We enter into the mind palace of Hidden Empire.
They’re two guys, Branko & Niklas from Germany, who’ve been dropping some seriously deep material. They came together as a producer duo / live act and since their coming together have released an incredible catalogue of tunes and performed alongside elite figures in the house and techno scene.
It was only earlier in April that this German duo took the jump and released their debut album, Mind Palace. Clocking up to 15 tracks, it’s the pairs most eclectic work yet. They take you on a journey across a kaleidoscope of sounds from the chillest house to the fiercest techno with stops in all manner of mad places.
After following the pair for some time and going head over heels after hearing Mind Palace we had to have a quick chat with the guys. Get involved in this Hidden Empire of techno.
Hey, how are you?
Hey, everything is fine!
What was your first thought this morning?
Oh fuck, we have to do this interview!
What’s your touring schedule looking like at the moment?
Our touring schedule is quite busy during the next months, a lot of exciting shows. Also, the festival season is slowly starting, so we are very excited to play some great open-air shows. On the 27.04 we are back at Watergate in Berlin, which is always a pleasure.
Your debut album Mind Palace has finally dropped, how long has it been in the making and how have you both found the process?
Writing the album took a whole year, it was very good fun and we enjoyed the highly creative process. There were not specific challenges we faced because we were free of limitations. We could do what we felt like, from downtempo to techno.
Why did you decide to write an album?
We felt like it was the right time to take the next step and try different musical genres we couldn’t cover on normal EPs.
It’s an album that no matter how many times you hear it, something new always pops up. It holds many layers, what was influencing you both when you were writing the album?
Our influences come from different ‘sources’. From our past, other tracks, experiences we made, other DJ/producers or even from each other. There is no specific influence, basically, life, in general is influencing us.
The album came out on Stil vor Talent, you two have become quite an important act on the label. How would you describe the imprints ethos?
Never stagnating, always evolving. The label always defines new sub-genres and standards in the scene. Every quality song can find its way on the label. For us, as artists, this is very important because it gives us a certain scope of tracks and genres we can deliver.
What makes Stil vor Talent different to other labels out there?
The label and all the people involved in it are very close to each other and very open-minded. It feels like a small family. Very personal and always open for something new. Acts are pushed and get the chance to grow. It’s not just a platform for music releases, its a concept of working together long-term and building something great.
As well as being a quality DJ act, Hidden Empire also do sick live shows. What’s one thing you love and one thing you hate about doing the live shows?
We love to play our own tracks and to be creative with them on stage. We hate to transport and set-up / take down all our gear for the live show, every time though.
If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Definitely Fusion Festival in the north-east of Germany. We hear so many great things about it and Branko once got the chance the play before our time as Hidden Empire and he was amazed. An underground festival made with love and passion, we like these kind of festivals.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had to do?
Niklas: To earn money for my first turntables I worked as a runner in a big room mainstream club in my hometown at the age of 18. Nearly two years I had to carry bottles from one bar to another. In the worst case, I had to clean up puke or blood from the floor.
Branko: My worst job was at UPS, the work started at 3 a.m and I had to load and unload a lot of heavy packages in containers.
If you weren’t working in the music business, what jobs do you see yourselves doing?
Niklas: Something physically active, in nature maybe. I had a classic 9 to 5 office job once, during those days I realised I’m not an office guy. But what exactly, I don't know.
Branko: I would be a barista. I love coffee!
Whilst out on the road, what do you do to entertain yourselves?
Netflix, books and food.
What can you never leave home without?
Phone, headphones and notebook.
What are you most in love with right now?
The vinyl pressing of our album Mind Palace.
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