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  Sansano was born in the Bronx (N.Y.), but his formative years were spent in New Jersey, where he played keyboards in a succession of mostly new wave-ish bands in high school. He went to the Berklee College of Music (in Boston) on a musician’s track (performance, theory, composition, etc.) but ended up in the engineering program. “As I was finishing up an arranging degree at Berklee, I realized there was still something missing, and I found myself being more attracted to the studio and all the trappings of the studio, and that’s where I found myself being really comfortable,” he says. “But it’s not like I was very technical or anything. And I’m still not. When it comes to the actual construction of equipment or maintenance and knowing how to change a capacitor, I can’t help you with that, I’m afraid. But I like using the technology creatively, and that’s kind of what got me interested in getting studio experience. It was like a big instrument to me.

Nick Sansano

Nick Sansano at Capri Digital Studios in Italy (click for larger image)

“My first job out of Berklee was at Newbury Sound in Boston,” he continues. “I had recorded demos there with bands I was in and as I was finishing up at Berklee, they were looking for some assistants, so I would go over there and work there a couple of days a week. I moved on to doing sessions very quickly. I don’t think it’s because I was particularly good, but circumstance always seemed to follow me. At Newbury, they needed people to do sessions, and they were simple sessions, and I did them. Then, when I moved back to New York, I worked at a studio called Eras Sound, on 54th Street between First and Second Avenue. It was two big rooms, and it was a very popular studio in the disco era. This guy, Boris Midney, who owned the studio, produced all these dance classics. I wasn’t involved with that, but they needed people to do other kinds of sessions, so I did that.”

From there, Sansano moved to Greene Street Recording (in Manhattan), and that became his home base for a number of years. “That was a great studio,” he recalls. “The whole hip hop thing exploded down there, along with lots of other things. That’s where I started to get involved with the Bomb Squad, who produced all the Public Enemy stuff, and Ice Cube and Bell Biv DeVoe. I engineered and mixed on Fear of a Black Planet, It Takes a Nation of Millions, AmerikKka’s Most Wanted, some Run-DMC stuff, Slick Rick, 3rd Bass.”

Did Sansano know that these projects would be so important and influential? “Not initially,” he says, “because it was a very comfortable situation. The Bomb Squad, before they were officially the Bomb Squad, would come in and work on a lot of Def Jam R&B-type stuff, so we all knew each other really well. But they never would bring Public Enemy stuff to Greene Street at first. They would do all that at a place in Long Island. Then they started to bring it down to Greene Street, and that’s when I started to get a lot of those sessions and started a real relationship with the production team. We had all sorts of celebrities and political activists coming down to check it out—people like George Clinton, Africa Bombaataa, Spike Lee. That’s when I knew something was going on there.”


Reprinted with permission from Magazine, November, 2000
2000, Intertec Publishing, A Primedia Company All Rights Reserved

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