Over the last decade, Now Then has spoken to hundreds of musicians, composers and groups about their work, from celebrated veterans of left-field music to new artists on the cusp of worldwide success. Here’s a few choice cuts of what we’ve learnt.

Richard H. Kirk (Cabaret Voltaire) on VHS label, Doublevision (#45)
“We also did this thing called TVWipeout, which was like a TV programme that covered art, music and film, but without the shitty presenters. It would be impossible to re-issue that. There was so much high-profile material on it, because we had signed with Virgin. We got access to an interview with Bowie, some Andy Warhol clips from films, as well as local bands like The Box, who we interviewed and filmed playing live. It would be a copyright nightmare trying to clear it all.”

Kate Tempest on the characters in her songs and poems (#79)
“They’re not ripped off people that I know, but they are people that I know because they’re my characters. I love them. They’re me and they’re you and they’re everyone I’ve ever met and everyone I’ve ever loved. It’s not autobiographical but it’s from life, definitely.”

Akala on grime in the mainstream (#85)
“Grime faces the challenges that any black-orientated music faces in this country. Any industry led in the majority by young black men in our racialised society is problematic. You had that in hip hop within the States, where it was monetised in a way that UK hip hop has never been. Here we’ve had a challenge. This country really doesn’t want things that Big Narstie has to say to be put on a national platform. It’s not just because of the colour of their skin, but because of what they’re saying.”

Michael Rother on starting out (#102)
“I think it was lucky circumstances how I met the guys from Kraftwerk. I almost stumbled into their studio by chance and started jamming with Ralf Hütter. It was a case of, ‘I don’t have to talk to this guy. We can just make music.’ It felt like a hand in a glove, someone else with the same idea of harmonics and melodies. I don’t know what I would have done without getting in touch with those musicians. I may have given up and become a lawyer.”

Kate Rusby on ballad books (#117)
“There’s a whole load of songs in my brain that I’m sure came pre-installed, because I can’t remember actually learning them. I’m still going at them, but also I have these ballad books that I’ve collected over the years from little obscure towns and second-hand bookshops. Quite often those songs in the book don’t actually have tunes, or they’ve been lost, so I take songs out of the books that have been laying there for 200 years and give them a new tune and rewrite them a bit.”

Josh T Pearson on entering the European Beard Championships (#42)
“I lost both times. Berlin 2005 and Brighton 2007. […] Berlin one I was in Full Beard Freestyle […] That means anything goes. You can sculpt it in any manner, however you want. Mine was called the Texas Tornado. I shaped it into a funnel cloud and put little shit in there, like mobile homes, cars, a horse, a lightning bolt. But yeah, I lost. They were not ready for my avant-garde ways. They were very conservative.”

Jarvis Cocker on ‘getting spiky’ (#75)
“Even when music wasn’t explicitly ‘smash the system’, it was seen as a bit of an alternative thing. The thing is now it’s everywhere, isn’t it? You go in a lift, there’s music. You go in a shop, there’s music. It’s like a scented candle now. It’s like something that creates an atmosphere for the next people that buy stuff. Something like streaming – it’s using water imagery to say it’s just going to flow through your life and irrigate you with its niceness, whereas before maybe it was something a bit spikier. Everybody’s got to get spiky!”