Shop Spotlight: Ruach Music in Northern Ireland

At 16 years old, Stephen Henderson built a cajon out of scrap wood in his garage in Northern Ireland so that he could jam with other musicians. According to Stephen, "It didn’t look great, but it sounded beautiful."

His friends took notice and started putting in orders for cajons of their own. Before long, Stephen’s garage project turned into a full-fledged brand: Ruach Music.

Momentum continued to build, with more and more percussionists all over the U.K. showing interest in Stephen’s work. Soon, their requests started to expand. "A theme kept occurring, again and again—percussionists wanted a kick pedal built inside a cajon. Designs were sketched down and prototyped, trying to make the kick work as best as possible." The final result was the Ruach Kick Cajon.

The Ruach Music Product Line

Six years later, Kilkeel-based Ruach Music’s product line has expanded much further—it now includes effects, guitars, basses, and accessories.

"Yes, it’s a big step," Henderson admits, "but we have a wide range of musicians within Ruach now, and ideas are constantly being discussed." Regardless of product type, though, the constant theme connecting all of them is the building material. Ruach Music’s cajons, guitars, and pedalboards are made from a range of beautifully finished exotic woods—even the metal chassis of the stompboxes are adorned with a wood veneer.

Ruach Kick Cajon

Alongside this commitment to wood is a commitment to sustainability. As part of its Ruach Breathe campaign, Ruach plants a tree for every cajon sold and powers its workshop using solar panels—practices that Ruach hopes to see spread throughout every industry. "Companies should be moving towards more sustainable practices within their production process and seek to partner with delivery companies that share this goal," Henderson says.

Ruach is also very passionate about the local music community in Northern Ireland. "Being a small country, we don’t feel like we get a lot of attention from major record labels, but that has made us adapt for the better," Henderson says. "The music made here may not sound as commercial as it would in different parts of the U.K., as we draw influence from our roots—the artists that walked the path before us—from Van Morrison to Stiff Little Fingers."

Ruach Music 6 Years In

With a reputation continuing to grow, a newly signed American distribution deal, and no sign of slowing down, Henderson still says the most important part of his shop is providing players with instruments they need or connecting with local and traveling musicians that pass through the shop.

"We get a lot traveling musicians shopping with us—more than ever before. Large acts to small, we’ll treat you like one of our own, and we are sure you will want to come back." Or if you can't make it to Kilkeel, you can, of course, find them on Reverb.

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