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TED2017

Jacob Collier: A one-man musical phenomenon

Filmed:
520,669 views

Jacob Collier is a one-man band and force of nature. In a dynamic, colorful performance, he recreates the magical room at his home in London where he produces music, performing three songs in which he sings every part and plays every instrument -- accompanied by kaleidoscopic visuals that take cues from the music and grow in real time.

- Musician, artist
In his videos and performances, Jacob Collier sings every part, plays every instrument and visualizes every component with a captivating vision. Full bio

(Music)
00:14
(Singing) I was walking down the line,
01:34
trying to find some peace of mind.
01:41
Then I saw you.
01:47
You were takin' it slow
and walkin' it one step at a time.
01:51
I said, "Listen, stranger,
02:00
I'm feeling low now.
02:04
I don't know which way to go."
02:07
I said, "If you're lost now,
02:14
maybe I could help you along
and sing you a song,
02:18
and move you on and on and on."
02:21
Singing down the line.
02:27
Where shall we go? Where shall we go?
02:32
She said, "I'm looking
for a kind of shelter.
02:42
A place for me to call my own.
02:46
I've been walking all night long,
02:50
but I don't know where to call my home."
02:52
"The only way to find that place
02:57
is close to where my heart is.
02:59
I know I'm gonna get there,
03:03
but I've got to keep on
walking down the line."
03:06
Down the line.
03:28
Down the line.
03:44
Thank you so much.
04:00
(Applause)
04:01
How's everybody feeling today?
You feeling good?
04:08
(Cheers)
04:11
Fantastic. Would everybody mind
singing with me for just one second?
04:12
Could you sing something?
Could you sing a D?
04:15
Sing "Ooh."
04:17
(Audience hums)
04:19
Oh -- louder for me, louder for me.
04:27
(Singing) Oh.
04:29
Now, please, if you could sing,
04:36
"Oh oh oh."
04:38
Audience: Oh oh oh.
04:41
Jacob Collier: Whoa oh oh.
04:44
Audience: Whoa oh oh.
04:47
JC: Sing, "Whoa oh."
04:50
Audience: Whoa oh.
04:53
JC: Oh oh oh.
04:55
Audience: Oh oh oh.
04:58
JC: Sing, "Whoa oh oh."
05:01
Audience: Whoa oh oh.
05:04
JC: Sing, "Whoa oh oh."
05:06
Audience: Whoa oh oh.
05:10
JC: Whoa oh oh.
05:12
Audience: Whoa oh oh.
05:15
JC: Sing, "Whoa oh oh."
05:18
Audience: Whoa oh oh.
05:22
Thank you so much.
That's beautiful. Thank you.
05:28
(Applause)
05:30
Thank you.
05:32
So do you feel that motion?
05:33
Do you feel yourself
as part of that motion,
05:35
things moving underneath the surface?
05:37
So the language of musical harmony
is an absolutely extraordinary one.
05:39
It's a way of navigating
one's emotional frameworks,
05:42
but without the need
to put things into words,
05:44
and I think that,
as with many other languages,
05:47
it doesn't matter how much
you know about a language.
05:49
It doesn't matter
how many words you can say,
05:51
how many phrases you know.
05:53
What matters is the emotional choices
you make with this language.
05:55
So I encourage us to embrace
this idea as a community,
05:58
which is the thing which in time
may grow us towards
06:00
as opposed to away from our own humanity.
06:03
Thank you so much.
06:05
(Applause)
06:06
(Music)
06:11
(Singing) Take me
06:24
anywhere you want to go.
06:32
You know that my love is strong.
06:41
In my hideaway.
06:47
Softly,
06:55
like the calm that follows storms,
07:02
Find what I've been
searching for all along.
07:09
In my hideaway.
07:15
Even when I close my eyes,
07:23
darling, if you've gone astray,
I'm on my way to my hideaway.
07:33
Touch me
07:49
like I've never loved before,
07:55
in the place that I adore,
08:02
in my hideaway.
08:08
I know
08:16
whichever way the wind may blow,
08:22
there will be a place for me to go
08:29
in my hideaway.
08:35
My hideaway.
08:41
Sticks and stones
09:42
I won't hide from you no more.
09:46
And in time
09:53
I find what I've been searching for.
09:57
Heard your voice
10:03
calling out to me.
10:08
I'm on my way
10:13
to where I can be free.
10:18
And if she won't wait for me,
do it right, don't look back,
10:24
keep my heart on the future.
10:28
On the soles of my shoes
all the places I've been
10:32
that I've known since I knew her.
10:35
'Cause it's you, don't you know
that you're making me guess
10:40
that you're the one for me.
10:42
That it's you that I guess
that I wanted to know all along.
10:45
Girl, it's you that I want,
that makes me complete,
10:50
cause you're the one for me.
10:53
It's thanks to you that I guess
that I want you to know I belong.
10:55
One, two, three, four, five.
11:17
(Applause)
11:59
Thank you so much. Thank you.
12:03
(Applause)
12:05
Thank you.
12:19
Thanks so much. Thank you guys.
12:22
Kelly Stoetzel: OK, Jacob. Wow.
12:34
OK, we have some questions.
JC: OK.
12:38
KS: That was spectacular.
12:40
JC: Thank you, Kelly. Thank you.
12:42
KS: Those
visualizations we just saw,
12:44
those were happening in real time, yeah?
12:46
JC: Yeah, so everything visual
12:48
takes cues from things which are audial,
or something, if that's a word,
12:51
and so everything is real time.
12:54
I cue the loops, I play the instruments
12:56
and then the tree, for example,
that you saw grow,
12:58
grows in such a way
that it takes low long notes
13:00
and grows thick long branches,
13:02
and it takes high, quiet notes, whatever,
and then it grows thin, small branches.
13:05
And then my singing voice
13:09
sort of blows wind against the tree.
13:11
KS: So you're 22 years old.
JC: Yes, indeed.
13:13
Moderator: You played
all of that by yourself.
13:16
How did you get started
and how did this all evolve?
13:19
JC: I have this magical room in my house
13:23
in North London,
which is, like, over there.
13:25
(Cheers)
13:27
Thank you. Represent North London.
13:28
And this room --
I mean, this is my family home.
13:30
I grew up in this room
filled with musical instruments,
13:33
but most importantly, I had a family
13:36
who encouraged me
to invest in my own imagination,
13:38
and so things I created, things I built
were good things to be building
13:40
just because I was making them,
and I think that's such an important idea.
13:44
But this room was
my paradise, essentially,
13:48
and when I came to tour my album,
which is called "In My Room,"
13:50
I thought I'd try and tour
the room on the road,
13:53
and that's quite a strange idea,
13:55
but it's something that I've been
working on for a couple of years,
13:57
and it's quite exciting
to be inside the circle.
14:00
KS: So this is really
like the setup in your room, here.
14:02
JC: It kind of is.
It's similar to the room
14:05
in the sense that I can
generate things on the spot
14:08
and I can be spontaneous,
14:10
which is what I think both music
and all of the best ideas are all about.
14:11
KS: So you won two Grammys
14:15
for a record that you made
in your room by yourself.
14:18
And how is that even possible?
We couldn't have done that,
14:23
that couldn't have happened
five years ago even.
14:27
JC: It's a brand new world.
14:29
The power is now
in the hands of the creator,
14:31
as I'm sure you guys would agree,
14:33
as opposed to the big
record company executive
14:35
or the big man or something like that.
14:37
It's somebody with a good idea.
14:39
Here I am at TED saying this
to you guys who know this already,
14:40
but it's somebody with a good idea
who can sow that seed.
14:43
That's the person who carries
the torch into the world.
14:46
And yeah, I made this album
completely on my own
14:49
and I didn't wait for somebody to say,
14:51
"Hey Jacob, you should
make an album on your own."
14:53
I just went ahead and made it
and I didn't mind what people thought,
14:55
and two Grammys is a massive bonus.
14:58
(Applause)
15:00
KS: Thank you so much, Jacob.
JC: Thanks, Kelly. Thanks so much.
15:06
(Applause)
15:09

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About the speaker:

Jacob Collier - Musician, artist
In his videos and performances, Jacob Collier sings every part, plays every instrument and visualizes every component with a captivating vision.

Why you should listen

Jacob Collier is nothing short of prodigious. A two-time Grammy-winning singer, arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist, he combines everything from jazz and a cappella to folk, electronic and classical music. In 2014, he was discovered by the legendary producer Quincy Jones. Shortly after, Collier began working on his audio-visual live performance vehicle designed and built by Ben Bloomberg at the MIT Media Lab.

Since his first video in 2011, Collier has amassed hundreds of thousands of international followers and more than 15 million YouTube views, which includes his astounding cover of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing." In July 2016, Collier released his chart-topping debut album, In My Room, which he solely recorded, performed and produced by himself. Most recently, he has toured his unique one-man show to more than 150 locations around the world; helped to score the newest Dreamworks release with Hans Zimmer; is currently collaborating on Herbie Hancock's upcoming album; and shares his vast knowledge of music theory with everyone from Wired Magazine to universities across the globe.

More profile about the speaker
Jacob Collier | Speaker | TED.com