Mar 01, 2011
Above & Beyond

They are giants of the EDM world. Year after year, their music has redefined the trance genre. They have perpetually managed to win our hearts with their uplifting and melodic sound. Check out our exclusive interview with Jono Grant of Above & Beyond.

Above & Beyond pres. OceanLab - On A Good Day (Acoustic Mix) [Anjunabeats]
LessThan3: What are the members’ musical backgrounds, and how do you use these skills in live performances and in the studio?
Jono: My background is in piano and guitar, and I have always been interested in synthesizers. Tony has been in a 80s band, and Paavo also plays piano. I’m more interested in the music, melody, harmony, and production/sound. Tony is most interested in the lyrics I would say, and Paavo probably also the music.
LessThan3: Of all the places in the world, how did you three decide on Los Angeles for the Trance Around The World 350 celebration?
Jono: Los Angeles is a place where we enjoy playing very much. We also feel that we have a strong following there having performed at Electric Daisy Carnival among other events there.
LessThan3: Looking back on all these years, does the enormity of what you are doing ever set into your heads? How do you view your contribution to mankind?
Jono: I think the best way to view it is to not get too wrapped up in the result, and to concentrate on the process of what you are doing. If the result is positive, then that’s great, but I think once you start becoming too focused on the outcomes of your work then you may not make music or do things from the heart. Presumably it’s your instinctive judgment that provided the things that your audience is enjoying, so best keep it that way.
LessThan3: Your album Tri-State is arguably the greatest trance album in the genre’s history. How did that album come to be and what was the creative process behind it? Did you know while you were in the studio that you were creating a masterwork, or was it not apparent until all was said and done?
Jono: In a similar vein to the answer to the last question, the answer is no. It’s the people listening that decide whether something is a “masterpiece” and not the musicians that make the music. We just try our best to write music that feels right, and human beings are very similar, so chances are if you are feeling confident then it will likely be enjoyed by others. We are very selective about quality control, and I think that is probably one of our biggest strengths. Things have to be the best we think we can make them, although obviously there are some songs you feel more proud of than others.
LessThan3: What can your fans expect from your upcoming album Group Therapy? In respect to sound, will it be more similar to Sirens of the Sea, Tri-State, or something brand new?
Jono: I think it’s similar to Tri-State in some ways–hopefully it has songs that people will enjoy. The production has changed, but I think our musical influences are fundamentally similar to where they were before.
LessThan3: We’re deeply intrigued by your hot air balloon performance. How did that come about, what was it like, and can you foresee yourselves doing similar things in the future?
Jono: We had the idea of performing an acoustic gig high in the sky and then it snowballed into something bigger when Radio 1’s Pete Tong covered the event with Zoe [Johnston] singing. It’s nice to show another side of Above & Beyond, as we are not just DJs. DJing is only part of what we do.
LessThan3: Where did you get the idea for the Anjunabeats symbol?
Jono: Myself and Paavo came up with the logo after having an earlier one which was more like an “A” and a “B”–kind of ironic considering that Anjunabeats was around before Above & Beyond was even invented, yet the original logo was like an A&B symbol! We released two records with the original “AB” style logo, and then decided we could make an improvement. We were inspired by some of the “super labels” that were around in the late 90s and wanted an iconic logo. We weren’t sure it was iconic at the time, but over time it’s ended up on peoples’ arms as tattoos, on t-shirts–pretty much all over!
LessThan3: Once upon a time in 2001, the three of you presented an incredible remix of the song M by Ayumi Hamasaki. A decade later, the Japanese trance scene has truly taken shape with many brilliant artists including Hiroyuki ODA and Nhato. Having quite a few fans in Japan, what elements do you think their sound is delivering to western audiences?
Jono: I’m not really aware of where the Japanese trance scene is at the moment so it’s difficult to know. Sadly we lost touch with the Japanese dance music scene and have not played there for years, despite there being a demand. I’m hoping 2011 is the year that we can return to play there.
LessThan3: The unique camaraderie among trance DJs is very clear when you have Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten sharing guestmixes on your radio show Trance Around The World. What do you feel fuels this emphasis on music and friendship over competition?
Jono: I’m not sure if music and competition always go well together–it’s better to leave the competitive element to the business folk, so that’s why people are happy to play on our show, I suppose.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Jono: Uplifting EDM.
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