By: Jake Murray

It could be argued that we humans are no greater than the sum of our parts. We’re made up entirely of genetics; chemical traits and characteristics passed down from our parents and their parents before them. You’d be pretty hard pushed to develop entirely new physical features from one or both of your parents, and equally striking out from your parents mentally and emotionally tends to only occur when a large generation gap is present in the family. I wanted to start this feature as the more we discussed “behind the scenes’ the more I realised so much of my music taste, a truly defining feature in my personality, was inherited from my parents.

It has been a life-long claim that while in-utero my mum used to play Tchaikovsky pressed against her stomach for me to hear (a claim that was once extended to Radiohead until I pointed out who was born first by a good few years… sorry, mum!).  On the XY-side, dad claims to have picked up a copy of Pretty Hate Machine as soon as copies hit the UK, a mere few months after my birth. That record, along with the rest of Trent Reznor’s work has remained a constant, primary influence in my life and music.

In retrospect the duality of my parents’ musical taste not only formed a regular irregularity in the house, but had an immeasurable effect on my attitudes and tastes. Mum was a hippy, dad was a rocker. They were both closet goths. It’s funny actually, to imagine the hugely contrasting memories of Mum joyously singing along to Rolling Stones’ ‘Ruby Tuesday’ at the top of her voice in one instant and Dad stomping around the room in boots encouraging us to throw devil horns to Marilyn Manson and White Zombie. The energy and passion for truly great music is something I’ll always remember and cherish, and something I will always hold dear. As much as their tastes differed at times, they were both musically intelligent and open-minded, so finding them together squawking along to Black Sabbath or Pink Floyd was always on the cards as a good common ground.

The common ground, of course, did not end with Floyd and Sabbath. Both parents had a huge admiration for Björk, whose work continues to tear down boundaries and evolve in ways most humans just aren’t capable of. This now seems to be another factor in the tastes of my parents: while Mum was perhaps more of a traditionalist at times, she was as open-minded and eager to challenge her own boundaries as Dad, with perhaps the capacity for a broader scope. Both were always open to new ideas and favoured the artists and crazies, so it’s should also come as no surprise that The Doors were yet another sweetheart band between the two. Morrison’s onstage antics and lyricism, alongside the suis generis of Ray fucking Manzarek are somewhat reflective of my parent’s unique and free-spirited approach to life, with the ever-underlying tone of unpredictability and fragility.

Dad moved out, and back in, and out again more often as I got older. Life as a family became more unstable just as we were becoming more aware of it, until the point of total dissolve. I became more introverted and my siblings and I fought more, though who knows if that was down to the big split, or because we’d hit teens. My dad’s angst-heavy influences took over almost completely as I wanted rock music to thrash and rebel to, so when he showed me Joy Division you can imagine how quickly I devoured every bootleg and live recording I could get my hands on. I’d found a mixtape cassette of his with Muse and Manic Street Preachers on, both current enough at the time to inset into my own budding tastes of 90s and early 00’s Kerrang! fodder. It wasn’t until much later that I started becoming more open-minded again to the music at home, when my own became much more progressive, I began helping myself to Hawkwind and Janis Joplin albums for my iPod, and skipping school to watch Almost Famous and that Woodstock DVD.

My life today is split three ways: engineering music and maintaining studios, producing and performing my own music, and occasionally contributing to this dusty old publication. My life is 100% directed by and dedicated to the adoration and exploration of sound and music, and my parents played a bigger role in that than anyone else on Terra. Music has, throughout my life, shaped me entirely, all whilst my tastes have grown and shaped the world of music I inhabit and the choices I make. My parents made a blood oath with my ears before I was born, that I would live for the sole purpose of treating them to the most incredible, outrageous and down-right ridiculous sounds we three could unearth; my parents won’t be around forever, which is why they planted the seeds and extended the oath unto me… and I wildly accept. Thank you mum, thank you dad, for giving me the best gift I ever could have asked for: music.

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