Above & Beyond perform Thursday at the International Dance Music Awards (7-11 p.m. at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa, 4833 Collins Ave.)
Love Above & Beyond? Well, Thursday is your only chance to see the British progressive trance trio during WMC, as the guys – Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamaki – are limiting their shows to one big blowout this year.
The Anjunabeats record label heads will take over Mana Wynwood South in the Design District for their “We Are All We Need” show in support of their third artist album. Opening acts include 16 Bit Lolitas back-to-back with Lane 8, Fehrplay, Ilan Bluestone, Seven Lions, Super8 and Tab.
For a taste of what to expect at the show, check out Above & Beyond’s weekly radio show, Group Therapy, at 6 p.m. Sunday on SiriusXM Radio’s Electric Area station (rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Tuesday), or at www.anjunabeats.com
Tony McGuinness talked to Miami.com about the show.
What is your role in the trio?
Well, I suppose the thing that I tend to concentrate on more than Jono and Paavo is, I’m a songwriter – that’s my thing that I’ve ended up enjoying more than anything else. So, melody and lyrics, and sometimes music, but mostly melody and lyrics. And Jono and Paavo tend to concentrate mostly on the music, so that’s the way we divide, but there’s a load of overlap. One song starts, and often it’s all hands to the pump.
What’s a typical Above & Beyond live show like?
It’s been growing a lot since we started doing it – we’ve been touring now for about 14 years, and we started out doing clubs and the odd festival. What’s happened more and more is we’ve developed our own show, and the show part of the night, which includes the lighting and the staging and the visual video content, has become more and more important. And that’s why we’re not doing Ultra this year, because we’re on an American tour, and we want to bring our show to Miami. We’ve just released a new album – “We Are All We Need” – and there are singles that have come out from the album before, and there are singles that we’re promoting now, and singles yet to come. And that’s really what most of our fans come to hear, is music from Above & Beyond from now and from over the years, so they know a lot of the material.
It tends to be maybe 50 percent Above & Beyond material, and that involves a good deal of singing along from the audience, so it’s a fairly communal thing that happens. And that element of it – the participation of the audience and their enthusiasm for what we’re doing and each other – is a hugely important part of the show.
Your music is very emotional – is that part of your musical mission?
I think it’s just the kind of music that we like. We tend to write together stuff that’s a little more sensitive maybe, sadder even, and discovered this wonderful thing, which is that if you deal with that tightrope between despair and hope, there’s an awful lot of people who’ve had experiences that maybe have put them in that situation. And even if they’re not going through one of those right at the time they hear the song, it tends to touch a nerve in a way. I’ve always found music about Friday night very limited, singing about shaking your booty or whatever else you might do. It’s got a very limited flow. So we’ve been very lucky – we write songs about our lives and about stuff that we think is important in life, and we’ve managed to shoehorn it into a club-music moment. And I think that’s what sets it apart, because nobody else is bothering to do that anymore.
What does the title “We Are All We Need” mean to the band?
We have a family of artists on our [Anjunabeats] label and a family of fans that come and see us. Probably half of the audience who sees us in Miami will have seen us 10 times, and for the other half it will be their first time, and that’s kind of the mix that we normally get at our shows. The regular fans – we get to recognize them , because they appear on social media regularly and they appear at gigs regularly, and we play so much in America that we start to recognize the front row, which is very nice.
For that reason, we’ve put their names on our record sleeve. The whole concept of this album – “We Are All We Need” is a song that appears on the album, and it just felt like the perfect title to our album and indeed the tour. Because it defines a world in which we’re all known to each other, and I think we’re quite happy that we spend most of our time talking to our existing fans, and they do the recruiting of new fans for us. And that’s quite the opposite of what most people do in the music business, I think.
Above & Beyond performed for a million people on New Year’s Eve, 2007 in Rio de Janeiro. What was that like?
Slightly surreal, strangely familiar, and I think there is the concept in your head of human beings, when there’s a few people – you know, five, 10, 20 – and then a lot – 60 to 150 to “guess” – and then it gets to an awful lot of people very quickly in a few steps. I think it’s hard to tell the difference between 20,000 people and 40,000 people and 100,000 people, and then a million people. It’s just – you can’t kind of see them all. We could see the first 20 rows very clearly – they were slightly illuminated – and then it just went into this mass of tinier and tinier heads going off into the distance.