Thursday, February 02, 2023 | Rajab 10, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

The Colourful Mozart of Gen Z

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Jacob Collier was about to cross Fifth Avenue when a stranger stopped him to take a picture of his outfit. A Grammy-winning musician with millions of followers across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, Collier is used to requests for pictures, but it was a nice change of pace to be asked because someone liked what he was wearing — a colour-blocked jacket, acid-green patterned pants and tie-dyed Crocs — rather than because the person recognised him from the Internet.


“I was always curious how someone would perceive me from a fashion perspective because I’ve never really perceived myself that way,” he said later from his perch on a rock in Central Park, where he spent a sunny afternoon between shows on his “Djesse” world tour. “I’ve never overly contrived it. I’ve gone for things I like that are comfortable and expressive, and that’s about it.”


Following his artistic instincts has served the 27-year-old Briton well, turning him into an Internet-age success story. As a teenager, his videos of multi-instrumental covers of classic songs went viral on YouTube, earning him professional representation. Since then, Collier has won five Grammys and been nominated for four more. He is commonly described as a genius by fellow musicians, and the list of his admirers is long: Coldplay and Lizzo are fans; Hans Zimmer called Collier his “hero”; and SZA said she “stalked” him on Instagram until she convinced him to collaborate with her.


That Collier attracts admirers from across so many genres is a testament to the uncategorisable nature of his music, which contains elements from jazz, folk, R&B and classical. His songs often comprise hundreds of tracks layered over one another, in which he plays and sings every sound. He recently attempted to translate this enjoyment of complexity into the visual realm by using the music software Logic to colour-code the hundreds of tracks that went into his arrangement of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).” He printed the resulting pattern on a pair of pants in collaboration with the brand Skidz.


“I find myself gravitating towards things that are highly patterned, because I’m quite highly pattern-minded,” he said. “Musically, I enjoy that exploration, and visually I think it follows suit.”Through it all, Collier’s look has remained remarkably homegrown. That’s not to say it’s tame: His wardrobe is wild and high-energy, full of crayon colours, power-clashing patterns and the occasional alligator onesie, paralleling the eclecticism of his whimsical and energetic soundscapes. But whereas many of his peers present a version of themselves to the world that has been polished by a team of professional image-makers, Collier has, for the better part of 10 years in the public eye, done his own thing. Until a few months ago, he’d never worked with a stylist. His biggest red carpet moment — when he wore a hot pink Stella McCartney suit to the 2021 Grammys (and promptly spilled ketchup on it, he divulged) — was a result of the brand reaching out to him directly. — NYT


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