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Interview: Above & Beyond

21st February 2012

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In the world of trance there is no argument that Above & Beyond are in the big leagues. Need proof, the group were placed number five in the world in DJ magazine’s Top 100 DJ Poll in 2011.

TNS caught up with the group before their UK tour.

What differentiates an Above & Beyond show from other electronic shows?

Above & BeyondHopefully we connect with the audience both personally and through the visual aspect of our show, and of course the most important thing – the music.

Your sets are famous for their visual interactivity with the crowd, do you plan these before the event or is it very much live on the night? 

A mixture of both planned and off the cuff.  Obviously the more intricate video aspects are planned as they need to be created before the show.  I think it’s important to keep things a little spontaneous too to keep it interesting for us.

What technology is exciting you at the moment, are you thinking of integrating any new technology into your UK Tour?

We are constantly integrating new technology into the show as and when it becomes available and feels appropriate for us.  However, we always feel that the ideas should come first rather than just using new technology for the sake of it.

You’ve just sold out Brixton academy and announced a second night, are you doing anything different for the second night? 

We have a different line-up on the 2nd night and will play some music that we didn’t get to play on the first night, but the main reason for doing the 2nd show is for those who missed out on the first.  That said, some hardcore fans seem to have bought tickets for both which is pretty cool!

You've also announced a tour of North America; electronic music is becoming massive over there, what's the American clubbing crowd like?

The American crowd is one of the best in the world to play to.  Electronic music has certainly taken off over there in a big way, particularly in the pop area, so it’s nice to go there and hopefully do something a bit different from that.

You recently won Essential Mix of the Year taking the crown for a second time. How did you go about putting the winning mix together?

We spent a few months obtaining the best material we could – having time to do this is the key.  Then it’s a case of seeing what will fit to tell the story you want to tell.  We also collected a lot of spoken voice quotes to pepper the mix with.  Doing an Essential Mix is always a great opportunity to do something different, and I think it’s one of the few things at Radio 1 that has retained such prestige over the years thanks to Pete Tong’s involvement.

You also came 19th in Mixmag's poll to find the Greatest Dance Act of all Time among the Prodigy, Daft Punk and Plastikman to name a few, how did you react when you found out? Have any of the acts in the poll inspired you as a group?

I consider all these poll results outcomes of what you do, and consequently try not to focus on the outcome too much, but that said it’s always nice to do well in them of course!  Certainly Daft Punk for me are one of, if not the greatest dance act of all time, so I would have to say yes – I’m personally definitely heavily inspired by them.  Their Homework album is one of the most influential dance albums of all time I think.

Judge Jules will be leaving Radio 1 soon, do you think this is a sign that the electronic sound is changing?

Judge Jules is one of those people who has remained true to himself over the years, side-lining himself from the politics that exist in any industry, which can only be commendable.  I don’t think Jules leaving Radio 1 signifies any change in the sound of electronic music as such – he has had a great run at Radio 1 and I’m sure they like to mix things up once in a while as with any form of media.  Nothing lasts forever, though he will be missed.

You’ve just released Anjunabeats Volume 9 – where did the inspiration come from for this album?

The inspiration for any album normally comes from multiple sources.  In the case of an album like Volume 9, it’s very much a team effort as all of the artists signed to the label are involved and our job is to bind everything together and also to include some of our own tracks.  The Volume series is very much a statement of where Anjunabeats and Above & Beyond are at a given time.

What are you working on in the studio at the moment?  Any releases coming up in 2012?

At the moment we’re working on remixes of the songs from our Group Therapy album, and also some new material which is at the conception stage at the moment – it’s early doors!

Apart from Jaytech who else is on your radar at the moment musically?

Two guys from California called Norin & Rad are making great music right now, and also Mat Zo is a huge talent who will be huge in my opinion.

How do you ensure that you all get along when you're travelling and working together so much?

I think it’s a case of knowing when to spend time apart, knowing when to pick your battles and when to bite your tongue.  It’s a marriage so you need to put effort to the relationship just like husband and wife!

Jaytech is supporting your UK Tour, what is it about his sound that attracted your label Anjunabeats to sign him?

To my ears Jaytech has a lot of 80s and almost disco influences in his music, which I love.  He’s also a great person to work with which helps.  As a producer his work is always very consistent too – something we look for in the artists we work with as we like to work with them for a long time rather than just signing 1 hit wonders.

What do you look for in an Anjunabeats artist?

Aside from being able to make great music, we like to work with good people fundamentally.  It’s always easier for our team to get behind people who they like working with.  Musically, they need to have identity rather than trying to sound like what is already out there.  This is really important and is where people often go wrong when submitting music – they sometimes try to make something that they thing is “the anjuna sound” rather than just doing something from the heart.

Are there any artists that you would love to collaborate with in the future?  

I would have loved to have produced an album with the Pet Shop Boys.  These days working with great vocalists and songwriters appeals a lot.

Key events in your life must have inspired your music over the years, what tracks are particularly poignant to you?

New Order “Blue Monday” was a key record – a machine like record but with soul to it, which is very important in electronic music.  Also the Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” is another incredible record that I could never get bored of for so many reasons.  It’s just perfect and hugely inspiring.  A track that made me think “I want to do that”, so it’s definitely important to me.


Above & Beyond kick off their Group Therapy tour in April and will be performing in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow.  Tickets on sale now / Tel: 08444 771 000. Info:

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