Culture Shock: 6AM Turns LA Techno Into International, Crypto-Empire

Techno is one of the modern moments of ‘multiple discovery’. The art form emerged in the early 1980s from urban Detroit. Its rhythmic style carried its way through Germany back to its original source of inspiration, paying homage to groups like Kraftwerk and other electronic music that emerged from Berlin and Frankfurt. Both cultures had unique perspectives and through mutual respect and reciprocity, they would go on to influence one another through mixtapes, synths, and underground club scenes. Both cultures provided punk-like DIY influence on a new style of music that would unite rebellious resourcefulness with the cyber-centered culture of the coming decades in a genre known as techno.

As techno travelled across countries, styles, turn-tables, and nightclubs, its peak popularity is still on the rise through innovative labels and promotional organizations like Los Angeles-based 6AM. The organization defines itself as an “experimental and digital media platform covering all facets of underground electronic music culture, resource, technology, and lifestyle.” And while the claim covers all aspects of the industry, the brand has lived up to its description. 6AM has hosted some of the most widely-attended and well-received events in the underground scene, launched their own clothing line, and recently, launched their own cryptocurrency. With innovative decisions and a roster of equally innovative artists, the brand has pushed themselves not only to the forefront of the techno scene, but to the forefront of music culture in Los Angeles.

6AM’s Underground Origins

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6AM first started in Los Angeles back in March of 2008 under the name Disturbance. The organization was founded by Jia Wang, a Guam-native DJ who had moved to San Diego before becoming enthralled with the sprawling scene of techno in Los Angeles. Inspired and hoping to support a proper techno community within the city, Wang started performing at a variety of venues. Driven by the promotion of other artists and the ability to showcase emerging DJs, Wang started hosting shows and events through the 6AM name that stayed true to the movement’s underground origins. 6AM maintained the genre’s reputation by hosting DJ sets in abandoned warehouses throughout Downtown Los Angeles, hidden by secret passwords, guarded doors, and coded slang that added to the mystique of it all. The exclusive events harbored an inclusive environment that quickly caught the attention of other artists across the West Coast techno scene.

By 2013, Wang and 6AM returned home and founded Guam’s annual Electric Island Festival. The event’s success spurred other innovative techno festivals and events throughout Los Angeles including WORK and REFORM (a collaboration with fellow promotors Synthetik Minds and Dirty Epic), and COMPOUND (a group endeavor involving 6AM, Synthetik Minds, Dirty Epic, and Incognito). The events feature well-established legends in the techno realm including Danny Tenaglia, Drumcell, DVS1, and Derrick May. 6AM has also hosted a series of shows through their WORK event featuring local rising artists such as Tap Newo, Annika Wolfe, Secus, and Stephen Disario. Their events range from intimate showcases to festivals that include anywhere between 200 and 2,000 people.

Their annual festival, REFORM, was recently featured in Billboard which highlighted the upcoming September 2021 lineup. The music platform referred to 6AM as the “upholders of the city’s rich warehouse rave legacy for a new generation of underground electronic music fans.”

Rhythm through the Culture

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6AM has been the upholder of techno culture through their representation of new artists and a willingness to promote DJs that exemplify the spirit of industrial, hypnotic, electro, and acid techno. Their support has resulted in experimental events ranging from forward-facing house and techno shows to 360 immersion experiences featuring DJ sets, lasers, and scenes from horror films at events like COMPOUND.

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The group has also publishes innovative articles and thought-provoking pieces that serve to retain the integrity of the music scene in general. One recent article focused on whether or not phones and flash should be banned from the dancefloor. Ignoring the obvious elements of standards and tradition, the article consisted of a more open-minded discussion about enjoyment and engagement along with what it means to exist in the present moment, for the benefit of not just the event but for the people who attend it. Another recent publication from the site focused on the return of events in the post-pandemic era. “Did you learn what is important to you in life and what isn’t? Did you learn who you can count on in life and who your true friends are? Did you learn how to be patient? Did you learn how your actions affect others? Did you learn to be a little more selfless and put others before your own needs?” It highlighted the importance of community, the need for knowledge, and the power we have when strengthening the people around us, a concept that embodies everything techno represents.

Into the Metaverse

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In addition to the return of public events, 6AM has also been able to utilize the online space to promote artists and engage with their community. Part of this venture into the metaverse resulted in 6AM creating the first ever cryptocurrency dedicated to the house and techno community. $RAVE coin was launched on April 13, 2021 at the height of the crypto craze and was intended to serve the techno and electronic community. The decentralized concept of crypto currency reflects the spirit of techno and 6AM intended to “build a community that provides for the community, is controlled by the community and is supported by us, 6AM group.” Several benefits of owning the cryptocurrency include pre-sale access to certain events hosted by the group, the designated title of 6AM Raver which offers exclusive access to the groups Discord network, and first access to mixes, premieres, and new apparel and merchandise before going live for the general public.

6AM also hosted several online-based events throughout the pandemic, including a Twitch stream in collaboration with Sian’s Octopus Recordings. The event featured a DJ set from 6AM founder Jia Wang along with other 6AM affiliates including Insical, JNY, and ØNYX.

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With in-person events making a strong comeback during ‘redemption summer,’ 6AM has already established themselves as one of the top promoters, earning references in Billboard and other electronic music-based outlets like Magnetic Mag, DJ Mag, and DancingAstronaut. Through innovative decisions, ambitious goals, and a head-first dive into the metaverse, 6AM has proven itself within the Los Angeles techno community and is ready to share their grass-roots integrity on a global scale.  

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Sources:

6AMGroup, MSN, Billboard, Dice, MagneticMag, DancingAstronaut, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, GuamPDM, TheCultureTrip, NYTimes, Stereogum 

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