All

Black Sun Empire

bse02.jpg

Micha Heyboer is relaxing in his hotel room ahead of the night’s gig in Auckland. He’s nearing the end of the album tour, which has seen him traverse the globe to perform to sweaty, packed out rooms, taking in 80-dates since the LP was released in September last year. He’s temporarily parted ways with his usual partners in crime, brother Milan Heyboer and lifelong friend Rene Verdult after their appearance at last weekend’s Miami Ultra Music Festival where they played alongside Dieselboy, Matrix & Futurebound and Concord Dawn. “Milan and Rene have kids now, so I often do the shows solo,” he explains with distinct Norwegian enunciation. “We never really played the three of us. It was always just back to back and the other guy would drink beer,” he laughs. “Three men behind the decks is just too much. It’s the same way we play now. It’s mostly just one of us or you play back to back and after a few months you notice we play the same tunes, only in a different order, because we have the same tastes.”

From The Shadows has been blitzing it across the charts, making it into Beatport’s top five best selling albums for 2012, across all genres. This most recent offering has seen the trio returning to drum and bass after a foray into dubstep and mixed tempos with their last LP, Lights And Wires. “It’s pretty unexpected,” Heyboer says of the new album’s success. “I think it was maybe the right time for a pure drum and bass album after the whole dubstep thing and of course, the insane amount of collaborations we did.”

Along with a collaboration with fellow Dutch lords of darkness Noisia and Virus Recording’s Audio, the LP features collabs with New Zealand neuro-rollers State of Mind and Bulletproof. BSE have also headed into new uncharted territory with a vocal number with UK hip hop outfit Foreign Beggars and another with vocalist Inne Eysermans, which comes close to being a ballad.

“We are basically always collaborating, working as the three of us,” Heyboer says of the amount of group projects on the LP. “We’re kind of used to it and it’s nice to see how other people work and get inspiration from that, change things up and make friends… or enemies,” he laughs. “We have a lot of new fans. Young kids who are able to sing along to some of the songs, which is cool because we haven’t really done any vocal tunes before.” 

Following the success of From The Shadows, a remix EP of the album has this week been released with six re-workings from producers Memtrix, Telekinesis, Prolix, Icicle, Receptor and June Miller. Heyboer says having the freedom of owning their own label, Black Sun Recordings, has allowed BSE complete creative control.

“We started the label because we’re all pretty stubborn and you already have to make a lot of concessions when you’re working with three people. With the first releases we had out on other people’s labels there was always a struggle to get it out in the time you wanted, with things like artwork.

“Maybe we were young and naive but we decided to do it all ourselves. We do the artwork ourselves, we do everything ourselves. We really enjoy doing that and maybe we could have been a lot bigger if we’d gone on other labels but we’ve developed a good fan base. If we’d gone with a bigger label, they may have directed us to make different music and maybe we would have had a different career but I guess, we would never have listened to it…” he laughs.

Along with a plan to launch a new imprint called Black Out to focus more on pushing other artist’s work, Heyboer has embarked on a new solo spin-off project entitled Tinlicker. Surprisingly, Tinlicker’s sound is deeply introspective, broaching melodic house and techno, without a hint of BSE’s frenetic darkness.

“We always made all kinds of electronic music and we’ve been doing drum and bass for so long, the urge was gone for a long time, but the urge slowly came back to do other forms of music,” says Heyboer. “Two years ago I started making a lot of four to the floor music and made a lot of tracks and eventually I had 30. And I thought, ‘Maybe I should do something with it’. It gave me such a lot of joy that I re-found my love for drum’n’bass, which had never really gone. But you have to keep challenging yourself. Right now I really enjoy making both forms of music.”  

BY JO CAMPBELL