He’s been considered the “miracle” for years: singer, arranger, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier won two Grammys for his first two albums (four in total for all four versions of The DJI Project), promoted by Quincy Jones, and later known as the tense, multi-talented YouTube star. He plays several instruments and sings, blending elements of jazz, a cappella, groove, folk, trip hop, classical, gospel and soul with improvisation. However, some critics found it too cumbersome and erratic.
ROLLING STONE WANTS TO KNOW: Who and how is this person really? Is Collier matured and raised as a musician? In the midst of his world tour, Collier stopped in Berlin for a concert – and a chat.
Video interview with concert impressions:
ROLLING STONE: Music knows a lot of chords. If Jacob Collier were a chord, what would it be?
Jacob Collier: There is no “single chord.” It depends on my mood, but today it would be for example: (singing) A chord, not too tyrannical, and emotional…it makes sense in my head. Chords are always associated with feelings. In any case, there is not only one Jacob Collier chord.
Some say your music sounds like you’ve invented new chords.
I wouldn’t say that I invented anything new. I’ve given names to the strings that just sound good… so I won’t forget them. But maybe all these notes and sequences of notes are already somewhere, or someone has already invented them. Sometimes I think, “Oh, one might go with the chord, the other with…”
This feeling is sexy, eureka-like. But there is nothing new in the universe, it is all just atoms redefining and uniting. It is sometimes in music, too. In the end, everyone has their own North Star somewhere, feels drawn to something special and collects and makes music in their own way.
They are referred to as the “child prodigy” or the “Einstein of Music”. What does that do to you?
This creates pressure, definitely pressure! But I put most of the pressure on myself, I know what I’m hearing and I want to hear it and I want to make the best and the best sound that I then share with the world. At any given moment, I have more and more choices, more and more musicians to work with, a world tour, and new albums. So the hard part is deciding which of these options I want and can implement. Aside from that, I love the pressure because it pushes me forward.
Several million views on YouTube, Instagram and Co: How important are these numbers?
It’s really hard to be human, but especially since everything is connected to the internet. Do not pay attention to all these numbers and metrics and do not measure yourself by them. What matters to me: The quality of the method you give is more important than the amount you give. Do you reach people through your heart? You can, of course, get their attention with your eyes, but you can only communicate with them with your heart.
What drives you?
Oh, every day the feeling of coming on stage, everything burns and claps. This is up to you. I think in general: the more you give, the more you get. I’ve been working from home a lot, especially in lockdown, producing albums and videos – and now getting on stage every day in a different city and seeing they’re all there…it’s very valuable.
She has worked with Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Hans Zimmer and Chick Correa. With whom do you want to compose music?
Definitely with Rosalia. Also with Kendrick Lamar, which is an absolute icon for me. And with Stevie Wonder, whom I had the pleasure of meeting many times. It is a nice. Unfortunately we haven’t produced any music together yet. I would still like to do that.
What do you like about working with Quincy Jones?
He is a completely unique human being. He says a lot of interesting things, and he talks a lot about the balance between science and spirit, and the understanding and feeling that comes from it. He loves people very much and speaks almost 80 languages. He always has a story for everyone, a nice place in his heart.
They recorded and released four albums in a very short period of time….
I had started with one recording but then realized there wasn’t enough space in one album for everything. Then I made a second one. And again I found: there is not enough space for everything on the two. So it became three. And now it’s not done yet… So there were four. Each album has its own character.
Is there one coming in 2023?
I think so. I am currently working on a lot again.
The current record Djesse Vol.3 is the English musician’s fourth album, which was released on August 14, 2020