Above & Beyond, trance music versus eclectic sound

Above & Beyond is a trance music group formed in 2000 by Jonathan "Jono" Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki. The group is famous for remixes and progressive trance productions. The group's tracks are regularly played by well-known DJs, such as Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Paul van Dyk.

Above & Beyond are undoubtedly one of the most exciting talents in the global dance music scene today. Their genre-defining productions - often released on their own Anjunabeats label - have become an essential tool for the world's leading DJ's and have set the benchmark for the new generation of trance producers. Above & Beyond - aka Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki - have recorded under a number of different aliases including Aalto, Free State, Nitromethane, Oceanlab, P.O.S and Tranquility Base.

Alerted to the pair by his brother Liam, producer Tony McGuinness called in Jono and Paavo to help him complete the Chakra remix while he was still working at Warners. They plucked the name Above & Beyond from a web page belonging to an American motivational trainer called Jono Grant which was stuck on the wall of the studio. Although they were unknown at the time, the Above & Beyond remix of Chakra 'Home' was picked over remixes by Rob Searle and Tilt to be the A side mix, and after plays on Pete Tong reached number one in the UK club charts.

Beat Factor recently chated with one member of Above & Beyond, Jonathan Grant, also known as "Jono". Read below what Above & Beyond have to say.

We try not to think about the word "Trance" too much when we're working as there's no need to. Why limit yourselves? It's all music.
Beat Factor: You have worked under many different aliases, but you're known mostly under the name Above and Beyond. The name comes from a simple promotional mix...At this moment, does this name has a personal significance for each of you?

Jono: The significance for me is the collaboration of 3 dedicated people. And I'm really happy that we are still working together after over 6 years.

Beat Factor: In your opinion, what was the best Above & Beyond production released on your record label Anjunabeats, since 2000?

Jono: It's difficult to say. There are a few favourites such as Tranquility Base - "Razorfish", "No One On Earth" and "Air For Life", but each track has its own nostalgic value somehow.

Beat Factor: You have recently mentioned in an interview about an upcoming album under the Oceanlab alias. How things are going with the project at this moment?

Jono: Things are going really well, and I'm really proud of some of the songs we're writing with Justine. Hopefully we can push things even further with this album!

Beat Factor: Your latest single "Good For Me" gained an immense reaction not only from the fans but also from people generally. Please tell us a bit about it: how did you start working with the vocalist Zoë Johnston and what has inspired you when you first wrote this song?

Jono: Zoë is the cousin of one of my best friends from my school days. I always knew of her because of this connection, but only heard her work when she started working with Faithless. Independently Tony was also a big fan of the beautiful song "Crazy English Summer" which is one of the best tracks on their album. It was a case of passing on our music to my friend, Roland, who passed it on to Zoë. We wanted to write something a little more optimistic than the rest of the album, so I guess that was the inspiration

Beat Factor: Where do you think it comes from your success, as an Above & Beyond show can easily gain 30.000 people?

Jono: I think the internet has a big part to play as it's enabled people to hear our music more easily. But the most important thing has been to concentrate on writing the best music we can, and not accepting compromise.

Beat Factor: How do you guys split the tasks when you're in the studio? Did ever happen for you to experience difficulties when three different ideas come together?

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Above & Beyond, trance music versus eclectic sound

April 1, 2007 at 9:11 PM CEST


Beat Factor

Jono: It's not always easy to work with 3 people, but we manage it very well. Tony is more interested in lyrics, whereas myself and Paavo are more into the production and music side of things. We're obsessive about all things musical - from Synths through to melody and harmony. Sometimes you have to take turns to lead the track, and sometimes you have to take a more back seat role.

Beat Factor: What other passions or hobbies do you guys share when you're not making music?

Jono: Other than trying to make the most of the limited time I have with my friends and family, I'm into magic, cycling/swimming/gym/staying healthy, cooking & baking! Tony likes to go diving! I'm not sure if paavo has any hobbies, but he does like to make Sushi and all things Japanese!

Beat Factor: Tiesto has recently announced he just finished a track which includes a lot of elements from the rock music, combined with trance and other electronic music stuff. What do you think is the direction of trance in the next few years? Will you guys keep the classic pattern of trance music, or you'll be experiencing some other musical styles as well?

Jono: I think everyone who is any good is including new elements in the music. Whilst there is a core audience that want the purest form of trance, the majority of the people who fill clubs are more open to a more eclectic sound. It's important to keep things interesting. We try not to think about the word "Trance" too much when we're working as there's no need to. Why limit yourselves? It's all music.

Beat Factor: What would you say to your fans from Romania? Do you plan a special show when you'll be playing here?

Jono: We try to make every show as special as we can and put as much energy into it as allows. It's important to give everything. So, to our fans in Romania, I would like to say thank you for coming to see us, supporting our music, spreading the love for the music, and I hope you all have a great time on March 31st!

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