Where to start with Annie Nightingale? The legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ and big, tireless electronic music supporter celebrates an immense 50 years in broadcasting this month with a series of documentaries and a hefty Ministry Of Sound compilation.
“It's not a typical dance album. It's the first time that the Rolling Stones have ever agreed to have a track on a compilation album, that's what's exciting for me,” Annie tells DJ Mag.
Getting the go-ahead from the likes of Sir Paul McCartney has added extra kudos to a release that spans from rock, punk and new wave to bass and trap. “I've done a couple of compilations before but never anything as big as this,” she says.
“It's not a greatest hits, it's got a bit more depth, I've deliberately chosen tunes by big artists but not the biggest ones they've done, but to me the most interesting ones.”
What's the track that reminds you of your childhood?
“There's so much. Actually, in a way, it is violins. Because I was affected very much by violins on the radio, it tends to upset me. I'm quite scared of violins and any melancholic down music, and I think that's why I like playing very up music and very uplifting music because it's the opposite.
My whole childhood was filled with music. I think probably it would have been Frank Sinatra who my mum had a bit of a crush on, I think. I think it's called 'Learnin' The Blues'.”
What's the first record you ever bought?
“Elvis 'Hound Dog'. It's an awful long time ago. I remember where I got it from. It was a record shop in Twickenham, which is where I grew up, and then as soon as I could possibly do it I got a job in a record shop. I think it's a good rite of passage if you end up being a DJ. That for me was wonderful, working in a shop and being played all the records that you want.”
What is the cheesiest track in your collection?
“That's a very good question. I think cheese is a good thing. I do have a vulgar streak in me, and sometimes at Radio 1 they go, 'Oh, we thought you had better taste'. Last year the thing by The Chainsmokers called '#Selfie' I thought it was hilarious, but other people kind of looked at me like...
It just captured a moment in time. They're probably quite witty guys and probably do quite good music, but they're probably going to be tainted by that for quite some time... probably.”
What is the track that's guaranteed to make you cry?
“Anything with violins in it. I'm afraid of them because they make me cry. I went to the Alexander McQueen exhibition this week. It's really moving, and the music... I was very aware of it.
When you get to the Kate Moss hologram and the violins, I almost had to run out... The music really got to me. It's an extraordinary experience. The music is the 'Schindler's List Theme' by Tasmin Little.”
What's an album that you're currently into?
“Well, I'm listening to new stuff all the time. Nowadays it's not really about albums, people are putting out EPs every week. So I'd say Troyboi, he comes from south London, I discovered him through Flosstradamus, who are these trap people from Chicago.
So because of them we discovered him and he just seems to produce a new track a week — almost. But he obviously can't stop because he's so enthused about being able to produce so much music, he feels he's unstoppable, which is great.
There's a track of his called 'Fireman', which is on the Ministry CD that I've put together. He's very talented. I think he's got an album coming up, but let's just hope his music gets captured on an album before he goes and makes another 189 tracks by next week!”
What is the record in your collection that you most treasure?
“I've never been asked this before. You see, because everything is now so accessible there isn't really such a thing as a rarity. Everything to me is on-screen and digital. I'd say a rarity is something that Mike Skinner did for me as a tongue in cheek-type thing.
He did a version of 'Amphetamine Annie' which was originally made by Canned Heat in the '60s or something. When Radio 1 had a party night for me a few years ago, we asked Mike to come and perform but he couldn't come so he sent this instead. It's actually very funny and very deadpan.”
What is your all time favourite track of all time?
“That's almost impossible to answer. It keeps changing. It's almost week to week. I'd say one of my favourite tunes this year is a track by Big Sean called 'Blessings', which also features Drake and Kanye West, this one...
Radio to me is playing a tune down the phone to someone and saying, 'What do you think?'. People ask me about all the technological changes at Radio 1, but basically it hasn't changed — it's still about your enthusiasm for a piece of music and wanting to play it to somebody else (laughs).”
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