With nearly fifteen years in the music industry, multiple sold-out shows, prestigious awards and extensive global recognition; Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki have defined themselves through a sound that can only be recognized as Above & Beyond. Between hosting one of the most internationally recognized EDM podcasts ‘Group Therapy,’ managing big-time label Anjunabeats and sub-label Anjunadeep, and embarking on worldwide tours, it’s amazing that A&B has time for much of anything else, let alone a brand new residency in Las Vegas.
We recently had a chance to catch up with Paavo, discuss the plans for the future of A&B, the direction of the label, changes in music culture and their brand new Las Vegas gig. One of the most revered names in Trance has promising plans for the future, and new music on the way. Read on for the full interview!
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Congratulations on your 2014 summer residency at Hakkasan! Over the last couple of years, Las Vegas has really acquired an energy equivalent to the Electronic Music vibe that we see in Ibiza, South America, etc. What drew you into a residency in Las Vegas? What in particular enamored you about choosing Hakkasan as your performance platform?
We've had the pleasure of seeing dance music take over the Las Vegas nightlife and with the arrival of EDC a few years ago, Vegas has established it as the ultimate all-year clubbing and party destination in the US. When we heard our old friends behind the legendary Godskitchen club in the UK were opening a club in Vegas, and then saw the cool layout and great sound it sounded like a perfect fit for us, and in a way like coming home as we are once again working with people who helped us get started years ago.
What type of show are you seeking to deliver? Will you be incorporating more traditional A&B sounds into your sets, or can guests anticipate some experimenting with your alias sounds, such as Acoustic, OceanLab, or Tranquility Base?
This is an interesting year for us as we are working on a new artist album, getting ready to release our label compilation Anjunabeats Volume 11 So our vegas sets will be a mixture of our more classic tracks and brand new world exclusives.
How do you prepare for a club show in comparison to preparing for a festival? Any pre-performance rituals or habits?
The prep for all shows is somewhat similar: we always go through what’s most exciting to us at any given moment, figure out what tracks work together well, what we feel like testing out, and then chat with Neil our Show director on how to give people the coolest show with the music we’re thinking of playing.
What is off-time like for you? With touring, a Vegas residency, festival gigs, record label, and radio show- does the line between Above & Beyond and each of your personal lives blur?
Off time? what’s that?
Very Well! What is your defining element; meaning what sets you apart from other acts? With new talent rapidly rising in the industry, do you find it difficult to maintain your originality?
It’s easy to get lost looking sideways at what other people are doing, but we've always believed in trying to primarily concentrate on making music that inspires and excites us. Nothing in art is truly original, so we try to write songs we can still be proud of in 25 years, that seems more important than striving to be seen as being original this year.
What has songwriting and producing done for you on a personal level, a business level- and what is the importance of knowing these elements as a DJ?
Songwriting has given me a way to express and share emotion. Running our label has given me a way to see what it’s like to run a company, and all of this has meant being a DJ and being able to share my love with the music with people even more fun.
What are some of your most revered moments as a group? With 14 years in the making, there must be many proud achievements!
I have to say, playing two acoustic gigs at Greek Theater in LA will be something I will never forget. Having such an great big band felt amazing.
What is the mission of Above & Beyond, both in the studio and out? What do you hope to bring forth into the world with your music?
Happiness through better understanding of ourselves, I suppose.
What is next for you? Label additions, festival announcements, albums?
We are touring a bit less than usual this spring to give us more time in our studios to hopefully finish our next artist album for a release this year, are just working on the Anjunabeats Volume 11 compilation that's full of new stuff from our label producers. Touring-wise things pick up again first with Miami Ultra festival soon, and then a lot of big summer festivals and hopefully an album related tour later in the year.
Finally, what is the most dramatic change that you've seen occur in the dance music industry? What would you change?
Throughout the soon 15 years we've been working together, we've witnessed how the internet has changed the music industry, helped give access to the music you love regardless of your location. This has lead to a lot more interest in dance music that before the internet was primarily just underground, and helped introduce it to a whole new generation of people around the world. I wouldn't change a thing. Things change and we adapt.