Black Sun Empire
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Black Sun Empire

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“My brother and I were in the same drum class and then we met Rene in high school,” he says. “We started playing around with synthesizers and that was when electronic music became really big with guys like Underworld and The Chemical Brothers.

 

“We were all surprised by drum and bass when we first heard it, so it was kind of natural to start making it since we all have similar tastes and don’t have to force each other to like something.”

 

Growing up in the dawning era of breakbeat and drum and bass was the inspiration and when jungle came around, Heyboer says the guys were simply hooked. “Music has always been a big passion of mine,” he says. “Going out to concerts and dancing was a hobby that turned into something else.

 

“We were into a lot of the techno music coming out at the time when genres weren’t as defined as they are today,” he says. “We’ve always loved many different genres, especially breakbeat and drum and bass which were totally new.”

 

Despite releasing five albums and in the planning stages of a sixth, the trio have found ways to keep things interesting and not lose touch with their roots in the underground. “I’m doing a side project at the moment which is progressive techno and we’ve been making a lot of different types of music lately,” he says. “It’s normal for us to draw on different genres.”

Always having preferred to spend time on a full album project rather than throw out regular singles online, Heyboer says that’s been a vital aspect of their creative process and they’ve found other ways to remain relevant. “We don’t really make hits – it’s more underground stuff we try and do, so we definitely favour the album format rather than releasing singles,” he says. “This way you have a whole story to tell rather than just one radio single, and we enjoy working on a whole project requiring artwork, touring and music videos.

 

“If we made music like Wilkinson or Chase and Status it might be better to release singles, but we see making albums as the way to go with the music we make.”

 

Rarely playing out together and each having separate studios begs the question of maintaining an equal relationship where each member can contribute at the right times, but Heyboer says the bond formed over years and a similar taste in music allows for tracks and projects to form through three minds despite distance or practicality.  “In our DJ sets we don’t play together that often and even when we don’t communicate about what we’re playing at different locations, we seem to play the same music – I guess we’re on the same wavelength!” he says.

 

It will just be Micha heading to Melbourne this time around, but he’s quick to ensure he’s got quite a few test tracks from the next album to play, music from other artists on their label Black Out and is always motivated by the challenge. “The label was previously called Black Sun Empire Records, but we changed it to Black Out to help other artists benefit and not have to be directly associated with our name. It’s exciting times with the label, which is mostly drum and bass focused at the moment, with parties and merchandise going really well,” he says. “Our artists seem to be happy so that’s good!”

 

According to Heyboer drum and bass is healthy in The Netherlands having been there as long as other genres, just perhaps keeping a lower profile and being more about the quality rather than quantity of artists and output produced.

 

Pencilling in their next album for release in early 2015, Heyboer in confident the trio’s method of production will continue to result in music all three are proud of and inspired to create. “We started off using one studio, but now we have three and don’t always perform together but it still works fine with each of us having input on Black Sun Empire tracks,” he says. “The only rule we have is that we all have to like it!”

 

BY TOM KITSON

 

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