British musician Jacob Collier’s rise to fame is a textbook case of going viral online. After the 22-year-old jazz prodigy uploaded his a cappella rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” to YouTube back in 2013, he promptly went to bed, only to wake up as an Internet sensation. His cover racked up over 100,000 views overnight and caught the attention of jazz legend Quincy Jones, who would go on to serve as Collier’s manager and help jumpstart his blossoming career. Three years down the line, and Collier has released a debut album, “In My Room,” and boasts two Grammy nominations under his belt. We Facetime with the musician from his home in London.
Do you feel like jazz is a musical genre that’s still relatable for young people?
It’s certainly a challenge to think about how to bring those sensibilities into the new generation. But as Quincy Jones often says to me, jazz is the classical music of pop. Pop music came from the musicians who thought in the jazz state of mind — they invented with a language that existed already and decided to say a bunch of new things with it. That idea of reinventing old things and bringing them into a new light is timeless.
For me, a lot of the most exciting music in 2017 is merging things together. The idea of merging cultures, reinventing things, speaking a common language and making it about communication are all very central to jazz as a style.