HISTORICAL by Primal Digital (Pd) founder Julian Lauzzana
In the year 1998 an audio-visual production company called Primal Digital, LLC was formed as a sole proprietorship LLC in New York City . As such Pd has and will engineer, curate, produce, mix and edit sound and video. As a live event or as a finished product. Pd has, for example, enjoyed putting together MicroCinema events over the years…
The Pd logo (at top), flyers, and posters were created by Kurtis Geisler in collaboration with Julian Lauzzana during the Brooklyn years (2000-2005).
My journey to NYC began when, after staying at the Hotel Riverview for a couple weeks and interviewing all over the place, I lined up a job working for NovaWorks Computer Systems as a Systems Engineer and was stationed at the Paramount Plaza building, Times Square, Manhattan. I worked for various Viacom channels (primarily Showtime Networks) with the primary responsibility of overseeing the technical issues in the Media 100 Digital Video editing suites during night time editing sessions. I came in at 4pm and left at the latest by midnight, so I had my late nights free to wander and record music and all day to walk around the city. It was me and my Siamese cat Eli, in a studio apartment in the East Village on the corner of East Houston and Avenue A. Years later I found out that Nikola Tesla may have had his first laboratory in the United States very near to this place of Pd’s origin.
Here’s an example of a track called “Dark Ork” that I put together while living on the corner of E. Houston and Avenue A on September 27, 1998.
After saving up a little money from this tech job, I made the first big investment into Primal Digital studio – an Apple PowerMac 7300 – hooked up (via 1/8 ” mini jack) to a Tascam four-track cassette recorder. Speakers or headphones were generally hooked up to the output of the computer and mics were plugged into the four track. Software included a free version of DigiDesign’s ProTools 4.3 software and a CyberSound Midi sequencing program.
The first “clients” were the Toxic Monkeys (TMs). Not the easiest couple of guys to work with, believe me, but they like working in the studio and helped to cover some of the costs.
The relationship continued on for several years and ended with some pretty epic performances in Brooklyn at BWAC (Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition) and Primal Digital Studio. Around 2003 the Toxic Monkeys disbanded and left for parts unknown.
Maybe they had to get back to nature and leave the computers behind. If so, my guess is that it’s only a matter of time before they get the urge to pick up the gadgets again and make some noise. There are numerous bands and projects out there now with the name Toxic Monkeys, but little or none of that relates to this electronic art rock duo.
Here is one sample from 1999 recording called “Lo Mein Bondage.” This was the opening piece called Apocalypto, Part One.
In 2000 Primal Digital moved out of my studio apartment and into it’s own space… a two level 5,000 square foot warehouse in “DUMBO” Brooklyn with no natural light…a total cave of creation! To get things going, various bands used it as a practice and storage space.
We began hosting various happenings like art openings, CD release parties, film screenings and live performance art shows.
There was a recording studio built in the basement while events took place upstairs.
Everything was going pretty darn well until some people decided to run some airplanes into a couple of Big Towers across the river on Sept 11, 2001. After that time it was hard to have so much fun anymore for various reasons and one of the primary studio collaborators, Mert Balkanli, was for some mysterious reason, along with countless other vaguely middle-eastern or potentially Muslim people, incarcerated for 6 weeks without charges . Eventually he was forced to take “voluntary departure” and now he lives in Australia and plays some pretty heavy music over there with a band called “The Warm Feelings.”
When the lease was up for renewal at 216 Plymouth Street (where Pd was operating) 3 of the 5 landowners of the cooperatively owned building decided it was a good idea if I would move out. Since then, Primal Digital has set up in various locations, with gear now being used regularly at Foundry Hall in South Haven, Community Education Center in Bangor and occasional live events.
This website signals the rebirth of Primal Digital in a global context. As a counterpoint I am now rooted more firmly in a local context of a rural Southwest Michigan Community Homestead I started call Earthen Heart. Many collaborators stayed in NYC, one is in Israel, one is in Australia (as noted above) some are in Spain and eventually you just can’t keep track of it all. Then, perhaps more importantly, there are all the new connections I have made upon returning to the Land of the Great Lakes. Until the noosphere is in full resonance, and I can access it at will, I will have to Facebook people when they come into my thoughts – or perform some such social networking atrocity.
Though it was hard to leave the Brooklyn location, after putting in so much time and energy, it was my cue to leave NYC and do a few other things. I earned my Masters Degree from the SIT Graduate Institute, lived at Arcosanti (a prototypical “arcology,” lean city model, or experimental utopian eovillage depending on your viewpoint), and now I raise a family and run a community homestead farm in Southwest Michigan. Our agritopian attempts at radical comprehensive realignment can be viewed at www.EarthenHeart.com. We are looking for short and long term visitors.
The mission of this website is to spawn global collaboration on new projects while sharing some of the archival material as well. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned and reach out if you feel inclined.