Interview: Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac

English Literature launched my career

Anne Giacomantonio
Sunday 18 September 2011 22:20

The Radio 1 show 'Annie Mac's Mash Up' is the go-to programme for dance hits. House, electro, breakbeat, hip-hop and drum & bass are all covered, but where did the Dublin-born DJ's excitement for beats come from? Well, university actually.

Annie studied English literature at Queens University Belfast. A course which she says was very broad but allowed her to do "all sorts of things. Lots of films, lots of creative writing, poetry. I loved it.

"I remember studying Apocalypse Now and contemporary Scottish literature - we did all the Irvine Welsh stuff, which was good. Our job every week was to write a poem, discuss it and at the end we had to write a little book of poetry. That was amazing."

Annie frequently found her way to Shine, Belfast's biggest techno club found in the student union building. Her enthusiasm for music obviously showed and before long she got a job promoting their club nights. "It turned out that my English language lecturer worked there - it was all through English that I started my club career!"

Annie now frequently DJs at student gigs all over the UK: Cornwall College in Newquay, Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge and Aston University in Birmingham are the most recent.

So, does the queen of cool have any tips on how to get off to the right start at freshers' week? "You'll go out and join about 15 clubs, then actually go to about two of them. That's what I did! It's just really good to go and see what's available. I think sometimes at universities, especially big ones, you don't realise all the things that you are able to do. It's a really good way to make friends at the beginning as well."

For the budget-minded among you - and lets face it that's pretty much all students everywhere - Annie recommends "really cheap beer," and "really cheap food - cheap beans!" Sound advice. However, the following tip seems a little less sensible: "When I was at university we used to buy a sack of potatoes every week. Whoever was in the house last in the morning would turn the oven on and then whoever was in the house first when they got home [in the afternoon] would put the spuds in the oven. Then we would have about 20 roast potatoes at any given time ready to be eaten." Ok then...

Annie lived with five other girls for the last two years of her studies. Did sharing suit her personality? "I had to share a room with another girl but she ended up being my best mate. I was very lucky. We lived in university accommodation but it was in a house so it was really nice. It still felt like you were in a nice house, not in a little room. We are all still in touch."

Finally, what would Annie Mac suggest as the perfect music to study to? Mark Ronson's latest set, or a Mini Mix from her Radio 1 show perhaps? "Chilled music definitely. You can't have anything too energetic otherwise you just end up wanting to go out! I reckon some lovely classical music or some jazz."

Annie Mac will play various universities during freshers' week. Visit or

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