Soundtrack Of My Life: Doves’ Jez Williams

Creative force behind one of Manchester's finest bands

The first song I remember hearing

ABBA – ‘Dancing Queen’

“I was as young as six or seven. It was on Top of the Pops and I remember thinking it was really otherworldly. It just hypnotised me, seeing these lights behind [the band] and this amazing song. I think that pulled me in [to music]. I thought: ‘I want a piece of that’.”

The first song I fell in love with


Jimi Hendrix – ‘Purple Haze’

“My older brother played it at home, and I remember thinking: ‘That’s pretty messed up.’ It was the first thing [I heard] that wasn’t necessarily a pop song, but still had this kind of drama and violence, this loose dropout vibe to it. It was very different to ABBA! It wasn’t supposed to sound joyous. It sounded more like going through a war, some kind of harrowing but exciting experience.”

The first album I ever bought

Status Quo – ‘Live’

“I was just really into Quo as a kid… Whenever I go back to it now I just think it was of its time.”

The first gig I went to


The Cramps – Manchester Apollo, 1986

“I was 15. It was an incredible experience, so intense and so exotic. You’ve got the singer, who is called Lux Interior, and then the guitarist called Ivy Crush. They were a little Iggy Pop and The Stooges, but with this strange dark sound as well. Quite glamorous, and their set-up on stage was ’50s noir. It was oversold, too – it was kind of scary being in that crowd. There’s an edge to when something is over capacity, an extra sort of intensity.”

The song that reminds me of home

Hashim – ‘Al-Naafiysh’

“This is going back to 15, 16. I’m at school, we’re all exchanging music. Mainly, we’re into electro. That tune is absolute killer electro. The whole school, about 900 kids, seemed to be banging to it. It didn’t matter what side of the fence you were on, everyone was down with that tune. We were BMXing while listening to Hashim!”

The song I wish I’d written

The Smiths – ‘The Headmaster Ritual’

“I was lucky enough to be at this legendary Smiths gig, at the Maxwell Hall in Salford. It was after they released the album ‘Meat is Murder’, which has ‘The Headmaster Ritual’ on it. It sounded like it came from the future – I’d never heard anything like it. It’s Johnny Marr at his best, Morrissey at his most vengeful. Because obviously corporal punishment was absolutely fine in those days – it was a bit of a shit time! – but weirdly the music is so up. It gets me every time.”

The song I sing at karaoke

Glen Campbell – ‘Wichita Lineman’

“It’s really easy to sing, really emotive. It’s such a beautiful song, really moving – especially after a few drinks, it’ll have you in tears…”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Frank Ocean – ‘Nikes’

“I love Frank Ocean. ‘Blonde’ is in my top 10 albums of all time. It just wears at you, the melodies hit your brain and they don’t leave. But it’s not one that drives you crazy, it’s a nice guest to have in your head for a long period of time. That song is now part of my DNA – it’s a total earworm. I’d absolutely love to write with him, that would be amazing.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Bjork – ‘Venus as a Boy’

“It’s not that it’s a bad song, it just drains me. I listened to it nonstop for about 10 years. I haven’t listened to it for a bit, but I don’t want to go back to it because it was perfect as a memory. It’s a beautiful song, so delicate and emotional but light on its feet. Light, but not lightweight, with a real emotional punch.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Sebastien Tellier – ‘La Ritournelle’

“It’s full of emotion but there’s hope in there. It sounds like you’re sending someone off, in a way. Or drawing something to a close. If they played it at my funeral I’d be very happy – it’s such an amazing, classic track.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Sueno Latino – ‘Sueno Latino’

“They originally sampled this from an amazing piece of music written by German composer Manuel Göttsching. His performance was called ‘E2-E4’, which is a chess move, but the piece of music really affected me. When I was going out clubbing in my late teens, they played ‘Sueno Latino’ in the nightclubs in Manchester. I heard it and had to find out what it was, but for two or three years I couldn’t find it anywhere. And that’s when I heard the Göttsching’s original. Sueno Latino had added a four-on-the-floor kick and made it into a dance song. It’s just perfection for me – dance as euphoric ecstasy.”

Doves’ new album ‘The Universal Want’ is out now on Virgin/EMI