Borgore Opens Up About Tragedy Aboard the Mad Decent Boat Party

Borgore: “The thing I’m most thankful for in my life is my family."
Borgore: “The thing I’m most thankful for in my life is my family."
Photo by Jasmine Safaeian

Borgore — Israeli DJ, producer, Buygore Records labelhead, and owner of the hashtag #BootyForBorgore — has just returned from the Mad Decent Boat Party, the seafaring counterpart to Diplo’s Mad Decent Block Party. The same weekend the world was coping with mass murders committed by terrorists in both Beirut and Paris, tragedy struck the aquatic revelry when a young female passenger, Kaylyn Rose, jumped from the Norwegian Pearl as the ship was on its way to Cozumel, Mexico. Even for one of EDM's most outwardly debauched DJs, the trifecta of bad news made it tough to summon the party vibes.

"It’s probably one of the best parties of the year, in my humble opinion," says the DJ, who goes by the name Asaf Borger when he's not performing. "I was very, very much looking forward to this one. Obviously, this year was more difficult because of what happened. We were on the boat, and we hear all this news about terrorists, but the wi-fi was miserable. So you’re kind of left in the dark. It was tougher this year."

Borger was reserved, thoughtful, and well-spoken throughout our interview, in slight contrast to his persona as an international party-starting DJ. He explains the distinction simply: “Borgore is a very eccentric Asaf. But it’s also like jokes with friends.” And even as we began on a somber subject, Borger remained calm and open.

"We knew exactly what anyone else knew on the boat," he explains of the experience. "It’s not like the artists had any different information from anyone else. Sixthman, Mad Decent, and the boat crew kept going around the speakers, giving us updates. We didn’t know who fell in the water, and we didn’t know the reason. We only knew that there was a person in the water, and we had to stop everything to look for them. We spent between ten to 12 hours of complete silence on the boat, everyone in their rooms in shock. There were tons of people in the balconies looking for something in the water.

"In general, after what happened, it was hard for people to get in a party mood, but at the same time, bear in mind, there were tons of people that didn’t know the person, and they were there to have a great time. They grieved as much as they could, but after all, they were there to party. They were on vacation; they saved their money all year [to go]. But you definitely felt a huge decline in energy.”

But as brutal as last weekend was for fans aboard the party cruise and people all over the world, music remains a source of solace, and on that topic, Borger perks up a little. We let the conversation shift to his recent output and revisit a much-talked-about quote from his interview with our sister paper Miami New Times over the summer, in which he asserted: “I want to write songs rather than write bangers.”

He takes a moment to clarify: “That’s what I said, and then I released ‘Forbes’ with G-Eazy, which is a 'banger.' But at the same, it’s a song. There’s lyrics, there’s concept, it’s memorable, it’s different. It’s not another 32-bar intro with a drop you’ve already heard. It’s a song that’ll stand the test of time. A year or two from now, it’ll still be a song, it’ll still be cool.”

Borgore playing at Club Cinema in 2013.
Borgore playing at Club Cinema in 2013.
Ian Witlen

Some fans may long for the early dubstep days of Borgore’s career, and in response to that, Borger quietly asserts that the loudness, the explosive elements that have always characterized his music, are still very much there.

Though he classifies it as a "song" rather than a straight-up banger, "Forbes" features a “"very, very heavy drop." And his last EP, Keep It Sexy, includes "a couple of hybrid tunes that are not exactly dubstep but not exactly trap — they’re somewhere in between. Fans that tell me to go and do dubstep again, they need to listen to it," he laughs.

Currently, Borger says he’s working on music that blends several genres, including dubstep and hip-hop (as evidenced by the aforementioned Keep It Sexy EP). He calls it “moving forward” and even counts Drake and Future as "the two rappers I’m dying to work with.” Before you get too excited for that collabo, he adds somewhat dejectedly, “I’ll tell you right now, it’s not on the table.”

But even as he looks ahead to the path his career and his music are taking, Borger is mindful to keep track of how he’s grown as an artist overall. In his transition from heavy-metal drummer to globetrotting DJ, he always goes back to his roots: "energetic, powerful music." He recalls: "I was sitting in a plane a couple of days ago, and I was listening to the favorite tracks that I’ve ever made. You can definitely hear, in my most successful songs, it sounds like metal — metal drops with electronic instruments.”

When it comes to his live shows, Borger has experienced his share of difficulties, some of his own making and some not. Two years ago, after an incident at Miami Beach's Story nightclub, Borger lashed out. He was told he’d never play the venue again. The ban didn’t last long, as he was back spinning there a year later. Yet, more important than the reconciliation was the learning experience: “At that time, I was mad that happened, but I grew up. I understand what was the problem.”

Growing is part of any process as an artist and one that Borger has had to do, quite often, on the road. Playing more than 200 shows a year, he makes the most of his time by entertaining the masses and eating authentic cuisine at nearly every stop around the world. However, there seems to be one prevalent thought on his mind no matter where he goes. With a concert taking place the night before Thanksgiving, there was only one way to end our chat: What is he most thankful for?

Pausing only briefly, Borger is very clear in his answer. “The thing I’m most thankful for in my life is my family. Honestly, these things come and go. Nothing lasts forever. The only thing that will forever last and forever be 100 percent correct is that I have my family.” 


Borgore
8 p.m. Wednesday, November 25, at Club Cinema, 3251 N. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach. Tickets cost $35 to $70 plus fees. Call 954-785-5225, or visit ticketfly.com.

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Club Cinema

3251 N. Federal Highway
Lighthouse Point, FL 33064

954-785-5225

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