It's rare that you'll fall into the vibrant, ever-changing world of music on your lonesome; there's seldom immaculate conception when it comes to falling in love with your first record. Be it via your parents, your cousin, younger sister or older brother, math teacher, local butcher, The O.C., your GP, best bud, chum, pal, Tom, Dick or Harry, someone somewhere lit that taper.

Who got your that first record on your twelfth birthday? Did your older sister leave her Nirvana records laying around the house? Did your cousin give you his radio-rip mixtapes full of cussin' and the kind of music with 'Parental Advisory' labels on? Perhaps you were raised on MTV. Maybe it was peer pressure. It'll be different for everyone, but nine times out of ten, you'll be able to trace your passion for the aural arts back through myriad acquaintances or tastemakers or long-lost family members. There'll be someone to thank at the end of that journey.

We had a rummage around the inside of our minds and deciphered some people that have made indelible marks on us.

I'd love to say Joe Strummer, for introducing me to punk, ska, rock, folk and reggae through his amazing work with The 101ers, The Clash and The Mescaleros. Or maybe The Prodigy, who took me on a journey through old school rave, big beat, jungle, breakbeat and sleazy electronica. The Roots, even, for teaching me that hip-hop can be brutal, sexy, political and beautiful all at once. But my biggest musical influence, by a stretch, is the person responsible for Burt Bacharach and Simon & Garfunkel listening sessions as a kid, my discovery of a scratched Beatles' Revolver record and The Doors' Strange Days cassette, vivid memories of Prince's televised Purple Rain concert and multiple phases obsessing over big band, reggaeton, hip-hop, soul and more - I owe a lot of my weird music tastes to her. So...thank you Mama! - Lyle Bignon


My flatmate at university, John, introduced to me to a whole world of hip-hop. From Farewell Fondle Em to Def Jux, Stones Throw, Rawkus, Anticon, Lowlife, Invisible Spies, Rhymesayers - the guy had been living in rap since he was a kid, in the same way I'd been living broadly in indie. Before I went I had the vaguest appreciation of MOP, Cypress Hill and Roots Manuva. Coming back, I could explain the career development of every former Deep Puddle Dynamics member from teenager to legend. It was the single most important influence on my taste in music and a lot of fun. - Nicholas Glover

"His name was Stephen and I only ever met him twice, for just minutes at a time, but his record collection well and truly opened my ears."

Hands down, my Dad is my biggest musical influence. He introduced me to countless acts I adore today - Mew, Bloc Party, Sigur Rós, Joy Division, Franz Ferdinand, Pixies, 65daysofstatic, Hope Of The States, for example. There were always ragged issues of NME laying around when I was younger - the old, dog-eared broadsheet style ones, way before The Libertines et al. took over. One Christmas, I received God Is An Astronaut's entire discography (probably to try and lure me away from Jimmy Eat World), and I remember schlepping it to Selectadisc in Nottingham where he spent roughly ninety quid on tatty vinyl, much to my mother's ire. The influence was huge from an early age with acts like Pop Will Eat Itself, Durutti Column, Gerling, Felt, The Avalanches, Denim ('Back In Denim' was my jam between the ages of 4-10), David Bowie, Kitchens Of Distinction, The Smiths and Stephenhero blaring on car journeys or before school or after dinner.

To this day I still get pointers; the latest recommendations sitting in my Dropbox folder are England In 1819, Hammock, Spotlight Kid, Fanfarlo, French Teen Idol and Alcoholic Faith Mission. Nowadays however, I can recommend back - I Like Trains, Azealia Banks and Samaris went down well. Some, like Crystal Castles, didn't: "They're just crap." - Larry Day


Scientific analysis would no doubt state that the biggest influence on me, musically speaking, would be shared between the John Peel programme and the savvy bunch of people I hung around with at university. Now that I've sat down to think about it, there was someone who years before changed everything and gave me an education that was really quite unique.

Every few months my parents liked to socialise with some old friends who had moved further away, and because I was so young - I think I was eleven when this started- they used to take me with them. The other couple had a much older son and as it was the weekend he was always out. They all had the bright idea that, because I liked records, I could go upstairs and listen to some of his, and wouldn't have to listen to their boring chit-chat.

Anyway, to cut a long story short he had a shelf full of vinyl from the seventies and eighties, full of names that were unfamiliar to me. Over a period of a few months I dived in and listened to bands that were already old, but were new to me. He had a ton of progressive rock and I avoided the ones I had already decided were ghastly in favour of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator, the (gatefold) sleeves usually helped me decide this. He had two live Talking Heads albums (two!) and an awful lot of Zappa and Beefheart. As the weeks passed I made a list of my favourites and when I heard that he was getting married and moving out I tried to tape some of them, committing them to cassette via his hi-fi as best as I could. Music I discovered there which has remained with me to this day included Can - he had the original Tago Mago! - the Raincoats, the Damned, the Ramones, the Slits and Neu! I've no idea how else I could have heard those tunes back then. His name was Stephen and I only ever met him twice, for just minutes at a time, but his record collection well and truly opened my ears. - Jonathan Greer

"He didn't manage to convince me that Lloyd Cole is anything other than dogshit though, I'm not mental."

Having grown up in the PS2 generation, some of my earliest memories are soundtracked by the video games of my childhood. FIFA provided variety, Grand Theft Auto Vice City brought some older stuff to my ears but Tony Hawks Underground was the game franchise which turned me on to 'proper' music. The first incarnation had three categories: punk, hip-hop and rock with artists from Alkaline Trio to Nas, but it was a 14-year-old me, playing Tony Hawks American Wasteland that was the turning point from casual music listener to devourer of all things 'new music'. The track to thank was Bloc Party's 'Like Eating Glass' - all angular guitars, pounding drums and yelped vocals. It was miles away from the Blink-182 that had lived on my 256mb mp3 player for the past 2 years. I guess the people who really got me into music are Brandon Young and Tim Riley from Neversoft Entertainment who curated the playlist that soundtracked my teenage winter nights perfecting the 720 triple kickflip. - Jonathan Roome


In the late '90s I had an interview at an independent record shop in St Albans with a gentleman named Rob Gair. Despite my huge knowledge of such class acts as the Boo Radleys, Kinky Machine and Out Of My Hair (wtf) he decided to give the job to a university mate of mine instead. He eventually saw the light and let me work at the now-dead Falcon Records, where he set about teaching me that other genres existed beyond indie, and my tastes broadened more thanks to Rob than any journalist or DJ, Peel excepted. Without him I can't imagine I ever would have got into some of the stuff I now love, Northern Soul in particular.

He didn't manage to convince me that Lloyd Cole is anything other than dogshit though, I'm not mental. - Chris Lockie

"His passion for soul, reggae and 90s house music especially, meant that without really realising it at the time I was able to amass a solid foundation of musical knowledge."


Although there are many people; friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, radio deejay's, who deserve a massive big up for my musical education and thus the growth of my social conscience, there's just one person it all comes down to - my old man.

Some of the earliest memories I have are of watching me Dad put vinyl records on the turntable we had in our sitting room, when I was about five or six. He'd give them a spin before plonking headphones on my head, so that I could experience the sounds being produced by this big black disc spinning around. Magic. I distinctly remember hearing Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street' when I was about five or six in this manner and being pretty captivated by the infamous brass arrangement on that record; from the strength of this experience the first CD I asked for and was subsequently given was Gerry's Greatest Hits.

Dad also let The Verve's Urban Hymns (one of my favourite albums and bands of all time) find its way into my greasy hands when I was about nine. I wanted to test drive the CD player of a new mini-hifi I received for Christmas and nagged him to let us borrow the album as I loved 'Bittersweet Symphony'. As I gazed down to inspect the cover-art of this new acquisition and saw the cool photo of the band relaxing on a lazy sunny afternoon, I thought what an excellent addition this will make to my minimal CD collection. Even after listening to 'Bittersweet' on repeat for about three weeks, Dad never asked for the album back and still it sits on my shelf. Eventually I discovered the rest of the songs on the album.

For all of his influencing though, I am most grateful for his interest in a wide range of genres. His passion for soul, reggae and '90s house music especially, meant that without really realising it at the time I was able to amass a solid foundation of musical knowledge. Hearing him play Desmond Dekker's 'Israelites' for the first time still holds great weight in my mind as a time where the strength of a particular piece of music, in this case the feel-good bounce of ska-reggae, could instantly capture your attention and expose you to a whole new world of music. Even though I take the piss out of him for his love of Kate Bush and Devo, I can't fault the way he (perhaps unwittingly) influenced and facilitated music in my life. - Jake Wright

Well I grew up in home where my parents or mainly my father listened to a lot of music and at special occasions he also played Donavan or Dylan on his guitar. I absolutely loved it when he did that! So when I was 13 years old he taught me the most basic guitar chords and I instantly got hooked on playing the guitar. This was the same period where grunge and Nirvana was a huge deal and it was basically the only genre I listened to. So you can say that my father is the main reason why I got to play music. - Sleep Party People


I met in Samy Birnbach in Tel-Aviv in the early '80s. He was an enthusiastic record collector and unusually for Tel Aviv was really well informed about what was going on in Europe and America. In general it was pretty hard at that time to find music that wasn't mainstream, so going over to his house and listening to all this amazing new music was very inspiring and exciting. Even though we were not "proper" musicians hearing all that stuff made us want to form a band. We ended up forming Minimal Compact, my first band, together. - Malka Spigel

"She gave me a scales tape to take home and introduced me to musicians with whom I could start performing. The more I became immersed the more I took interest, the more albums I bought, and the more I wanted to learn about how I could sing the best I could."

Lornette. There was a Performing Arts Academy just by the flyover onto Melton Road, Leicester. In its windows, 'DANCE!'; 'SING!' in silhouetted lettering. I tried to dance, but it didn't quite fit. A friend asked if I wanted to go to the singing class one week beforehand. There were about fifteen of us, and several big folders full of lyrics, all of which the teacher, Lornette, had the backing tracks for. I chose 'Foolish' by Ashanti. I think it was OK. From that day on, Lornette believed in me. She gave me a scales tape to take home and introduced me to musicians with whom I could start performing. The more I became immersed the more I took interest, the more albums I bought, and the more I wanted to learn about how I could sing the best I could. At a crossroads, as we tend to be in our teenage years, I asked, is it worth it, "Can I sing?" She answered, "Yes, but don't get complacent." Lornette had been discovered herself some years before and signed to Virgin, but they asked her to record crap songs so she left. From then on, we performed; we became the Ike-ettes in silver heels from Shoe Fayre and we dazzled in tassels. I tried to sing Whitney but it wasn't happening, but that was never a loss. I could do Aretha instead. Lornette Ford: you can find her in Leicester, she helped me find my place in the World. - LAW