qmunicate Meets: The Mac Twins

Ahead of their DJ set in QMU, Ellen, Sarah, and Eleanor catch up with the Mac Twins, Lisa and Alana. They’re best known as DJs on Love Island: Aftersun.

We began the interview with a pressing question that we believe all Love Island fans want the answer to:

Sarah: Is Doctor Alex a virgin?

Lisa: No, he’s got game! He came to one of our gigs at The Shard and brought all of his fit Doctor friends.

Eleanor: So because of Love Island you’ve obviously had a really big year, what has that been like? Have you had any time off?

Lisa: When you’re living like this every day, it doesn’t feel like it’s going fast, you just get used to it.

Alana: But we haven’t had a day off in 5 months.

Lisa: Well we’ve just been in Croatia, so we have had a few days off. I think because we’ve been at it so long, we’re quite used to it, we just keep moving on to the next thing. Even last year we knew how big the show (Love Island) was, but we didn’t realise how big Aftersun was going to be. The figures this year have been mental, but it’s been fun.

Eleanor: Have you got any plans for your next project?

Lisa: So we’ve got plans to tour around unions like this until October, and then we’ve got some big Hogmanay news, but we don’t know when that’s being announced. And we’re taking over a tube station with our gut health business. Just FYI, when you leave uni, don’t take over a tube station. And we’ve just signed a book deal for the gut stuff so we’re gonna have to write that at some point. Lots of gigging, for the next three weekends we have two gigs a day so we’re just firing about the place.

Ellen: We looked into the gut stuff earlier, so how did you get into that?

Lisa: Random, very random. Basically we were the first people ever to have our guts analysed as part of twin research, which we joined because we wanted to find out what was different between us and physiologically why we have different things so Alana had arthritis and I had really bad acne, so turns out it’s from our guts because we only have 30% of the same bacteria so that just goes to show that the ‘one size fits all’ model that we follow on Instagram does not actually work for everyone. And it’s the future of healthcare because they outnumber our human cells 10-1 and so we set up the website because we thought we should probably have somewhere for people to go and now it’s a thing.

Ellen: Yeah we were looking through your blog which was mostly DJing and then suddenly it was ‘poo chat.’

Lisa: Yeah literally! #poochat

Eleanor: How do you balance those? Because they are obviously very different things.

Lisa: We don’t sleep, basically.

Alana: Well I actually do.

Lisa: We just have to see the end goal. But actually, the two things go quite well together because if we can get a Love Island audience to think about what’s inside rather than aesthetically what the islanders look like and all that then we’ve done our job. Also, the lifestyle that we lead like staying up til 12, having vodka tonics – so actually the hedonism and then knowing what to put in your body to make it work better does actually work and is what we should all be doing: looking after ourselves. That kind of naughty/nice.

Alana: It’s also great to find something else that you’re super passionate about, and we are.

Lisa: And something that is so purpose led because the music industry can be such a vacuous place. And knowing that you’re helping people and changing the world a bit makes it easier to scrape yourself out of bed.

Alana: What we’ve also started doing, which is really helpful when you’re studying, is putting your phone is a different room, because I’m so terrible for when I’m working at my desk for picking up my phone and seeing what’s happening on Instagram – fuck all. But it’s so important to be focused.

Lisa: We also schedule sister time where we don’t talk about work. Well, we try. It usually ends up like, “did you send that email yet?!” and sometimes descends into madness but we’re trying to be pals.

Eleanor: What’s it like working as sisters?

Alana: Well we went to different unis in different countries, and even in school we were in different classes – we actually had one class (maths) together, and we ended up having a physical fight.

Lisa: The teacher was not happy. But we were on a plane this morning and we were talking about this and how it’s actually nice having a pal to go to sets with and travel with. So much as we fight, you know. But yeah, we’ve just started getting separate hotel rooms, and sometimes just sleep in the same one.

Ellen: So you guys are from Edinburgh?

Alana: We are.

Ellen: Did you notice any big rivalries between Edinburgh and Glasgow?

Lisa: My best friend in the whole world is Glaswegian and all our of our London pals are Scottish.

Ellen: So you are single-handedly bridging that gap?

Alana: I actually married an Englishman.

Lisa: We’re just bridging all the borders.

Sarah: You should sort out about Brexit.

Alana: Oh my God, in the airport in Croatia this morning, and this man very very loudly was telling everyone in the whole airport about his opinion on Brexit and I was like “shhhh”. I am grossly hungover, I do not need Brexit at 7am on my way to the airport.

Ellen: Have you guys ever played a set in Glasgow before?

Lisa: We played a gig for Tia Maria here. We drank too much of the Tia Maria milkshakes, I’m not gonna lie. Curdling happened, it was an issue.

Ellen: You don’t think it’s alcoholic and then the next morning you’re like “well”.

Lisa: We did the couture thing in the Scottish Sun, dressed in cereal boxes, don’t mind telling you. Pure highlight. So, it was basically we had to judge lots of the students’ designs – fashion designs – made out of recyclable, sustainable boxes and stuff. So, I was in there in a packet of Coco Pops.

Ellen: Breakfast- but make it fashion.

Alana: I think we’ve had more but just can’t think of them off the top of my head. We’ve definitely had more in Edinburgh.

Lisa: Although I am definitely looking forward to tonight. And then we’re doing Strathclyde uni as well, in a couple of weeks. We go back to London tomorrow and then we’re back up on Thursday.

Eleanor: How did you guys get into DJing?

Lisa: Random. So, long story short, we never really wanted to work together. Genuinely, never really saw it. We were head hunted at our pal’s birthday party by MTV. They asked, “hey, do you wanna come do a screentest test for MTV?” For 6 months we were like nah nah, we’re not doing it together. “Have you ever thought about presenting?”. We did use to narrate in school plays. Did our high school’s Top of the Pops. Anyway, we were like “fine” and then we went for a screen test and Verge magazine was happening at the time – it was the first online magazine can you believe – so it was MTV and Kiss FM and they were wanting us to be the faces of it so we were like “no we don’t wanna work together” and then they were like “you can be backstage at every festival”. SOLD. So we did that and then the BBC approaches us about radio. So we went and did a pile and literally talked nonsense on air for a bit. And then we got [BBC] 1Xtra and then we were like we really want to start playing out live cause we realised that our differences started coming out when we were choosing tracks for the show. And then our first gig was the Olympics – no, it was Live on Sky Sports – we must’ve been so bad.

Alana: We were saying today, looking back at those gigs now, we were probably absolutely awful. In fact, we weren’t probably, we were definitely awful. So yeah it’s taken a good five, six years.

Lisa: We learnt in the basement of Radio One on vinyls. Because we were like the blonde twins, people will want us to be shit, so let’s try and be good.

Alana: At that time as well, there weren’t that many female DJs out there, so yeah I guess it was a bit of a unique selling point. And now thankfully there’s a lot more.

Ellen: So back to Love Island, were you guys big fans of the show before you joined?

Alana: Oh yeah, definitely!

Lisa: Do you know what, it’s funny working on the show because it doesn’t feel like they’re contestants and we are working on the show, it feels like we’re a cast. Honestly, when they come to the studio, everyone fangirls. Like, Adam walks into the studio and we’re all like ‘oooft’. Unbelievable, I cannot tell you.

Alana: I was one of those ones that was like “mugs! they’re all mugs!”

Lisa: And he came over to us and said, “I was you guys DJing at Tiger Lily about 4 years ago when I was at uni and I thought “yass”. And when I saw you were on it tonight I was like omg. If this is you trying and woo me, it has worked. And thank you, good night.

Ellen: Me being very naive, but that Aftersun was all set in the ITV studios. You weren’t actually there…?

Lisa: Yeah, that was a shame. But Caroline does go out!

Alana: Otherwise it’d be a very big green screen.

Lisa: It was really good all summer, because everyone assumed we were there and we just didn’t have to go on nights out. Great time in Majorca. It was all fake tan though.

Alana: Although we had a good summer in London. But it is good fun on Aftersun when some of the contestants come because we ask them all the questions that everyone wants to know.

Sarah: Is Dr Alex a virgin!?

Lisa: I don’t think he is. I think he’s had his time.

Ellen: Apart from Adam, did you have any favourite contestants?

Alana: So… trying to think at the moment, we were on tour with a lot of them.

Lisa: Eyal was so nice.

Alana: We did Love Island Live and we all got shoved in the same dressing room, which is fun, I mean, Laura, obviously, we got on really well with. Everyone is really, really nice. Who was the fit Alex? With the glasses.

Ellen: Alex Miller?

Twins: Yeah!

Sarah: She is a big fan.

Lisa: When he came into the studio for the first time, I was like, because you know he wasn’t on the show for that long, but I was still like “oh yeah”. But they all, in real life, look even more incredible. And not to objectify them – they are good humans as well. They are like, carved from angels.

Alana: Oh, you can appreciate the beauty.

Lisa: And everyone’s just really surprised that Love Island Live was like Justin Bieber levels of hysteria.

Sarah: Really?

Jayli [opened for the twins]: I did the main bit when they all came in and you guys did the pre-party beforehand, so when they opened the doors everyone came running in. I was like, what the!? My jaw dropped down to the floor. I could not believe, like, this was mental. This is like the Beatles, or…

Sarah: Was it like, an older crowd?

Lisa: No! It was like 11-year olds going, “Do bits society!” And you’re like, “No bits for you! No bits!”

Jayli: I mean, there were parents there with their kids and the mums were screaming just as much as the rest of them!

Lisa: Yeah! And I mean, the Dads are there like, “She loves the show, can I get a picture?”

Ellen: Do you think the Dads are there for Megan?

Alana: Oh, I mean, she in real life is quite something. And she’s so nice!

Lisa: I actually didn’t really hate any of them. Not by the end of it.

Ellen: Feel like, by the end of it this year they all come out more likeable.

Alana: Yeah! It was like, an even keel of everyone sort of got their chance to shine. Like, Kem and Amber last year and Olivia and Chris, they all dominated it last year. But this year, I thought it was a really good mix.

Lisa: The best thing is that the Scottish vote always prevails with Laura coming in second. It’s like The X Factor, you’ve always gotta have someone Scottish finishing up in the top three. It’s like everyone in Scotland’s like, “I don’t give a fuck what they’re like! I’ll vote for them!”

Alana: We have watched it, so we watched the final with all the other contestants on like a ‘live podcast’ thing, and it was so weird/awkward watching them watch themselves back at the awkward moments. And you’re just like, “Oh wow…”

Lisa: They had to sit next to the person that they’d argued with and all that, and you’re like, “Noooo…”

Alana: Great to watch, I was like, ‘I want to get my popcorn out!’

Ellen: It really took off this year, like all the Primark stuff and everyone was wearing Love Island shirts and like…

Lisa: Well, we get told that after we wore them on Aftersun, they sold out across Primarks.

Eleanor: Did you guys get your own water bottles?

Lisa: I lost mine within three days…

Alana: Mine leaked all over the desk one show! I was like – toilet roll! They learned very quickly to not give us any props.

Lisa: Mine’s in my kitchen somewhere… I told a girl at Love Island Live she could have my tshirts. I should probably send her them!

Ellen: And I remember that when the final was on loads of bars and stuff were screening them.

Lisa: It’s like, next level hysteria. Mental.

Ellen: And it’s one of those things where like, I was obviously watching it with my mum who’d normally hate that kind of thing. She’d be like, ‘Shite, I don’t like it.’ But five minutes in, she was like, ‘Oh, why did she say that!?’

Lisa: I think it’s a mixture of escapism, ITV editing stuff brilliantly, and good people. And people, who find familiar situations that you can see yourself in. It brings good talking points as well. I think as well like, we’ve not all had culturally something to talk about collectively across generations a couple of people at a time other than politics. And it’s really bound and galvanised the nation over something that everyone’s got an opinion about. And I think the people that mock that are silly, because you project what you’ve experienced onto that. So, if you want to look at it from a feminist point of view and talk about the patriarchy, that’s great. But if you want to talk about your previous relationships and go, ‘I’ve had that done to me!’ that’s also great. So that’s where I think the popularity comes from.

Alana: My favourite thing, I think it was last year actually, I got on my bus in London and normally you get on the bus and youths are on their phones, but they were actually sitting talking to each other about Love Island! And I was like, if that’s the only thing that comes out of this show: that this brings them off their phones and interacting with each other then job done. But yeah, it’s just a complete phenomenon. Like we thought that this year it might not do so well, but we’ve actually doubled in viewing figures.

Lisa: You just forget they’ll watch the show, like, people come up to us and say, “Ohhh, you said that in week two about this person!” And I’m like, ‘I don’t…What?’

Alana: I know, like, we were probably pretty savage. We get stopped in a shop and a girl said, ‘I think you said something about me in a show…’ And I’m thinking like, ‘Did I?’

Ellen: So apart from touring around unions and the book do you have any big plans?

Lisa: So Hogmanay is a big thing and then we’ve got a mix of entertainment and stuff which is weird because you just put on different hats with that because there’s a team of 6 or 7 for The Gut Stuff so we have to go in and do a 9-5 job basically, well it’s more like 18 hours, so it’s like every day and then we gig at night. So, when we’re taking over Old Street [tube station] we’re taking over the whole tube and then we’ve got events and stuff and then we’ve got four gigs that week so we’re getting the last flight up to wherever we’re going and the first flight back.

Ellen: Busy schedule!

Alana: But it’s fun! I still worked in a Yoga studio up until a year ago and I think it’s so important for people to understand, especially when you’re at uni, that the path isn’t smooth.

Lisa: The turning point for us isn’t the turning point that people think, because we’ve been on the show now that that’s the sort of snow ball for your career but when you’ve been grafting day after day…like we used to do 6 hour sets and get the night bus home and we were missing weddings and funerals and birthday parties and all that…people see the ‘snowball glory’ if you like but for us it’s like aye of course we’ve got this because we’ve been doing it for ages!

Ellen: People don’t see the hard work?

Lisa: Yeah yeah exactly, and also how long it takes. All the Islanders were like “oh are you like 24?”, no no we’re old! Because it takes that long to get to where you want to be. I think that’s such an important thing as well is that obviously it’s been amazing doing the show but there’s been a thousand other things before that…. but Scottish crowds are the best.

Alana: The first time we ever played in Scotland, three folk showed up and they were probably all our pals.

Lisa: So when people say are you playing to big crowds we say no, three folk showed up.

Ellen: What university did you go to?

Alana: I went to Northumbria, I was meant to do Law and Business and Lisa was meant to do medicine and then we decided we weren’t gonna do that anymore, we were going to do dance and she’s gonna do drama and our mum was like no..

Lisa: We both auditioned for London schools and my letter came through the door the week before and my mum said only one of you is going because I can’t afford the train fares, that’s what happens when you’re in a working class family, you can’t just pack up and go to uni, and we were on full bursaries…

Alana: We’d never even been to London.

Lisa: The first time I’d been to London was for my audition and I couldn’t even afford the megabus. Our parents had to remortgage the house and not go on holiday for us to be here, and the sacrifice was massive. So, mum said only one can go because we can’t afford, so I went to Central and I trotted out into the big wide world.

Alana: You had a freshers’ week didn’t you?

Lisa: Hmm drama school freshers’ week, there were like ten people in the room, and I was quite shy without Alana at first, I hung on to one of my best friends, Fi, and I was just like you’re my partner, friend, whatever now. It’s gone full circle because she’s in a band now and we got to introduce her on stage at a big festival. Long story short we didn’t get a freshers’ week.

Ellen: Well you can enjoy them all now.

Lisa: Yeah, we’re having a great time now, living vicariously through students!

You can find the Mac Twins on Instagram here, and on Twitter here.

[Ellen Magee – @mondaymagee, Sarah Kelly – @_xSarahKelly, and Eleanor Fletcher – @eleanorlf_]

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