The Inspiration Series with Above & Beyond

One of the best things about Omnia coming to town this year has been the calibre of the acts they have been recruiting and no doubt as high season approaches it will only intensify. This month they are spoiling the island again with one of the most established and respected names in the game.. Above & Beyond!

They have consistently been one of the biggest names in the electronic music scene since they came together in 2000 and are a shining example of how to stay current and at the top of your game over a number of years. Constantly evolving and challenging themselves they have consistently been in the DJ Top 100 chart (from way back, when the list was super credible) regularly fill massive stadiums, run their own record labels, have a weekly radio show, and in 2014 showed how skilled they are as musicians with a critically acclaimed acoustic show which was nothing short of epic! In the same year they were also voted into Pete Tong’s Hall of Fame and are also the only act to have been voted for the Pete Tong Essential Mix of The Year more than once… solid AF!

With such a strong musical pedigree we knew the only feature to do on these guys was the Inspirations series. We spoke to Tony and asked him to pick 5 tracks that have truly inspired him and it’s a really eclectic and interesting selection with tracks from the likes of William Orbit and R.E.M amongst others… we hope you enjoy it as much as we did in the Secret Bali Life office!

These are five tracks I've found particularly inspiring over the years for various reasons.

Disco Citizens "Footprint" 
When I started clubbing in 1995 the music was mostly house music: there weren't discrete genres like there are now - even Paul Oakenfold played house music. And I loved it all, was fully committed to the whole scene but I wasn't inspired to make it myself, I was happy just to dance and listen and leave my music creation in the guitar playing/songwriting area, which felt quite discrete. 
And then I heard this track. I think Seb Fontaine played it first and it was on mix CD he did with Judge Jules. Disco Citizens was an alias of Chicane's Nick Bracegirdle. The combination of the cool sounds in it and the emotional string chords and the brilliant but simple piano melody made me want to try making dance music at home.

The Timewriter "Lost In Lyrics"
A good friend of mine worked with German label Plastic City, who were doing a lot of really cool tech house at the time. Their superstar (in my eyes) was The Timewriter - Frank Cochois. Not only did he make great club tracks but he had made an extraordinary album called Letters From The Jester which had a huge influence on me and taught me things about how a dance music album could be put together, that really stayed with me while we were making Tri-State. He's put out more than his fair share of incredible albums since but this is, perhaps, my favourite track from his first. It's more breakbeat than house (which really works on the album to bring about contrast) and the use of different reverbs for the various parts gives the track an incredible sense of space. When the strings come in at 3.50 I just melt. The vocal is an out take from a vocal session and although Frank has no idea what the first phrases actually are, the second one is just priceless. 

William Orbit "Barbers Adagio For Strings" [Ferry Corsten Remix]
I commissioned this remix and the video whilst working with William Orbit at Warners. The original came from an album of classical music called "Pieces In A Modern Style" that we'd put out in 1994 - and deleted a week later. William had inadvertently included two pieces by Arvo Pärt who had a clause in his contract that precluded any electronic interpretations of his work. We were ordered to destroy all copies immediately -  but I kept a box at home and played it, every week, when I got back from clubbing. Barber's Adagio was the first track and over a few years I went from passively listening to actively thinking it could maybe live in the dance music world. Ferry was first on our list to do it as he'd just done "Out Of The Blue" which had a similar vibe in many ways. The final released version is an edit between two different remixes Ferry did and got to Number 4 in the UK singles chart. It was my biggest hit as a part time A&R man (I was actually marketing director at the time) and on the back of it we re-released "Pieces In A Modern Style" (with a new track list) that sold over half a million copies in Europe. After it came out I bought a Roland JP8000 (the distinctive synth Ferry used to make these riffs) and within a year was using it in Above & Beyond.

Jeff Buckley "Lover, You Should've Come Over" 
Aside from "Pieces In A Modern Style", the other post-clubbing album I rinsed was "Grace" by the incomparable Jeff Buckley. I found the voice he used completely inspiring, both in the writing and the execution. Fragile, powerful, emotional and honest it helped reinforce a side of my own songwriting that was emerging over those clubbing years. You can more than hear the influence of this song in our track Liquid Love, but I went to school on the whole album lyrically and have tried ever since to be as painfully honest and truthful. We did a bootleg remix of a Jeff Buckley live track that you may find called "Tongue Of God" but we were never able to clear it so I've not linked to it here.

R.E.M. "The Wrong Child"
Michael Stipe and R.E.M have probably been the most important lyrical and artistic influence on me over the years. They made a huge amount of important music and managed enormous success without ever compromising their artistic and business ideals. They teach me something new every week. This is my favourite R.E.M. track from my favourite album, Green, and is a masterclass in scene setting, rich character building, complex storytelling and passion.  If it doesn't make you cry there's something wrong with you.