An Interview With Annie Mac (Metro, 12th Nov 2013)


DJ Annie Mac has returned to Radio 1 after maternity leave

Radio 1 DJ and new mum Annie Mac is back behind the decks and loving it.

It’s Friday night, and I’m as excited as a sci-fi geek in the Tardis – sitting inside Annie’s Radio 1 studio as she presents live on air.

Almost every weekend of my twenties has begun with Mac’s 7-9pm show, me wiggling mascara through my eyelashes and hunting for non-holey tights while listening to her winning combination of the best new dance music and friendly Irish chat. The 35-year-old gave birth to her first child with partner and fellow DJ Toddla T in May but she’s been back in the radio booth since September, after various summer DJ gigs.

Mac looks fit and peachy skinned – topped off with that famous curly hair, which even has its own Twitter account. I’m surrounded by important-looking buttons and flashing lights, so I sit quietly – convinced I’ll knock something over during a live link.

It’s a different story the next night, when we meet backstage in Camden’s Koko before the launch party for her latest Annie Mac Presents compilation, the fifth in a series. ‘Help yourself to a voddy,’ Mac says cheerfully and I’m happy to accept, swiping a mini-Twix for my handbag too. After all, we do have to last until 4am.

Mac seems to have adored being pregnant – but admits it was scary to go off-grid for a while. ‘I feel for every woman in the world who has worked her arse off going on maternity leave,’ she nods. ‘You just have to have confidence in what you’ve worked for. Radio 1 were 100 per cent supportive, they told me to take as much time as I wanted.’

Mac left radio for four months but took just six weeks off from DJing. Surely she felt under pressure to spring back? ‘I felt it out as I went along,’ she says. ‘Because Annie Mac Presents is my thing, there’s no pressure from anyone. But at the same time, no one else can do it for me. The gigs I did in the summer were very spread out, the bare minimum. And then when I came back to radio, it was such an incredible feeling – people seemed really happy to have me back. I’ve said I’d like to go on maternity leave every year, I bloody loved it!’

Earlier in the day I’d caught Mac speaking on a special edition of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, discussing women in music with the likes of Annie Nightingale and Lauren Laverne. Dance music can be something of a testosterone fest, with relatively few female producers, but Mac personally seems to have had only positive experiences.

‘The success I’ve had has never in any way been about me being a girl,’ she says, ‘but, likewise, I have never had any doors slam in my face because of my gender. Ever.’

Mac likes being someone who women look up to and is thrilled that she gets loads of girls on the front row at her gigs. But plenty of dance music goes hand in hand with a decorative dancing girls in gold bikinis cliché – and this is something she’s keen to smack down.

general -Annie-mac (4).jpg

Annie Mac’s fifth AMP compilation LP is out now (Picture: supplied)

Talk inevitably turns to hammer-licker du jour Miley Cyrus, who seems to have become the prism through which all current conversations on young female sexuality and exploitation are now directed.

‘Miley thinks she’s cool,’ says Mac, ‘and, like any 20-year-old, she’s entitled to express herself. It’s part of the process of growing up. Maybe she doesn’t have enough people around her who love her enough to go, babe, come on, don’t do this. But maybe she is just honestly telling everyone to f*** off. I really don’t know.’

At the cutting edge of electronic music she may be but Mac has a diverse taste in music – we share an unashamed love for 1970s Irish rockers Thin Lizzy, for example. One thing notable about the new compilation is the amount of warm and soulful house music Mac has chosen – in contrast to the hyper-aggressive dubstep and EDM sounds that have been popular for a while.

I contort my face into a grimace while miming winding up a dial and making a shrieking stab at the Skrillex-style sound I’m talking about – and she knows exactly what I mean. But it may be time to put down the vodka.

‘You hit the nail on the head,’ she says. ‘I never really got into all that and it’s been so great to see this kind of soulful house go back into the mainstream. The best thing about it is that it’s got people dancing again.’

Does Mac get to do much dancing nowadays? ‘It’s all about moderation,’ she says. ‘Picking a few nights and really enjoying them. I went out last Friday and it was amazing – I’d forgotten what it’s like just to enjoy music without it being work.’

Mac seems so unfazed by motherhood that I can’t help but wonder if she has a stressed-out side. ‘I get a bit like that when I’m tired,’ she says, ‘but we’re doing all right, really – I’m living my dream. I feel very blessed at the moment.’

Annie Mac’s AMP 2013 album is out now on Virgin Records. AMP UK tours throughout November.