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Above & Beyond article

Author: Clare Dickins
Monday, October 17, 2005
"Tiësto better watch out!" proclaims Above & Beyond's Tony McGuiness, from a trendy street cafe in London's Soho. "We want to be the best trance producers in the world and we think we're getting here. I think Ferry Corsten for me is the man that has been consistently the best. I think Paul van Dyk used to be the best, but I think the stuff he used to do is better than the stuff he is doing now. Ferry is forever pushing the envelope and I think we're coming up close behind."

Confident and self-assured, McGuiness represents the nu-breed of arse kicking trance producers, unafraid to blow their own horn and give the competition a damn good run for their money.

"Our secret weapon is the brains that we've got at Above & Beyond, combined with the people that work at Anjuna Beats [the group's record label] - this means we've been able to make smarter decisions than we would have if we were just one person," he says. "I understand Tiësto isn't doing any club dates next year, rather he's just going to do concerts. I think in some respects that kind of moves him aside for us get closer to him."

After the embarrassing Euro-pop soaked years of 2001/2, McGuinesss, together with A&B stars Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamaki, is aiming to reinstate trance onto its dance music throne. "We want to give trance a good name again. I genuinely believe that there is a lot of very defensible musical culture in trance when it is done well. The problem is, in the same way as R&B, there is a lot of very bad pop trance about and often that is people's first introduction to that kind of music. When you think about the real true trance greats, they're just as valid as any other artists and styles in terms of musical heritage."

Whilst admitting that trance doesn't come from the same ethnically diverse background as, say, house music, he doesn't believe the sound is void of cultural meaning. "I suppose it is a white thing - if anything the home of trance if it had to be anywhere would be Holland. But recently there have been a few remixes of what I call 'white soul music', with bands like Coldplay getting their music remixed by trance artists. I can definitely see links with bands like The Cure and that sort of stuff, because it tends to be quite dramatic, sad and emotional music and I think there are lots of other tiny connections with other [mainly white] brands of music that extol those elements," McGuiness says.

"It's no mistake that artists like Coldplay and Sarah McLachlan are getting injected into trance - it's quite a melting point in that respect. So although it may not have the cool cultural roots of something that comes out of black America, I think it still has quite deep resonances for a lot of people and I think that's one of the reasons why it travels so well - in the same way that the blues travelled so well in the '50s, certainly the vocal stuff deals with the emotional state that a lot of people find themselves in."

Above & Beyond are in the privileged position to experience first hand trance's expanding popularity. Anjuna Beats regularly receive 20 demos a week from countries as diverse as Estonia and Russia and the group now find themselves DJing in the previously uncharted trance waters of Brazil. "Jono and Paavo just came back from Brazil a couple of weeks ago, they played in a city called Port Alegro - it's the first big trance night that these people had ever put on," he says.

"There were 4,000 people there and Above & Beyond were the first international DJs to go in there and we've been subsequently followed by Paul van Dyk and Ferry Corsten, but the feedback we got from the agent was that they didn't compare to us - so that's a lovely situation to be in, to actually get there before those guys because I've got a lot of respect for Ferry and Paul. There are always new places to go and new clubs to visit and people to meet - it's a fantastic situation to be in."

Always busy on the production front, McGuiness says<