It’s surprising, considering the company’s music proclivities, that there isn’t music playing over the speakers in the JayBird headquarters. But then again, JayBird is a manufacturer of headphones, and most of the employees are rocking out with the company’s flagship wireless Bluetooth earbuds, BlueBuds X.
Most earbuds are not your friend—and far from a buddy. True ear friends would not be treble-y; instead, they would offer a full dynamic range of sound. They would also not fall out of your ears during sports. And this is where the West Valley City-based company has paved its own way.
On the table in the lobby are several magazines that offer clues to the company’s focus: Wired, Reps, Sports Illustrated and Surfer. JayBird sits at the crossroads of technology and fitness.
“To us, music and sports go hand in hand. And we want to make it more seamless, less invasive, more natural,” says Jason Kimball, chief brand officer and the vice president of marketing and creative at JayBird.
Kimball hardly needs to listen to music, because “people call me the ‘Human Jukebox,’ ” he says after chatting a while. “I memorize songs really easily—it doesn’t matter what it is. I have it all.” However, singing old-school jams to himself while mountain biking hardly gets him amped, so he throws in the buds.
Kimball has been in the action-sports industry for years, from working with Ogio to helping that company start the sub-brand Subject, to working what he calls his passion project of eight years: a gig with snowboard-accessories company Sessions. Kimball was also an outside consultant for Skullcandy for five years before meeting JayBird founder and CEO Judd Armstrong a year and a half ago.
“We call Judd the ‘Mad Scientist,’ ” Kimball says, adding that the 6-year-old company takes its energetic cues from the Aussie surfer and all-around athlete. Armstrong wasn’t satisfied with the buds he used for sports activities, so he set out to reinvent what sound in motion could be. In the process, JayBird wrote its own subband codec (how information is transfered over Bluetooth technology), which gives the listener freedom to keep the digital music player wherever they’d like, as opposed to typical Bluetooth device’s right-arm-bound limitations. Additionally, BlueBuds X have wing-like extensions that hook inside the ear, so they don’t pop out.
Kimball definitely appreciates in the technology when he stuffs his iPhone into his pack before hitting the trail on a mountain bike. “I’ll pick my playlist, and if I’m in a five-mile climb, that music helps me get through it,” he says. “When it sounds better, it’s going to make you feel better—you’re going to want to push even harder.”
Mountain biking, snowboarding, physical therapy, cycling and motocross—music is what keeps Kimball going full bore. But while the brand officer is managing a company founded on edgy design and the latest technology, he is kind of stuck in his youth when it comes to his musical tastes. He proudly listens to everything from The Fresh Prince to Kenny Rogers to Nat King Cole; he says he’s been digging Macklemore’s The Heist, but that’s about all he mentions for modern music.
“I have probably the weirdest music tastes,” Kimball says. “I was born and raised with my dad on country music—Alabama and Kenny Rogers. I love anything old school, whatever takes me back to the good times.”
And that’s exactly what we found on his playlist—nothing but old-school good times.
“Send Me an Angel”
The older I get, the more I love that movie. I wanted to be Cru Jones. I was young back then, but that’s what got me stoked about riding BMX bikes. This is the go-to song from the movie. Dancing on your bike—that was awesome back then. I even named my son Cru.
This takes me back to the good old days with my dad. He had a ’78 Chevy, I think, with an 8-track. Whenever we’d hop in, he’d pop this in. I love what the song talks about. To me, that main line [“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em/ Know when to walk away and know when to run”] sums up life. Everything you do is a gamble.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
This is my favorite song of all time. It takes me back to that sweet part of life when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was on TV. I think when this song came out, I had just gotten my driver’s license. I thought I was the shit, trying to pick up on chicks in my ’76 Volkswagen Super Beetle. I’ll use this song as a bit of a pick-me-up now—it makes you move and get stoked.
“Master of Puppets”
Master of Puppets
This is my go-to if I really need to get amped up. Even if I’m pissed off, I’ll listen to this and it will calm me down; I think it’s like reverse psychology. I remember my older brother always had the cool tapes, and whenever he’d go to work, I’d go into his room and plop in his tapes. This was one of my favorites. I’ve seen them in concert a couple of times, and snowboarded with a couple of the guys a few times.
The Beastie Boys
Licensed to Ill
That same snowboard trip [with Metallica], I got to know Adam Yauch; he was super awesome and so stoked on snowboarding. I don’t really fan out or geek out on people, because most of the time they let you down, but he was such a solid dude. Anyway, I’m all Beastie, no matter what, but I always go to “Brass Monkey”—it gets me so stoked. I’ll probably have to listen to the rest of this album today.