Started by Black Sun Empire’s Blackout Music back in 2015 as a showcase for up-and-coming artists, the Evolutions album series has birthed some extremely exciting artists and has propelled more than a handful into the upper echelons of the European drum & bass scene. With distinctive artwork and a focus on hard neuro early on in the series, later releases saw a slight shift in styles and now Volume 10, the concluding episode, brings together eight tracks across a slightly broader range of the ever-expanding sub-genres, as the label bids farewell to the Evolutions concept. We caught up with them to discover more.
What was the main reason for starting the series back in 2015?
We received a lot of demos that we liked but sometimes felt like the artists weren’t ready for a full solo release yet. Sometimes the other tunes they sent weren’t as strong, or they had a one-time heavy song that fit with us. We felt a various artists series would be a good way to release this music in the best way possible; together with other upcoming artists or a little more established ones. A lot of Evolutions artists have later done solo releases with us, so it’s a bit of a talent pool for us too.
How well received was it?
Very well! The first release featured artists like Agressor Bunx and Segment & Concept Vision (now Synergy) – both the music and the artwork were immediately embraced by our fans. We knew we had to continue the series
Where are the bulk of the featured artists from? Is there a focus on a particular part of the world?
Mainly Europe, but all over Europe. In the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in talented producers from Russia and Slovakia specifically, and we’ve always found a lot of talent in our home country so far with Proxima, Khronos, Kolt, The Outsiders, Ordure and now Trinist.
Evolutions seems to have acted as a springboard for some artists? Some have gone on to bigger things?
We hope so! Guys like Agressor Bunx, Gydra and L 33 have gone on and killed it in the scene, and the one with the most Evolutions releases, Merikan, has released some insane music with us the past years. It’s humbling to see how honoured new producers can be with a release on Blackout, and we’re very glad if that helps them release on other labels too.
The content style seems to have changed across the years. This last release has some mellower tracks on it. Was there ever an intention to stick with a particular style?
The intention has always been to evolve along with drum & bass, and hopefully, play a part in the evolution of the sound of drum & bass. When we launched the series in 2015, neurofunk was a huge subgenre within drum & bass. A lot has changed since, with the rise of deep drum & bass, rollers, foghorns, call it what you want.
At the same time, there’s a whole new generation of technically skilled producers like IMANU, Buunshin, The Caracal Project, MISSIN who are making a fusion of all sorts of drum & bass, while pushing the genre in new directions. Evolutions reflects what Black Sun Empire are feeling at the moment, what gives them that bass face. It will always have some of the more classic face-melting neuro that we love, but will always try to look into the future of dnb.
The artwork has always been a great feature of these releases. What’s the background story?
We had been working with Tom Hamel since the start of the label. We loved his monsters and thought they would fit with the theme of Evolution. It’s cool to see how not only the music evolved through the years, but also his skills evolved and kept experimenting. The newer releases have brighter colours, which we think really fit the newer style of music.
Vol 10 is the last in the series. What was the reason for bringing this great series to an end?
We felt like Evolutions as a concept could go on for 10 more series, but it wouldn’t add to how special it is anymore for us. We didn’t want it to die out slowly. Both us and Tom Hamel felt like the creative juices for the artwork and themes weren’t flowing anymore like they used to, so we’ve decided to put an end to it. Quit while you’re ahead.
What is next in the pipeline for Blackout? Are you going to replace Evolutions with another compilation collection?
We’re working on a new concept. We simply can’t stop looking for and pushing fresh talent, it’s worked so well for both the artists and us, and every Evolutions release has been a versatile surprise for our listeners. So yes, something new is coming!
Anything else you’d like to add?
We may be preparing a little tribute to all the Evolutions releases in the form of a remix album…