Jacob Collier’s series of viral YouTube videos are what first made him a star, and caught the attention of Quincy Jones. On 2016’s In My Room, which won 2 GRAMMYs and a Jazz FM Award, Collier sang, played, and produced everything himself, all in his childhood bedroom. In My Room led to collaborations with Herbie Hancock and Hans Zimmer, performances with the likes of Pharrell, a TED Talk, a BBC Proms concert and much more. After releasing that astonishing gambit, he decided he wanted to open the process up to the world, to allow the music and musicians that had influenced him to participate in the very songs he wrote.
On the first day of the new year in 2018, Jacob began something bold: He sat down and started composing for an orchestra for the first time, giving himself just four weeks to finish an entire album before flying to The Netherlands to record the songs with the Metropole Orkest. That was only the first day and first act of a year of new musical adventures for the British singer, multi-instrumentalist, and production wunderkind—the dawn of a profound period of musical dialogue and discovery that is now poised to dazzle the world.
That morning, Collier started making Djesse, a four-album cycle composed entirely during 2018 and featuring contributions from a global cast of his musical inspirations. It is one of the most audacious recording projects to emerge this decade from someone who has already established himself as one of music’s most brazen and electrifying new minds. Djesse is a universal wonder.
And that’s just the start. As the volumes are revealed, different textures and themes and sounds will be explored in equally astonishing ways. Jacob imagined Djesse as a grand journey through space and time, and the volumes follow his path. In addition, across the quartiles nearly two-dozen collaborators will be featured, from pop stars and folk songwriters to guitar wizards and soul singers. Collier stands bravely at the center of it all, the writer, producer, arranger, and singer putting himself in conversation with the musical world at large.
During these four volumes, Jacob Collier doesn’t merely embrace globalism or give it the deference of lip service. He lives it, sings it, arranges for it through songs that fight for something—music and its power to remind us of the connections we all share, the joy, and pain and humanity of being alive at all.