If you’ve heard Above & Beyond’s ethereal “We Are All We Need”—and especially if you’ve been there when the British electronic trio has blasted it across the dancefloor at Hakkasan or Omnia—you know why the track earned A&B its first-ever Grammy nomination this year. Hypnotic, pulsating, romantic ... you want it to go on forever.
It didn’t take home the trophy, however, in the Best Dance Recording category. “You don’t really have a shot at winning with Justin Bieber in the category, but it’s nice to be nominated given the number of records that came out,” says Tony McGuinness, who forms Above & Beyond with Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki. “In [dance music], getting a Grammy nomination is as good as winning it.”
The Grammy dance-music landscape is very similar to today’s Vegas club-scene sound; both are stacked with talent, some of which goes overlooked when it’s all lumped into the category of commercialized music. “I do think Vegas, because of its overall makeup, doesn’t get a fair rap,” says McGuinness, who’s been playing the Strip with his mates for almost seven years now. “People from outside don’t think about Vegas as the place where the world’s best restaurants and chefs are located, or shows like Cirque du Soleil. Vegas will never be seen as offering the very best because it has to cater to everyone, but there are incredibly talented artists performing there.”
Above & Beyond fits that description. The group is about to embark on a sequel to its Acoustic Tour, playing some of music’s most iconic venues (LA’s Hollywood Bowl, London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House) accompanied by a 15-piece orchestral ensemble. How many DJs could pull that off? Only three.
“We’ve effectively thrown the dance out of dance music, and imagined our songs as something completely different,” McGuinness says. “It’s kind of a badge of honor to say we’ve stepped from behind the massive amplifiers and machinery and played our music in this different form, and we get to play these much more classical, traditional venues, places Above & Beyond probably shouldn’t be allowed through the doors.” Above & Beyond at Hakkasan at MGM Grand, February 26.