'Our songs are inspired by real life'

British band

Last year a critically acclaimed electronic album, ‘We Are All We Need’, was released, by the English band Above & Beyond. The progressive trance group is Grammy-nominated and is held together by, Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki. Formed in 2000, they also own the London-based electronic dance music labels, Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep, and host a weekly radio show called Group Therapy Radio.

Their new album ‘Acoustic II’ revisits several best loved songs and classics. Metrolife spoke to McGuinness about the album, their music and future projects. Read on…

Tell us more about your new album.
It features mostly acoustic instruments such as harp, double bass and strings. And the main point of doing this is to play live. We have 17 people on stage, Jono plays Rhodes piano, Paavo plays the piano; and I play acoustic and electric guitar and do some singing
as well.

How was it conceptualised?
An old friend of mine, Bob Bradley, is the arranger and producer of the album and he works with us to come up with versions of our songs, which are irrespective of
the originals. We’ve ended up having quite a signature sound for the albums,
a mix of John Barry (James Bond), Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks) and Massive Attack.

How do you define your music?
We make emotional dance music, we write songs about real life, things that happen in relationships and life in general, rather than writing about partying.

How has trance music changed over the years?
Trance has been around for decades and has evolved, sped up, slowed down and splintered into as many pieces as there are producers making it.

How was your experience in India?
We’ve been to India many times. Our label Anjunabeats was named after the beach in Goa that hosted many seminal trance parties back in the 80s and 90s and we played in
Anjuna on our 10th anniversary. I think every time we go we’re struck by the warmth of the people, their intelligence and their love for life and each other. It’s one of our favourite countries to play in and that’s why we launched our ‘Group Therapy Radio’ show in Bangalore.

How do you perceive trance music made in India?
To be honest, these days it’s not at all obvious where music comes from, as it all arrives in an email, but Goa Trance (inspired by and made in that province) was one of the main sources that have inspired trance music. I think the dance music world is more about individual artistes and less about the scene. Our gigs have changed venues from club nights in regular clubs to gigs in theatres and arenas, like any band.

Would you like to collaborate with Indian musicians?
We have indirectly collaborated with a band called Lagori from Bangalore who did a fabulous version of our song Sun & Moon in English and Hindi.

What next are you working on?
We’ve already started writing songs for our next electronic album, so when festival season is over we’ll be back in the studio and pick up with that.Until then, we’re playing gigs in Europe and America.

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