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Group therapy for India
Trance group Above & Beyond have chosen India as the venue for their 450th radio show. Here's why.
Jono Grant loves travelling to India. The English producer who makes up the globally popular trance trio Above & Beyond along with Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljam ki, says that in India he hears old English phrases more often than he does back home in England. "I love it. The English here really tickles me, " he chuckles over the phone from London.
Indian fans love the fact that Above & Beyond make a trip to India at least once a year but now that they've decided to host the 450th edition of their radio show Trance Around The World in Bangalore, that love has doubled.
On the day of the announcement, Indian fans took to Twitter and expressed their love for being the "chosen ones". A&B's links with India are much deeper than that. Their trance music record label is called Anjunabeats, named after Anjuna beach in Goa. "India has always been on the top of our list because we have a really good fan base here, " says Grant.
The lineup for TATW450 is a sonic extravaganza featuring talented producers like Mat Zo, Norin & Rad, Andrew Bayer and Jody Wisternoff. "From our perspective, the TATW platform is there for us to introduce a broad spectrum of artists and different strands of styles and even though personally I'm not a fan of bigger and better, this will be a fantastic show, " says Grant of a show that could well be one of the loudest and snazziest in India for quite some time and will be broadcast live around the world.
With electronic dance music quite the 'in' thing, DJs and acts like A&B find themselves playing to new fans who are not familiar with their backlist. It's a feeling that can be a little disconcerting for a DJ, who's only gauge for how the night is going is the crowd's response. "We talk about that a lot. There's only 10 per cent of the audience at any point that will know all your songs, " says Grant. "We had consciously decided to not play our old stuff a couple of years ago. Last year, when we started playing it again, some people didn't show the reaction we expected. There's always a section of fans that will enjoy what we play but doesn't know the significance of that track for us but we don't worry about it. "
Grant sometimes misses the intimacy of club gigs. "People are now so concerned with how their shows look, no?" says the 32-year-old. "However, I think there's a place for club shows. This EDM explosion. . . Suddenly there's a lot of money and that has made people focus on success rather than making music. And if success is the primary music, music will not be good. "
Good music is the hallmark of an A&B production. With massive club hits like Sun and moon, You got to go, Air for life and many more chartbusters, the group is one of the go-to names for remixes for artists like Madonna and Britney Spears and even alt-rock legend Radiohead. It isn't surprising to learn that hundreds of tracks land in their inbox daily. "To choose the right people to remix is most of the times the best decision you can make, " Grant says. "We get an awful lot of tracks and obviously get offered a lot of money too. But putting our name next to a track isn't about money. That's just short-term thinking. There are times when you instantly know that you want to remix a track. Sometimes it's a little difficult, like when the track has a lot of harmonies. " He counts Madonna's What it feels like for a girl as their most difficult remix to date. "Madonna knows exactly what she wants and we must have done 20 to 30 versions of that track before she liked what we came up with. "
While Grant is the producer, McGuinness is the lyrics man and Paavo plans the stage shows. All three of them collaborate on the tracks. "We all have our areas of expertise, sure, " says Grant. "Tony tends to focus on lyrics. The big picture you know. Paavo likes to focus on the theatre of our show. I think sometimes I get too bogged down with the details. I have great admiration for people who can just throw stuff together, capture the essence of the moment. " The band's latest album Group Therapy was relased in 2011.
Rankings may make a promoter's job easier in selling an artist or DJ but Grant is far from impressed with the hype that surrounds artist rankings. Recently, DJ Mag's Top 100 created a furore by leaving several big names off its list. "It bores me to tears frankly, " he says. "It has no validity in our world. Someone like Skrillex will sell more tickets than us anywhere in the world yet he's ranked below us. It's just crazy. Numbers mean nothing. Good music does. "
TATW450 takes place in Bangalore on November 10
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