Annie Mac Talks Eclectic Music Tastes and Why All DJs Should Dance

Earlier this week we previewed Annie Mac's upcoming Thursday gig at the Electric Pickle and there is definitely no shortage of buzz and anticipation for this show building up among Miami's dance music cognoscenti.

The Irish-born BBC Radio 1 host specializes in a wildly energetic blend of styles and sounds, from grime and dubstep to electro and disco-house. And she's not only one of the most highly respected female DJs in electronic dance music, but also one of the most forward-thinking contemporary tastemakers, period.

We caught up with Ms. Mac on the cusp of her Thursday night show to talk about her omnivorous appetite, DJ M.O., and much more.

New Times: DJing for BBC Radio 1 has to be the coolest job in the world. What's the best thing about it? The worst?

Annie Mac: The best is the complete freedom I get to play whatever music I want, and the huge reach of people that have access to it. There is nothing bad at all about my job.

What are they key ingredients you look for in music?

Soul. Ideas. Quality.

What do you consider a successful DJ set? What sort of feelings and reactions do you aim to elicit from the crowd?

I like to feel like I'm bringing something new to a crowd. Playing songs that are new to them. But I also like to make sure I maintain a party atmosphere. So it's about playing some of the more well known stuff too, but mixing it in with the new stuff. I want people to feel like they don't want to stop dancing, but they're really listening as well.

Rumor has it that you spend plenty of time on the dance floor yourself. But a lot of DJs seem to have lost touch with what that feels like. Do you think it's important to keep that perspective?

Yes, very much. I feel like I've lost my dancing skills though! But I do like to get down and hang out on the floor and listen and look from that perspective. I like to feel like the DJ is on a level with the crowd. The further away from the crowd I am, the less I like it. My ideal DJ booth is in the corner of a dancefloor, maybe slightly raised but not an actual stage. I hate playing on stages!

What are some of the classic essential dance cuts that will never leave your crate?

I always play a track by Juan Maclean called "Give Me Every Little Thing" (Cajmere Remix.) That, and a Switch remix of a song by Radio Clit called "Divine Gosa".

How does a woman get to where you've gotten professionally in the male-dominated DJ game? Do you think women are on their way to making a bigger impact on the scene?

I got here through doing a radio show. That opened all the doors into the clubs for me as a professional DJ. Now that I'm here, there are very very few of us around and I would love to see more women doing it. In Europe, there are some very good female DJs. There definitely need to be more though.

As a DJ, you're known for your eclectic selections and amalgamation of styles. Do you think the hybridization of genres is the way of the future?

I would like to think that it's not just a passing fad. To me, it is the most obvious thing in the world. But you do have to do it well to make it work in a DJ set. Jumping between all those BPMs is hard, unless you've thought about it in advance and you have transitions that help you get there. In terms of where dance music is going, I'm not sure I want to know!

One of the best things about electronic music is how it's constantly mutating into different things. For instance, I love how some grime MCs in the UK are jumping on more dubstep-inspired beats. I love producers such as Redlight, Toddla T, and Skream in the UK. They take their references from garage, hardcore, funky, bassline, and jungle, and end up making music that is pretty much undefinable. Some people call it "bass music." All I know is, it's distinctly "UK" and very exciting to me.

What have been some of the highlights of 2010 and what do you have going on for the rest of the year?

I've loved taking my "Annie Mac Presents" parties to the festivals. I put together lineups for arenas at Bestival and Creamfields and the LED festival and Underage festival in the UK and they were a great success. When I get back from the States I am straight into my UK tour. My Annie Mac Presents 2010 compilation comes out on October 11 on Island Records. I'm proud of this one -- I am very happy with the tracks and the mix.

What can Miami expect during your performance at the Electric Pickle?  

As I said earlier, I'm trying to bring new stuff to the sets. So I'll play some of that UK Bass music I was talking about and try and get some dubstep and maybe a bit of drum 'n' bass in there too along with some house. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, September 23. Electric Pickle, 2826 N Miami Ave., Miami; 305-456-5613; The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $10 in advance via Ages 21 and up.

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