Why I Love: James Holt on Jacob Collier

James Holt released his brilliant new single on 15th May. Pendulum is a  lively, upbeat foot-tapper of a single and another in a string of superb single from this versatile singer/songwriter. You can see the video at the end of the article, below.

Here, we welcome James to At The Barrier as he shares his love of the music of Jacob Collier; an English singer, arranger, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist.

Jacob Collier is a genius.

I first came across Collier’s music a few years ago when some of my musician friends shared his mind-bending, multi-instrumental videos of various jazz standards (“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”, “Georgia On My Mind” etc) – which incidentally inspired the concept for my own multi-instrument cover video. Since then I’ve followed his career as he’s progressed and released three albums so far (with another on the way soon).

Though I wouldn’t say we share the same musical world, his music has been so inspiring to me. I feel as though with every new song or album he releases he’s opening the door to another musical landscape not yet seen in popular music, showing us what can be achieved and is setting the benchmark for musicians everywhere.

He has become the messiah of bedroom artists and producers. Jacob’s understanding of every facet of music (from rhythm to harmony, performance to arrangement) is outstanding but what’s more is he has been constantly eager to share his experience / knowledge through his many interviews, masterclasses and live streams. He wants to bring us all along with him on his journey and you can’t help but be endeared by his optimism and energy. His clear and evident enthusiasm for music and teaching is truly captivating.

I’ve been most inspired by Jacob’s use of advanced harmony, and I have been experimenting with some of his harmonic systems myself (there’s a popular video online in which he talks about negative harmony and this inspired a piece I used in my MA music composition thesis). It’s also interesting to know Collier has been heavily inspired by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and indeed he covered their song “In My Room” (which he also used as the title for his debut album, recorded entirely in his room at home), which could suggest he may delve into the rock/indie world in future – I’d love to hear his take on a prog-rock song.

My favourite song of Jacob’s is “Lua” (feat. MARO) from his 3rd album, which is a piece of nu-bossa brilliance, though all of his music is so well-constructed and rewards you on repeated listens. His music provides a strange, haunting curiosity – you feel compelled to go back and find that fragment of melody or textural harmony which lingers in your mind.

I’ve not yet had the opportunity to witness a live set of his, though I’ll share this…

My friend, who’s a musician, went to see him play at Band On the Wall a few years ago and he told me he was literally moved to tears. At first, he felt almost inadequate in the face of such musical brilliance, to witness so much talent and creativity manifested into one individual, but then throughout the show my friend experienced such wonderful music and it ended in complete euphoria. He said that after the show he felt so invigorated and inspired to create more music, that Jacob had redeemed his faith in music. I agree wholeheartedly.

Many thanks to James Holt for taking the time to write about Jacob Collier for us.

Check out the new video for Pendulum below.

James Holt: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud

Jacob Collier: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter

You can read more from the Why I Love archive here.

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Featured picture of James Holt courtesy of Shay Rowan.

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