Jacob Collier Is Our February 2024 Music Director

“The deepest joy I feel comes from gratitude,” says Jacob Collier. “It can come in moments of absolute hype on stage or from sunshine on your eyelids or a delicious homemade cake.”

Known for his complex harmonies and arrangements and his mastery of about 30 instruments, the genre-blurring 29-year-old Collier is a prodigious talent who has written for the likes of SZA and Coldplay. Discovered in 2013 by Quincy Jones after going viral online for his cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing,” Collier embarked on his first tour two years later in 2015, presenting a one-man show in which he played and mixed songs live. “It was just me on stage by myself with 12 instruments in a circle,” says Collier, of the tour, which ultimately ran for three years. “I would generate and loop and build all these kinds of really interesting structures; I was very determined to do things on my own terms.”

“I was very determined to do things on my own terms.”

Since 2018, Collier has been working on Djesse, a four-volume album that features an eclectic mix of collaborators, including Herbie Hancock, Daniel Caesar, Tank and the Bangas, T-Pain, and JoJo. “I’ve written for orchestra, I’ve written for choir. I’ve collaborated with rock guitar legends and folk fiddlers and pipers and rappers and trappers, and some of the biggest pop stars in the world,” says Collier of his time spent on the project. “It’s just this plethora of teachers for me; I’ve been able to learn straight from these people’s experiences by building a bridge from my world into theirs.”

Out February 29, the final installment, Djesse Vol. 4, boasts contributions from Stormzy, John Mayer, Brandi Carlile, Michael McDonald, and Shawn Mendes, as well as the voices of more than 150,000 audience members Collier recorded singing along with him over the course of 91 concerts. “Volume four is fundamentally an album in celebration of the human voice,” says Collier. “This is far and away the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done,” he continues. “It’s been a whirlwind of sound and exploration.”

“I’ve been able to learn straight from these people’s experiences by building a bridge from my world into theirs.”

For this issue, Collier curated a playlist around the theme of joy, including songs that make you smile in addition to more introspective tracks. In addition to Fleet Foxes’ lush folk tune “Ragged Wood” and Kimbra’s psychedelic earworm “Sweet Relief,” he chose Earth, Wind & Fire’s funky 1978 hit “September.” “Everyone knows and loves it,” he says of the last track. “It’s joy in a song.”

Listen to Jacob’s playlist exclusively on Apple Music.

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Ariana Marsh is Harper Bazaar’s senior features editor. Working across print and digital, she covers the arts, culture, fashion, literature, and entertainment—and a bit of everything in between. Offline, Ariana loves seeing live music, visiting museums, hanging out with her stepcat, Danger, and hiking and camping (and brewery hopping) around the Hudson Valley.