Hansa Studios

Hansa Stu­dios in 1987
© Peter­sha­gen via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hansa Stu­dios is a renowned record­ing stu­dio with a rich his­to­ry, locat­ed in a his­toric build­ing in the heart of the city. Estab­lished in the 1960s, it has played a sig­nif­i­cant role in shap­ing the music indus­try, known for its inno­v­a­tive pro­duc­tion tech­niques and cre­ative atmos­phere.

With­in these walls, Bowie pushed the bound­aries of music com­po­si­tion and pro­duc­tion. The inno­v­a­tive sound­scapes and exper­i­men­tal record­ing tech­niques birthed albums like “Heroes”, “Low”, and two of Iggy Pop’s records pro­duced by Bowie. Bowie’s col­lab­o­ra­tions with Eno at Hansa Stu­dios marked a turn­ing point in his career, pro­pelling him into a new era of artis­tic explo­ration and rein­ven­tion.

We were the first big rock project record­ed in Hansa. Before we took it over it was used almost exclu­sive­ly for Ger­man pop music and clas­si­cal music. One day Edu Mey­er took us down­stairs to a base­ment and showed us a clos­et full of valves (tubes, in the USA) man­u­fac­tured dur­ing the war years. Each valve had a swasti­ka stamped on them.

Although the theme of the album was very upbeat and we were always in a good mood, the atmos­phere was dense due to the visu­al prox­im­i­ty of the Wall from the con­trol room. We could see the Red Guards in their tur­rets all day long and they were watch­ing us through huge binoc­u­lars! We asked Edu if that ever both­ered him and he respond­ed by shin­ing an over­head light towards them while stick­ing his tongue out. David and I dived under the con­sole and yelled, ‘Stop doing that!’ For a sec­ond we thought they would open fire. On anoth­er night David, alone, parked his car on a des­o­late street close to the Wall, stop­ping for a smoke. Some­one tapped his win­dow and asked him for a light. He swore it was a Red Guard sol­dier with the unmis­tak­able red star on his hat. In hor­ror he gave the sol­dier a light. Appar­ent­ly there were secret tun­nels that went under the riv­er and this guy was just out for a stroll on the west side.

– Tony Vis­con­ti, A New Career In A New Town (1977–1982), 2017

Oth­er artists who record­ed albums at Hansa Stu­dios in Berlin include:

  • Depeche Mode: The British elec­tron­ic music pio­neers record­ed their albums “Con­struc­tion Time Again” (1983), “Some Great Reward” (1984) and “Black Cel­e­bra­tion” (1986) at Hansa Stu­dios.
  • Iggy Pop: Iggy Pop record­ed two icon­ic albums at Hansa Stu­dios: “The Idiot” (1977) and “Lust for Life” (1977). David Bowie, a key col­lab­o­ra­tor, co-wrote, pro­duced, and played on both, shap­ing their inno­v­a­tive sound. These albums marked a piv­otal moment in Iggy Pop’s career and the broad­er music land­scape.
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: The Aus­tralian alter­na­tive rock and post-punk band record­ed “The First­born Is Dead” (1985) and parts of “Your Funer­al… My Tri­al” (1986), and “Ten­der Prey” (1988) at Hansa Stu­dios.
  • R.E.M.: In 2011, the Amer­i­can rock band R.E.M. record­ed their final album “Col­lapse into Now” at Hansa Stu­dios.
  • Siouxsie and the Ban­shees: This British post-punk band record­ed their album “Tin­der­box” (1986) at Hansa Stu­dios, which helped estab­lish their sig­na­ture dark and atmos­pher­ic style.
  • U2: The Irish rock band record­ed their album “Achtung Baby” (1991) at Hansa Stu­dios, result­ing in hits like “One” and “Mys­te­ri­ous Ways.” The album’s open­ing track, “Zoo Sta­tion,” was inspired by the bustling atmos­phere of the Berlin Zoo train sta­tion, set­ting the tone for the trans­for­ma­tive sound of the album.
  • Tan­ger­ine Dream: The pio­neer­ing elec­tron­ic music group from Ger­many fre­quent­ly record­ed at Hansa Stu­dios, con­tribut­ing to the evo­lu­tion of elec­tron­ic music.

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