The biggest trance band in the world

Since the release of their second artist album ‘Group Therapy’, Above & Beyond have toured the stadiums and concert halls of the world – creating an electric vibe wherever they go. In the US, they sold out the famed Hollywood Palladium in record time and rock a crowd of 80,000 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. In Australia they performed to capacity crowds at world famous venues like Hordern Pavilion in Sydney and Festival Hall in Melbourne. For 2012, the globe-trotting Above & Beyond will embark on their biggest UK tour to date bringing the full Group Therapy production with them. The Group Therapy show offers a unique dancefloor experience to fans, with emotive visuals telling the tale of the tracks being played and live video messaging from the band adding to the story-telling theme. Featuring previously unheard and exclusive club mixes of the tracks on the album, the April tour will represent the Above & Beyond experience at its biggest, boldest and most electrifying yet.

Words: Dan Prince

Welcome to DMC towers. You were all musicians before you formed the Above & Beyond. Tony and Jono you were in band, Paavo was making music for theatres and then eventually by hook or crook you become a world famous trio. What though was the music you were all into growing up that paved the way for a love of electronic music?

Tony: “Bands like Radiohead, The Cure, the Chameleons even our own Sad Lovers & Giants made epic, sad songs fit for a very big, dark room. The first time I heard instrumental trance I recognised the intent straight away and when I heard some of the key trance songs (Delirium ‘Silence’, Chakra ‘Home’) the link was made super clear. Trance music, in all its forms, is much like a lot of epic indie music in it’s intent. It’s a very similar thing, just electronic. It basically existential, white soul music. But the one kind of music that prepared us all for electronic music was, of course, disco.”

What are each other qualities in the studios, who brings what to the desk…

Jono: “Tony tends to concentrate on the lyrics and meaning behind the song, whereas myself and Paavo are more concerned with the music and production. I love getting things sounding right and like the idea that electronic music can still have an organic edge to it even though it’s made using computers. I think this is important and is often over-looked in dance music.”

Jono, there is a cracking story about you and Paavo gambling your student loans to  press up 1000 tunes and then waiting outside Home nightclub for a certain superstar DJ to walk past…

Jono: “Ahh, yes I love this story! To be factually correct it was actually my student loan that was “gambled” on for Anjunabeats Volume One! Paavo was too skint as he had spent all his money on beer and cigarettes I think! I have a very vivid memory of handing our first record to Paul Oakenfold, indeed. He was standing outside the home nightclub and we were like two desperate puppies handing over the record. You can imagine our excitement when a few weeks later we received an email from his assistant informing us that Paul liked the record and would be playing it! In those days support from a big DJ was almost more important than it is now, given that now we have the internet so to some extent you can get your music out there yourself.”

Saturday April 7th sees you embark on your biggest UK tour to date kicking off at The Brixton Academy. What can we expect from the live shows next year both musically and the live set up?

Paavo: “We’re currently cracking on with the club mixes of our recent Group Therapy album tracks as well as starting to experiment with some new music, so next Easter we’ll probably be playing a mixture of those and the latest of our favourites from around the world. Show-wise we’re bringing the production we’ve been doing big shows abroad finally to the UK. Last year’s Brixton was kind of where we felt our show was born. But it’s now grown up, and we can’t wait to show it to the people here in the UK.”

What has been the best live show of 2011?

Tony: “Our best one was probably last week’s TATW400 from Beirut, because it was so HUGE! Inside the room the lovely Lebanese reminded us why it is one of our favourite places to play and outside the room we ruled Twitter for almost eight hours! The best live show I’ve seen apart from that was DJ Shadow at Koko. He had a drummer that was so ‘on it’ it was ridiculous. I found out afterwards that they hadn’t rehearsed and I still can’t quite believe how tight he was.”

Not many people know this, but one of Above & Beyond is really good at?

Tony: “Scuba Diving. I’m a PADI Rescue Diver so if you find yourself short of breath, give me a wave and I’ll jump in and assist.”

The sound of trance took a bit if a dip a few years ago with other music genres coming through for a while. Now it stands at the top of tree, especially with the Dutch invasion going mental at the moment. Why do you think trance music is such a musical force and what DJs from the world of trance do you love sharing the stage with?

Paavo: “Especially when working on our last album we had to really look deep at what it is we love about dance music as a whole: what is our own identity, and we agreed our personal interest is in songwriting and making music that has an emotional charge. Especially in the last few years, there’s been an ever increasing amount of cross-genre pollination, which we welcome, but we’ve been left wondering what it is people want to call ‘trance music’ as there’s nowadays a lot of Trance in House, a lot of House in Techno, a lot of Techno in Trance and a lot of House in Trance too. But the perhaps more traditional songwriting aspect is what I believe to be the force behind the music we love, and guys like Gabriel & Dresden, Jaytech and Mat Zo all keep on coming with amazing music.”

Tony, you used to work at the record label Warners and once admitted the worst thing the music industry ever did was fail to recognise the opportunity of the internet. Can you elaborate on this?

“Sure can. It was treated as a threat to their existing (flawed) business model from the get go, because it enabled the perfect crime of illegal downloading: theft with no recourse. But it also gave music an unprecedented route to market, which the music business was so slow to embrace it took a computer company, namely Apple, to force them to take the plunge. By which time people had already got so used to stealing music they still consider it perfectly acceptable today. I hope we all learn from it in the future. You know that scene in Diner where the two guys are arguing over the sandwich? Steve Jobs is the guy that ate the sandwich.”

Where is the strangest setting you have done a live gig?

Paavo: “Still, to this date, I think playing under the stars on top of the old disused cold war nuclear bunker in the Russian forest, 50km north of the Kazakhstan border outside a small town called Miass would have to be it. True testament to the power of the music and the Internet: people travel from afar to this party and it’s always amazing.”

Jono, Paavo – is it true you have never had ‘proper jobs’?

Jono: “Well, yes and no. I think Paavo says he’s never had a proper job, but for myself it depends what you mean by that term. While I was growing up I used to work at a supermarket and put all the money I made into buying studio equipment before I left to move to London. So I suppose you could say I’ve never had a proper “full-time” job, yes.”

Paavo: “Hehe, I suppose so – my first job apart from helping in my Dad’s business as a kid, was working in a local theatre first as a pianist and the later as a composer.”

What is the finest record you have ever played to a dancefloor?

Tony: “Ooh. I would say off the top of my very full head, Holden & Thomson ‘Nothing’ the 93 Returning Mix. Mighty fine.”

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Jono: “In all the “success” manuals you see out there, one of the main pieces of advice I’ve absorbed is to stick to what you are good at and to only do what is true to you. The people I admire most, seem to do that rather than doing what they think they should be doing.”

What is your favourite track you have ever created?

Tony: “I would say ‘Stealing Time’ is my favourite because it is so cool. I would also say ‘Sun & Moon’ is my favourite because it really has connected with people. And then there’s ‘Tranquility Base Razorfish’. That’s my favourite. And ‘Satellite’. Ooh, and ‘Alchemy’. That’s my favourite.”

What was your anthem of the summer?

Paavo: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say “Sun&Moon” – we’ve been amazed in countries where most people don’t understand English, and it’s been hard to order a drink at a bar, and then go to a venue to see thousands sing the song together in perfect English. I put that down to the power of music and the Internet.”

What country outside of the UK gives the best reception?

Tony: “Argentina has this magical mix of completely ecstatic reaction to the moment, coupled with a deep knowledge and understanding of the music – and a sprinkle of Latin heat.”

What has been the craziest night you have ever had out in Ibiza?

Tony: “That’s easy. A few years ago I went out with the superman that is Tristan from Judgement Sunday to Manumission, when it was still at Privilege. We got there at about 2am, I think. For one reason or another I had a kind of memory lapse until about 6am when I suddenly became aware that I was dancing on a podium in the cow room with Skin from Skunk Anansie as the sun was coming up. The rest of the night was more memorable but less quotable.”

What are the big tunes you are spinning right now?

Jono: “Our recent TATW400 400th radio show celebration broadcast has many of the tracks we think are big at the moment. Check it out.”

What is your favourite festival story you’ve been mixed up in?

Jono: “I would say just generally the festivals where it rains but yet turns out to be a great experience for the audience and us, bonding through bad weather! There have been many, and for some reason it normally seems to happen in Australia – Melbourne in 2010 was perhaps the most memorable in that respect.”

What new DJs or artists that you have seen out and about should be look out for next year?

Jono: “Two guys that we’ve signed from California called Norin & Rad are going to be big I think.”

So we come back to yours after the club, what Back to Mine (non banging!) tunes do you play us to carry on the party…

Jono: “I don’t carry any non-club playable tracks to gigs, but generally at home I listen to a lot of 80s and 90s electronic music and some old jazz and disco or funk. I also really like the music of Air, so their stuff would be great for relaxing to, I suppose.”

What can we expect from your Anjunabeats label in the new year, what are you excited about musically?

Jono: “Musically I’m excited that genre seems less important at the moment than it used to be.”

What one artist dead or alive would you like to get into the studio with to collaborate?

Tony: “Jeff Buckley. He had the voice of an angel. And maybe still does.”

What would you say is Above & Beyond’s greatest achievement to date?

Paavo: “Our music has helped people through some very difficult times and we’ve heard some incredible stories of human strength over adversity in our travels. I can’t really imagine anything more fulfilling for any artist than the feeling of making a difference, even if just for a single person.”

And finally, Jono – have you ever heard from the American motivator you nicked the band’s name from?

“Yes, he’s been in contact a few times over the years to wish us well! He’s very friendly and happy that we’re doing well, and is now an estate agent in California, I believe.”


Check out the video of Above & Beyond rocking O2 Academy Brixton last time around:

London – O2 Academy

Saturday 7th April

Above & Beyond

More guests TBA

Times: 9pm – 2am   / Age: 18+ / Price:  £20+BF (Early Bird)

HMV Institute – Birmingham

Thursday 12th April

Above & Beyond

More guests TBA

Doors: 8pm – midnight / Age: 16+ / Price:  £17.50+BF (Early Bird & NUS)

Leeds – O2 Academy

Friday 13th April

Above & Beyond

More guests TBA

Doors: 9pm – 2am / Age 18+ / Price:  £17.50+BF (Early Bird & NUS)

Liverpool – O2 Academy

Saturday 14th April

Above & Beyond

More guests TBA

Doors: 9pm – 2am / Age: 18+ / Price:  £17.50+BF (Early Bird & NUS)

Newcastle – O2 Academy

Thursday 19th April

Above & Beyond

More guests TBA

Doors: 8pm – midnight / Age: 16+ / Price:  £17.50+BF (Early Bird & NUS)

Glasgow – Barrowlands

Friday 20th April

Above & Beyond

More guests TBA

Doors: 8pm – midnight / Age: 16+ (under 18’s must be accompanied by an adult)/ Price:  £17.50+BF (Early Bird & NUS)

Tickets for the UK tour go on general sale at 9am on Friday 2nd December 2011. O2 Academy Brixton priority access pre-sale tickets go on sale at 9am on Wednesday November 30th and there is still time to sign up and guarantee your place at

TICKETS / Tel: 08444 771 000 / Tel: 0844 888 4401 / Tel: 08444 775 775 (24hr) / Tel: 0871 22 00 260 / Tel: 0870 428 6998 / Tel: 08444 155 221 (Glasgow Barrowlands Only)  – Leeds Only 0844 870 0000 (Birmingham Only) 0844 338 0338 (Birmingham Only)