It’s been over two years since legendary Trance group Above & Beyond’s last true acoustic show, but all the cities they’ve performed in seem to still be lingering in the their music.
This time at Creamfields Beijing, the group was invited to perform once more.
The Trance group from the UK was formed by Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki in 2000, and now has two labels in London: Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep. Every week, Above & Beyond broadcasts their favorite Trance music to fans all around the world through their station Group Therapy Radio.
Just like many other groups in the genre, the members of the band met because of their love for electronic music. Two of the members, Grant and Siljamäki got to know each other when attending University of Westminster. After learning about their common passion for electronic music, they made the decision to make music together. Their partnership caught the attention of Liam McGuinness, Tony’s older brother. Liam then went ahead to purchase a sample that Grant produced for Yamaha at the time and got hold of Grant (and therefore Siljamäki) to ask them to produce music together.
At first, they weren’t particularly popular. However, Pete Tong of BBC One played one of their mixes during a broadcast, and that particular song shot up to the top place on the charts. Their earlier work went on to solidify their place in the UK Trance scene: Anjunabeats Volume One’s massive success put them on the radar for many future collaborations; in 2001, they were invited to mix for many top artists, including Madonna, Delerium, Three Drives, and Japanese pop musician Ayumi Hamasaki. In 2002, They joined the stage with DJs like Tiësto and Ferry Corsten. Their fan base has been growing steadily ever, and invitations from top nightclubs around the world kept flying in.
Fast forward to today, Above & Beyond hasn’t slowed down one bit. Their newest album Common Ground landed the third spot on Billboard shortly after its release and was regarded as “the most important UK electronic album” of the year on the American chart.
Unlike most other electronic music musicians who are, more often than not, young, Above & Beyond is pretty old, but the maturity is what helped them survive almost 20 years in the music industry.
Shortly after wrapping up their world tour and before performing at Creamfields Beijing, major EDM outlet, Jump, was able to score an exclusive interview with Jono Grant, a member of the hottest Trance music band right now to learn about their musical world and their passion for the genre.
Below is the full interview:
What has been your influence during all these years?
Jono: We’ve had a lot of influences from all genres. As far as electronic music is concerned, my biggest influence has been Jean-Michel Jarre, New Order, and The Pet Shop Boys. Oh and I remember in the mid 90s when Paul Oakenfold played “Goa Mix” on BBC Radio One; that made me fall in love with dance music.
There’s obviously a difference between composing and performing. How do you find the right balance between the two?
Jono: For me, music is always the core thing. If you put a fancy facade over meaningless music, it’s still meaningless. I think everything needs to start with music itself, otherwise it would just be a visual performance really.
Some say 2018 marks the return of Trance music. What do you think?
Jono: In my opinion, Trance never really left. Of course, the tempo of the genre has changed, and maybe in terms of mainstream commercial success, it’s not as great as it used to be, but I think in this day and age artists don’t necessarily need to be mainstream to survive. I want to say that Trance is a little like metal, in that they both have a pretty sizable and loyal fan base. I think it’s a good thing.
If the three of you have different opinions in the creative process, how do you usually solve them?
Jono: I think the idea of a song should follow whoever started it. Some of these differences in opinions can actually spark new ideas just like magic, so I don’t see it as necessarily a bad thing.
Are there any special meaning behind your new album, Common Ground?
Jono: I think the world right now is focused too much on the conflict between different groups, be it political or religious. I think diversity is something that we should celebrate, but even more importantly, we should focus on what we have in common. The internet has become a tool to tear us apart, but when you meet people in real life, you’ll realize it’s not as polarized as it seems on the web–there are many in-betweens. For some reason, people tend to forget this.
I really love Is It Love (1001). It’s a progressive house song mixed with disco. What’s the story behind this song?
Jono: I’ve always been a fan of disco and 80s synth pop and 90s French house, so I wanted to put them all in one song. I’m glad you like it!
During your visits to China, what has been your most memorable experience? Do you see any changes throughout the years?
Jono: Our recent shows in China have been very pleasant. The country is ever-changing, and as a Westerner, I think there are a lot of interesting and exciting thing about the culture. Every since we entered the Chinese market in 2003, the fans have given us nothing but love, and I’ve seen a massive growth of electronic music in China.
When you’re together with band members, is the creative process different from when you’re alone?
Jono: I think when three musicians are together, there’s a very interesting chemistry that shows in our music. The three of us all take different directions when it comes to music, but that is really where all the creativity takes place.
We’re very happy to have you here performing in China. What are your next plans?
Jono: Thank you! We’re very glad to be back in China, and I hope to absorb and experience more aspects of the Chinese culture.
Translated by Kane Ge
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