Q&A with Damson CEO James Talbot
We took a few minutes to interview James Talbot, Founder of Damson Audio and invent or of the HeadSpace headphones in the run up to their much-anticipated indiegogo crowd funding round on 25th April
Q: James, tell us how about how Damson came to life?
Accidentally, to be honest. The short version is that I created the very first vibration speaker as a personal hobby project as I was looking for a speaker that delivered good bass yet was small enough to throw in my suitcase (I lived in my suitcase and music was my comfort blanket when travelling). During a big pitch, I had to use my speaker and got more questions about it than the pitch! I figured I'd give it a shot and go into mass production.
Q: Where did your obsession with music and audio originally stem from?
I've always loved music and I also have perfect pitch. I can pick out nuances in music that others may miss, and was also a chorister from a young age. Music is something that helps to both inspire and relax me - I’m one of those people who can use music to help me become creative.
Q: What drives you?
Being different. I've never been the follow-the-crowd guy. I like to be different, some would say awkward. This transposes itself in the products I help create by the very fact the initial idea I have for them is based on what can be done differently to the way it is done today. Not reinventing the wheel, just looking at a speaker, for example, and thinking how it can be improved. Take the Vulcan, for example, it's a "Bluetooth speaker" but it's the only 4.1 BT speaker. Have a look at the grilles and you’ll see they're hexagonal because a hexagon allows more air to flow through compared to a circle. It’s also the strongest structural shape possible. Accepting the status quo is a scary thought for me.
Q: You’ve become well-known in the industry for your successful Crowdfunding campaigns. Why did you go down this route and what do you put behind your success?
It goes back to being different! We're a small company with a big outlook and really want to take on the likes of Bose and Sony but don’t have the pocketful of cash that they do. In fact, we don't have a pocketful of cash at all as we put what we have into the R&D of our products so Crowdfunding has become a big part of our business plan and in return, we reward those who trust in giving us their cash on Indiegogo by actually delivering the product that they have created.
Q: You’re about to launch your brand-new noise-cancelling headphones, HeadSpace. How did HeadSpace originally come about?
Screaming babies, and a headset made by one of the big boys we are focused on. I fly a lot and have done for the best part of 15 years. Airports are chaotic, noisy, and on planes, I always get sat near the screaming baby (I even have a recording from one that I play occasionally to remind myself of the pain - 5 hours this kid screamed whilst it's mum was passed out!). Using the other headphones irritated me because 1. they weren't Damson and 2. They weren't Damson which made it weird when people sat next to me on a plane asked what I did, who I worked for - and then looked at my headphones. So I set about picking them apart to find the faults and worked back from there to create HeadSpace.
Q: There seem to be a lot of noise cancelling earphones on the market. How do you stand out / be different?
I think ours are different in several ways with the most important being that we have managed to eliminate the annoying white noise we hear as a hiss when listening to ANC headphones. It's also the materials we used such as metals instead of plastic (a theme in all our products) and the price ($149 at launch); I don't believe in ripping people off and we've managed to make ours at a price that's achievable for a lot of people out there I didn't believe in ramping up the price "just because", but that's why I’m no gazillionaire I guess.
Q: Finally, Damson is launching headspace on Indiegogo on 25th April. Why did you choose Indiegogo
As a platform, I think Indiegogo are very forward thinking and constantly looking for ways to improve their site. They don't rest on what they have achieved. That resonates strongly with me.
HeadSpace is launching on Indiegogo on 25th April 2017. Sign up before then at http://get.damsonaudio.com/headspace/ to get them at $75 (50% off) at launch.