In September, iconic English electronic music trio Above & Beyond celebrated the 300th session of their radio show, “Group Therapy” (aka “ABGT”), with a larger-than-life live performance in Hong Kong.
Group members Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki sat down with Billboard Radio China backstage during the event to talk about how they got this far with “Group Therapy” and the stories behind the scenes.
“Group Therapy” is a two-hour weekly radio mix where Above & Beyond showcases their favorite trance and progressive tracks, with featured guest DJs also invited along. Siljamäki reveals that each of them take turns to host the show in London, while the other two are performing on the road.
“Although sometimes we do the radio show on the road, from hotel rooms, and listeners would hear the bad acoustics when we are recording that,” Siljamäki said, laughing.
After every 50 episodes of “Group Therapy,” the group hosts a “birthday show” in a different city every time. When asked why they decided to celebrate it in Hong Kong this year, McGuinness shared, “We first came here in 2004, the country was very different, the scene was very different. It’s now growing very, very quickly, and we really wanted to come here and do one of these big birthday shows as soon as we could.”
“ABGT300” in Hong Kong‘s mesmerizing set was accompanied by stunning visuals, while Chinese neon signs and lanterns hung above the crowd.
Watch the full set of “ABGT300” here:
McGuinness shared the story of how the three started working together: While he was working on the remix of Chakra’s “Home,” having heard Grant and Siljamäki’s work, he thought to himself, “If I’m going to do this, I want to do it with them.”
They ended up joining efforts, which resulted in the remix charting No. 1 in the U.K. and kickstarted their career as a group. One of key factors that made Above & Beyond successful early on was their craft in sound engineering. When Madonna heard their remix of “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” McGuinness recalls she said, “You must have a fantastic studio; this sounds incredible!”
However, the men admit the remix was actually done in a student flat “on an old PC that was not powerful enough to actually bounce the whole mix.” “We’d have to do it in two halves and glue it together afterwards, on an old Mackie desk with just the equipment that we had,” McGuinness said.
Over the years, their instinctive take on electronic music has built a strong and growing fan base. “Emotive electronic dance music” is how Grant described their musical style: “It’s sort of trance bass, so that allows us to put a lot of music into it. Rather than it just being drums or about just the dance floor, there are songs in there as well. So I think it gives a bit more for people to connect to long-term.”
Above & Beyond is currently touring in Europe and will be performing in the U.S. at the end of December. Listen to the full interview on Billboard Radio China.