Above & Beyond talk shop on Australian tour & ‘trance 2.0’

Currently in the Australia and midway through their first headline tour, Anjunabeats leaders Tony McGuinness and Jono Grant, of Above & Beyond fame, sat down with ITM on Saturday night before hitting the stage at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney to discuss the state of play, and more specifically, the ‘Trance 2.0’ tag that’s popped up in discussion recently.

Fans will recognise it from the intro of their recent Essential Mix; “The new groove-driven variant of our core sound.” Is it yet another dance buzz term, or something with a little more substance?

As Tony revealed on Saturday, it was something he thought twice about almost as soon as he said it. “If you think about it, it started in maybe ‘92 with the old Esperanza sound, and it’s been through so many incarnations, if we’re on anything in that limited number we’re at least ‘9.0’, if not trance 2 million, 700 thousand and 56,” he says.

“Because really, it evolves a record at a time. It’s not like there’s a memo that goes out that says, ‘Okay this week’s tempo is 134, and a little bit bassline’. It just happens naturally. Over the last three years, basslines have started to get a little more adventurous… tempos have come down, and there’s more elements from other music.”

The irony pointed out by Above & Beyond is that as trance shoots off in different directions, house producers are mining the depths of the genre for inspiration. “House I’d say at the moment is probably ‘Trance 8.0’ – the one that the Swedes are playing now. We were so scared of riffs a few years ago that we kind of left them in a cupboard and the house guys discovered them and were like, ‘Oh my god, all this stuff we can make great records out of!’ I think that was a wake-up call. It’s a huge mixing pot, like it was at the beginning. There weren’t the tight genres that people impose on the scene now.”

Above & Beyond began its Australian tour in storming fashion, touching down for the first show at Metro City in Perth then taking the long haul across the country to Sydney. For those fans waiting impatiently in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane, the guys detailed their game-plan for this tour, which sees them playing two-and-a-half hour sets at each stop.

“Well, it’s our first time in Australia for a year or so,” Tony explains, “so we’re trying to be quite inclusive in what we play. Rather than just play this week’s set, you have to acknowledge that there are a lot of records that have come out in the last 12 months from us and others that people haven’t heard us play.

“The nice thing about it is that it’s not a festival set, we’ve been doing a lot of those in summer. You get an hour to play all the big hits. I understand why it’s like that, but it does get a little bit tedious as a DJ.”