CMU Playlists

Playlist: Jon Hillcock

By | Published on Saturday 6 February 2010

Jon Hillcock is a DJ and presenter. He joined Xfm in 2003, presenting a number of shows, most notably the Saturday night ‘New Noise’ show, in which he unearthed the hottest up-and-coming sounds and gave many artists, including Arcade Fire and Klaxons, their first ever UK radio play.

Last year he moved to NME Radio, taking ‘New Noise’ with him, where he continues to uncover the big bands of the future. As well as that Saturday night slot, Jon last week took over the 3pm – 7pm weekday slot on the station.

For his Powers Of Ten playlist, Jon takes us through his musical history, from the age of eight to his first Xfm show. In the process, we have learned that Sepultura goes into Pavement surprisingly well.

Says Jon: “The prospect of picking my favourite ever ten songs for a playlist doesn’t even bear thinking about, so I’ve gone for a far more straightforward and obvious Tracks of My Years-style chronological collection of songs that have left an impact on me at some stage in my life. I really shouldn’t have done it while armed with a drink”.

Click here to listen to Jon’s playlist in Spotify, and then read on to find out more about his selections.

01 Cream – Sunshine of Your Love
Aged 8: The first riff I ever learnt on a real guitar, and probably the first thing I ever played air guitar along to in front of the mirror. I can vividly remember the first time I was taught to play an E Major chord, which magically transformed a piece of wood and strings into something that could reproduce the sound I loved on the records.

02 Aztec Camera – Oblivious

Aged 9: Reminds me of arguing with my sister in the back of my parents’ car over who got to sing the main vocal line of which songs. Usually I got the boys, she got the girls (though we’d spend more time telling each other to shush). I got to sing the lead to ‘Oblivious’, she got the backing Ooooo’s and Ahhhh’s of the chorus.

03 Joe Walsh – Life’s Been Good

Aged 10: I’d be watching telly with my dad, and he’d turn and give me a nod to say ‘follow me’. We’d go upstairs and he’d be grinning, as he selected some of his records from the shelf and put each one on, giving me a story about each. It felt like a secret club. I first heard Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy and The Stones this way, but ‘Life’s Been Good’ stands out, partly because of the striking album sleeve that featured the old Eagle looking kind of drunk underwater in a pool. I particularly love the extended solo before the return to the main riff.

04 Nirvana – Scentless Apprentice

Aged 14: Though I was an enormous fan of ‘Nevermind’, I didn’t really get into Nirvana until a year or two after it came out, having been into all the GNR-style cock rock that Kurt and co were so against (my Dad having given me a copy of ‘Use Your Illusion I’) at the time. I bought ‘In Utero’ on the day it was released at Bromley HMV (we actually got mugged by the front of the shop on the day), and it arrived just as the dark cloud of adolescence had started to descend. I’d never heard anything so visceral and angry, and I felt like I’d found my music.

05 Sepultura – Roots Bloody Roots

Aged 16: I’d left school for college where, unlike in the school sixth form, I was able to develop my own, um, unique sense of style. I wore black most days, and had a revolving wardrobe consisting of about eight or nine Metallica t-shirts. I’ve never been more obsessed with any band; I was in the official Metallica fanclub, spent a fortune on collectable vinyl and box sets, and saw them live many, many times. Sadly, there isn’t any Metallica on Spotify (surprise, surprise), so I’ve gone for another track that reminds me of trekking all way up to the London Astoria for Rockscene on a Friday night.

06 Pavement – Stereo

Aged 19: Towards the end of my time at college, a friend made me a mixtape consisting solely of early Blur, Pavement and Simon And Garfunkel. At first I dismissed it out of hand, refusing to deny my metal – ahem – roots. But after repeated, hazy listening sessions, the loose aesthetic seemed to make perfect sense. I had a lot of catching up to do, thanks to two years devoted to the Church of Hetfield. I still couldn’t really see what the appeal of Oasis was though, at least musically.

07 Roots Manuva – Witness (One Hope)

Aged 21: Having been away at university in the Midlands since 1998, I had missed out on the growing popularity of London’s new alternative radio station Xfm. It wasn’t until I came home one summer and heard that bassy, squelchy intro for the first time (playing on X in the middle of the afternoon) that I realised how exciting it was. Iain Baker’s ‘X-List’ was the first time I’d really heard radio that delivered a string of knockout songs in a row, and I’ll never forget hearing Zane Lowe giving the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Bang’ its initial spin, clapping and singing along. It really was a whole new world.

08 The White Stripes – Black Math

Aged 23: After uni, I was lucky enough to land a job presenting on the national in-store radio station at Virgin Megastores, VMR, which eventually led to a full time position. Mondays were the best day of the week because we got to walk around the giant store picking out every single new release in every department, in order to listen through for what we could play. Over the course of around three years working there I learnt more than I ever have about an enormous variety of music. One day a plain red vinyl promo 12″ of the White Stripes’ ‘Elephant’ turned up and I got to sit in the studio and listen to the lot extremely loud, with completely fresh ears. That was a very good day.

09 LCD Soundystem – Losing My Edge

Aged 24: One afternoon at VMR a fellow DJ – Marsha Shandur – asked if I was familiar with the work of John Kennedy at Xfm (whose new music show by now I had actually become obsessed with), and explained that he was looking for people to help out. I went on to sit in every week for a number of years, which was the best musical and radio tutelage you could ever hope for. I can remember when John first played James Murphy’s hipster-baiting ‘Losing My Edge’, I hated it. Fortunately he had made it his X-Posure Big One, played it every night, and by the time the weekend arrived I was in awe.

10 Born Ruffians – This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life
Aged 26: I covered various shows on Xfm for a while, and eventually got one to call my own – 3am – 7am at weekends. Each night I used to race through the official playlist in order to create space at the end of each hour to fill with something new that I’d been sent. I’ll never forget playing ‘This Sentence…’ to death on that show having received it as a demo from Canada. That crashing drum and guitar intro and those Pixie-ish yelps still give me goosebumps every time, and I continue to wear three Born Ruffians t-shirts far more often than I should.