Sunday School 15: Above & Beyond

By: Forward Musiq
This Sunday we return presenting you one of the most influential and impacting groups in EDM, Above & Beyond. Pursuing a degree in Electronic Engineering, Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki met at the University of Westminster. Their friendship soon took full sail as the discovered they both had the same interest for electronic music, and following Paavo’s proposition, the agreed upon starting to write music together. Soon they founded their own label in the summer of 1999, called Anjunabeats (originally they had released a their first single entitled Volume One under the same alias, Anjunabeats, but later took on more aliases). The record instantly took the atention of EDM superstars such as Pete Tong, Paul van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold. With more success being drawn in from Volume One, the duo started to work under other aliases such as Free State and Dirt Devils. This drew the attention of Marketing Director and Manager of the Warner Music Group, Tony McGuineess. He soon asked the duo to help him complete a remix of Home by Chakra, but after finishing it, they where tasked with coming up with a name to present the remix, so the took their inspiration from a motivational poster whose slogan read: Above & Beyond. The remix, although slow at first, gained popularity and eventually reached the top position on the UK club charts.

Soon reknowned trance labels began to take an interest in the newly formed trio and remix requests started to come in.  Out of the Aurora’s Ordinary World, Perpetuous Dreamer’s The Sound of Goodbye and Adamski’s In the City stood out and help the group make a name for themselves among the Trance community. Some of the most important remixes they did came from Madonna’s What it Feels Like for a Girl, Delerium, Three Drives, Tomcraft and Britney Spears. They also started to work on colaborations with other artists such as Richard Bedford, Ashely Tomberlin, Carrie Skipper and Zoë Johnston. A particular colaboration was born with Justine Suissa, entitled OceanLab, a sort of alter ego or experimental-ism of Above & Beyond. 2004 came with the single No One On Earth, voted Tune of 2004 on Armin van Buuren‘s A State of Trance. but 2006 dawned in Above & Beyond’s first debut album, Tri-State.

Tri-State is Above & Beyonds first full length album and featured a plethora of colaborations with Andy Moor, Ashley Tomberlin, Zoë Johnson, Hannah Thomas, Carrie Skipper and Richard Bedford. The tracks that stood out the most and made it to singles where Air For Life (which won Best Underground Dance Track at the 2006 Miami Winter Music Conference and Tune of 2005 in Armin’s ASOT), Alone Tonight, Can’t Sleep, Good For Me, Home, and Liquid Love. The album did excellent in reviews, DJ MAG giving the album 5 stars and calling it ” Brilliant”. The album’s concept, and an ongoing concept that rules the Above & Beyond way is making songs about our feelings and experiences as humans: love, tragedy, pain, union, peace. These themes reign in the trio’s songs, often making them emotive ode’s to our humanity and problems each of us face day after day.

After their first album as Above & beyond, the trio took to the studio with Justine Suissa, and in 2008 OceanLab’s first album was brought to life. Entitled Sirens of the Sea, the album produced 5 singles: Siren;s of the Sea, Miracle, Breaking Ties, On a Good Day and Lonely Girl. In reviews, the album did well, with an average four stars. The music varies from Above & Beyond’a traditional work in the approach they took to produce it, mainly focusing on a sea themed sound that had quite the impact on the listener, while maintaining the original sounds and format of Trance. McGuiness and Silkamäki both said in a interview in Riga Latvia that: “We’ve been experimenting with a completely new sound – one of the tracks we’re working on right now features a 56 piece mouse choir. We went diving in Formentera too to record some noises from the dolphins.”

Group Therapy is Above & Beyond’s second album, and probably their best work so far. The album is a mixture of 16 songs that feature a variety of emotionally themed songs. It spawned 6 singles: Sun & Moon, the emotionally impacting collaboration with Richard Bedford, Thing Called Love, You Got to Go, Every Little Beat, Love is Not Enough and the thrilling On My way To Heaven. The album again did fairly well in reviews peaking at 56 in the Australian Album Charts and 49 in the UK Album Charts. Group Therapy also goes beyond just an album, and transcend more into what could best be described as a psychological healing movement. The tour Above & Beyond embarked focused on this point, often displaying positive messages in giant LED panels for their fans, causing a huge union between the artists and the fans; joined as one by music and emotions.

Above & Beyond’s work in the Trance and EDM community is legendary and unrivaled, but their work transcends music itself, and extends itself towards their fans, to what they experience and feel at their shows. A huge reunion to share, and let loose emotions bottled up from within, the music and messages the trio has given us is more of a legacy than anything else. A common known thing from their fans is how much Above & Beyond’s music has helped them through troubled times, at it’s no wonder, the tunes are designed to heal and to bring out those emotions we keep bottled up inside. That is what in essence Group Therapy is all about, joining as many people as you can with music, and letting it work wonders on the soul. This has made them one of the best DJ’s int he world, currently at #5 on DJ MAG’s 2011 poll. The Above & Beyond experience, whether it’s on their shows or in your speakers is unique and touching, a must for all EDM fan’s.

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