Bringing it back home: Fox Den Studios relaunches this weekend

Fox Den Studios are looking to open a new chapter with a relaunch this month, and they’ve drafted in producer talent fresh out of Music City itself to provide some world-class expertise.

The Kelham Island/Neepsend district of Sheffield may have recently undergone significant cultural regeneration, with a flurry of new bars, restaurants and cafes laying down roots in the area. But when it comes to making music, it’s been the beating heart of the city for some time now.

Fox Den Studios, located on Mowbray Street and opened in 2014 by producer/musician George Moran, is based just a few doors down from the practice rooms once inhabited by the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Reverend & The Makers. Around the corner you’ll the famed Yellow Arch Studios where a countless stream of well-known talents have recorded albums, from Richard Hawley to Tony Christie and many more in-between.

George himself is the lead singer of South Yorkshire garage rockers Wulfman Fury, and after his recording schedule with the band began to take up more time alongside personal session work, he asked award-winning producer, engineer and mixer Chris Wilkinson to assist in heading up a revival at Fox Den. The two have been hard at work ripping up carpets, revamping the control room and painting a good chunk of the interior a distinctive shade of green.

The challenge of a new studio has heralded a significant change in Chris’ life, who returned from eight years of living in Nashville, Tenessee, spending his time at world-renowned studios such as Sputnik and The House of Blues, working as chief engineer at the latter and learning from producers as T Bone Burnett, Jacquire King and Don Was. With such experience under his belt and following a period of time freelancing, Chris made the call to come back to his roots in the Steel City and reintegrate himself in the northern music scene.

Chris Wilkinson has joined Fox Den Studios as lead producer

“I stayed at the House of Blues for several years and just worked my way up,” Chris told Exposed on a visit to the studio last month. “I got to follow a pretty traditional recording engineer path, which I feel doesn’t really happen so often anymore. In fact, Nashville is probably one of the last places in the music industry to still do that.”

The first credit he received while stateside was as mixing assistant on a White Stripes live album, which laid the ground for working with a whole host of famous artists and projects ranging from chart-topping country albums to the soundtrack for Oscar-nominated film Inside Llewyn Davis. He’s not too interested with name-dropping, however, and is more concerned in projecting Fox Den as a space where artists can be guaranteed “Top-end quality, no-compromise; if they want something really weird or cool, we can help them get exactly what they want.”

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Moving away from the corporate pressures of large-scale studios and back to a more grassroots approach was a particular pull for Chris, who is seeking to take Fox Den by the horns and make it a hub for the bubbling music scene in the city. “I really like being here and I love making music here. I like the fact that a lot of the time the musicians we work with aren’t full-time, so there’s no going through the motions and it’s an exciting way to work. The whole recording scene in Sheffield is awesome and we want to help in making it a place people really want to come and record, adding to what’s here.”

Fox Den will be applying the final cosmetic touches before relaunching over May bank holiday (25th & 26th) with an open weekend, inviting anyone interested to come along and maybe knock out a tune or two. “We’re going to set a bunch of stuff up, so if someone wants to come down and jam they can. People can come in and discuss projects, or just get the chance to see what we’re about. We’re looking forward to getting things going!”
49 Mowbray Street, S3 8EN

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