Rising Artist Spotlight: Jacob Collier

Burke Joslin, Staff Reporter

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Courtesy of Sammi Ryan

If you haven’t heard of Jacob Collier yet, don’t worry – chances are, it won’t be long before he’s a household name. Born to a family of musicians in North London in 1994, Collier has lived and breathed music theory his entire life.

It’s almost impossible to pin down what genre Collier most accurately and succinctly falls into. Though most likely to be considered an indie singer-songwriter, his music is highly complex and layered, incorporating elements of alternative, soul, classical, jazz, funk, hip hop, R&B, folk and gospel.

After appearing in a handful of acclaimed films and musicals as a child, including “A Christmas Carol” and “The Magic Flute,” Collier eventually garnered mainstream attention through his YouTube channel. Starting in 2011, he began recording videos of himself covering various famous songs for which he played every instrument.

In 2015, after receiving praise from numerous professional musicians, Collier embarked upon a solo world tour. His success and fame becoming tangible, he soon began working on debut album “In My Room,” which he wrote, arranged, recorded and produced entirely on his own.

For Collier, making music is more than just a career. In a recent interview with The Hullabaloo, the rising star delved into his passions for songwriting, performing and self-expression.

“I think the job of an artist is to look himself or herself in the eye and try to explain what being alive is all about,” Collier said. “And so for me, a lot of being creative comes from necessity – I have to explain the feelings I have. So I write about things in my life and people in my life, but not often directly.”

Courtesy of Sammi Ryan

While his life and the people in it come alive in his music, Collier strives to make songs that listeners can interpret and apply to themselves.

“It’s important to leave room in a song for people to see themselves in the song, rather than just seeing me … I hope that you as the listener would be able to hear something completely random in the song, something I never even thought of.”

Though he achieved his stardom online, Collier also exudes a characteristic magnetism in live performances. Whether backed by a band or performing solo, Collier strives to establish meaningful connections with his fans.

“[The crowd] will teach you a lot about yourself… you can take them into extremely complex places. If they feel it, you’ve done your job correctly. My favorite part of being on the road is learning from the crowd, learning how to use the crowd to create music that’s not just me making music at the crowd, but with the crowd.”

Collier then expounded upon the interrelatedness of his upcoming four-album project, “Djesse.” According to Collier, each individual album is unique in sound, feel, genre and lyrical content, yet is nonetheless interconnected as part of a larger, cohesive whole.

“Right now I’m creating this four-album journey, and so that in itself is a complex project. Within each of those four different compartments there are other components and layers,” Collier said. “I think for me the overriding challenge is to enable all these layers to coexist simultaneously, but without it being too much information. The reason I make music is profoundly human, and it’s not based at all on the technicalities that are involved.”

Collier recently passed through New Orleans during his world tour following the release of “Djesse, Vol. 1.” Keep an eye out – if “Djesse, Vol. 1” is any indication, the project as a whole will be more than worth the listen.