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She once was literally a local rock star onstage as the bandleader of the nervy indie-rock trio Zoo Animal. Nine years since her old band's last gig, though, Holly Hansen has become more a proverbial, behind-the-scenes rock star serving as a producer and studio operator.

Raised in Cokato, Minn. — her rural and Christian upbringing provided fodder for her songs — Hansen now owns and operates Salon Sonics overlooking the Mississippi River in northeast Minneapolis. She has helped make records there by Humbird, Sarah Morris, Laamar, Jaedyn James, Under Violet, Bev, Bathtub Cig and many more. It's undoubtedly no coincidence many of those clients are women or female-led bands.

With a one-off Zoo Animal gig finally set for Saturday at Bauhaus Brew Labs' Art-A-Whirl party, it seemed like a good time to catch up on with Hansen on her other work. Here's our edited interview.

Q: Which scenario do you enjoy more: being a much-loved performer onstage or an ace player behind the scenes?

A: They are two totally different roles. I don't think I can say which I like better because it really is like apples and oranges. I've always felt like my mind is a bit siloed, so I like to fulfill one role before I go to another. So I feel like I can switch back and forth and thus don't have to pick one over the other.

Q: Why did you put Zoo Animal on the back burner?

A: I kind of got to where I didn't know what I wanted it to be. And especially before COVID, when people were still booking late-night shows a lot more, it came down to it feeling not healthy. I'm such a morning person. So I just felt like I needed a reset. I didn't know it was going to be so long, because then COVID happened, and I just never got back on the horse after that.

Q: What attracted you to becoming a full-time studio operator?

A: I went to school for sound art in 2007, and then I started working sound for people at shows, but I always wanted to work in studios. I had a moment down at Pachyderm when I was doing vocals for someone else's record, and I was looking at the console and I realized, "If the engineer had to leave, I would be able to run this session." Not long after that, I decided to get my own little mix room and go for it.

It was always my goal to work in music full time as a profession, and honestly fronting a band is the hardest way to make a living in music right now. I hate that that's the truth, but it is, so as this opened up to me as a career path, I jumped for it.

Q: How much does it motivate you breaking the stereotype of studio operators, producers and engineers almost always being men?

A: The biggest motivation for me is that I just like the work. But after that, yeah, I am motivated to create an environment where more women are doing this kind of work. There's the mentality that if you don't see someone like you doing the work, you won't think you can do it yourself. So that's why I try to be pretty public about my work here, because I want people to see that it's not always that grumpy dude behind the console telling you what you need to do. And I've worked with some great engineers, so it wasn't like that for me.

Q: Do you think there are different traits or qualities you bring to the job as a woman?

A: Not to encourage gender stereotypes even further, but there's the feminine stereotype of being a good host. And I think I do that. I want the space to be clean. I want people to feel comfortable. I'm emotionally checked into people's moods, and if they're hungry. Those are definitely gender stereotypes, but I do lean toward them [laughs].

Q: Do you get an extra sense of pride supporting so many of our scene's great female artists?

A: I wouldn't say I give more of myself to female clients or anything, but I think because we do have shared experiences as women in the music industry there is probably less friction. There's language we can use we don't have to explain. It just removes some of the friction.

Q: Does having the river right outside your studio impact the sessions at all?

A: I think it absolutely plays a role. Most artists are used to studios feeling like a cage or a cave. Being able to not only look outside at it but also be right next to this body of water that has so much rich history to it. It's incredibly powerful and inspirational, I think. It comes up in every session.

Q: Why did you decide it's time to put Zoo Animal back together for Saturday's show?

A: Bauhaus reached out to me, and it was the first time I got an email like that and went, "Oooh, that'd be fun!" I figured Tim and Thom couldn't do it. Tim lives in Milwaukee, so I figured it wouldn't work. But they were all in, and they wanted to bring Matt back in, so we've been able to rehearse.

Our last show was a random we did in 2015, and before that it was 2011. It's been a long time.

Q: Who would be your one dream client to produce at your studio?

A: [Long pause.] People might think this is meant to be funny, but I think it would be Kacey Musgraves, because I already have way too many thoughts about the production on her albums. And I feel like it'd be really fun to work with an artist like her, where clearly I would be a different kind of producer for her.

Zoo Animal

When: 7:30 p.m. Sat.

Where: Bauhaus Brew Labs, 1315 NE. Tyler St., Mpls.

Tickets: Free for Art-A-Whirl,