Paavo Siljamäki, one-third of beloved dance trio Above & Beyond, has long been into yoga, meditation, nutrition and other sundry healthy lifestyle choices, but no amount downward dog could have prepared him for the coronavirus.
Siljamäki became seriously ill with COVID-19 in March, experiencing chest pains so severe that he woke up feeling like he was having a heart attack. One of the hardest parts, he says, was going through the experience alone. But through it all, he kept meditating, eventually regaining his health to the extent that he could travel from his place in the U.K. to his home in the wilderness of Finland, where Billboard Dance caught up with him via video chat.
The remote location is a long way from London’s Royal Albert Hall or New York’s Radio City Music Hall, two of the many esteemed venues that Above & Beyond was scheduled to play this spring and summer on an acoustic tour — events that many in the dance scene and beyond describe as something holy. Instead, the trio has shelved the Acoustic III LP that was supposed to come out in conjunction with the tour and is instead lying low and focusing on projects intended to positively impact the world during a tenuous time.
On Monday (May 11), Above & Beyond released an update to their 2019 album of meditation music, Flow State. Having garnered more than 50 million streams since its July release, the Flow State update features four new meditations set to Flow State music, with talks in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and a new recording in English from frequent A&B collaborator Elena Brower.
This week, the trio’s venerable label Anjunabeats is also hosting Wellness Week via its Twitch page, with programming including sound baths, yoga, wellness talks, dance sessions and more hosted by members of the A&B family. This summer, the group will also release the Anjunabeats 15 compilation, featuring new label material and Above & Beyond tracks.
Here, Siljamäki opens up about cancelling the acoustic tour, battling the coronavirus, how yoga and meditation have helped him and how they might help you, too.
What was it like when shows started being cancelled?
It’s almost a double-edged thing. I’ve been going through a couple of really challenging years, so on one hand, I was thinking, “Maybe it’s good to have a breather and there’s a moment to rest.” But on the other hand, we were all geared up to do our acoustic tour, which has been a huge project. I know how hard we’ve worked on the music and also how hard our teams have worked on getting up the tour, and fans were getting excited for these shows.
We were literally playing places like Radio City Music Hall and Royal Albert Hall and ready to do this thing. Then it was like, “It’s not going to happen.” It was a shock. I’m not really sure at what point they’ll be allowing mass gathering. It’s a huge uncertainty. You just don’t know. Being OK with something…
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