A studio manager juggles responsibilities and must also find the time and space for creativity. It takes a level head and a scopic vision to stay sane and to be brilliant. Knitting Factory Recording Studio manager Sascha Van Oertzen runs her Studio with an ease that only comes from mixing experience with creative vision. The history of the Knitting Factory's recording studio is almost as old as the history of the club itself. Many remember the Knitting Factory from its days on Houston St.; it is in this location that a robbery of the club in its early years nearly wiped out the club's existence for good. That was almost ten years ago, and since then the club has grown and moved to a more spacious location Downtown in Tribeca. The Knitting Factory remains a club with its feet firmly planted in jazz music and most things experimental, with four venues in the club, a festival production company, and a great record label that appropriately called Knitting Factory Records. Sascha Van Oertzen is a 29 year old woman who is a graduate of the famed Tonemeister Program of the University of Arts in Berlin. Sascha's daily grind includes doing live recordings of some Knitting Factory performances, and also recording albums for either Knitting Factory Records or Kramer's Shimmy Disc. Sascha is candid, honest, warm, and distinctly confident. She is a class-A troubleshooter, and thinks so hard about this it's like you can almost hear the cogs working as she thinks. As we speak I have to keep reminding myself that this is someone whose first language is not English- Sascha's vernacular and attitude is as "New York Downtown" as any other Knitting Factory regular. Before she decided to go to this school, Sascha was a musician who wanted to do something with music but didn't really want to be a musician. Wondering, "what else is there?" she found that recording and engineering was a program that offered many aspects towards engaging with music. Sascha described that in her program, "you had to play instruments and study music, while participating in various technical faculties of the University- you then get studio experience recording and get experience from practical work. The idea is that you learn music and have the same experience a musician has in order to work with them..."

So what instruments do you play?

Piano, sort of... everybody has to play piano in order to study ear training, theory, and composition studies. And then I play drums as another instrument.

I heard that you are a very, very good drummer...

You did! From whom?

Yeah, everybody from Frank London (Klezmatics) to...

They never heard me play really... [blushing!]

Well, they told me all about it! James Blood Ulmer (Odyssey Band) said so too. Who did you study with?

Well, his name is Jerry Granelli and he's from San Francisco, and he teaches a jazz faculty in Berlin. The school, in the beginning, was very classical oriented, which is where I started. It was very much about stereo techniques and the whole classical scene is a little more into the sounds that you get from a good room. As the jazz faculty developed and got stronger I was more into jazz. I just wanted to get into the studio and try out stuff recording. One day there was a big CD project workshop that was between the jazz faculty and the engineering faculty, and producer Lee Townsend was invited for that. That was a big kick, a huge inspiration and motivation for me to get into jazz.

What were some of the things that drew you in?

Well, first of all it's the music. The improvisation part, the creativity, and personal expression of the musicians; this whole process has always fascinated me. It's something more lively, less about reproducing and more about creating something new. Working with Lee Townsend and having him as the person in between the technical part and the musician was really exciting, because he knew both sides and he knew how to help communicate. For the engineers, to learn how to communi- cate with the musicians-and for the musicians, how to communicate more about the technical side. The whole process of multitrack recording is much more interesting to me than the stereo recording in classical, jazz and rock music. I mean now, even classical projects get more into multitrack recordings as well, but more of like a backup if they need to. But the process of mixing is really fun- it's where the creativity is, where the input is, and it's where the relationship between the musician and the engineer becomes really important. The musician wants to work with someone they can trust who is not just doing something. This is where Lee Townsend again was a huge influence...

Fill us all in on who Lee Townsend is...

Oh, he produces Bill Frisell, and he has done several John Scofield records. He also does a bunch of singer-songwriter stuff too. He also knows Jerry Granelli and David Freedman, who are great American jazz guys. What was really thrilling was learning about the process of recording, mixing and then putting the whole project together... it's really deep. It's not just putting the mic up and then you have a recording that you put out! It's really sitting down with a musician and trying to understand what they want, what their tone is, what they are going for and then helping them to create that. That's a pretty big part of the whole thing and that's what makes it really exciting and really fun. To be that close, to have that much input, ideas and creativity for the whole process.

I have to ask... Do you think that there are more or less female producers and engineers in Germany than here?

I was thinking actually that it is more rare in Germany... probably a bit more conservative over there. Maybe there is a quarter of the whole business that is female. Of course, just because you go to school, that doesn't mean everybody gets to work afterwards. I think in general, Germany is a little more conservative still. You need the papers, the references; you get less of a chance to go ahead and prove that you are good. They want more... I don't know the word..uh Umm...I don't know, like opinions ahead of time. It's different than here. At school, you have to make an entrance test and they know there are very few jobs out...

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