Sunday nights on Orange Avenue are quiet from early to midevening, which can be an apprehensive thing to deal with when starting a new club night. That quiet permeates Sapphire Supper Club on a recent Sunday, where local DJ Jon Gardener is spinning at "The Loop." It is a new, invitational dance-music night that is sponsored by Pyroglyphics, a young graphic-arts company that wants to broadcast the sound of Orlando's dance culture to modems around the world, from the city street that helped ignite an electronic-music revolution.
On Sunday, March 21, Pyroglyphics -- a company spawned from the subcultures that absorbed Orlando's youth in the '90s -- brings in the mixing boards, sound monitors, VCRs and computer software that will enable them to send RealAudio signals, and eventually video transmissions, through Sapphire's never-used ISDN cable. It could be just what Orlando needs to help invigorate a faltering, post-late-night-dance scene.
Later at the office, where the Pyro Music website was created six months ago, Pyro artist Jay Marley, 26, relates the conceptualization of Orlando's first cyberspace club. "We were hoping to have the capabilities to do the broadcast before we had the club night," he says. "But the club night came first."
Thai-American Marley and his partners, Tampa native Jamey Lewis, 25, and Brazilian-born Zon Carvalho, 28, were inspired in part by sites that broadcast from dance clubs such as San Francisco's Beta Lounge. "It's nothing that hasn't been done anywhere before, but nobody's really done it here."
Pyroglyphics uses graphic-arts technology and tools to affect, as much as turntables and wakeboards have, the identity of Orlando's dance-music and extreme-sports communities.
Marley distinguished himself as a tireless designer of rave fliers and tape covers in the mid-'90s, while Carvalho and Lewis brought cutting-edge graphics and web technology to the street level with their pre-Pyro enterprise, Xtabi. They provided a host of youth-oriented clientele, such as now-defunct magazine Eleven and Sapphire itself, with their first taste of World Wide Web communication.
But Carvalho and Lewis balked at going full-on commercial, not wanting to distance themselves from the market and culture that they were still immersed in.
"Our partners were up in Boston ... and they only wanted us to do jobs that were corporate-oriented, usually the boring stuff," says Carvalho.
Carvalho and Lewis hooked up with Marley and went into business for themselves, setting up their office amidst downtown's underground clothing stores, clubs and piercing salons, many of which became clients. The trio helped usher in a tone of professionalism and sophistication that had already begun to penetrate the regional club and music industries.
Since then Pyroglyphics has created sites for the Tampa-based dance mag Synergy, Alien Surf Productions, which films the "Bootleg Orlando" cable-television music show, and wakeboard enthusiasts Freedom Films, as well as producing Pyro Aktiv, an extreme-sports site of their own. Additionally, Pyroglyphics wakeboard designs have sliced across lakes underneath the feet of top-ranked competitors such as Scott Byerly, Brandon Meek and Gator.
But the spirit of fusing technology and culture is reflected best in the concept behind "The Loop" and Pyro Music, which always offers audio samples of Florida-based artists.
"The thing that's nice about the site is that we offer a showcase for Florida," says Marley. "Whereas the others are sites from international cities that do broadcasts, this is an international city -- somewhat -- that will do broadcasts of what is actually produced and made here in Florida, that is actually written about in magazines like Mixmag and URB. Artists like Q-Burn. ... That's kind of the whole motivation behind ‘The Loop' and the whole broadcast thing."
The Pyroglyphics crew plans on adding video broadcasts, but the initial broadcast will be audio only. On hand March 21 will be area mixmasters Terron Darby, DJ Apollo of Orlando's URS Records and Sean Cusick, who records for house-music label Stress Records. Until then Marley and company wait with anticipation to see if their ideas will help the dance-culture grow.
"I think `in` all fields of art, music and science," says Marley, "the lines are starting to become blurred. I think that's a good thing, because it will break down laws and barriers in a lot of other areas. It kind of does good, not just for local culture but for the global culture as well."