In an age where singers and rappers are now beginning to produce their own music, a higher value is placed on musicians that can do it all – young, multi-instrumental talents are breaking on to the scene and experiencing success in their respective genres.
Musicians such as Jacob Collier, Tom Misch and Steve Lacy are all still to reach the age of 25 and yet are already critically acclaimed with huge fan bases due to their incredible talent. While their songs do not consistently feature in the Billboard Top 100, the combination of youth and incomparable musicality asserts them as the future of music.
A 24-year old classical musician from North London, Jacob Collier has acquired a depth of musical knowledge that would put many professionals to shame. With both parents as classical musicians, it is hardly surprising that he followed the same route, but his unorthodox method of learning led him to surpass the expectations placed upon him at a young age. His ability to navigate and play a multitude of instruments leaves the average musician very jealous.
Young, multi-instrumental talents are breaking on to the scene
In an interview with The Guardian, however, he commented that his skill on those instruments needed to “catch up with my understanding of them. It’s a backwards way of doing it; most people start learning an instrument, and their playing is governed by their technique. But for me, I knew what sounds and grooves I wanted to create, I just had to find out ways to achieve them.”
This talent has translated into success, with two Grammys being amongst the awards and accolades he has received, as well as securing a 200-date tour, travelling internationally after the release of his album, In My Room.
And while many journalists are quick to label him a jazz musician, it is impossible to pigeon-hole him to the all-encompassing genre that is jazz. Collier is able to use his instruction and mentoring from the revered artists Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones to progress and enrich his sound. His jazz, folk, funk and soul-inspired music is why he represents the future for music – by producing original art he inspires and teaches others to follow suit. Additionally, his continuation of music theories such as negative harmony and campaigns like #IHarmU show there is so much more to come.
Collier is able to use his instruction and mentoring from the revered artists Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones to progress and enrich his sound
South of the river lies another young talented musician, paving the way for a reinvigoration of J-Dilla inspired jazz music, by the name of Tom Misch. His debut album Geography peaking at number eight on the UK charts, and at only the age of 23, he has a promising future pioneering his genre.
Like Collier, his proficiency with a multitude of instruments allows him to produce multi-instrument tracks without having to synthesise everything. One drawback of many modern alternative jazz songs is the constant prevalence of artificial sounds of a synthesised saxophone, guitar chords and mainly drums.
Live recording these instruments, instead of substituting them for buttons on a pad controller, enhances the track and gives it considerably more volume. His pizzicato and bowing on the violin (as opposed to finding the instrument on Logic) adds another dimension to his already-vibrant sound. Both South and North London musicians benefit from their talent and youth, placing them at the forefront of their respective scenes and at the future for music.
Lacy makes music without the excessively expensive software that inhibits many budding musicians these days
Paving the way for alternative R&B, 20-year-old Steve Lacy gained a large following while he was still in high school. Although part of the Grammy-nominated band The Internet, his solo EP Steve Lacy’s Demo was released when he was just 18. Tracks such as ‘Ryd’ and ‘Dark Red’ already show a maturity in artistic ability, the likes of which many are unable to master throughout their careers.
The unique method of recording music using just an iPhone app not only emphasises his skill on these instruments but also his ability to make music without the excessively expensive software that inhibits many budding musicians these days. His talent has led him to produce for artists such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Tyler the Creator. Like Collier and Misch, Lacy’s preference for playing instruments rather than synthesising them allows for a more resonant sound, which has, in turn, led to his success in production for countless artists.
These young musicians all signify a forward progression for music. They are not only able to create their own unique sounds, but also collaborate with and inspire others to do the same.
These young musicians all signify a forward progression for music
While Collier teaches masterclasses in both the UK and USA, Misch collaborates with other multi-instrument musicians such as FKJ, and Steve Lacy spoke in a TED conference entitled ‘The Bare Maximum’. The rich sonic quality of their music is incomparable to the often over-synthesised tracks one hears in the charts. Their music is typically described as alternative, yet their musicality forges a path that mainstream music should be following within the next few years.