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Abyssal Music label owner Blank

In depth with Belgian Drum’n Bass talent Blanko and his Abyssal Music label

Belgian talent Drum’n Bass talent, Blanko is up for great things. Running his label Abyssal Music as an organisation that focuses on the deeper and darker side of electronic bass music. The goal is to push our artists to get the best out of themselves. The main output of the label is tunes that will be the reason people will lose their minds in the dance.

Check out this nice in depth interview with the master himself.

Connect with Blanko on Soundcloud / Instagram / Facebook
connect with Abyssal Music on Soundcloud / Bandcamp

Hey hey, nice to have you here with us. For fans who don’t know much about you, could you tell us a bit about your music background? How did you ultimately end up in dance music, in your case Drum’n Bass?

At home, my parents usually had the mainstream radio playing and occasionally my dad would turn his hi-fi system all the way up, blasting his favourite hits from artists like Depeche Mode, Deep Purple, loads of Bonzai Music, the typical 90’s rave sound of Belgium… and it’s still like that when I go visit them.

When I was around 12, I discovered hip hop and punk so those 2 genres were constantly playing on my iPod (I still know a lot of these songs by heart).

My love for dubstep & drum ‘n bass started at the youth movement where they organise activities for kids during the school holidays. I would go to all of their activities and one of those didn’t go through because of a storm so we ended up chilling all afternoon at the youth house. They were playing some music in the back and some kids were having dance battles when someone put on Doctor P – Sweet Shop. This immediately grabbed my attention so I started asking questions about this new kind of genre I’d never heard before. When I came home I started doing some research. From there I found UKF on YouTube, went down the rabbit hole of electronic bass music and never looked back.

What have you been up to lately?

Played a couple of smaller gigs during the summer and had my first big festival set at Rampage Open Air. I’m currently working hard behind the scenes for my label Abyssal Music and seeing how we can push the artists on there to a higher level.

Give us an insight into what we can expect from Blanko over the next few months.

I’ve got a new mix dropping soon to celebrate 4 years of Blanko (so keep an eye on my socials). Besides that, the end of the year is starting to fill up quite nicely with gigs in Antwerp, Brussels & Ghent.

Early 2024 I’m playing a radio show in London to celebrate 4 years of Abyssal Music on SubtleFM.

How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition toward your own style? What is the relationship between copying, learning, and your own creativity?

When I started getting interested in DJing, I didn’t have any equipment at home. Some of my friends did have CDJ’s and I tried to play on them a few times, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. So I thought I just wasn’t meant to become an artist.

A few years went by and I made a new friend at Star Warz. We went to a lot of raves together and one day I went to his place where we smoked and talked while he was DJ’ing. Often when he was playing a tune, I could just hear another track that would fit well with it in my head (since I was listening DnB basically 24/7 at that point, I had quite some knowledge). I’d ask him to try the mix and 99% of the time it went perfectly. That’s when he told me I needed to try it myself and taught me the basics.

In the beginning, I copied a lot from him and we started playing out as a duo.

I learned a lot in that time and I have to say I prefer being a solo artist way more because I’m free to do what I want to do. As a duo you always have to take the other person into account and what they like/play.

Once we split ways (he wanted to pursue other stuff in life), I started looking at a lot of live mixes on YouTube from my favourite artists, analyzing everything about their sets. How fast do they mix in new tunes? How do they use the effects? Do they stick to 1 genre/sound or do they take the audience on a journey? This combined with playing and trying out a lot of different stuff both at home/friends as at gigs has really shaped my mixing style with lots of variations in both genres, tempo’s and emotions.

What is your overall philosophy or approach when it comes to music?

Good music is good music. All genres have tracks that you like or that you don’t like but it’s all subjective so don’t bash on other people’s music. It takes a lot of time and money to put a release together, going from making the music itself to the artwork, the distribution, the promotion, mixing & mastering. If you don’t like something, don’t waste your time hating on it but look for something that you prefer instead.

How would you describe your style of music?

When talking about my DJ sets it’s mostly underground bass music, ranging from jungle, to 140/dubstep, to all subgenres of DnB but always focusing on the deeper side of things. If you would catch me at home listening to music or on the go, it’s always a surprise. I’ve got a playlist that’s just a mix of anything you can think of so I just put that on random and I know that I’ll be in a good mood.

You’ve been playing at quite some interesting events. How do you live up to big moments as a DJ?

I’m always super excited, from the moment I get the booking until a few days after the gig!
To prepare for gigs I make a private playlist in Spotify, put my DnB playlist on shuffle and since those are only tracks that I love, I listen for tunes that will make the crowd go wild, cool them down a bit (with some vibey liquid or jungle), are good for double dropping, etc…
When I feel like I’m overwhelmed or want some variation, I go through my dubstep or jungle playlist and do the same thing again.

After this process, I create a new folder in Rekordbox and that way I’ve got a selection of tunes that I can choose to play out at the event. Most of my mixing is improvisation on the spot because I try to go to the venue as early as possible to read the crowd and listen to what the other DJ’s are playing so I don’t play the same tracks. That’s very important for me, to stand out from the rest. A lot of times I hear the same tune getting played 4 or 5 times in the same night. I don’t think it’s nice for the ravers so in that aspect I would like to give them the best time possible.

As a DJ, what is the importance of the connections you make? How do you utilize them?

It’s always important to network and make connections. Most of the time this happens naturally because a lot of people in the scene are rather like-minded. It’s always a nice bonus if other artists send you unreleased stuff to play out when no one has it.

Maybe a few words about Abyssal Music, your record label. How did the label come to be – what’s the story of how you created it?

Abyssal Music started because I wanted to create a platform for artists to release their music on. I saw so much talent in my direct network and in Belgium as a whole but no Belgian labels for this kind of music. It was a rather easy choice for me and as soon as I came up with the idea, I started working like crazy to make it a reality.

What were the biggest challenges you had to get to release one?

I didn’t know fuck all of how to run a label. I did some management for a friend’s label but that was mostly A&R and planning but I had no idea about all the rest that came with it. Going from distribution to the accounting aspect, all the paperwork that needs to be done to make everything legit,…

What are the biggest challenges for you as a label?

Getting enough revenue to keep the label going. It’s really hard to get the money you’d want so you can do bigger projects, label nights and whatnot. Especially because most people download their music illegally (which you shouldn’t, support the artists and BUY the music!) and streaming services barely pay you anything. That in combination with staying true to our underground sound is what makes it hard to survive in the current times.

What’s your musical policy – what do you look for in an artist or the music that is presented?

It’s hard to describe as music is so subjective but when I decide which music to sign or play in sets, there has got to be that wow-factor. I have to see, feel or think something when listening to a track, it has to trigger some kind of emotion. This can be anger, sadness, joy and/or just letting go of everything and forgetting all your worries.

Do you run events or label nights in support of the label?

We did quite some takeovers where we got invited by a party or venue, got a budget for the line-up and could choose which artists we wanted there but our first official label night is happening next month 04/11 in Antwerp.

We’re flying over a UK artist (Skinzano) who has an EP forthcoming at the end of November with us so it only made sense to get him over and celebrate the launch of this project together with him. It’ll also be his first time playing in Belgium and the venue has a limited capacity so better get them tickets fast!

How big is the Drum’n Bass scene in Belgium and how do you benefit from it?

The drum ‘n bass scene in Belgium is huge! We have multiple events every weekend and to top it off Rampage of course where people from all over the world come to. Also, every major festival has at least some DnB artists on the line-up which is good for the whole scene. It’s mostly jump-up that has gained popularity over the years but the underground side remains rather underground. I’m not saying this is bad tho because if more people will get into the more commercial DnB, more of them will also search a bit deeper and encounter our music.
All in all, the scene in Belgium is healthier and bigger than ever before in my eyes and everyone benefits from it.

Who is the talent on your radar we should keep an eye on?

There really is too many to mention but I’ll focus myself on a few homegrown producers that deserve some more recognition in my opinion.


To end, who are your musical or audio heroes, and why?

Alix Perez – A fellow Belgian artist in the underground electronic music scene who is not only 1 of my favourite artists (just listen to his music and you’ll understand), he also founded the label I look up to the most, 1985 Music. Always delivers crazy DJ sets and the whole reputation/style fits so well together because he does almost everything himself.

Kasra – Founder of Critical Music, one of the top drum ‘n bass labels for the past 20 years that was started from scratch and built up with hard, gritty work & constantly trying to innovate the genre. I can see myself in him when he was younger and it would surpass my wildest dreams to get to the level he is at right now.

Thank you.

It matters little whether you are an artist or a visitor, the love for music is the unifying factor.

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