“It’s quite an adventure. I can’t quite believe I’m here,” admitted jazz prodigy Jacob Collier speaking from Los Angeles ahead of the biggest night of his career.
On Sunday, the song collection the 26 year-old recorded in the music room at his Finchley, north London, family home will compete against Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Coldplay for Album of the Year, the biggest prize at the Grammy awards.
Djesse Volume 3, a melange of jazz, funk, electro and R&B featuring a range of guest vocalists, did not even make the Billboard Top 200.
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Its surprise nomination prompted a “who is Jacob Collier?” social media meme while pop chart-toppers such as The Weeknd complained they had been snubbed.
Yet, Collier is taking it all in his stride. “People were saying ‘who is this person, what does he stand for?’ That’s none of my business,” he told i. “My job is to be here and be Jacob and let things fall where they will.”
Although he may not yet be a household name, the largely self-taught multi-instrumentalist is well known to insiders.
He was first spotted posting cover versions on YouTube aged 17. Legendary arranger Quincy Jones spotted Collier’s potential and became his mentor.
Born to violinist parents, he has performed at the BBC Proms. Chris Martin, with whom Collier collaborated on Coldplay’s nominated album, compares him to “Mozart and Prince.”
Grammy voters previously rewarded Collier with four awards and he is up for three categories this weekend. He could become the first British artist ever to win Grammys for each of his first four albums.
However, he remains a cult artist. “I’m super-proud that mine is the first album since 1963 to be nominated without charting. I’ve just been committed to making the music that makes me as happy as possible.”
As for beating Swift, “it would be an upset if I won but maybe the pop titans will split the vote and someone else sneaks through.”
Collier will be at the Staples Centre, where the awards will take place on a special outdoor set, rubbing shoulders with the stars.
“It’ll be nice to hang out with Chris Martin,” he said. “I haven’t prepared a speech in case I jinx it. There’s an ocean nearby so if I win I might go for a late-night swim to celebrate.”
“And if I did get another three Grammys, I’d have to use one as a doorstop at home, we’ll be running out of shelf space.”