You wouldn't know it from his frenetic electronic songs and quaking live performances, but there is more to Borgore than meets the ear. In this modern digital age where we've hyperbolized the importance of streaming numbers and social followings, we've become unable to delineate the profound depths of musicians, defining them by their brand rather than their artistry. Such is the case with the Israeli dubstep maven, who recently turned heads with his latest project Adventures In Time, a full-blown jazz opus with no semblance of the rip-roaring sound that propelled him to become one of the most respected artists in the dance music sphere.
"I've been hiding jazz in my music my whole career," says Borgore, who to friends is Asaf Borger. "I grew up making jazz. It's completely parallel, and it always has been. 'Cry Me A River,' 'Afro Blue' – there was always jazz there."
A classically trained musician and drummer in an Israeli deathcore band, Asaf's musical roots traverse the genre spectrum. Over the years he has produced everything from pop to trap to metal, and while his proclivity for jazz music was used an influence, it never took the forefront in his compositions. However, it was only a matter of time, he says, until his love for jazz bubbled to the surface and he could no longer ensconce it. That's when he decided to record the subversive Adventures In Time, offering fans a new side of him he simply couldn't hide anymore. Borgore is like a can of soda – too much action on the inside, and it'll explode.
"I really didn't know if people were going to accept it."
Contrary to what you might believe, Borgore's foray into jazz music isn't a cautionary tale. It is a galvanizing one. Considering his cult following consisting of tens of millions of fans, one would expect him to be biting his nails over potential backlash with such a drastic sonic shift. His psyche isn't wrapped in kevlar, so he was certainly worried – but not for the reasons you'd expect. "I wasn't worried that people would bash me," he affirms. "I was worried it would go unnoticed. I really didn't know if people we're going to accept it." His qualms were quickly allayed, however, after he released the record.
"The reaction this album got was bigger than anything I've released in years," he proclaims. It's heartwarming." When asked whether or not he thought it was a ballsy move, Borgore continued, "I don't think it's ballsy. I always write jazz; it's a part of my life. So, for me, the worst case scenario is that it'll be out and people won't care. The best case scenario, which actually happened, is that people will love it."
"I'm not going to hide behind a different name."
When artists want to pivot sonically, the vast majority of them will opt to create an alias so as to not tarnish their brand. There is a notion of cowardice in that move, as they can quickly abandon the new pseudonym if their fans disapprove of the new direction. While there is a clear dichotomy between his urbane jazz persona and his rollicking dubstep antics marked by the popular "booty for Borgore" bandwagon, Asaf vehemently defends his right to be himself when it comes to his music. "I produce dubstep, then one day I came out with a big room record. That was a ballsy move," he asserts. "I'm not embarrassed to be who I am. I never make music to please anyone; I make music because I love it. I produce whatever I want – today it's jazz, tomorrow I might sit at home and produce polka or country. I'm not going to hide behind a different name."
Diehard fans of Borgore need not worry. The man who brought you the quirky electro banger "Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse" and the riotous Miley Cyrus-assisted fan favorite "Decisions" isn't going anywhere. "I'm not out here saying 'Fuck EDM.' I love dubstep and I'm not changing," he declares. "I'm not here trying to preach or say 'I'm a jazz player now.' I'm saying 'I've always been a jazz player, and here's the side of me you didn't know about.'"