ABOVE & BEYOND
To The Future And Beyond Jonathan Grant, Paavo Siljamäki and Tony McGuinness are certified electronic music superstars. They have risen, they have conquered and now they are consolidating their position. This hasn’t been an accidental story of one hit wonders, this trio are at the pinnacle of their chosen profession and they continue to strive for the best. RK chats with Paavo Siljamäki about the life and times of one of the trance world’s greatest outfits.
“This year started really well,” Siljamäki begins. “We played in Dubai for New Year’s Eve which was an amazing experience – we played alongside Groove Armada so you can imagine how fantastic the whole thing was. After that, we did a big bus tour of North America; we played 25 gigs and basically during the whole month [we] had two days off.”
Needless to say, their touring schedule was relentless but it was an experience of sorts for the guys. It was the first time they toured with their own production and their own crew. “It was a really cool experience,” Siljamäki says. “We had been working on the show for a while and we knew it would be difficult with all the travelling but it turned out to be one of our best gig experiences.”
Siljamäki describes their most recent big bus tour of North America as a coming of age of sorts for the group and, prior to their forthcoming run of gigs in Australia, the trio are touring South America before heading to Central America and Miami for an encore. “I can’t believe how much we’ve been travelling!,” he says, still in awe himself.
Touring aside, the gents completed an important LP last year – Group Therapy - and took a well-deserved couple of months break. “There’s also quite a lot of club mixes to come from the album too; we’re working on a few bits and pieces but its early days - we’re not getting too excited about things just yet,” Siljamäki says.
Their 2011 sophomore record Group Therapy was a follow up to the 2006 magnum opus Tri State that firmly established the group as one of the most highly respected EDM outfits of the modern era. The lads won the world over with Group Therapy, a record that saw them transcend genres and gallantly overcome the commercial mediocrity that has surrounded much of more recent music coming from within the electronic spectrum. It is music with soul and emotion but it is also moving and poignant.
From their work with Anjunabeats, to Rollerball and Oceanlab to their seminal material as Above & Beyond, their raison d’être remains the same: to produce good music. “This is hitting the nail on the head,” Siljamäki agrees. “All of these elements, these projects, they are just a feedback loop. We’ve always engaged with our fans actively; we’ve had a forum on our website since the get go; I have to say it’s one of the busiest forums on the web in terms of trance so punters can really talk about anything.
“We might lead the discussion but for the most part, they say this or that, whatever they want really. A lot of these things are rare and most can take a long time to figure out so we think it’s really great that you can engage with the audience so cheaply and effectively. We can make a record and finish it on Friday and get a reaction and play it out on the same Friday – that for us presents an immediate way of finding out what were doing.”
Siljamäki continues by telling the story of purchasing a grand piano for his home, describing it as the coolest thing he’s done in a long time. “I want to start to write songs for a grand piano instead of the studio which we’ve talked about doing for a while now,” he says. “I want to be able to do something like that at home - a remix and things.” He’s even involved his son in the remix process, keeping things in the family.
Travel wise, the crew recently had a really big celebration in Beirut in Lebanon and are doing a few other big parties this year. Siljamäki explains they’ve also started working on Anjunabeats Volume 10 and while it’s early days for that, the next single Love Is Not Enough featuring Zoë Johnston is already on YouTube. “We’ve got loads of stuff coming out on the sister label with another compilation called Engine Deep 4,” he adds.
Finally, Siljamäki can’t contain his excitement about their upcoming tour down under and it won’t be a half-baked exercise as he explains. “Obviously, as we’re playing the Creamfields Festival, we’re coming out there with the same crew that we’ve been doing the American tour with,” he says. “Our lighting guy is amazing and we adore him and we’re basically bringing the whole show to the main stage of Creamfields. I haven’t seen the exact specifications on the stage but I expect we’ll give people a fabulous show so I’m excited!”