Outside the spin
SO, THIS IS what it’s like to be in demand. In the past 12 months, you’ll have found Annie MacManus playing festivals and clubs such as Australia’s Stereosonic, Barcelona’s Sonar, Miami’s Ultra and the Isle of Wight’s Bestival, as well as the usual seasonal sorties to Ibiza.
Her latest compilation album Annie Mac Presents 2012 has just gone on release and then, there’s the not insignificant matter of her regular gig at BBC Radio One. When you’re hot, you’re hot.
A while back in an interview, the Dublin- born DJ referred to her non-radio DJ-ing gigs as “a happy aside”, but not any more. “It’s become more than that. I’ve been working on it over the last 10 years and to call it a happy aside now would not do it justice. I absolutely love it and I would be foolish to think I could walk away from it and go on with something else and not miss it. It’s become a big part of my life and my livelihood.”
Those DJ-ing appearances away from the radio microphone are now a business.“About three or four years ago, I realised that it accounted for four-fifths of my income and it was something that I should probably take seriously. We started thinking about where it could go and what we wanted to do with the ‘Annie Mac Presents’ brand in terms of events and curating line-ups at festivals and compilations. It’s still fun, but it has turned into a business, which sounds strange to say.”
It’s a business with a growing reach too, judging by MacManus’s appearance at the gigantic Ultra festival in Miami earlier this year. “Ultra was fascinating to observe,” she says. “It’s a culmination of how Americans have fallen in love with what they call EDM. It’s so funny to see it through European eyes. The way people are dressed, it was like Gatecrasher or Global Gathering 10 years ago. Girls were wearing big fluffy boots and fluffy bras and people had their faces painted with fluroscent paint.
“But it’s insane over there because it has become so ubiquitous so fast. Dance music has become pop music. David Guetta and Calvin Harris may be DJs but they’re pop stars now too. That four-four beat is now the backbone of most big pop hits. People might moan about Guetta, but his success means people are more open to understanding and enjoying the more progressive stuff coming up from the underground.”
MacManus also plays a part in bringing the sounds of the underground to the masses via radio shows and compilations.
“My role is to bring the best new music to people and play it on the radio and in the clubs and to help them hunt it out. The compilations are hard because you need a balance between stuff people know and stuff they don’t know. The battle for me when it comes out is to make it sound relevant and current, as well as being a synopsis of the year. With this one, more than ever, I’ve been really lucky because I’ve got some tracks on there which are still really exciting, as well as acts like Frank Ocean who are quite big now.”