By Veenu Sandhu
The man sitting on the couch with his legs folded under him bears a striking resemblance to the Jamaican reggae legend whose message, “One Love”, resonated across boundaries. He wears the trademark Rastafarian dreadlocks. The smile is also familiar — wide and open. Had he been lankier, Rohan Marley could have almost passed off for his legendary singer, songwriter father, Bob Marley.
Rohan, who’s named after West Indies cricketer Rohan Kanhai, was here in India to launch audio products — earphones, headphones and portable speaker docks — from the House of Marley of which he’s the chairman. “The House of Marley is as old as my father,” says Rohan (40). But, as an entity that offers audio electronics and lifestyle products such as bags and watches, it’s been around only one-and-a-half years. Headquartered in Detroit, US, it has presence in 32 countries including Singapore, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Italy, South Africa, Costa Rica and, now, India.
Like his father’s songs, Rohan hopes his audio products will also carry a message — of being earth-friendly. So, each piece, down to the plastic and aluminum used, is made of sustainable, recycled materials. It’s been a tedious, four-year process that, as Bob Marley’s son, he could have sidestepped. The Marley stamp alone would have had fans lining up at the stores. But, Rohan says he could never do that. “Growing up you saw your father. You observed him and all the things that he represented. What he said in his music was exactly what he was. He didn’t say ‘One Love’ in his song and believed something else. As his children, we could never do disservice to that.” Bob Marley died when Rohan was nine. “I grew up on his songs and his videos. I’m no one without his teachings and his legacy.” When he decided to create his audio products, he tapped into the energy that said “Marley”.
He had the idea of eco-friendly audio electronics in his head, but he had to find people qualified to turn it to reality. Soon engineers, sound experts and designers came on board. Several trials and errors later, House of Marley entered the market. The result was worth the wait. The colourful, youthful headphones — there are those with the powerful metallic and sturdy brown look too — score on audio quality.
I try them out on “Get Up, Stand Up”, the song Bob Marley wrote after he witnessed the poverty-stricken lives of Haitians and that originally appeared in the 1973 album, Burnin’. The sound quality is clean and crisp and does justice to the inspiring song that was also the last one that Bob Marley performed on stage in 1980 in Pennsylvania, less than a year before he died. Then, I run a trial on “No Woman, No Cry”, which is distinctly different. Again, the eco-friendly headphones don’t let Bob Marley down. What meets the ears is a nice warm sound that lets you feel the music. There’s something surreal about listening to Bob Marley with headphones from the House of Marley.
In India, House of Marley has launched three collections — Jammin’, Freedom and Destiny — priced between Rs 1,999 (earphones) and Rs 25,999 (speaker docks).