Walking down leafy Heath Park Avenue in Cardiff, if it weren’t for the little sign on the door, you’d easily miss Henhouse Recording Studios.
Unless you’ve just passed by when a band has stopped ready to record with instruments in tow – or you’ve spotted a bunch of kids ready to be pop stars for the day.
Otherwise, you would have no idea of the full-fledged recording studio used by musicians from all over the world in one of the back gardens.
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Jinx Jones from Cardiff has been a musician all his life and always dreamed of having his own studio. And so 10 years ago he decided to build his “haven” of a studio in his back garden.
The studio, which started as a small summer house for Jinx and his wife to relax in, has been transformed – it now consists of a recording booth, a reception area, a control and more space for recording groups.
And with the studio soundproofed and tucked away in the “secret garden” behind her house, Jinx said “The only way to find out is to fly a drone over it”.
“The studio has been under construction for about ten years now. The studio originally started out as a kind of little summer house, my wife and I used to come down there and sleep,” the studio said. 62 year old man.
“My wife gradually got a little sicker and at the time I decided to have a recording studio on premises in Treforest Industrial Estate, but as she got sicker and sicker I decided to do it at home.
“So I started the additions and the soundproofing and everything else on the building, and I think it took about five or six years to get to where we are now.
“I’ve been a musician for most of my life and always wanted to have my own studio to myself where I could record with my friends.
“And then it went from there with people saying ‘can we come into your studio and record,’ so we started doing that, and it evolved from there.”
But even if you step into Jinx’s garden – especially in the summer – you might mistake the studio for an elaborate summer house. Surrounded by trees and flowers, the studio is nestled in a “secret garden”, to create a serene atmosphere for the artists who use it.
He said he wanted to give musicians a different type of studio than the “clinical” studios that have become the norm in the industry.
“It’s like the tardis. From the outside, we kept it to look like a log cabin, but it’s actually bricks and mortar behind it and everything is soundproof.
“That’s one of the main reasons I started is because it’s pretty intimidating if you’ve never been there before. And some can be pretty clinical, sterile, so I wanted to create a place that puts people at ease.
“I had so many people say ‘I was so comfortable, after 10 minutes I felt like I was there forever’
“And that was the kind of reaction I wanted. You go there and it’s a warm atmosphere.
“It’s not the right time of year now because the fruit trees are all bare, but in the summer it’s beautiful, you can’t even see it. It’s really picturesque.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Jinx also has a chicken run in the garden – hence ‘Henhouse’ studios. He said they used to move freely but they were causing too much chaos.
“You walk around the side of the house, through a kind of secret garden and there’s the studio. It’s kind of weird, the website doesn’t really show it to its full potential, it’s a really unique place “, did he declare.
“I haven’t had anyone come and say ‘it’s not for me’ yet, we have the opposite – it’s fabulous.
“It’s also great when you bring down someone who is a very good singer, a very good guitarist, who says ‘I’ve done so much more than I expected’ and that’s because they feel so comfortable.”
Selena, Jinx’s wife, sadly passed away three years ago. Since then, he said the studio was a “safe haven” and provided him with respite.
“My wife died three years ago and I built it so I could work from home when she was getting worse and worse.
“So it was a bit difficult after having him there, but it really gave me a lot of breathing space to be so close to home.
“It was definitely a labor of love. It’s just been my world for what feels like forever now.”
And while the studio may be modest in size, it definitely punches above its weight in the work it produces, with Jinx working with musicians and songwriters around the world.
“We do a lot of recording artists, solo artists. We used to do a lot of songwriting work in order to work remotely with people around the world.
“With the digital side of things, you can do that. We do a lot of TV work, so people will come in and do stories for movies or plays.”
“Most of the time, especially when I work with people from different time zones, I can be there until 1 a.m., 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. playing guitar or making music and Nobody knows.”
While Jinx originally started the studio to record his own songs and those of his friends, over the years the studio has found its own niche offering parties and experiences – which, to his surprise, has now become the Jinx’s favorite part of the whole adventure.
Before the lockdown brought the world to a standstill, he held children’s parties most weekends where a band came to make their own CD and became “popstars” for the day.
He said he also brought in a wide range of people just to have a little fun. He once recorded an album for an 80-year-old man who had always loved to sing but never had the confidence to make a record.
“Now we do things like packages for children’s parties, where they come in groups of say 10 of them, and then they sing along to backing tracks and we record them and put them on a CD to them. It makes them feel like pop stars for the day.
“I love doing them. You’ll have the parents come and at the end they’ll be like ‘this is the best party we’ve ever had’, it’s just awesome.
“We had a crazy day about six or seven years ago when we did an all-day session for the charity Follow your Dreams. All these people came to do a Christmas single.
“In disguises we had X Factor people, we had Lightning McQueen the car from the Disney movie ‘Cars’ in the drive, and it was lovely.
“We had a mix of people of all ages coming in and singing and we did a charity single.”
But despite being a musician all his life, until he started the studio, Jinx had almost no idea about production – teaching himself all the essential technologies that come with a studio.
“I didn’t even know how to use a computer 10 years ago, everything was analog as far as I was concerned. I taught myself to become digitally formatted
“Everything goes so fast, I’m constantly updating programs just to keep advancing with technology.”
And as technology evolves, so does the way people create and produce music, with programs making self-production easier than ever.
Despite this change, Jinx says there’s still a demand for studio space — especially one that’s more accessible and welcoming as he thinks.
“It’s quite diverse what we’re able to do in the studio,” he said.
“Thanks to technology these days, people can now make fantastic recordings on their phones. With just a microphone on and a guitar, you can make wonderful sounds, wonderful recordings.
“It has really progressed.
“There are still some really big studios, because recording artists and their record companies will want them to go to big big studios, because that’s how the world is.
“A lot of these musicians have their own home studio. But mine is just a little, a little more. It’s not just your home studio, it’s a little more than that.”
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