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A Happy Aside: Best Fit meets Annie Mac

A Happy Aside: Best Fit meets Annie Mac

11 June 2012, 14:57

Annie Mac is a radio phenomenon. The Irish DJ is now as solid a fixture on the Radio One schedule as she is on Europe’s festival programmes, becoming as popular in her own right as many of the artists she plays

Best Fit caught up with the hirsute Irishwoman before her set at last weekend’s Rockness festival to talk about travel, promotion, and genre-agnosticism – and were treated to an impromptu harmonica performance from French DJ Madeon, a recording of which you can hear below.

I hear you’ve had a horrible travel day.

Yeah, a six hour delayed flight. Thanks Easyjet. There were two no shows on the flight to Aberdeen, praise the lord. We got the last two seats and then we drove. We had Henry Riton in the car, who’s a friend, so we had a great time. We stopped in a town called Keith. Come on, what more can a girl ask for!

You seem to spend most of your summer playing show like this. Do you now consider yourself as much an event DJ as you do a radio DJ? And was this always the plan?

No. It was always just about radio to be honest. The rest of it is just a happy aside. I guess it’s more than just a happy aside now. There’s no way I could ever have done what I do now had it not been for radio, and I’d be very foolish to pretend that. Radio One has given me a platform and a profile to do these gigs. Eight years I’ve been DJing, and it’s been really nice working my way up. At Rockness, where I’ve played a lot, working my way up from the smaller tents and getting bigger and bigger crowds has been really nice. It feels really organic and kind of right.

I saw you at Parklife last year playing to a pretty huge crowd and it felt like some sort of returning hero set, even though you’re obviously not a Manchester resident.

Yeah, fuck the rain! And that was the first time I’d played Parklife, although I’ve played Manchester for years.

Does Manchester still feel like the hub for electronic music, or does that world feel more London-centric now?

London’s pretty fucking rocking right now. In terms of clubnights there’s not as many, but maybe it’s just because everybody lives in London. I haven’t really spent enough time in Manchester to comment on whether it’s the hub, but the clubnights it has, like Sankeys and the Warehouse Project, they’re second to none. Warehouse Project is world class. It’s the best clubnight in the country, without a doubt.

Is the new Warehouse Project going to be just as impressive?

I’ll tell you that in November. I’ve heard some things about it. It’s a lot bigger, it’s braver, it’s a risk. They’re doing less nights; they’re not arrogant enough to assume that they can do what they normally do in a venue that’s three times the size. But I think they’re very clever guys. They’ll get it right.

Do you think there’s any chance of Warehouse Project trying something in Ibiza, like Sankeys have?

I don’t think so. I think the sign of a good promoter, no diss to Sankeys, is knowing what you do. That’s what Rockness is good at: they never try to get bigger. They know what they are, they do what they do, and they do it brilliantly every year. I think it will be a long time before Warehouse do anything outside of Manchester, because they still have to fill a 5,000 capacity venue every week for about two months.

I’m doing my Annie Mac Presents night, and even that – I have a lineup that I think is really great, but they’re like, “We need more!” 5,000 is a lot of people. It’s bigger than Brixton Academy.

What was the original idea behind Annie Mac Presents?

The idea behind it was me being lonely. Real talk. Travelling on my own, taking trains, staying over in hotels in Newcastle. I said to my agent that I want to have people with me, and preferably other DJs so that we can make it like a business thing. And that’s how it worked out. We started in Fabric, in Room 3. At our first one we had Paul Epworth and David Holmes. How bizarre is that lineup?! And then the second time we had Justice and Mylo. That was when Justice were very small, starting out.

We’ve gone bigger and bigger, but hopefully not too big too fast. We’ve done it nice and gradually. We took over the whole of Fabric and then we moved to Koko. We’ve had offers to play bigger places than Koko, but I just think Koko’s great. It feels right, we sell out every time, we can put on really challenging lineups without having to worry about ticket sales.

And it looks pretty regal.

Yeah, it looks very theatrical. Then the festivals have been great – we’re doing Creamfields and Bestival, just the festivals we really like. It’s turned into something really nice.

I don’t like the word, but it has become a brand whether I like it or not. And I’ve by default weirdly had to become a businesswoman over the past couple of years, which has been really interesting. It’s part promotion as well, because I choose the lineups, and then you have to learn about fees, and ticket prices, and the bar, and things like that. It’s been really fascinating. I’ve learnt a lot.

There seems to be an increasing genre crossover, with lineups that aren’t just straight-up electronic artists. You had Niki And The Dove recently, for example.

We’ve had Miike Snow, then we have loads of MCs. We’ve had Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32. My thing when you have a lineup is to try and get it all synchronised in an energy feel, rather than a clinical genre feel. If it has the same energy, it works.

This one coming we’ve got Wookie, Redlight, Scrufizzer, who’s a grime MC from West and is amazing, and Rudimental, and me. So it’s all kind of the same bracket, but very different within it.

There’s obviously been this explosion in interest in electronic music over the last three years or so. Does it still feel like there is a community?

Within it, definitely. You come here and you see the Ed Banger crew and you see friends, and it feels very much like a family vibe. There’ve been new members to the family, like Madeon. Get this – I was with Madeon earlier and some girl came up and asked for his photo, and asked was I his mum. So it’s definitely a family now; I have a son. His name is Madeon.

At this point, right on cue, frighteningly youthful French DJ Madeon appeared and offered an exclusive rendition of his forthcoming material, played on a thumb-sized harmonica dangling from Annie Mac’s neck. Listen to the result below.

With thanks to Drambuie for taking is to the Highlands.

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