At BIMM Berlin, our hugely talented Music Production students get to learn their craft at none other than TRIXX Studios – one of Germany’s most innovative recording complexes. Since 1985, the facility has been responsible for recording, mixing and producing albums from a wide range of international artists, including Bryan Ferry, Dave Gahan, Grandmaster Flash and Razorlight, as well as many local bands who’ve contributed to Berlin’s musical heritage.
We had the chance to speak to Klaus Knapp, the owner of TRIXX, who provides our students with enviable hands-on music production experience thanks to the incredible facilities available at the studio and his knowledgeable team. We spoke with him about launching TRIXX, his favourite artists to work with, and the equipment our Music Production students have access to.
So without further ado – over to Klaus!
What inspired you to launch TRIXX Studios?
After I moved to Berlin to study in the ‘70s, I played guitar in several bands and became fascinated by the craft of sound engineering. So I taught myself about it and soon started to work as an engineer – at first only for live concerts but then also in the studio.
When working in the bigger Berlin studios like Hansa in the ‘80s, I recognised that it was difficult to achieve the popular ‘80s sound there. For many types of pop music, the synth-sequences, drums… everything really… should sound ‘machine-like’. It was impossible to do this with a tight musician and a two-inch tape machine. There was this trick to record at half speed and play back at normal speed to reduce timing inaccuracies, but still – it wasn’t perfect.
When I founded TRIXX together with my former partner and bandmate Bär, apart from our collection of more traditional instruments, we had a sequencer (a Friend Chip ‘Mr. Lab’ and then a Yamaha QX1), some synthesisers, a drum machine and a sampler (E-mu Emulator II) to achieve this typical ‘80s sound. Back in the day, this was our unique selling point! With this set-up we did a lot of commissioned compositions for radio and TV, and we also started to rent out the studio. TRIXX was supposed to be a place where all these modern instruments and sequencers were at the fingertips of musicians and producers.
What have been your main highlights since you launched TRIXX?
There have been so many! One of my all-time favourite bands, Fleetwood Mac, mixed some live recordings here. Recording with Rammstein on their first single ‘Engel’ was also a highlight. We had other great internationally acclaimed artists record here too, like Einstürzende Neubauten, Wu-Tang Clan, Nicki Minaj and Maceo Parker.
I also really enjoyed producing and mixing several German pop and hip-hop artists, like Wolfsheim, Yvonne Catterfeld and Sido, as well as DJ Derezon and Oliver Pinelli. And more recently, my son Tim Knapp produced a track with Wolfgang Tillmans at TRIXX which was released on Frank Ocean’s ‘Endless’ album.
What equipment do BIMM Berlin students get to work with at TRIXX Studios?
They can work with all the gear we have at TRIXX: from legendary microphones (Neumann U47, AKG C12, etc.) and classic outboard (Neve, Tube-Tech, SSL, Avalon, Focusrite, AKG Spring Reverb, etc.), to our collection of vintage keys (Hammond C3, Minimoog, Prophet 5), guitars (Fender Stratocaster 1969, Gretsch Semi-Acoustic 1962) and amps (Vox AC30 1965, Fender Bassman 1962). The students get to know the sound and workflow of an analog recording studio which has grown over time.
What advice would you give to a new musician launching their career at BIMM Berlin?
Take the chance to meet a lot of creative people and check out the unique club and live music scene in Berlin. Hit the stage as often as you can. Have fun, work hard and stay tuned!
What are you currently listening to?
I’m really into the last album by Kate Tempest: ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’.