Begun as the idle passion project of 17-year-old Pasadena resident and budding electronic music producer Max Wortman, 6Bit Collective has developed into quite possibly the best homegrown Los Angeles record label you've never heard of. The collective's various members, which include artists called Dreams, Caves, and Future Dollars, are all born and bred Angelenos, brought up on Alpha Pup and Absent Fever releases. They were early patrons of Fuck Yeah Fest and the Eagle Rock Music Festival, holding Daddy Kev and Gaslamp Killer as role models.
“L.A. is a huge part of 6Bit,” Wortman puts in. “A lot of the people here have been involved with this scene for most of their lives.” Indeed many of them have been regular fixtures at Low End Theory since before they could legally drive.
As for Wortman himself, he's visually disorienting. Eager and fresh-faced, now 18 and barely graduated from LACHSA, he hardly looks the part of a record label founder, but he is confidently articulate when he speaks, and possessed of an indomitable ambition that belies his young age. When he explains his vision for 6Bit he seems to be describing a sort of utopian musical cyber-commune. “No one on 6Bit is being paid to be part of the collective,” he explains, “it's completely voluntary, there are no contracts, and no one is ever asked to leave or to stay. We've grown up together, we've gone through everything together, pulled strings for each other, worked for each other and then gained from each other.”
Future Dollars – “Theme From Future Dollars (Feat. A Sol Mechanic)”
It may be easy to write him off as an idealist, but 6Bit has had a great year, despite their decidedly non-commercial approach. There have been high profile collaborations with Absent Fever and Jaxart Records on the Generation Y Not compilation, a budding partnership with veteran L.A. indie label Delicious Vinyl, a few showcases — including one organized through the Portals project — and a hearty helping of blog love to boot.
The music, meanwhile, has been consistently killer. All the more impressive when one considers it's made primarily in bedrooms and makeshift home studios, with sparse equipment and virtually no budget, sustained by little more than the prowess and creativity of the artists themselves. The work spans the musical divide from understated ambient electronic music, to sample heavy breakbeat bangers, and even to more traditional guitar-in-hand, singer/songwriter fare. There seems to be little uniting the seemingly disparate elements besides their shared belief in what might be called a 6Bit sensibility.
“We release works that need to be released when no label can be found to release them,” says Wortman. “I wouldn't say that we're aiming to be accepted, I think that we're aiming to showcase our work, showcase what we are”.
Peep more 6Bit tracks below
Caves – “Didn't I”
Pheobe Bridgers – “Chelsea”
Eliot – “In My Head”
Dreams – “Bloodsport”