Interview: Dance Music Queen Annie Mac Makes Wavs

Features

/ April 1, 2014

If it’s Friday night in the UK between 7-9pm, it’s likely you’re jump-starting the weekend with Annie Mac, Radio ‘s Queen of dance music. Then, come Sunday, Annie closes out the weekend again at Radio 1 to provide the wind down soundtrack to the end of the nation’s big weekend. Her 10pm -12am ‘Musical Hot Water Bottle’ slot is known for her finely curated selection of fresh new music that caters to Annie’s mellower musical taste. In October, Annie released her Annie Mac Presents 2013 for the first time to the US. Since 2009, the Annie Mac Presents imprint has introduced the world to fresh music from a variety of both established and budding artists.

Annie Mac has now partnered with Life+Times for a monthly exclusive mix, featuring a mishmash of her favorite new tracks. In addition, the tastemaker DJ just toured North America with dance music heavyweights Tensnake, Skream, Jacques Greene and Cashmere Cat, among others.

We got Annie to take off her headphones long enough to kick it with VIBE with an exclusive head to head after the jump.

You are a glorious person for opening our ears up to so much wonderful music here in the USA. It’s great to have you here.
Thank you so much! It’s so great to be here. It’s been two years. It feels like an awfully long time.

For those that don’t know, you are the Queen of the Dance Music Airwaves in the UK and beyond with your weekly Friday and Sunday night shows on BBC Radio 1. How did it all start?
It all started with me, as a pudgy bleach blonde nose-ringed haired student in Belfast listening to BBC Radio 1 for the first time. I finished College, went to London, spent two years grafting and eventually got a job in BBC Radio 1 behind the scenes. Two years later I had my own show.

What’s your secret to not swearing on the airwaves?
I swear like a trooper off air, but on air I have a weird swearing editing mechanism. I don’t know how it works but I am thankful for it.

Your Annie Mac Presents (AMP) brand is going from strength to strength with an annual compilation and various events around the world. You’re in the midst of your very first North American AMP tour with guests including Kelis, Cajmere, Skream and Gorgon City. How’s it going so far? How do the crowds and vibe compare?
It’s going great! Because I have such limited time to come over to the States I’m doing a lot of midweek gigs and I’m so thankful for everyone that has come out so far. It’s also so great to meet the people that listen to me on the radio and support me as a DJ. The American crowds are always so open to everything and enthusiastic.

How do you go about choosing the artists involved with AMP? You must get sent an insane amount of demos.
Yeah, we get sent an awful lot of music now a days – stuff to be considered for radio, for our free Music Monday downloads on our Annie Mac Presents Soundcloud, and of course lots of bands and artists to consider for our live events too.

Sir Pete Tong (fellow legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ) just moved to LA as well as a huge influx of UK producers coming here. Is the US somewhere you would ever consider spending more time in?
I would love to spend more time in the US. It’s unfortunately impossible with my job. I can’t leave my show for more than a couple of weeks at a time. I like to do it live whenever possible. I’ve always wanted to spend some decent time in the State, six months in NYC and six months in LA would be ideal. Mabye in time! I would love to be on a US radio station over there too… you never know!

For all the independent women out there, what’s your secret to being a wonderful mom and managing an insanely successful career?
Organization. This is what I’ve learnt. I have to plan ahead months at a time in terms of childcare. Also having a balance. Making sure that the time you have with your kid is well spent and you can be fully focused on your kid.

Any tips for readers wanting to get into your field?
Be pro-active. If you can’t get a job in a radio station or in a club, then make sure you are productive and consistent in producing your own content, be it podcasts, radio demos, DJ mixes… have something so that when you meet someone who can genuinely help you, you have something for them to see and listen to.

What’s your weirdest experience on the road?
Probably having to take a boat from St Petersburg in Russia to an old disused fort for a festival called Fortdance. I was with my friend Fake Blood and we were treated like huge celebrities. There was a wall of photographers and we had to do a Press conference. We were very amused. It was crazy for me to travel that far and to meet people who were able to sing every single of my radio jungles to me.

What do you have coming up over the next year?
Lot’s of festivals, we’re just sorting some Ibiza dates and we always do a big UK tour in the autumn every year. I would like to be back to America before the end of the year too.

Where do see yourself in five years?
I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure that out. Definitely working in and around music.