For over 30 years, Martin Bisi has recorded music from his studio in Brooklyn's Gowanus neighborhood. After a chance New York encounter, the studio was founded with money from Brian Eno, who subsequently worked on the album On Land there.
Working with Bill Laswell and the band Material, Bisi recorded Herbie Hancock's hit Rockit in this underground space. This was the first mainstream, popular song to feature a DJ and a turntable, utilizing 'scratching'. Following that success, Bisi worked with many other influential musicians there, including Sonic Youth, Swans, Angels of Light, John Zorn, Foetus and the Dresden Dolls. He has recorded across many genres, from experimental music, to hip hop and indie rock in the old factory building by the contaminated Gowanus Canal.
However, the future of the recording studio is in question as it is squeezed in by the encroaching gentrification of the neighborhood. A new, massive Whole Foods supermarket across the street is the latest addition to this once out-of-the-way area, that Bisi fears will increase property values to the point of pushing out long-time renters and artists like himself.
Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio includes interviews with musicians such as Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Michael Gira of Swans, Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls, Bob Bert, who played on Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising, Bill Laswell of Material, JG Thirlwell aka Foetus, Grand Mixer DXT, Jim Coleman of Cop Shoot Cop and Michael Holman of Gray (with Jean-Michel Basquiat) and creator of famed 1984 hip-hop TV pilot Graffiti Rock.
Winner of Best Documentary at New Jersey Film Festival 2014
“The music and Gowanus studio legends are one thing, but Bisi’s life itself is a fascinating story of ambition, tragedy, and ultimately, of a successful carving out of his own little place in New York’s music history.” – Gear Gods
“the doc offers a surprisingly strong sense of one of the city's most storied epochs and will please in-the-know viewers with a taste for behind-the-scenes arcana.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“The subjects in Sound and Chaos are so compelling that one can't help but wish for more stories of their experiences” – Tiny Mix Tapes
About the filmmakers
Sara Leavitt (co-director) is a freelance video editor based in Brooklyn. She has worked at networks including SundanceTV, mtvU and NJN Public Television. As an assistant editor, she worked on a variety of reality shows and documentaries for A&E, National Geographic, the Travel Channel and TLC. In her free time, Sara enjoys eating pizza, playing with other peoples' dogs and biking.
Ryan C. Douglass (co-director) grew up in the cave filled fields and Indian graveyards outside of Austin, TX. Currently, he spends his time in Los Angeles working as a video editor amidst a world of comic book heroes and indie rock songs. This is his first feature film.