Red Box logo


The story of how Red Box studios was created is an interesting and varied tale, stick the kettle on……

Having completed a music degree in the University of Ulster, Cormac O’Kane, an accomplished pianist and composer, began his musical career playing in an original music band and travelling the length and breadth of the country, playing pubs, clubs and toilets. He was engaged as musical director for BBCNI before moving to London to work as a musical Director for Channel 4 and Sky and then eventually returning to Ireland to work for RTE. Subsequently he was employed by BBC NI to produce and music supervise the hugely successful CD and TV series, Brian Kennedy On Song!

It was during this project that he met traditional Irish musician Dónal O’Connor, whom he engaged to play on the ‘On Song’ album. Dónal, who hails from a well known family of traditional musicians in County Louth had recently completed a degree in Physics from Queen’s University and was working with the Uilleann piper John McSherry on their new project ‘At First Light’. Whilst also managing a musical instrument shop in Belfast city centre, (which Cormac liked to hang out in) Dónal was recording and producing albums from home, having spent quite a bit of time knocking about Homestead Recording Studios in Randalstown, home of the highly regarded, producer, Mudd Wallace. Cormac invited Dónal to join him in his studio space in Fanum House (formerly RTE Radio Studios) which encompassed some beautiful, acoustically treated rooms and some of the finest views of the Belfast hinterland. It was when the lift (to the 13th floor studio) stopped working and some clients spent the night stuck on the 7th floor that the boys decided it was time to move on………Beersbridge………..Oonagh……….

It was the alluring atmosphere of Fanum House that brought Oonagh Derby to Cormac’s door also!  A qualified Quantity Surveyor and Project Manager by trade Oonagh was indulging herself during the recession years writing music for her newly formed band.  Seeking a studio to record her self penned album “Harmony Street” with producer Gerry” Banjo” O Connor, Oonagh sought out the talents of Cormac and the fellowship was born!  Oonagh then went on to write songs for other artists as well as for plays and musical productions and her album was shortlisted for the BBC Folk album of the year.  The next adventure was Beersbridge….a fabulous Victorian mill in which the three guys started to come together as a team to manage, write, record, produce an array of artists and projects.

With the partnership growing and yielding great potential it was decided that their own, purpose built studio in the city centre was the way forward.  Many, many meetings later  (a few late nights) and countless creative get togethers, it was decided, it had to be done!!  The guys found a gem of a building in the University quarter that is now Redbox Studios. Using Oonagh’s building and financial management skills, Cormac and Dónal’s in depth knowledge of acoustic performance of materials and a slick eye for design, the three engaged a local builder, gutted the place and rebuilt the state of the art, stylish creative hub that is of huge pride to all three.

The building of the studio has allowed them to realise their dream and indeed their own potential……


%d bloggers like this: