Val Kolton was born in Chicago on April 8 at 8 am. He was 8 pounds and 8 ounces. He’s always had a thing with 8s. If his life were a movie, you might say that was some kind of foreshadowing.
“This is a really historic date for us,” Kolton says. Fast forward through his existence, and he’s gone from tech-geek to dance music DJ to business owner. He founded V-Moda headphones after a particularly-inspiring trip to Ibiza, opened up shop in his Los Angeles home working alongside his mom, his dad, and his brother.
In its 12-year run, V-Moda has built a reputation as one of the most reliable and highest quality designer headphone on the market. Kolton is proud to say it’s the brand of choice for most top 100 DJs, but today, on August 8, or as he calls it, “808 Day,” his company is getting an even bigger endorsement.
The Roland Corporation, a company best known for creating the iconic synthesizers, drum machines, and midi languages that have formed the backbone of everything from house music to techno, hip-hop and more, just acquired 70 percent of and became the majority stakeholder in Kolton’s idealistic headphone brand. It’s Roland’s belief that V-Moda is the best headphone on the market for the sounds they’ve created, and they want Kolton on board to help direct the next evolution of Roland products.
“Most headphone brands say ‘oh yeah, this musician endorses our product but the musician is probably deaf,” Kolton says. “We’re working with the engineers that actually made the sounds that are in the artists’ and procurers’ music.”
Kolton maintains power over the lesser 30 percent and will keep his position as CEO and head developer at V-Moda. He’s also taking on an executive role at Roland.
“I’d talked to some venture capitalist, but I always really hated them,” he laughs. “It seemed like they just wanted to twist our brand, crunch us into numbers, and throw us into some big machine. That wasn’t my vision. I wanted to create something that would go down in history and really create products that would be in a museum one day. I wasn’t even thinking about changing genres of music, but at the time, I wanted to change the whole way manufacturing was done, and personalization, and really create a product that was for the people.”
V-Moda experiments with everything from crowd-sourcing to 3D printing to provide customers with top-quality customization. Kolton works with a design team in Milan to ensure cutting-edge style, and his musical, technologically-driven mind has always been about sound quality first. That’s what brought Roland to his doorstep, and now, working alongside those Japanese engineers will only guarantee an even more solid product in years to come.
“They’re the artists behind the artists,” Kolton says. “I feel like this partnership can change the path of the creation, performance, and playback of music, and that’s why we’re really exited that we can join forces and accomplish more together than we can alone.”
Today’s announcement on 808 Day is just the beginning. V-Moda and Roland have already been working on beautiful, 3D printed bluetooth speakers, next gen headphones, and other cool playback products, but it’s the upcoming innovation in sound production for which Kolton is most hyped. The magical stuff they showed him after their initial meeting two years ago, the stuff Kolton says will create the genres of the future, that stuff will come out a month an a day from now on Sept. 9, or as Roland sees it, “909 Day.”
“(Roland) created acid house, techno, house music – some say they created hip hop,” Kolton says. “What’s next for Roland to create? It’s going to be really fascinating.”