What was the first song you learnt? I can't really remember it was so long ago! But one of my favourite songs from band in primary school was Tequila, where we all got to yell out the word "Tequila!" at certain moments during the song.

What’s your favourite memory of your early musical life? Staying back after school to go to recorder group practice. I loved concentrating on the notes, and playing with a group of other kids to make this magical collective sound happen. 

What made you want to play music in the first place? I never "decided" to play music, it feels like I've just always been playing it, but I guess I've kept playing music because it creates a feeling of freedom in me.  

How old were you when you started playing? I was probably four years old when I first started playing the recorder in primary school. I had a very inspiring teacher, and soon moved on to playing the flute, and later the saxophone and double bass. 

Who were your music heroes/idols back then? Who are they now? A very odd collection - my Dad was a musicals director on Broadway so I grew up with a lot of Burt Bacharach, Leiber and Stoller and Kurt Weill. But I was also classically trained, so I love Handel, Vivaldi, Beethoven and the romantic era composers like Debussy and Chopin. I'm also a great fan of jazz music (from Coltrane to Bill Evans and everything in between) and 20th Century minimalism: Phillip Glass and John Cage had a particularly big influence on me. In terms of pop / rock culture, I was a bit late to the game but love everything from the Velvet Underground to Joni Mitchell, Paul Kelly to Beyonce. I really don't know how to answer this question in any cohesive way!

What was the name of your first band? Zeta Puppis. (It's a star in the Puppis constellation, and one of the hottest, and most luminous, stars visible to the naked eye. My friends and I learned about it in year 9 science and decided to name our band after it. The name was terrible and our band was terrible, but we spent some happy school lunchtimes trying to be The Next Coldplay!)


Roslyn Helper is an artist and curator interested in the effects of new technologies on society, culture and politics.