When the Utrecht-based trio of Rene Verdult and brothers Micha and Milan Heyboer chose their artist alias, they couldn’t have known it would manifest itself as a destiny to be fulfilled. But for Black Sun Empire, their title has become their fate. Known to many as the leaders of the harder, heavier and more experimental end of drum & bass, Black Sun Empire has grown into more than an artist project. Now Black Sun Empire and its offshoot, Blackout, is a record label and events empire with a reach that stretches across the globe and has seen its three-man namesake spearhead a whole generation of new artists.
Black Sun Empire began making music together in 1993, but it wasn’t until drum & bass reached its peak in the mid-‘90s that the trio truly found their footing. In that formative period, Black Sun Empire drew heavy inspiration from the darker side of the genre, a movement pioneered by London-based imprints like No U Turn, Grooverider’s Prototype Recordings and Ed Rush & Optical’s Virus label. By the time the Internet revolution opened a path for non-UK drum & bass acts to be fully embraced by the scene, Black Sun Empire had perfected their craft and began to deliver a distinct and different sound that they could truly call their own.
Since then the Netherlands residents have recorded no less than six studio albums, crafting anthems such as The Sun, Arrakis, Feed the Machine and Dawn of a Dark Day in the process. Through their label and event brand Blackout they have helped to build and shape the careers of some of the drum & bass scene’s most respected names. Having launched Blackout as an offshoot of Black Sun Empire Recordings in 2010, the trio has given a platform for releases from Noisia, The Upbeats, Phace & Misanthrop, Mefjus, State of Mind, Neonlight, Pythius and Rido, to name just a handful. Meanwhile, with their own tours, and the trailblazing events arm of their empire, Black Sun have heavily toured the globe. Constantly in demand in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America, the trio are relentless in bringing their music to their growing legion of fans. Through their Blackout events at iconic venues like Fabric and The Melkweg and performing at the world’s biggest festivals such as Glastonbury, EDC Las Vegas, Lowlands and Pukkelpop, Black Sun Empire have a reputation for uncompromising dance-floor pressure that is second to none.
Beyond Blackout, Black Sun Empire’s name rings out to the wider musical world. Having collaborated with the great and the good from the drum & bass scene – everyone from Noisia and Audio to Cause4Concern and Concord Dawn – the trio have also infused their discography with a healthy dose of outside influences. Names like Foreign Beggars, Virus Syndicate and Dope D.O.D. which will be familiar to hip hop and grime fans, while collaborations with New Zealand-based singer-songwriter Thomas Oliver and Belgian composer Inne Eysermans show another side to Black Sun Empire’s multifaceted musicality.
Emperors of their own self-built domain, Black Sun Empire’s reach and influence cannot be underestimated. The trio reign over a musical realm that now encompasses a roster of the most exciting artists that the heavier side of drum & bass has to offer and an events arm that delivers their vision directly to a growing, dedicated fan base. While you can be assured that Black Sun Empire will continue their expansion across the globe, it’s clear to see that they have already fulfilled the destiny which their namesake bestowed upon them.