Tony McGuinness is living the dream as one-third of the UK group Above & Beyond. He has made a career for himself in music starting off as a guitarist in English indie band Sad Lovers & Giants, with whom he produced five albums. Later he moved on to work at Warner Music Group where he was a highly successful marketing director winning awards for artists like Madonna and Seal. Soon McGuinness found his place in the EDM spotlight.
He solidified his music career as an artist when he was asked to remix Chakra's “Home.” He brought it to Paavo Siljämaki and Jono Grant's Anjunabeats label to remix together and the result was a collaboration under the name “Above & Beyond.” Today, Above & Beyond has become one of the most successful UK DJ groups and producers in the world.
Ranking number five in DJ Mag's Top 100 pool, this threesome has been producing music for over a decade. Their latest album, Group Therapy, proves they are still a force to be reckoned with. We caught up with McGuinness (or more like McGenius) as he prepared for Above & Beyond's latest round of shows at the landmark Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles as part two of the Group Therapy North American Tour.
“I love Southern California, it's the kind of place you either need money, a car or friends to really enjoy,” he says. When they do get to enjoy the city Tony explains his favorite thing to do is drive a convertible down Sunset Boulevard from the sea at sunset. “All of the amazing windy roads just blow my mind. It's part of what LA is all about,” he explains. “I love the fact that it's always sunny and so dominated by cars.”
McGuinness says that wandering around “that outdoor mall thing” in Newport Beach (ahem, he means Fashion Island) to spend “loads of money” at G-Star is an all time favorite. When asked why he thinks they have such a huge fan base in LA and OC he says, “I think it's because we have been coming here regularly over the years. With the big EDM explosion as you say in America, LA is one of the biggest markets that we can pull fans from all over.”
In 2010 Jono, Paavo & Tony sold out the Hollywood Palladium for their 350th radio show, Trance Around The World. “When you do a show [like the Palladium] and the atmosphere is really good, the stars are aligned, and the audience is really excited then those memories live in the minds of the people who came,” says McGuinness. “It leaves a profound impression about what our shows are generally like.” In 2011, they sold-out two shows at the same venue in just 48 hours.
Above & Beyond have not only sold out gigs all over SoCal but have also outgrown the smaller clubs and venues.This weekend they return to LA to host three nights, two of which sold out within minutes so a third show was added, bringing the full Group Therapy experience with them starting tonight May 17th.
Above & Beyond just produced a remix for Kaskade's “Room For Happiness” which they premiered in Miami. “Miami is similar to Las Vegas,” says McGuinness. “There's lots of people dressed to go see a DJ, drinking lots of champagne, and taking pictures for their Facebook pages but how many are actually listening to the music and can remember the journey which the DJ took them on?”
At the Group Therapy mini festival-like event, 5,500 fans came out to the Bayfront Park Amphitheater in Miami to experience Anjunabeats music. “I looked out into the lovely crowd and felt extremely humbled and proud to hear everyone sing along to Andrew Bayer's 'Keep Your Secrets' before the song had even been officially released,” Tony says. Everything the Anjunabeats label stands for is more thoughtful than party tunes. “We write songs from our hearts based on our lives,” explains McGuinness. “Sometimes even on pianos and then we think about how to produce and present it to our audience.”
Tony also reminiscences about the two times they played Electric Daisy Carnival in LA. They played the biggest EDC ever in 2010. “There was something really amazing about that crowd,” he says. He adds how unfortunate it is that LA law enforcements have circled their wagons around the dance scene and against Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac's CEO. “Moving EDC to Vegas was unfortunate because the LA Colosseum is one of the most magical places I have ever played in my life,” exclaims McGuinness. However, EDC is still the biggest and most exciting electronic music festival in America he assures.
This year the Anjunabeats label and family will host their own stage at EDC featuring Matt Lange, Andrew Bayer, Jaytech, Norin & Rad, Gabriel & Dresden, Mat Zo, Above & Beyond, Gareth Emery, and Super 8 & Tab. “Our family of artists is a very warm thing to experience,” shares McGuiness. Which is what you can expect from their three shows this weekend as Group Therapy and a few of the Anjunabeats artist take over the Shrine Auditorium May 17th-19th.