Westlake Studios Page 2

In 1971, he partnered with Glen Phoenix, an ex-employee of tape recording manufacturer 3M, and financier Paul Ford to open a more official branch of Westlake Audio on Wilshire Boulevard and this became Westlake Studios, moving to 8447 Beverly Boulevard.

Flat Sharing
Where other recording facilities prided themselves on their distinctive individual attributes – echo chambers, live rooms, etc – Hindley's vision was more mass market. What he'd cottoned onto was the fact that the burgeoning industry of the early '70s, amplified by the growth of rock and pop, needed to be a moveable feast as companies and artists sought to manoeuvre from studio to studio in order to facilitate schedules and get the biggest bang for their buck.


Travis Scott in 2014

With this in mind, Westlake was designed acoustically so that the rooms would give a fairly flat frequency response at the recording position, with low delay and reverberation. Bass traps were also used extensively to dampen the sound energy.


No 1 album Astroworld, from 2018

Hidley was aiming for standardisation, so that artists could nip between rooms with no concerns as to the effects this would have on their recordings. It was an innovation that proved to be so successful that Hidley actually began creating and selling complete recording studio packages.


Solána Imani Rowe, aka SZA, recorded her 2022 album SOS at Westlake. It topped the Billboard 200 charts

Second Life
These 'turn-key' installations not only included the construction of studio spaces, but all the related equipment. Speakers Hidley had designed to suit the product were also offered. Other studios took up the idea and by the late 1970s 'Westlake-style' rooms had spread to a number of other recording facilities.



The team behind Michael Jackson's Off The Wall and Thriller – Bruce Swedien, and Quincy Jones (top)

In 1975, after creating three new Westlake-designed studios in Europe, including the Manor Studio [HFN Aug '22] in Oxfordshire, Hidley sold his share of Westlake and moved on. The business continued to thrive, so much so that it expanded, adding a second, larger facility located at 7265 Santa Monica Boulevard.

It was in Studio A that Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones fashioned Off The Wall and Thriller with Bruce Swedien engineering while Bad and parts of Jacko's Dangerous were recorded in flagship Studio D.


label of Thriller on Epic

Westlake currently offers an array of studio spaces. Studio A has a 450 square foot control room, a piano isolation room and boasts a SSL Super Analogue XL9080K console. Studio B is mostly used for mixing and overdubbing and features a vintage SSL SL4000F Series console. The C facility is for tracking and mixing and offers a 72-channel SSL 9072J Series console. With its 1120 square foot tracking room, the D space is the largest facility and has an 80-input SSL XL9000K console, while E is the mixing suite with a 72-input SSL 9072J Series console and a 52 square foot vocal booth.

Full page fax print

Thriller was recorded in Westlake's Studio A using a 32-input Harrison console. This has now been replaced by an SSL Super Analogue XL9080K desk

There are additionally two production suites and a newer space called The Barn. This measures 2000 square feet, has 18ft ceilings, and boasts hardware from Trident and Avid. An extra attraction is a vintage 1904 upright Steinway piano.


Studio D is Westlake's largest studio. Here, arranger Buddy Bregman conducts sessions in May 2006

House Of Cool
Today Westlake is owned by the Bur-Mac Group (Steve Burdick and Al Machera) and among the albums the studio website lays claim to hatching are Alanis Morissette's Little Jagged Pill, Lizzo's Special, Tyler The Creator's Igor and Call Me If You Get Lost, The Weeknd's Starboy and Beauty Behind The Madness, Doja Cat's Planet Her, Travis Scott's Astroworld, Childish Gambino's Awaken My Love, Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and SZA's SOS.

In other words, pretty much the coolest soundtracks going. The Madman would surely be proud.