On Point With: CARSON / SixFoot 5

Carson Rammelt, aka music producer Sixfoot 5 (yes, that’s his real height) is making beautiful music with some of the City’s true nightlife luminaries–when he’s not busy making music of his own as recording artist CARSON. Whatever name you want to call him, this tall drink of delicious water is set to have a pretty epic 2021! [Cover photo: Bryan Clavel]

Thotyssey: Hi Carson! I can see you’ve been busy in April so far!

CARSON: Haha, yes! April’s got me like a rag doll in their jaw–tossing me between closing out projects and turning in records, and starting up new ones for this summer. It’s gonna be a lot of writing, mixing and late nights. I recently came across a selfie I took walking down my block this time a year ago. And looking at where I am now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. So let’s have it out, April!

I bet that it’s been a real challenge to do all that you do in the age of Covid.

I mean, yes and no. It was risky, but leaving your house for anything for a long time was risky. The testing and what not was an extra hoop to jump through, but masks were easy and worth it. So, yes it was a challenge–but I also don’t know if I’d be where I am if Covid never happened. It gave a lot of people time to make art.

It must be a very strange balancing act, as someone who produces and records his own music while collaborating with other artists to create theirs. Is it difficult to understand what’s good for your own music versus what’s good for the artists you work with?

That’s a really interesting question… not really, actually! I was wearing two caps as CARSON: the artist and producer. Now I’m wearing one as SIXFOOT 5, the producer. I have to love what and who I’m working with, or I have a really hard time. The process is very collaborative, so every record I’ve done so far really feels like an extension of myself. Even though my name isn’t at the forefront in the end, I get the same high as if it does. The bow on the box is that with every record I work on, I’m learning. The artist inspires me in ways I couldn’t alone, so creatively it’s a win/win for me. And I get to meet and surround myself with kind and talented people and elevate a culture through music; that to me is creative expression at its’ finest. I’m extremely happy.

Since you go by two different names as a recording artist and producer now, I’m assuming it’s very important for you to keep those two realms separate.

Yes. I definitely had issues with “CARSON,” and as a producer I needed something that stood out–and something that’s always set me apart from the crowd is my height. If I had a dollar for every time I was coined “the tall guy” or told “you’re so tall!” I think I could buy David Geffen’s yacht, haha! So I chose to capitalize on what set me apart. It also just looked badass to me, and there aren’t a lot of tall (6’4+) people in the arts.

By the way, that’s a nice photo spread you did with MDRNST briefs!

Ha! Thank you so much. I’ve never done that before. I get very camera shy, and usually have to pop a Valium before I do anything on camera or you can read the tension in my face. I think that just comes from lack of consistent exposure to the art of modeling. I’m too tall for agencies: my dimensions are uncommon, so they say they “don’t feel there’s anything they can do for [me] in the men’s division.” I got that response last week from an agency a friend tried to set me up with. But shoots are usually fun. I just did one with Anthony Cunanan and Bryan Clavel, and we had a ball. Bryan had to wear six inch heels to shoot me at the right angle lol.

You’re a New Yorker now, but you’re originally from Chicago.

I am! Born and raised in the city of Chicago, moved about 20 minutes outside of Chicago for high school, got out early and moved out to New York City to attend CAP21 for Musical Theatre! Still got some family back there and high school friends… I always love visiting. That’s really home for me.

And your Mom was a local TV news anchor there. Was that your first exposure to the powers of TV and media?

I like to think so? I was also very young when she was still on CBS. Her story and drive, though, to being the leading female news anchor of the city’s biggest network has inspired me since I was a kid. I don’t think I really got into understanding the politics and powers of TV and media until more recently–TV and media have evolved so much since 2004, when she left the industry. Shit, everything has, really.

Indeed! What was the music you grew up with that shaped you?

Between my Dad, Mom and my brother (my sister was too young at the time, but she did have the Lizzie McGuire Movie soundtrack on replay), I was surrounded with everything from Motown to classic rock and hip hop. But I myself really grew up on my own listening to James Horner, Thomas Newman, Max Richter, Paula Abdul, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, P!nk, Fergie, Rihanna, Empire of the Sun and One Republic. I draw a lot of influence from them and their producers. I’m sort of a melding pot of all of the above.

How did you begin as a performer yourself?

I didn’t really start performing my own music until the end of college–playing small open mic nights, inviting anybody who would be willing to come. I don’t miss that; it really is a hustle being an artist out here in New York, even when I was a pretty well-known underground artist. I know what it’s like to play for a crowd who’s there for the liquor not the music, or for another artist in the lineup. I think that’s a big asset to me being a producer as well: I know the hustle and lifestyle as both.

You’ve been pretty prolific with releasing pop singles since you also dropped your first EP (No. 1) in 2018.

Yeah, I try and put something out every year since I started.

What’s the process of writing and recording your own material like?

It always changes… but it always starts from an emotion. I’ve found that a lot of the greats–take Stevie Nicks, for example–talk about how they learned to manipulate their emotions to their advantage. But the emotion can come from a chord, an experience or a memory. Then I take it to the lyrics department, build the instrumental around the words, finesse it until it feels right, and then record it. Mix, master and send it to distribution!

Do you have any profound truths to share, regarding the world of a recording artist?

Oooh, a profound truth! Take your trust and put it in yourself, and your ability to take action. There’s a lot of people who like to talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk… especially in this industry.

You also make it very clear that you are a queer artist. Troye Sivan has said that being open about his sexuality has maybe been a setback. But on the other hand, Lil Nas X has a huge hit now, with a wonderfully gay, groundsbreaking video! Has beingly openly gay affected your own career in any way thus far?

Interesting to think about. I’m lucky… I get to be a piece of a culture and music scene that’s rapidly evolving. I can see why Troye would say that, but then I see him in lipstick and dresses and I’m like “Werk. That’s a win for him and us!” And same with Lil Nas X.

To be honest, though, as an artist–for me, personally it hasn’t [affected me]. I don’t feel like I gained or lost anything by being openly gay. I think if you have a platform like Troye or Lil Nas X, it can affect your career. But I didn’t, so people just liked my music… and being part of the LGBT community was a plus. And as a producer, it’s nice to know I can contribute music to the community, and be an out and proud record producer that another gay / queer producer can look up to one day; I didn’t have that as a kid.

You’ve also released a pair of your own very stylish, colorful music videos. How hands on are you with that process?

I’m very hands on, especially with the second for “Once Again.” I was with a small label at the time; I told them I wanted Symone Ridgell to direct. We had an all queer LGBT cast including Garnet Rubio, who’s a friend and trans activist; Cory Alexander, who’s now one of my artists; Hinano Leung, on hair and makeup made a cameo. It’s a really beautiful video, and nod to the 80’s English glam rock era. I don’t foresee another video anytime soon–but when I do, I know I’ll be hands on.

Tell us a bit about Cory, who’s worked with you to create some really dreamy, spacy pop. We love his latest single “Run For Your Money (Work For It),” with its own lavish video. How did that collaboration come to be, and what’s your take on his musical direction?

Cory Alexander was the first artist I produced for outside of myself–before SIXFOOT 5 was even born. We’ve been friends since 2016–he’s practically family to me out here, and it’s been really fun. Despite our friendship, we have a great way of separating our friendship from business. He said he wanted to write an EP; he was adamant I produce it, and wouldn’t take no for an answer! I love “Run For Your Money,” that’s one of my favorite records I’ve worked on to date.

My take on his musical direction is: I think he wants to sway a little more from pop, and explore Synth Rock Land. So we’re on this journey together, exploring that as artist and producer.

That brings us to two thirds of singing drag trio Stephanie’s Child: Lagoona Bloo and Rosé! First of all, how exciting is it that Rosé has done so well on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, making it all the way to the Top 4? She certainly has that amazing talent and work ethic.

I couldn’t be prouder. I remember seeing her before she left [to film], and when she came back she had this fire and strength in her eyes. It’s really remarkable; she makes me smile every time she walks through the door.

You worked with Rosé on her recent cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Gimme What I Want.” It’s hot!

Thank you so much; I built that instrumental from scratch! She came over and laid the harmonies down like a goddess, and we knocked it out in a week!

How do you know her?

Through Lagoona, actually! I met Lagoona in May of last year; she loved my work with [her single] “Greedy With My Love” that she showed Rosé and [third Stephanie’s Child member and Drag Race season 12 alum] Jan, and they both wanted to work with me as well; that’s how I got to know them all. Whenever any of them walk through my door, I know it’s going to be an inspiring session.

“Greedy With My Love” has really broke through as a solid pop single, and Lagoona’s follow-up release “Hands” has a really fun video. Is it possible that she might become a crossover star before she even gets on Drag Race?

100%. I have zero doubts; the music is in her blood. She’s a pop music connoisseur.

You two appear weekly together on Instagram for a show called “Wednesday Night Jams” What’s that like?

We have a drink, sing, laugh and interact with the audience and the #BlooCrew, who always throw us love. We just have a good time, and celebrate our bond over music. People love it!

I’m sure you are juggling a million upcoming projects as we speak.

Yes! So much exciting music is happening. We’re in the home stretch! Distribution likes submissions a month in advance; this month and next month is writing and mixing / mastering, just in time to submit for June. I can’t say much about it because it’s got some well known names [attached] that I’m not sure would want people to know about it until it’s announced. But I can confidently say that Summer of 2021 is going to be an iconic year for queer / gay music.

Excellent, looking forward to all of it! Okay, last question: where’s the first place you’re going when NYC is finally at 100% capacity restored and Covid free?

Hopefully to celebrate a release at the Top of The Standard!

God willing! Thank you, Carson!

Check Thotyssey’s calendar for CARSON’s upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook, YouTube and his website. Download or stream his music on Amazon, Apple and Spotify. Follow his producer persona SixFoot 5 on Instagram and Twitter.

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