Joshua McMahon, a.k.a, The 6th Dimension is a Florida-based producer that creates futuristic soundscapes. Thanks to his Navy family, he went back and forth between Florida and Virginia. His production is a mixed bag of electronic distortions, video game-like soundtracks, and EDM noises. Outside of music, 6th is a part of RealmHaus: a creative consultancy that specializes in AR/VR, digital design, music & video production. The 6th Dimension represents the present-day intersection of technology and music. With hip-hop starting to ride the music video NFT trend like how Jim Jones and Migos did for their hit We Set The Trends, it's very possible that 6th and his RealmHaus team will create larger projects for artists in the metaverse. His latest beat project, Tapestries, is a result of when your old world falls apart and you create a better one tailored to where you want to be in life.
Jay: The popularity of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology indeed has expanded in the past decade. You experimented with VR podcasting for last December’s Hackathon, a social coding event that brings computer programmers and other interested people together to improve upon or build a new software program. What made you want to focus on virtual podcasting for the project?
6th: An absolutely brilliant developer Cameron Peele and I created the Sonar Sound Studio prototype with the idea of bringing people together in a unique way while further democratizing the media landscape. Retail space rental is expensive and so is audio equipment, but how great would it be if you could put on a $400 headset and be surrounded by your friends, family, or special guest and immediately start recording a talk show or podcast with any setting you wanted as the backdrop? There are so many voices and ideas out there that don’t get the chance to be heard for the simple fact that life is life and sometimes it’s hard. Money, distance, and time are all daily obstacles. In college, we meet many like minds and at the end of four years, most of us never see each other again.
Facebook is two-dimensional, and FaceTime is two-dimensional, but what if we could cut up like old times even if you live in LA and I decided that Richmond was for me? The capitalist pursuit divides us all in one way or another but this was made of a vision for bringing people together even in the midst of a pandemic. The world stopped in 2020, we were busy building ways not to stop with it.
We were given honorable mentions for Sonar Sound Studio by DevPost. They cover our project in great detail in their fantastic write-up.
Jay: Do you think there can be a VR music show or even a festival one day?
6th: I can picture that happening like a silent headphone party. What's amazing is these things are already happening in VR. With Meta’s Horizons app I’ve attended a Billie Ellish concert and seen boxing matches, in other apps I’ve walked the International Space Station and a whole lot more. VR is a rapidly expanding adventure that I really wish so many people wouldn’t sleep on. This is today, who knows what will happen in 5 years.
Jay: Let’s talk about RealmHaus. It’s an AR/VR, Digital Design, Music & Video Production, and Creative Consultancy. What made you focus on those specific things in the tech and music fields?
6th: To me, technology is the expansion of freedom. Music is simply an expression of it. When you combine the two you get accessibility. I don't have to be a brilliant piano player to make brilliant songs. With technology, the mastery of some of the old arts just isn’t a requirement anymore. Like today, a majority of the music people listen to today is comprised of digital sound. That is, instruments that you can never really pick up and touch because they aren’t real. What is real, however, is the goosebumps you get when that right sound touches your ear and the alchemy of tones unlocks dreams, fantasies, ideas, and waist movements that a real instrument could never.
You combine the two (Tech + Music/Art) and I believe you have the tools to reach further into what it means to be human. There are an infinite amount of discoveries waiting to be made, and it’s better when you have better tools.
Jay: In your Seduction Fashion Show Miami project, the sounds reflected the GLAM aspect of the fashion world and authenticity in being true to oneself. Describe the process of creating that project.
6th: This was one of my favorite projects. I was contacted by Le’Adonis, an incredible community figure in Miami and CEO of Only L Boutique, at the recommendation of my dear friend and collaborator Andrea Nicole, another well-gifted act and phenomenal singer. I was tasked with creating a sound that was fearless, bold, and downright epic. It was fun, at times majestic, and thrilling, and I made sure that I carried the models and attendees through an experience that they would never forget nor get at any other fashion show. Truth be told, I was an absolute stranger to the Miami fashion scene so it helped that I had great cues from Le’Adonis as to what he was looking for and I went to work on studying everything I possibly could. At the end of the day, it still helped that I had Florida blood running through my veins.
Jay: Please describe the Florida music scene.
6th: The ONLY thing that you need to know but don’t know about the Florida scene is MR. JEFFERSON. Florida is extremely diverse in the sounds that make it. You get a lot of country, rock, hip hop, Latin, Caribbean, and EDM. EDM is big. The sound of Florida is big and being born or made there means that you naturally carry a sort of intensity about you.
The range is ridiculous, I mean from real backwoodsy blues-type stuff to really flashy EDM and spectacular nightlives. If I were to comment on the rap scene, it’s taken a direction that I personally gravitate to with some of the popular themes. But I will say that if you want a wild time then definitely come see us by the water.
Jay: How would you describe the growth from your latest project Tapestries to past works four years ago?
6th: Tapestries for me was about diving much deeper into myself. I made it in a time of rapture. My life felt as if it was in freefall. Here I was standing at the edge of the abyss, I was at the end of my marriage while graduating from university at the same time. I saw disaster and success, I made achievements in the face of dysfunction. To survive I made myself numb while simultaneously letting it all go. The album cover to which I credit meteorologist Danielle Rouse for the original image depicts a dark cloud with a silver lining. I found freedom in despair. They say that in the darkest dark you’ll find that you yourself are the light. What I know is that I expressed what I felt and I set myself free.
Compared to past years, I feel like I've always made late-night driving music but I wanted to get more cinematic with it. One of my biggest goals in music production has always been making music that you can “see”. Over time I feel that I’ve learned to be more personal. When I was young I made music for others. Now that I’m older I make music for myself. I took the journey from artist to engineer to producer and beyond. Each stage teaches you something not only about music but about yourself.
What I do see at times is that there was a rambunctiousness that I had when I was young. I see this, especially on the Southern Summer Record. I was partying hard, going on wild adventures, and maybe at times having questionably legal fun. With age music became more like medicine, I found myself guiding others through this process of self-discovery, and all of a sudden my artistic priorities became different. On Tapestries I looked in the mirror and released all of my fears.
Jay: When I hear your sounds, I think they can be on soundtracks to RPG games like Final Fantasy or on 2k. Do video games influence your production style?
6th: Video games were a major influence on my exposure to music growing up. As I became older I realized that the scoring was just as important as it is in cinematography. Now what video game music does that is unique in some aspects is a lot of time it is carefully crafted to get you in “the zone”. The time spent watching a movie as opposed to playing a game is really incomparable. Let’s say a movie is 120 min, some of the RPG games that they make now have 60 hours of storyline gameplay.
For something like Call of Duty, only God knows how many hours somebody's boyfriend is logging on any given weekday. That’s where I believe “sonic immersion” is of the highest importance. If the music sucked it would without a doubt impact the replayability. In my production, I try to focus on this aspect with sound selection, my choice of instruments, the acoustic textures that I use, and so forth. In many of my projects, I do what is called sound synthesis where I am actually designing sounds from scratch. First, it starts as a pure wave (a dial tone may be a good or inaccurate reference for some as the North American dial tone is a combination of two pure waves at 350Hz + 440Hz), and then I turn it into an 808 or a snare, or some lush pads. The process itself to me really feels like a game sometimes.
Jay: How do you feel about cryptocurrency Play 2 Earn platforms like Novain Starship and their guilds? Do you think crypto gaming is a thing of the future or will it be another fad that comes and goes?
6th: I haven’t yet had the opportunity to indulge in any play-2-earn games, however, I think they are a great idea. I’d also like to get in on some of that ad revenue! Could you imagine how much money some high schooler would be racking in if something like COD was P2E?
Jay: What was the best no that you have ever received?
6th: The best no that I ever got I think would be that my physics advisor basically denied endorsing me for grad school in physics because he did not believe my math skills were strong enough. Mind you I graduated with a BS in Physics and a minor in Mathematics with a 3.0 GPA. From there I knew that I should be focusing on my artistic/technical craft and my own vision.
Jay: Who are some indie artists that you want to shout out?
6th: I would shout out PHIcticiou5, Halo the Great, Mr. Jefferson, Joi Emonie, Xay Rhodes, and Saiara.
Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhisprime on all social media.
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