If you’ve ever listened to Jacob Collier, you may not be surprised to learn he’s had a connection to music since he was young. Or—as some might argue—before he was born. With two grandparents and his mother being professional violinists, listening and learning about music has always been a part of Jacob’s life.
Who is Jacob Collier?
London-born Jacob Collier is a musician, producer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, multiple Grammy winner, and now, Skillshare teacher with his class, Music Fundamentals: Explore and Create Your Unique Sound.
Because of this innate relationship with sound, Jacob spent much of his time in his family’s music room growing up. The room would be home to everything from his very first steps to the production of Jacob’s Grammy-winning music. Somewhere along the way, Jacob’s juvenile taps on resounding drums and plucking at humming violin strings would turn into his greatest passion: teaching and composing music.
But what makes Jacob the renowned artist he is today? And what can other budding artists learn from his success? As a strong believer in imperfection, improvisation, and bending age-old frameworks of music, Jacob and his story are something you’ll soon learn hold a lot of creative wisdom.
Jacob’s Life and Path to Stardom
Jacob’s musical story started with those first moments in his family’s music room. His life journey started on August 2nd 1994 where he was born and raised in North London. He grew up with two younger sisters in a family of musicians.
As Jacob got into his teenage years, he would spend hours exploring, harmonizing, and reimagining old and original songs. Looking for a fun way to share his final pieces, Jacob started a YouTube channel in 2011, and within a few years, reached success he never imagined possible.
With a few smooth scrolls and a click or two of your mouse, you can still find some of the first songs Jacob ever posted. Towards the bottom of his videos you’ll likely come across Jacob’s cover of “Don’t Worry About a Thing.”
This harmonic hit essentially skyrocketed Jacob to musical fame overnight when it went viral. It’s this video that earned him an email from an intrigued Quincy Jones and started his journey to over 1 million YouTube subscribers.
Soon after this, Jacob’s music was being enjoyed by millions of listeners across the globe. And in the decade after his first YouTube video, he would go on to release his first album, win his first Grammy, and work with artists like Coldplay, Ty Dolla $ign, SZA, and John Mayer.
Since then, Jacob has split his time between touring and making music.
Jacob Before Fame
As someone who grew up surrounded by the woody vibrations of the violin and the cool resonance of piano keys, music became Jacob’s second language. Despite the fact that Jacob’s mother was a classically trained violinist and music teacher, she didn’t push formal classes onto him.
Jacob’s playful journey to musical composition was largely influenced by the instruments he had at his disposal and the music he listened to by artists like Kendrick Lamar, Earth Wind & Fire and Becca Stevens.
Growing up, Jacob had no formal knowledge of chords or how to read music. He just tugged on strings and tapped on any surface he could find until he found his own original sound. Eventually, Jacob would learn guitar, piano, bass guitar, and many more. But perhaps his favorite instrument is his voice.
Jacob often harmonizes his own voice by layering different tracks on top of each other. Voice is a powerful tool that can create noises and notes that aren’t possible with most instruments. Even if you don’t have Jacob’s vocal range, playing with voice has been key in his musical success.
With no obvious spot on a specific radio station, Jacob’s mixture of jazz, R&B, acapella, gospel and groove created a genre that was utterly him.
Studying Music to the Beat of His Own Drum
Finding his unique sound wasn’t completely a product of his Jacob’s exploration. He did end up having some music theory education from his own research and formal learning environments. After spending years creating at home, Jacob went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London and The Purcell School for Young Musicians, where he studied jazz piano.
His mother’s love of music also provided a starting point for Jacob. He’s previously shared how in his family they learned from Bach as much as they did Beck, Bjork, and Bobby McFerrin. This wide range of musical inspiration continues to inform the music Jacob makes.
Jacob’s First Album
It was in Jacob’s family’s music room filled with crooning bass guitars, plucky ukuleles, a rocking and rolling electric guitar, and a drum set, that Jacob produced his first award-winning album, In My Room. With the help of Jones, who quickly signed Jacob to his management team, Jacob has continued churning out music engrained with the perfect balance of science and soul.
Jacob’s songs like All I Need and Moon River have gained him fans from around the world.
Jacob’s Musical Collection
Since becoming a professional artist, Jacob has released four albums and twenty-seven singles. After releasing In My Room, Jacob returned to said room and got to tapping his fingers and harmonizing to create his 50 song, four part album: Djesse.
Each Djesse album exists within a separate musical universe of sound, style and genre. Over thirty collaborators across every facet of the music world, each piece stands apart, yet entwined with the others.
Djesse Vol. 1 released in 2018, Djesse Vol. 2 in 2019, and Djesse Vol. 3 in 2020. Fans still await the much anticipated Vol. 4, but in the meantime Jacob has not been stingy with his music releases.
He has put out singles like “Never Gonna Be Alone,” which features Lizzy McAlpine and John Mayer. Jacob said the track “speaks to my experience of the world as a hugely beautiful and fragile place,” adding that the song “has helped me process some of the grief I think we’re all feeling for our pasts and futures, in a myriad of different ways.”
In addition to his own music, Jacob has helped other musicians with their works. In 2020, he worked with SZA in the production of her song “Good Old Days,” which topped charts at number nine.
A Peak at His Most Popular Songs
Of all of the songs Jacob has written, sang, and produced, “All I Need” with Mahalia & Ty Dolla $ign is his most listened to song on Spotify. “Time Alone With You” ft. Daniel Cesar and its twinkly hip hop vibe has the most views on YouTube of any of his videos. This video just barely surpasses Jacob’s original viral video, “Don’t Worry About a Thing,” which still amasses views.
Getting His Hands on Those Golden Gramophones
If you can imagine yourself within Jacob’s music room, you’re starting to cut through the fabric of Jacob’s melodious world. Inside you won’t just find soulful acapellas and flashes of pop, you’ll also come across more than a few Grammys. Jacob’s arrangements have brought him praise the music industry’s greatest.
Jacob has won five Grammys:
- Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “Flintstones”
- Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for “You And I”
- Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “All Night Long”
- Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for “Moon River”
- Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “He Won’t Hold You”
Equally impressive is the fact that Jacob is the first British artist to receive a Grammy for each of his albums. This twenty-something has already had a career peppered with awards, well-known artists, and uniquely crafted musical pieces due to his authentic style.
Jacob’s Social Media Stardom
As Jacob’s fame began to crescendo, so did his presence on social media and around the world. With over one million followers on Instagram and hundreds of thousands on other social platforms, Jacob has created a community of fans who are just as passionate about music as he is.
You’ll even find a Reddit thread devoted to him and his music. Here fans share their own achievements as well as ask questions like one about tickets to an upcoming Jacob Collier concert. Jacob has taken all of his albums on tour including his most recent, Djesse Vol. 3.
Explore and Create Your Unique Sound with Jacob Collier
In Jacob’s Skillshare class, Music Fundamentals: Explore and Create Your Unique Sound, you’ll get a glimpse into the creative process that has gotten him so far. He dives right into his form of musical exploration to help students make their own original sound. To Jacob, sound has always been a language through which to tell some of the best stories. You’ll work with Jacob to untangle the process of this sound making while exploring rhythm, harmony, and melody.
Through hands-on lessons, Jacob reveals how to compose your own unique sound. His learning approach will help you experience music through a completely new perspective. You’ll finish the class with a sound that can live completely on its own or be used as a starting place for writing music.
Learning from the Master
You’ll start by narrowing down what you enjoy in order to inspire your work. Next, you’ll jam, layer, and play with your instrument of choice until you’ve created your own timeless sound. Jacob will be composing on the piano, so you’ll pick up a few piano basics. As you take a deeper look into the elements of what makes a beautiful sound, you’ll gain some of the tools Jacob uses to create his unique music.
Jacob’s learning approach will help you experience music through a completely new perspective so that you too can tell your story through the power of melody, harmony, and rhythm.
Fine Tuning Your Music
After working through lessons on playing with musical axes, creating harmonies, writing stronger melodies, and understanding time, you’ll finish the class with your original sound. The sound can function as its own miniature masterpiece or be transformed into a full-blown song. Plus, at the end of the class, you’ll get a sneak peak into Jacob’s guide to lyrics.
If you’re not ready to make your own sound, you can also use Jacob’s original sound to explore the topics of the class. Either way, get ready to unleash your unique sound through the language of music with this Grammy Award-winning musician!
That’s a Wrap!
Known as one of the most innovative musical forces of his generation, Jacob’s journey likely won’t be stopping anytime soon. As someone who creates music even if no one listens, Jacob cannot be truly separated from his work.
In many ways, Jacob’s career is the stuff of dreams. From viral videos to celebrity collaborations to Grammy awards, any artist would be grateful for just one piece of his musical pie. But everyone’s path to music making is unique. When it comes to your journey, there aren’t any rules. Just stay true to yourself. Above all, have fun!