Originally the stables for the fire station horses, West Heath Yard – where Hoxa is based – has been home to a recording studio since the 1960s, with Edwyn Collins and Alan Parsons among the previous tenants.
In early 2015, Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Jimmy Hogarth (Amy Winehouse, Sia, Paolo Nutini, Duffy, Corinne Bailey Rae, James Bay, KT Tunstall) took on the tenancy after moving out of his much-loved, long-term premises on Kilburn Lane. "The room I had in Kilburn started as a writing space, but it filled up with the equipment I’d bought over the years as I did more production work. I felt it was time the gear had a proper studio home," said Hogarth.
Hoxa HQ has now been comprehensively renovated and boasts a spacious main studio control room (6.4m x 5.3m) with large live room (7.2m x 5m), two booths (3.5m x 2.3m and 1.3m x 1.3m) and two amp enclosures, as well as a newly built lounge/diner and four writing/production rooms. Room heights throughout the studios are 2.8m and all areas have been fully soundproofed, independently air conditioned and acoustically treated by Stephen Pickford (aka Fritz) at eHz, with wiring carried out by Finnbar Eilles.
Hogarth continued: "The brief was to build a space which had the same feel as the Kilburn Lane studio but which could be more practical when needed. One of the things I loved and hated about my old place was that everything was all in one room – there was no separation. It was great for certain things but difficult when isolation was required. Here at Hoxa HQ we’ve now got the best of both worlds, with two independent, large, sliding glass doors which can be closed to create excellent separation between the control and live rooms. Added to that, the other two booths and amp enclosures give full band isolation if needed."
The entire Hoxa HQ complex, with its library/gentlemen’s club feel, is bathed in natural light, and the main studio is centred around a Neve 8058 MKII console, which, according to Hogarth, “was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in 1973. Having spent the first period of its life in a mobile truck, broadcasting live sporting events, it was then sold to Randy Bachman (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) who had it renovated by John Vrtacic and added the Canadian Redwood to the exterior. I then bought it from Randy and had it shipped back to London (all the way round the Cape of Good Hope!). It has since been maintained by Blake Devitt and has a very clean bill of health."
Monitoring in the main studio is via Unity Audio Boulder MKII’s, ProAc Studio 100s and Focal Solos, with recording undertaken through Pro Tools HDX or the Studer A800 analogue 2” tape. There is also an abundant selection of outboard to choose from.
The live room is home to fully serviced Bechstein upright and Bechstein Grand Model B pianos; a wide selection of drum kits with plenty of snare and kick options; as well as guitars, amps and FX pedals available on request. Hoxa HQ also boasts a wide selection of vintage and modern mics including classics by Neumann (U47s, U67s, M149s, KM84i’s); AKG (C12as, C60s, 451s); Sennheiser; Beyer; Coles; Reslo; Sontronics; STC; Shure and PZM. Click here for the full gear list.
Since September, when the studio renovation was completed, Hogarth has been busy making a record for new Virgin signing Stevie Parker. "It’s been great to finally see all my equipment in an environment that utilises its full potential," he revealed. "We recorded full band sessions for Stevie to 2” 16-track tape with Dolby SR, and then transferred the recordings to Pro Tools for editing. Everything worked beautifully, and sounded just great."
The studio is also available for hire to out-of-house producers and engineers. Rental of the main studio includes an in-house assistant, while engineers can be arranged by request for an additional fee. The studios are five minutes’ walk from West Hampstead tube, overland and Thames link with a huge assortment of restaurants, bars, and cafes in the area catering for all tastes.
For more information on Hoxa HQ, including contact details, click here.