1 Violin

I STARTED playing when I was two, and I gave up when I was four because I couldn’t hack it. But the windows and doors that it opened in my life were massive. My mom is a violin player, and seeing her play even still to this day, is a really massive influence on the way I imagine.

The human voice, the musical language, the way in which you can bring people together and communicate. So the violin, in a really strange, roundabout, distant way kind of started that journey.

2 My mum

My mum is this epic musical force of nature. She’s a violin teacher and a conductor. Some of my earliest memories of life were watching her conduct a group of string players or musicians and just seeing them come to life at her command.

It’s something I didn’t think about too much until quite recently when I started doing gigs. I realised that I loved conducting the whole audience in song, in harmony.

She really changed my way of looking at the world and gave me permission to be Jacob. I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t. I just had to be me. I think that’s one of the biggest gifts that you can give anyone, especially when they’re starting out as a musician, is just that space and that permission to just figure out who they are on their own terms.

3 Liquorice tea

NOW this is polarising. I know some people, quite a lot of people actually don’t like liquorice, which is perhaps one of the reasons why I like it so much.

It’s not that liquorice-ey but it’s just super comforting. I had a cup of liquorice tea every day of my whole teenagehood.

I would say that has, in a subtle yet crucial way, definitely steered me in the right direction. And occasionally the wrong direction, which is equally important.

I don’t know where I’d be without it.

The National:

4 Crocs

I THINK there are people in the world who aren’t down with crocs, but I was brought up on them since I was a kid. It was like one of the first pairs of shoes I ever owned. Just ordinary crocs. And they’re so comfortable, and so great. You can go in the sea with them, you can run down the street with them, you can put them on in the shower, or you can just put them on wherever you want. I have a real fondness for them.

I think crocs are exploding now. It’s funny, all these years and suddenly everyone and their dog is wearing crocs, which is super exciting for me to see. But yeah, I’m a massive croc stan and always have been, always will be.

5 Piano

THE thing about piano, when it comes to music, is that the whole of music exists in that. You can be a drummer on the piano, a bass player, a guitarist, a keyboard player, a singer. I really fell in love with the way it fits together.

I’m still learning it now all the time. If you think about music as being divided into rhythm, harmony and melody, they are the three elements the piano has; and you can really explore it in a really visceral, fun way. The piano in my lovely family home in London is the place I probably spent the most time in that home. I’m really grateful for that.

READ MORE: Amy Macdonald: The 10 things that changed my life

6 My room

WHEN I say my room, I mean the room where I learned the whole of music. I’ve always lived in the same house my whole life in north London. I feel so privileged to be able to say that because I know lots of people who moved around a lot as kids and didn’t have that anchor.

I still live there now after 27 years of life.

There’s this one room in the house, which I call my room, and it’s really the family music room. It’s the room my mum used to teach in when I was a kid.

When I was 11, I actually kicked her out.

I said, “I really, really want to spend more time in here. Can you please move?” And so she moved to a different room in the house.

I spent so many hours of every day in that beautiful room. It’s about 120 years old. When I go in there, the whole world disappears and then this whole new other world opens up.

It just feels like this real cocoon of all these musical flavours and trinkets and things I’ve collected over the years. I’m so lucky to still have it in my life.

7 My bear hat

I WAS walking down the street once in California with a good friend of mine, Genevieve, and she pointed to this hat in a shop window and said, “If I buy it, will you wear it every single day of your life?’

And I said: “Yeah, of course I will”.

So, she went in and bought the hat. $36. Quite expensive for a hat.

When I put the hat on, I felt I’d found this counterpart to my energy. I didn’t take the hat off for a few years.

I then lost the hat, weirdly enough, at the Grammys. It was really a devastating thing. It was great, because I actually won two Grammys that day, but I was really upset to have lost my hat. I looked high and low to find a replacement, but I’ve never been able to find the exact same one.

I don’t know where that hat is now. Hopefully, it’s on someone’s head who needs it more than me, but there was something special about that first hat. It has definitely changed the trajectory of my life as I know it.

8 My box of spoons

THERE’S a box of spoons that lives in my room at home. A tiny little Tupperware box and over the years I’ve filled it full of spoons and I use it as a hi-hat. This box of spoons has become a secondary hi-hat in my life.

Obviously, that, in itself, is cool but it happened by accident. I just started piling various spoons, into this box one day.

My mum has always collected spoons. Actually, she’s a bit of a spoon thief. She’d go around the world and just take spoons from all sorts of places like airlines and hotels.

It’s really not cool but it’s also super cool, because I’ve ended up with these really weird, miscellaneous spoons.

READ MORE: 10 things that changed my life: Emeli Sande

9 The vocal harmoniser

THIS is an instrument of my own creation and it’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time.

Eight years ago, when I was just starting out and making these YouTube videos of me playing lots of different instruments and mosaic them on top of each, I received a Facebook message from a guy called Ben Bloomberg, a PhD student in Boston who is a creator of musical tech.

He said, “If you ever want to build something musical that’s a technical challenge, let me know”.

So, I flew to Boston. On the first day we sat together, and he asked what I wanted to make, and I said, “I want to make an instrument where I can sing a choir on the spot”.

We threw together a bunch of ideas and made this crude prototype of this instrument, which is still with me now. It’s a really interesting sound because it doesn’t really sound like a choir, but it has its own kind of Jacob harmoniser vocal sound. It’s completely changed my ability to connect with an audience.

10 Quincy Jones

The National: Quincy Jones

FOR those who don’t know him, he’s the world’s greatest music legend who is still alive at 89 years old.

For the last seven decades he’s been at the cutting edge. Whether it’s arranging for Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald, to producing the bestselling album of all time, Thriller by Michael Jackson.

He sent me an email back in 2014. He’d found a YouTube video of me arranging a Stevie Wonder song and he was really enamoured with it. He sent me this email saying, “I’m Quincy Jones, I’d love to have a conversation”.

I ended up flying to Switzerland to meet with him. He ended up signing me to his management company. He is a massive godfather to me, and I think that I’m not alone in saying there are many millions, perhaps billions, of people in the world who somewhere along the line have been influenced by how he touched the whole of the musical landscape. To have him in my life as a friend and a mentor, it’s completely profound and something I’m really, really grateful for.