In an interview with Star Scene, Jono Grant, one third of Above & Beyond speaks to us about the trio’s success, passion for music, expectations for their concert in Lebanon on September 11th at Forum de Beyrouth and their future.
1. From opening acts to headliners, it might have been a slow start but now, your DJ career is skyrocketing. What do you think brought you to where you are right now?
I think the main thing is probably being passionate about what we do and also being relentless. Obviously you need to develop skills in whatever your art is, but there are plenty of talented people out there, and very easy to let things get in the way of where you want to get to. If you have strong core beliefs in what you do, then eventually things will happen.
2. As a trio, each of you have their own lives, do you guys ever think that eventually each of you will go their separate ways? What keeps you guys going as one band?
At some point obviously we will want to do our own thing – maybe one day we will retire, but I can’t see that happening in the near future, and even if we did go in different directions I’m sure we’d come back together and do some more as Above & Beyond. We of course disagree on some things, but that is only healthy and after 10 years of working together we are good at moving forwards. So…. No, not really right now!
3. What are your expectations and aspirations for Anjunabeats?
We’re really happy with how Anjunabeats has grown. At the core we aim for the best quality, and we’ve been fortunate to attract some amazing artists, so it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in many ways! We have some great artist albums coming up from Boom Jinx, Andrew Bayer and Oliver Smith as well as our own artist album next year.
4. The trance scene seems less competitive than other music industry amongst DJs, rarely do you hear of someone bad-mouthed the other or other stuff like that, what do you think the reason behind that? What makes the industry peaceful in comparison?
Where there are humans involved, there is always some kind of competition I suppose. Personally I think it’s important to be competitive with yourself so that you don’t become complacent, though you also need to give yourself a pat on the back from time to time as well! I’m not sure why the scene is perceived as less competitive, but it could be because it’s about the music and not so much about image or being cool. Even if you don’t get on so well with somebody personally, if they make a good track you’ll play it.
5. You’ve been to Lebanon before and experienced music by our local DJs, how do you describe the DJ scene in Lebanon and what advice do you give for those aspiring for international levels?
I’m not sure how exactly the DJ scene is in Lebanon, but I know that there is a lot of passion from both DJs and fans for the music. The best advice I could give to those aspiring to take things further, would be to stay positive, passionate and take on-board criticism but don’t let it get you down. If you know something is great, then keep at it and hone your talents until other people understand it. Also, try not to copy others. It’s fine to be influenced by other music & artists, but to really have a proper long-term career in the music industry you need to find your own way.
6. What was the moment when you guys realized that you are now an international act with a high rank amongst other DJs?
I’m not sure that there was a “moment” as such. We live day to day, and try and do the best we can. I think it’s dangerous if you start to become to aware of any perceived status, and it’s very unhelpful to the day to day production of music.
7. What is the one thing each of you has to take when on tour?
Some good reading material for the long-haul flights. It’s a chance to relax in some ways when your phone is off and you can’t be contacted!
8. What was a funny/embarrassing thing that happened to you during one of your concerts?
Where to start! There have been many things over the years, but the first thing that pops into my mind is falling off the stage in Canada. Not funny at the time – very painful, but tragedy over time becomes comedy.
9. How is this year’s Above and Beyond concert going to be different than last year?
Last year we played live, and this year it will be an extended DJ set. We have a lot of new material thanks to our label and all the great artists it attracts, as well as new material from our next album.
Poliakov Vodka is honoring Beirut and the grand trance population by bringing in Above & Beyond: Anjunabeats Volume 8 World Tour (2010) featuring Guest DJs: Jaytech & Superstar DJ/Producer: Andy Moor. Warm set by JayTech.