If you are not familiar with the name Black Sun Empire, formed by Rene Verdult and the brothers Milan and Micha Heyboer, you are either very new to the drum’n’bass genre or you are simply not into this kind of music at all. The trio from Utrecht, Netherlands, is famous for their explosive hard and heavy productions, their intense DJ sets and, not to forget, their Blackout events, held all over Europe and beyond. Traditionally the Gretchen is the home for the Blackout events in Berlin and the next one is close, May 13. After such a long time of working together our relationship to these guys became a friendship and so we thought it would be nice to sit down with a cup of tea and some cookies and ask some questions.
Jamie: Black Sun was a criminal syndicate that came into prominence during the Clone Wars as the Jedi Order focused more on military affairs and less on law enforcement. How did you came up with the name? Are you guys “Trekkies”?
BSE: We grew up watching Star Wars and by the time we really needed a name Milan was actually reading one of the books. While flicking through we stumbled upon ‘Black Sun’ and that sounded real good to us, but it needed something else. So by adding another iconic Star wars name ‘The Emperor’ we found our destiny 😛
p.s. If we’d be ‘Trekkies’ we’d be Star Trek fans. So no 😉
Jamie: Let us talk about your productions. Are all the tunes you are releasing produced by all three of you, or do you as well put out solo productions of each one under the name Black Sun Empire?
BSE: We all produce and we work together a lot, but most of the time we start tunes individually, because working alone allows you to experiment in the early stages of a track without being distracted by one another, which is very important. However when a project actually starts to become a track the others jump in, so eventually every track we release has all of our input one way or the other.
Jamie: What or who inspires you at the moment and do you produce any other kinds of music besides D&B?
BSE: It’s hard to say what inspires us. It could be a drum and bass tune, it could be a hip-hop, techno or rock tune, it doesn’t even have to be music. In a way it could be everything, even though that sounds really cliché. We all makes other music besides drum and bass, but only Micha actually has a second project with one of his other friends called ‘Tinlicker’. It’s a blend of all kind of 4 to the floor music.
Jamie: Your Blackout events are usually packed wherever they held. What was the idea behind throwing these events in the beginning and did you expected the huge success?
BSE: We actually started hosting Blackout’s 15 years ago in our hometown Utrecht, because we wanted to show our city what we were doing and show them want was going on in this scene, but it wasn‘t after the success of our album ‘From the Shadows’ we realized that there was a lot of demand for the sound we create and love. Looking at the scene however, the sound we represent was really divided. Everybody had their own label on which they’d release, but nobody really had the time to write music and take their label to the next level. So we came to the conclusion it was time for a brand that would join forces, so all the artists involved would benefit from each other. And this is how Blackout Music was born. Combining the label and the events together with all the artists involved is what made this a success. Having said that we didn’t imagine that it would ‘grow’ so rapidly. Why it did? I guess it was the right timing in combination with the quality control we have when it comes to releasing music, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s just great to see so many people love what we do and want to be part of this family and so do we and I guess that’s what makes it genuine.
Jamie: Along with Noisia you guys are the biggest D&B export of the Netherlands. What is the scene like in your country?
BSE: Holland always had a good electronic scene, so It’s been pretty healthy from the start of Drum and Bass. And today we have big events in all the major cities, of which some started around 15 years ago (Blackout, PRSCPCT, Major League, Spektrum XL, Subway, Noisia Invites, Liquicity etc) which are still going strong and have kept the scene going in all the ups and downs.
Jamie: As the Dutch scene seems to be steady growing, is there any new and talented DJ’s and producers that you would recommend or even sign to your label?
BSE: We already signed our fellow Dutchman Pythius. Who use to come to a lot of our Blackout parties and just asked us one day if he could have his internship at our company. Now he’s actually one of our exclusive signed artists. Besides that we just released a tune by ‘Kolt’ who also works for us and who knows he might have more in the pipeline 😉
Jamie: Your relationship to the Recycle crew (authors note: Gretchen’s D&B resident crew) goes way back to the forerunner of the Gretchen, the Icon club. What does it mean to you playing quite regulary over here and what is the difference to the Dutch scene if there is any?
BSE: We became friends over the years and playing in Berlin always feels real familiar. It’s a bit like coming home to play for family! At the same time everybody knows Berlin is the techno capital of the world, so drum and bass will always be its smaller brother. Therefore the shows are a bit more intimate then the shows we do in the Netherlands.
Jamie: Any funny stories about your Berlin gigs during the years that needs to be shared?
BSE: What happens in Berlin stays in Berlin
Jamie: Last question. What can we expect next from the Black Sun Empire for 2017 production wise and other things?
BSE: We just released our 6th album 1,5 month ago, so I don’t know what else you want from us in 2017 hahaha.
Jamie: Thank you guys for taking the time! As usual we are looking forward to a long night with a full house and many many goose bumps moments whenever the bass drops!