The loss this past January of Chase Amick, better known by his stage name 6 Dogs, took a heavy toll on modern music’s present and future. When 6 Dogs signed to Interscope’s Mad Love records in 2018, he was one of the first artists to bring an online, underground fanbase into the mainstream. With his muttered vocals, hazy production, and a steadfast adherence to positivity, 6 Dogs became an early hero for many independent artists.
When we spoke in July of 2020, Chase had been riding out the pandemic at home in Georgia, and was two weeks recovered from his own COVID diagnosis. Paradoxically, the illness came at a time when he was in the midst of a health kick: Chase sounded as dedicated to gardening, smoothies, and mental wellness as he was to music. His long-awaited album was beginning to take shape, and after a week of listening I was convinced this was 6 Dogs’ most ambitious, impressive, and hopeful release yet. RONALD is out this Friday, March 12.
Read a message from Chase’s parents and the full interview below.
Warning: The following content contains candid descriptions of mental health issues which may be triggering to certain people.
“We know that countless people loved Chase and feel his loss profoundly. We also know that Chase felt that love and expressed often how grateful he was for it. He, in turn, loved his fans, friends, and family fiercely. To say that he is missed is a gross understatement. His loss feels like a bomb exploded in our lives and hearts leaving a crater that is smoldering, gaping, and raw.”
“Chase was open about his mental health struggles. For the past four and a half years he contended valiantly with bipolar disorder and psychotic episodes. While he did receive treatment, these issues were at times still a struggle for Chase. The night Chase died, he took a walk and went to a building where he would watch the sunset and gaze at stars. He fell from that building and did not survive his injuries. We will never know if he meant to fall or if he was experiencing psychosis at that time. We find these unanswered questions difficult, as you probably do as well. There is no evidence that he planned his death and there was no indication given to those that were with him in the hours preceding his death that it was imminent.
“Chase expressed often to his friends and family that this past year had been one of the best and happiest of his life. He was focused on his health, developing beneficial habits, and on passionately pursuing artistic endeavors. This pursuit produced music and art that we will treasure. In the past months, he created music videos, interviews, and an album that he was proud of and excited for the world to experience. Our decision to release these were with the hope that they will be a blessing to you.
“In the midst of our grief, we believe that Love Wins. Chase believed that too. He would want us to find comfort in the love of God and in spreading love to others. He would also want you to live unabashedly vibrant lives full of creativity and joy. Our prayer is that, with time, you will do just that.
Thank you for loving Chase.”
If you are experiencing mental health struggles, please reach out for help. In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741 for support and assistance from a trained counselor.
If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
Okay, so you’re a smoothie god now?
Let me for real break it down. I just re-upped, I went to Sprouts yesterday to do some grocery shopping. I got all these powders. Mushroom powders, the moringa powder. Moringa is fire. I put a little dragon fruit shot thing in there. There’s only one thing I really spend money on, and it’s health foods. That’s something that I really will ball out on. It’s an investment.
Is that a new thing or is this a quarantine adjustment?
Fortunately, I was on this before quarantine. I actually got COVID. I only had symptoms for three days, which was so clutch. It really sucked for a second. The worst thing was really just the inconvenience of it all. You’re just doing life. And then it’s like, here you go.
I was a little feverish and I had chills, really bad chills. I have a theory. So I woke up, when I first felt symptoms I just woke up and I just felt so bad. So bad. I think what it was, I think I might’ve already had it and I was asymptomatic and then I ate really bad the night before. Really bad, and I usually eat pretty good. And right before I went to sleep as well, which is not good. I woke up and I was like, “I feel horrible. Why did I eat all that last night?” And then throughout the night I had a really bad headache and really bad chills. It was behind my eyes, I couldn’t open up my eyes all the way. My right eye was kind of puffed up. It was weird. I was ready to say BS and go to L.A., and it ended up not being BS. A whole pandemic.
So what did you do while you were isolated?
I started doing this thing recently. I’ll draw a dragonfly every day. Just a little cartoon dragonfly, some kind of dragonfly every day. It could take a second, it could take an hour, it doesn’t matter. As long as I draw a dragonfly I’m on course. This cartoonist dude started doing it. It’s a whole thing but basically he was talking to some really seasoned artists and was asking him for advice. And he was just like, “Draw the same thing every day for a year and then just get really good at that one thing. It can be anything. It can be really simple. It probably should be really simple. But just get really good at it.”
I’ve also been following your flourishing gardening skills. What are you growing?
I have an elephant plant, which is probably my favorite over here. A few of my plants have died, but it’s fun.
Let’s get into the music. The title alone makes “When I Was A Baby” a great first song. What was it like making that one?
We were talking about the Notes section in our phone, and what we put in our Notes, cool things that we’ll brainstorm and write down. Dan [producer Daniel Hartzog] said something like, react to the beat. That really resonated with me. So I changed the title of this note from “random lyrics,” to “react to the beat.” Now that’s really part of my creative process, when I react to the beat. Let a song write itself and see where it’ll go without putting too many heavy expectations on a track. Keeping it fun.
So I just started writing random stuff. And “when I was a baby,” I don’t know, I liked that line. I feel a lot of people like their childhood, they have good memories from their childhood, at least a few hopefully. And so calling the track “When I Was A Baby,” I wanted to connect those points and make people feel nostalgic. That’s one of the main things that I try to make people feel because that’s one of my favorite feelings, nostalgia.
Is the album meant to mimic life in that way, starting with birth and ending with death?
Yeah, for sure. I also want it to go beyond the music and I want it to be a good time. I want it to be a good time and equally be an opportunity for someone to think deeply. “When I Was A Baby,” it’s just fun. Babies be having fun. They be doing random stuff, but they also be thinking. It’s a balancing act. I don’t want to be just throwing super woke bars at people and it’s like, no fun, but also you want to give people an opportunity to self-reflect. And I want to give myself an opportunity to reflect as I’m writing, because I think that’s important to unlock certain parts of myself as I write and as I create a song, because I think that’s a big part of it.
Babies have no filter.
And they’re just dropped in the world, they have no idea what’s going on. They’re used to being in this warm liquid, just getting fed every day by a tube. And then they’re just bam, in the world, get their umbilical cord cut. It’s the first surprise … first of all being born and then right after that part of their body gets cut off. Like, what? That kind of sucks. You actually don’t have to do that to kids. You can wrap the umbilical cord in camomile and lavender and stuff.
So, “When I Was A Baby,” it’s a fun track and it’s just really a turnt track, but there are those notes of a deeper meaning. That’s really what I try to do with my music. I want to make lit music.
I hear that a lot on “Good Wings”
I like to use my music as an opportunity to affirm things and to speak things into existence, and that one’s just about trying to live your best life and believing that things can go well, and taking risks based on that belief. Because I think you can make decisions based on fear or you can take risks based on faith, and there really is no in-between.
Sometimes you just got to sit back and watch things play out, and I think that’s kind of where I’m at in my music career. I feel I’ve set up a solid foundation for a while and I’ve been working on myself so that I can make the best music that I can make, and really just be happy as a person, aside from the music. For a while, this music definitely saved me and definitely saved my life. I was going down a bad path and in all honesty, the music in my head, it was my last shot. I was basically, I was going to call it if it didn’t work out, it was my last shot, but I knew I could do it. But I was there, I was at that point. I was there at that crossroads, and it was tough. I also got definitely lost in the sauce for sure. The music led me to some bad places as well, or I led myself to some bad places I should say.
I feel like your story so far is made up of a few of those crossroads. First you decided, okay, I’m going to pursue music full-time, and then maybe, the second was when you said, I’m going to sign with this label and see what they can do for me. Now this third one, you know what I’ve seen what the machine can do, and have decided to return to yourself. The first one is the one I don’t know anything about. Do you remember that moment where you first realized people like your music enough that you could do this full time?
I was a lifeguard in my parents’ neighborhood. The pool was right down the road, and it was my first job. It made me realize like, wow, I can not have a job. I can’t focus on something like that. And being a lifeguard is just sitting down in a chair, it’s not even anything. I was just like, if I can’t do this, I got to find something else. So day after day after day, I was sitting in the sun thinking about it.
So at first I made the decision in my head that I could do music. I thought it was probable, and I acted on that. I think that’s what got me here, was that that was a risk. I took a risk. And it worked, which is really crazy. All the kids who are reading this or whatever, if you think you got sauce, take the risk. If it doesn’t work, you need to be prepared for that, yes, and you need to have a backup plan, yes. Music isn’t everything, there’s more to life, yes. But if you think you can do it, by all means, my guy or girl, do it. Because it is very, very possible.
A lot of kids, they’ll hit me up and they’ll be asking me for advice, and I don’t respond to a whole lot of DMs because at this point I do get quite a few DMs, but they’re just asking me things like, “What kind of equipment should I get?” It’s like, you’re asking me that? Just look at the YouTube tutorial. Just look that up.
But also too, they’ll be asking for some kind of handout or some kind of favor and it’s like, that’s not how it works. Even if it did work, and I were to give you that favor, would you have as good of a time if you just did it yourself and you took a risk on yourself and you grew? That’s really what it’s about.
Painting, drawing, music, all these things. I feel like that’s my purpose. It took me a long time to get here, but I feel very purposeful with the way I move, and I want to make a difference and I want this music and this art, I want it to affect people. And I want them to have a good time. And if you’re just doing it just to make some bread, or get a girl, or whatever, there is no fulfillment in that for you and you will not find happiness there. I got to tell you, it’s not going to happen buddy. Sorry.
A lot of people don’t understand the money isn’t what it’s portrayed to be either, as a musician. Even if you’re part of a label.
Yeah. It’s not really that crazy. You could be an accountant or something. If you’re about the bread like that, it’s not that crazy. Even if they do get Drake money, it can not make you happy. It can’t. You have to make you happy. And if you don’t know how to do that, it might be kind of a sad road.
That was almost my story for a second. But thank God I found grace and I came back. It was really kind of sketchy for a second. I’ve attempted suicide twice. It’s been a while now. Two years ago was the first time, or something. It was so horrible, and I was so lost, and so outside. I believe in a creator. I was so outside of the creator’s framework, the plan for me. It didn’t work, I didn’t succeed, I didn’t actually off myself. Thank God. There was no fulfillment.
We are here to help each other and we’re here to change the world. It’s clutch time. There’s a lot of horrible stuff going on, but there’s also a lot of good people doing a lot of good things. I personally think that energy is so much stronger.
I’m so sorry that you were in that place, and before we move on I want you to know there’s so much love for you out here, and I hope you continue to remember that and recognize signs in yourself when it’s feeling that way.
Thank you, I really appreciate that. The label was cool and I’m glad I did the industry thing. But the timing, there were parts of it that were bad. I didn’t have full creative freedom. And at that point I didn’t even know my creative process, so it was impossible to figure out because you can’t fully go there.
But we’re all on this big rock together. We are all one and the same. It’s our job to, if you can, help someone else. If you can’t, don’t. Work on yourself, take care of yourself first, but if you can help someone else by all means do that, try that, because I think that’s why we’re here. I think that is our purpose. We are here to help each other and we’re here to change the world. It’s clutch time. There’s a lot of horrible stuff going on, but there’s also a lot of good people doing a lot of good things. I personally think that energy is so much stronger.
How did you get out of that darker place? Was it a conscious thing that you realized? Or did somebody step in and say, hey, there’s more out there?
It was the grace of God. That was really what it was. I didn’t deserve to come back. I did a lot of horrible things. Just like we all make mistakes and that’s the best part about forgiveness, and I think that’s a big part of life. One of the biggest parts of life is the law of forgiveness. It’s a law, just like gravity. I grew up in a religious household, and it confused me. It didn’t resonate with me, it scared me. There was a lot of talk about hell and all these things.
But that’s not what it’s about. That is so far from what it’s about. Coming back and really understanding the sacrifice that, in my opinion, Jesus made, and understanding it from being an adult and understanding it from my own point of view, not what someone is forced feeding me and trying to get me to believe, it was life changing, man. It was life changing and it’s empowering. That’s the thing with grace, it lets you step without being scared of breaking the eggshells. It lets you stomp.
It’s a very natural lesson too. It’s like, forgiveness gives back. You will be rewarded if you can find it in yourself to forgive.
100%. You got to forgive yourself too. There’s so many Christians that believe in the power of the cross and forgiveness and grace, but then they can’t forgive themselves. You have to be able to forgive yourself because if you can’t do that, that’s equally a part of the pie. And that’s hard, it takes time.
What are you going to remember about the making of RONALD? Take me through the motions.
I go to my boy Dan’s house. He lives in Smyrna, which is a little bit on the perimeter of Atlanta. It’s kind of where most everybody is that I’ve been hanging out with recently. I go to his crib, he’s got a nice home studio, it’s very relaxed and we just cook up.
The last song we made, I don’t know if you’ve heard it. But we made it with my man Riz [La Vie], who I had never met before this session. He came through to Dan’s crib and we just really clicked. He’s super into crystals and nature, and I’m super into that as well. He’s very health-conscious. He’s just a real artist too. We just connected on a lot of different levels and we just made a song, we didn’t even talk about it. It just happened and it’s a really good song. Then we made another song a couple days ago and I personally think this song, I don’t know, I think it could really go.
Dan is executive producing the whole project and also engineering the project. He’s an extremely fire engineer, also producer. So they all kind of sound alike from a beat standpoint. They all are really fire but they’re all different but they have that same sound and we’ve gotten some other producers to come into the house and to work on stuff with those, which has been cool.
I want to be friends with the people that I make music with. I never want it to be a clout move, and you’re just working with someone just to up your status. It’s never fun that way.
Going back to that third crossroads we were talking about, the risks that you took. To me, the third moment was deciding to go independent again. How has your process changed since then, artistically or otherwise?
I’ve been looking at it as really an opportunity to work on myself. In my opinion, I’ve tried to integrate my creative process with my everyday life so that when I’m just chilling, drinking a smoothie, having a good time, I’m going to make a better song. I’m going to draw a better picture because I feel better. I’m feeling better about myself. I feel more creative. I feel more juiced up. I have more energy. So that’s really what I’ve been trying to do during all this is get outside, exercise, stay healthy, make music when I feel like it. Really, I don’t put pressure on myself. I don’t put expectations on anything.
I expect to make good art because I trust myself and I believe in myself. But if I don’t make something good, I don’t beat myself up ever because that’s a waste of time. The next track, the next painting won’t be as good because now I’m like, “oh, I got to make a good song.” It’s like, bro, chill out, just calm down. It’s okay. Just have a good time.
I’m so excited about this album because I’ve never had more fun making music in my entire career. This is the most fun I’ve been having, and I think it’s the best music I’ve ever made. I think it’s really going to resonate with people.