My musical influences are a blend of angsty goth/rock, some industrial, ambient chillage, psychedelic trance, film scores, electronica, minimalism, and lately some of the more interesting branches of trance/house/techno.
I was a bit musically stunted in some ways as a child, in that I wasn't allowed to listen to popular music until I was about 15. Needless to say, I listened to it prior to that when I could anyway, and had to resort to such tactics as taping Erasure and Belinda Carlisle from Children's BBC and staying in the car to listen to the radio instead of wandering aimlessly around a supermarket for an hour or more. Occasionally I'd get a tape from the kid down the road, odd combinations of power ballads and techno.
Other than that, I did have some mightily bad music from the 70's (err, the Seekers, Lindisfarne) to listen to, although I shunned it and enjoyed the hi-fi calibration record a lot more because it got me into acoustics. The Tschaika Cossacks were pretty good though, odd but always melodic Russian folk music....
Aside from that I had masses of classical stuff to listen to, although I only really liked Mussorgsky, Wagner, Holst, Grieg and bits of Beethoven. Much of the rest was not particularly great classical music it has to be said. And I might have only liked Grieg at that age because "The Hall of the Mountain King" was the theme music to Jetpack Willy (I think?) on the ZX Spectrum.I did have a fairly good Pink Floyd album, but my mum gave it to a charity shop....Strangely enough, my mum also gave away our piano when at the age of about 4 I developed an interest in playing it. (And later my Commodore 64... WTF? A pattern emerges....)
Then, in school I wanted to play the cello, but a taller kid than me was already playing the only one they had, so I got stuck with the violin, which was OK but only lasted through the year of compulsory music lessons.
After that, the clarinet, which is just boring. I was good at it, but it was just sonically dull when compared to Nine Inch Nails, which my friend and I would listen to in pure maths lessons when we'd got completely lost yet again. So, I bought a guitar after GCSE's, was sidetracked into taking jazz lessons for a year to be in a school band tour of somewhere exotic, that never happened. But, the jazz lessons were interesting as they gave me the incentive to get through the difficult phase of dealing with awkward chord changes.
I got quite proficient at the guitar for a while, and my friend from Maths and I joined up with 3 of our other friends at school to form the super-covers band, Mollusc. Who by the way, rocked, in case you were in any doubt. We mostly played Beastie Boys, Nirvana and Green Day, with occasional forays into other pastures both good (REM) and bad (Oasis - not my choice!).And then.... disaster.
I got a girlfriend. She resented me keeping my guitar on my bed (I lived in a tiny, tiny student room) and gradually I just stopped playing it. By the end of that relationship, my fingers had lost their nimbleness. I still play it, but mostly for heavily processed ambience rather than solos or anything actually tricky.
Then came a new house, and a housemate with a studio of his own. I'd never really seen anyone make electronic music before (I lived in a rustic backwater) so it intrigued me. All the different sounds from one box.... Chronological perfection due to the wonders of MIDI. Mad feedback loops that could be made by connecting things that weren't meant to be connected, and recording the result when it sounded amazing. And above all, the godlike power of the cutoff and resonance filters! It was just amazing to me that you could do this in a student house and produce cool noises, and so in the next few years I gradually acquired a decent PC, some free software, a MIDI keyboard and synth.
Living there naturally led to a few sessions of music making, although I couldn't really contribute much as I was still quite baffled by the technical side. But the next year I got to play around with synth, guitar and AudioMulch. Although the only thing to come from that was a massive box of 4 track tapes which still have to be recorded back down to normal speed. They now reside about 250 miles away from me though, so that probably won't happen.
The next year was better, as I moved in with 3 people who loved music. Mr Holbrook (sounds here, as F.O.G.) and I spent many hours messing around on my synth, playing guitar, chatting and jamming, and we had a strange session one evening where we all gathered in the kitchen to make random music. Some excellent songs came from that session, I've ripped some to mp3, but 2 of the best songs will forever remain unheard intheir full glory, because the tape recorder ran out unnoticed just before we did a fantastic version of Levitation! We put a new tape in and did it again, but lacking the same spontaneity, it was nowhere near as good. (Potato - a lovely dirge about potatoes is kicking around I'll dig it out.) In part due to singing non-stop for an hour or so when not used to it, my voice went very gravelly at the end, which dictated that our final song for the night was to be a blues number, which we called Vomiting Ned, in praise of a once projectile vomiting houseguest. It was a brilliant song, but I think only the first three-quarters survives. Nonetheless, I might still encode it one day because it was damn near perfect in an idiosyncratic kind of way, particularly Andy's "that's alright..." :)
Now I've got pretty much all that is really -necessary- for making music (except for some collaboration, which could be nice), and it's (theoretically) possible for me to just push a few buttons and be ready to record. In practice it doesn't quite work like that, but it generally improves with time in that regard.
Significant Influences (in no particular order): NIN / PWEI / Depeche Mode / Recoil / Aphex Twin et aliases / Underworld / Dead Can Dance / Orbital / Joy Division / Mansun / Therapy / U2 / Nirvana / Beastie Boys / Faithless / Sneaky Bat Machine / Leftfield / Siouxsie / The Police / Frank Zappa / Ed Alleyne Johnson / Smashing Pumpkins