Once upon a time, on a small road just down from Potsdamer Platz, stood a big studio. So big, it became a shining beacon attracting musicians from across the globe to record their very finest work. In time the name became synonymous with David Bowie and his Berlin Trilogy sparking a wave of foreigners to record at the legendary studio by the wall.
Hansa Studios was opened in 1972 by German music producer and engineer Uwe Nettelbeck. The studio was built to accommodate for the very best of Berlin’s talent after many years of studios being scattered around the city.
The first big hit recorded at Hansa was Iggy Pop’s debut solo album “Lust For Life” in 1977, where he worked alongside David Bowie as the two spent a lot of time in the city. Bowie’s Low and Heroes would also be recorded in the same year.
Bowie would famously record some of his ‘Berlin Trilogy’ of albums (Low, Heroes, Lodger) at the studio working with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. In Heroes, the line ‘I remember standing by the wall’ referenced his view from the recording studio to the wall and a stolen kiss between producer Visconti and an unnamed woman.’
The Eighties saw bands including England’s Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke and Marillion record in the fabled studios. Seeking a darker sound, Depeche Mode came to Berlin to record Construction Time Again, Some Great Reward and Black Celebration. Martin Gore from Depeche Mode says, “We knew about Hansa because of Bowie.” Marillion, reached their Zenith in Berlin with Misplaced Childhood and their biggest single, Kayleigh.
The Berlin Wall came down on November 11, 1989. This event signalled the end of the Cold War and opened up East Germany to the West. Many people believe that Hansa Studios played a role in the fall of the Berlin Wall, as it was a place where people from both sides could come together and share their love of music. U2 landed in the city at a time of great change personally, and across the city. The band had recently been through a rough patch and their music had become more serious. They recorded Achtung Baby at Hansa Studios, which was a return to form for the band and one of their most successful albums.
Sadly, you can no longer visit the studios. The building was sold in 2009 and is now a private residence. However, you can still visit the street where it once stood and imagine all of the great music that was created there. Who knows, maybe one day Hansa studios will be resurrected and we can all enjoy its magic once again.
Thanks for reading!