Jono Grant was northbound out of London for a studio session when we tracked him down on his mobile. Jono, along with Paavo Siljamäki and Tony McGuinness, are Above & Beyond, an English electric dance music DJ and production group. They also own and operate the Anjunabeats label, whose roster includes Mat Zo, Andrew Bayer, Ilan Bluestone, Arty, Super8 & Tab and Kyau & Albert to name a few.
Tony’s back home holding down the “Anjuna Kitchen” and isn’t making the trip, but Jono and Paavo will be making their debut at Story this Friday night.
Jono’s keen on Miami. He got married here and he’s a fan of Miami Beach’s Art Deco architecture. In 2006, A&B played in Miami for the first time at Club B.E.D., a bill that also included Gabriel & Dresden. Since then, the group has only gotten bigger. They started with one WMC Anjunabeats party, and this year they hosted three. Expect the same or more in 2016.
Once a year they go to a major city and host a massive show with a grandiose stage, sound, and lighting. They sold out Madison Square Garden in 2014 and late last month Above & Beyond sold out the Allphones Arena in Sydney. The annual #ABGT show features other Anjunabeats artists and the experience has become vacation destinations for A&B fans around the world.
“We give what I would want to hear from a DJ in a set. We give many different flavors and try to be more than just the sound of now," Grant says. "I expect a DJ to cover a lot of ground and we do the same. We try to cover a wide area of dance music. Our music is dynamic. It’s emotional and we’re not interested in being a one-trick pony. We try to take people on a journey. We want our set to be more than just a drunken night out, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we want people to have a takeaway and we want to make people think. I hope that through our music, someone will meet a new person or go to a new country,” said Jono.
Above & Beyond is known for the messages they display on their backdrop during their sets. In Sydney, the messages read, “THERE’S PLENTY OF PEOPLE HERE WHO FLEW OVER FROM NEW YORK,” there was, “PEOPLE ARE TUNED TO THIS SHOW FROM EVERY CORNER OF THIS PLANET” and also, “PEOPLE IN BUENOS AIRES HEAR YOU, PEOPLE IN MEXICO CITY SEE YOU AND THEY ALL WANT TO BE HERE TONIGHT.”
If we may suggest a localized message for Friday at Story: THERE’S PLENTY OF PEOPLE HERE FROM CORAL GABLES WHO BORROWED THEIR MOM’S CREDIT CARD.”
The Above & Beyond sound is warm, fresh and groovy. And an Anjunabeats released track typically has a distinguishable “Anjuna sound.”
“It’s easier for me to say what we’re not than what we are," Grant says. "We’re not wallpaper music and we don’t want to produce or release stereotypical tracks. We don’t want to produce DJ tool tracks — we want to release tracks that stand the test of time and the production quality is really important. Ultimately, we’re just looking for a good idea,” he adds.
Jono is quick to credit A&B's team and said they are surrounded by a lot of talented people. They welcome knowledge from those that may be stronger in certain areas – they see them as assets, not threats. Their studio, the Anjuna Kitchen, is a place where artists work together and uplift one another to make better music.
Tomorrow, expect to hear Above & Beyond staples, “Peace of Mind,” their remix of “Zero Gravity,” and “We’re All We Need."
“We are in the service industry," Grant says. "If we don’t play the music people come to hear, we let them down.”
Above & Beyond. 11 p.m. Friday, October 23, at Story, 136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-2424; storymiami.com. Tickets cost $50 plus fees via flavorus.com.
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Elvis Anderson has been a devout Kraftwerk fan since the fifth grade. His favorite dance-floor move is the somersault. He serves on the board of the Woody Foundation, a Miami-based not-for-profit organization that improves the lives of those living with paralysis.