Q+A: 5 minutes with Six Missing

A man of the moment, producer Six Missing is an avid meditator and creator who explores the intersection between mindfulness practices and music composition, a combination that goes hand in hand like milk and cookies. The New York native is well-versed in fitting sound to experience, having scored audio for films like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, and Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Illuminating the power of compassion and oneness, Six Missing has shared his new atmospheric single, ‘Loving Kindness’,  which is taken from his forthcoming EP titled Intention II, scheduled for release on the 9th of December under the Sea Level Sounds imprint. Sitting cross-legged, we took a deep breath, asked a few questions, and allowed ourselves to be guided by the Six’s answers. 

Stream / Download: Six Missing – ‘Loving Kindness’

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a performer, marching my family around my grandparents’ house while still in diapers, handing them instruments and instructing them how and what to play. It’s always been in my blood. Emoting and sharing comes from such a deep place within my being. I need to do it just like we need to breathe. I believe that everyone has a purpose with their time on this side of existence; mine is to create music. Over the decades of playing music, I’ve helped others find their voice. Only within the past five years did I start listening to my own, figuring out who I was. I decided to take my anxiety and depression, that I deal with,  and transmute them into light and art, helping myself feel better and hopefully helping others feel better in the process.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

When I’m producing, sometimes the sound comes first and other times the idea comes first, but it’s always the feeling that starts it all. What am I trying to convey, what am I trying to say? And then the search for the sound begins, to try to meet up with the feeling and idea I’ve had. Sometimes the search for that sound leads me down another path, and other times it does indeed meet – I’m learning to stay open to any and all things that happen on the journey to the end product being the finished piece.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

This EP does not feature any collaborations.

What’s on your current playlist?

My current playlist is a bit all over the place. I start with some oldies from The Beatles and switch to some moody vibes from Fleet Foxes, and then I’ll switch to some classic ambient from either Brian Eno or Harold Budd. Then I’ll find my way to some pop from Dua Lipa or Big Data, and usually I’ll round out my day with some chiller vibes from a Tycho, Death Cab for Cutie, or Phoebe Bridgers record.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

Six Missing is a project born out of experimentation in the studio, but when I did perform I used to love walking out on stage and seeing new faces. My goal was always to turn that new face into a new fan. I loved the challenge of knowing that I had to be my absolute best to win that person over, and I always left it all on the stage. These days, I am lit up by social media and messages I receive from people that are finding my music – I love hearing from new people and how they discovered my music. Specifically, I love hearing how people use my music in their life; on walks, meditating, during massage, yoga, breath work, while using plant medicines, and psychedelic therapy.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I really like the idea of taking a sound and turning it into another sound, something completely unheard of before. Sample libraries and sampling myself are great ways to begin, then I like to process the sound through tons of effects or sometimes just one effect until I find something that reaches inside of me and makes me feel. Once the sound becomes a feeling, I know I’m on the right track. Being a sound designer, I have no rules within the studio, everything is an experiment and every idea is worth pursuing. The true skill comes in when it’s time to decide if a sound stays or goes. Sometimes the most powerful tool in the studio is the mute button.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I am in the studio every day no matter how I’m feeling. I’ll begin each day the same, by turning everything on so I have no excuse not to do something. I’ll give myself a few hours to settle into the day by listening back to mixes or by getting emails out of the way. Once I’ve set the tone, normally with a coffee in hand, I’ll start by grabbing whatever instrument I grab first. Some days it’s the Minimoog, other days it’s the modular rack. Whatever it is, I always hit record before I hit a single note as I know sometimes that first note that comes from not trying to make anything specific is the catalyst you need to start and finish a track. Once I’ve spent some time in the flow state, I’ll step away and give myself a walk, hear nature and then return. And before the end of the day, I will always perform a mix as a way of saying, “this is what I did today”. Sometimes, everything falls apart and the inspiration either never hits or hits 15 minutes before I’m ready to stop–I try to stay open to whatever hits that day.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

The first time I found my uncle’s guitar in my grandma’s attic, I knew music was for me. I didn’t even know how to play the guitar at that point, I was 10, but something deep inside me awoke that day; I can still smell the scent of the guitar case. The moment I put a guitar in my hands was the moment I awoke to my purpose.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Since Six Missing is mainly a studio project, I tend to keep all my comfort objects nearby: some sage, some palo santo, my beloved cat, and all my instruments. Let us not forget the most important piece, coffee.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I’ve been a fan of Phoebe Bridgers since I first heard a single off Stranger in the Alps,  and while she’s not “emerging” any longer (she’s very much huge) she made me FEEL things which is the sign of someone who is tapped with the gift. This is absolutely a shameless plug to attempt to make a soundscape for a Phoebe track. Can you blame me?

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Anything and everything gets my creativity going. Normally a cup of coffee kickstarts it all, but a walk outside, a chat with my partner, or a dream I had can also start it. Insights gained via meditation and even heavy emotions can all jumpstart the process of creating. I think that any emotion can be used to create art. The challenge is usually taking something dark and using it to make something light and vice versa.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

For better or worse, I love gear. Like the changing seasons, a piece of gear can have its time and then step back for a bit only to reemerge in the future again. Lately, I use Spitfire Audio libraries for huge amounts of inspiration as well as Native Instruments near daily. I also have a Moog Matriarch and a vintage ’74 Minimoog Model D that give me endless joy, I could never give up my synths from Moog. Moog makes such incredibly ALIVE instruments. They are my desert island/bury me with these/pry them from my cold dead hands pieces of gear. The Sequential Prophet 6 is a studio workhorse and such a great performer due to its easy sound design potential and the onboard effects. I have a rather large Eurorack modular setup with modules from Make Noise Music, Mutable Instruments, Strymon and my absolute favorites from 4ms Company. Outside of that, I am also a guitarist first so I have a ton of effect pedals ranging from Hologram Electronics, Earthquaker Devices, Chase Bliss Audio, and Meris. All within a day of composing I could be using every single piece in the studio. Some of my favorite guitars are my Fender Jazzmaster, my vintage ’64 Gretsch Clipper, and my ’65 Magnatone amp. I really like old things and quality built pieces, also anything funky–my Omnichord from the ’80s finds its way onto recordings a lot too. And lastly, the two newest pieces are the Soma Synths Lyra-8 and my old Tascam 414 cassette deck. I like to collect. I don’t buy a piece of gear if I don’t think I’ll use it. Similarly, I don’t sell off anything because just because I’m not using it currently doesn’t mean it won’t find a place in the equation in the future.

Any side projects you’re working on?

No side projects at the moment. However, I perform remixes and reworks for a multitude of artists as I truly enjoy the process. I love collaborating with folks on their material and am very open to it. In the past, I’ve reworked tracks from Foam and Sand, Tom Ashbrook, Montane District, Norvik, venn, and more.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Each day is a new day to find a way to refine my craft. I’m open to being surprised and also to learning from unlikely sources. I’m never one to ignore how someone does something because it can spark an idea in my head of something to try. I’m all about ignoring rules and “that’s how it’s done” sayings. It’s for this reason that I will never read an instruction manual.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

This year will culminate with my latest offering, Intention II in December. Intention II is an EP meant to allow the listener a place to sit quietly and journey inwards. Aside from Intention II, I have a handful of reworks coming out as well as two longer-form releases in the Spring and Summer of ’23. For now, I’m most excited to share Intention II as the follow-up release to Intention which was released on New Year’s Day 2022 as a way to meditate and set forth intentions for the year ahead versus making resolutions. Intentions are deeper and more true. I can’t wait for everyone to get to experience this record.

Famous last words?

If more people spent more time creating more art we’d all be in a better place. When we all realize that we’re all one and the same, all sharing this planet together, then we’ll be getting somewhere. Music helps me feel connected, feel passionate, feel love. And all I want to do is to be able to share my music with as many people as possible.

Intention II Tracklist:

1. Awake Awareness

2.Loving Kindness

3.Peaceful One

4.Within Without

5.Intention II [Meditation Edit]

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Image credit: Hannah Edelman