Jacob Collier disagrees with Rick Rubin’s philosophies: “His audience is non-creative people for whom creativity is novel”

“Rick says things like ‘art is only pure if it’s made for only art’s sake’. Absolutely false.”

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Jacob Collier, Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin (left) and Jacob Collier. Images: Getty

British multi-instrumentalist and producer, Jacob Collier, has “critiqued” the artistic concepts of Rick Rubin, Grammy-winning producer and founder of Def Jam recordings.

Specifically, Collier disagrees with Rubin’s philosophy of “the audience comes last”, saying that he finds that approach concerning. “There’s no one way to do anything — you can make work for people; you can make work for an audience; you can conform to the algorithm; you can make an engaging thumbnail. That’s cool.”

“You can also,” he adds, speaking on the Colin and Samir podcast, “lock yourself up in a room — like I did for many years — and just make art that you just deeply, deeply care about that has never been made before and will never be made again. That’s cool as well.”

READ MORE: My Forever Studio S4 Ep9: Jacob Collier steals Chris Martin’s magic mic

On the episode (titled We interviewed the Mozart of Gen Z), Collier, who has won multiple Grammy Awards for his work as a producer, composer, and musician, discusses the workflow and production process of his fifth album, Djesse Vol. 4.

When podcast host Colin highlights Rick Rubin’s approach to music-making, which is “the audience comes last,” he says: “When I read that, I resonated with it at first[…]although many times in my career, the audience does not come last and is a high consideration.”

“I had the same response to you when I heard that,” responds Collier. “Then I thought about it more and did a lot of research about Rick[…] and I worry about the strong prevalence of an attitude like ‘the audience comes last.’”

“I would critique Rick in a sense that I don’t think his audience is creative people. I think his audience is people who aren’t creative, for whom creativity is novel. And they’re thinking ‘Gosh, wow! I never even thought that you could make something for yourself!’ But I feel that anybody who’s inherently creative in some way knows that there’s no one way to do anything.”

“I look at Rick and I’m like, ‘has anyone ever debated [Rubin] on this stuff?’ because there are [multiple] ways of approaching creativity…I’d love to sit with Rick at one point and just talk to him, and chew the cud and push him. And I’ll also welcome being pushed…Our opinions need to be squeezed and broken…

“Rick says things like ‘art is only pure if it’s made for only art’s sake’. Absolutely false.”

Though Collier says that Rubin’s philosophy can be seen as “flawed and unhelpful”, the artist celebrates Rubin’s effect on some people: “If anyone who is watching this and has watched a Rick Rubin video and felt inspired — fuck yeah. That’s great. Who am I to say don’t be inspired?”

To celebrate the launch of Djesse Vol. 4, Collier collaborated with Native Instruments to release the Audience Choir plugin. The instrument takes inspiration from Collier’s famous crowd-pleasing routine, which turns his audiences into harmonious choirs in an instant. Not familiar? No problem — just watch him work his magic at Glastonbury last year with Queen’s Somebody To Love. You’ll see what we mean.


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