diversity comes from the laissez-faire ethos indicated by its moniker. “Whoever wants to play plays,” says Sapounas. “We’re all just trying to have a good time – it’s whatever. That [word] starts getting thrown around a little too much on the day of but it’s okay.”

Though the organizers strive to be as inclusive as possible, the festival’s popularity attracts a slew of submissions every year, which the team reviews in a democratic fashion. They host listening parties and make sure that the roster of artists performing represents the city as a whole. “We want to be a platform for artists and musicians in Detroit in general. Not just for rock, not just for techno – we want to include all of it,” says Sapounas. “That’s one of the things that keeps recurring, is people telling me that they think it’s really cool to see all the different scenes here and everyone having a good time together and not having that cool kid standoff.”

With groups like Spaceband (a nine-piece experimental funk collective), Ex American (new age electronic), and a handful of techno artists holding down the late-night sessions, the festival undoubtedly reps staple genres Detroit is known for and everything in between. If you’re in or around Detroit, this fest is more than worth checking out. If not, check out some of the amazing under-the-radar artists below – I’m betting they’re more eclectic than your Discover Weekly playlist.