Known professionally as Borgore, Asaf Borger is an Israeli dubstep DJ and producer who rose to fame when the genre exploded across the globe. Past his music, Borger has a passion for art and history, evident in his vast knowledge of his landmark-filled home and countless other cities he’s explored. Ever evolving his craft and sound, his latest track “Help” comes from deep within and touches on who he was in his youth. As Borger continues to grow and gain perspective of his own life, it’s a track he’s now comfortable sharing with the world. Be sure to have a listen below.
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Chris Remmers: Let’s start this off with your home country of Israel, a place often overlooked for international travelers, but also a place with such a tremendous amount of natural beauty within its borders. How did you like growing up in the Tel Aviv area? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the state?
Borgore: Israel has a lot of culture. We have Jaffa, which is something like 5,000 years old. It’s known to be one of the oldest cities in the world, and it’s located right next to Tel Aviv. There’s even the Stone of Andromeda, which was mentioned in Greek mythology, right there off the shore. So, it’s pretty amazing you have about a 15-minute walk from Tel Aviv and you can be in one of the most ancient cities. I actually think it’s also one of the most ancient ports in the world. The whole feel over there is this mixture of super old and super new. So, when you go to Jaffa, everything is super old school and dated, but at the same time there are hella-cute, small-hipster bars, amazing restaurants and all kinds of things like this.
In general, in Tel Aviv you can’t really go to wrong. If you hit Rothschild [Boulevard] any bar you walk into has a ton of art and super forward thinking music. Anywhere you go the food will be incredible. This is just Tel Aviv. For a lot of people Tel Aviv is very modern. For like three years in a row it was the gay capital of Europe — very liberal city. On the flip side, you can go 45-minutes east into Jerusalem and it’s the holiest place on earth for three different religions.
It’s crazy I’m Jewish, but walking into the room of the Last Super is incredible. You don’t have to pay admission. There are no lines. It’s not like Disneyland where you must wait two hours on every ride you want to go on. Even for me, I go to the wall, which is our holiest place, I cannot tell you I’m super religious, but the whole area just has that vibe. It really has something to it. This is what people fight over.
Anyway, there really is a lot to see in Israel that people don’t always think about. You can go one-hour south and you’re in the middle of the craziest deserts. You also have the Dead Sea, which is one of the lowest points on Earth. You can go north and see the Sea of Galilee. I just wish it could be a little bit more peaceful so more people can come to see its beauty.
CR: That sounds amazing. One of my friends recently went for his Birthright and came raving about the country. Switching to your music, when did you decide that you wanted to pursue a life as a DJ? Did growing up in Israel have any sort of profound impact on where you are today?
B: Oh, absolutely! When I was 13-14 I was able to grow a beard. So, my friends and I started hitting the underground club scene with techno, house and sometimes some drum-and-bass jungle DJ’s — super underground stuff. You start the night at 1-2 a.m., then you party until 1 p.m. the next day. It’s really just an amazing experience. So, I was exposed to electronic music at a very young age, and at the time it was called IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), not EDM. It was definitely glorious days. I learned all about electronic music way before it was big in the states.
One day I went to this really small bar, there was maybe 20 people at the time, and someone played dubstep. It was almost a spiritual moment in my life. The music was everything I love, and that’s when I knew I was going to do dubstep. Two years later, dubstep blows up and we start the journey. Tel Aviv is just such a forward-thinking and progressive place. I strongly recommend everyone see it at some point in their life. One last thing I will say is that the Mediterranean Sea is also a place everyone should check out at least once. There are no evil animals in the water, so you don’t have to worry about anything biting or stinging you. It’s part of the reason I will not swim on the beaches in Florida and places like that.
CR: I have heard nothing but amazing things about Tel Aviv and the country of Israel. So, EDM, Trap, House, Techno and so many other genres have all exponentially growing globally over the past few years. Where have been some of your favorite venues to preform? How do some of them differ internationally?
B: You know it’s so hard to answer that question and I’ll tell you why. Amazing Chinese food and amazing Japanese food are both equally amazing, they’re just different experiences. I have been to so many incredible clubs and venues around the world it’s really hard for me to say definitively anything was absolutely my favorite. Like I said before, they all brought me different experiences. The thing is that most of the European festivals are not solely based on who’s playing. They have festivals that are all about living the experience, where in America there are normally heavy regulations.
You don’t go into a city, rent a hotel room and then go to a football stadium to watch shows. You literally grab a tent, some buddies and stay for a week or however long the festival is going on for. In Ukraine, they have a festival called KaZantip. It was amazing how people packed up their stuff and moved into nature for a week. You’re staying in an environment you’re not used to. You’re experiencing a true festival the way they were meant to be celebrated. Suddenly, you become friends with people that are camping next to you or people you see in certain areas over the course of your stay. It brings people together and it’s an experience everyone should have.
When I was young, I would find myself dancing in a coffee tent at 8 a.m., listening to reggae with people I don’t know, just having the time of my life on a beach. Where else can you really have these kinds of experiences? I feel like festivals are starting to miss this concept of experience. In a lot of places I’ll end up somewhere on a big stage with fireworks, and I’ll see some DJ’s with big names, just because they have good publicity, and they’re all playing the same stuff. I’m more into the festivals where you have to go out of the way and experience something different.
CR: Of course! I’m a firm believer in having experiences over materialistic needs, because those are the things that shape who you are and who you become. You just recently released a track called “Help,” and I must say I really enjoyed it. What was your thought process behind the track? How do you feel it’s being received so far?
B: Thank you very much! I think it’s being received well so far. It’s a bit personal, and I don’t think there will be a lot of people with the balls to do something like this. So, I’ll probably be catching a lot of people off guard. A lot of people like to sing about how everything is perfect and how life is incredible, so I think this will be a nice spin. I think the main theme throughout is that I would have a problem if I couldn’t acknowledge that I have a problem. You know what I mean?
As of now I feel like I’m in a good place, definitely a better place than I was about five years ago. The song is more relevant to where I was and not so much where I am right now. Writing the song was actually me feeling it. That was something that was a part of me, and now I’m in a place where I’m fixing things. Los Angeles is also a very tough place and a lot of people that move there are dealing with stuff. It’s easy to lose focus and get off track.
CR: Much respect man. I really dig it! To transition back into travel, when you’re looking for a getaway are you looking to relax on a beach, explore a city or something totally different all together?
B: I will tell you that for me, a vacation is pretty much being home and getting to spend time with my family. Home for me is pretty much Los Angeles or Tel Aviv. I just like being able to wake up in my own bed, make my own coffee and use my own Wi-Fi — things of that nature. I just like being able to have my own workout schedule and my own sleeping schedule. Every day that I don’t have to get up and hop on a plane is a blessing to me.
I will tell you though that I’ve had some really good vacations recently. I have never snowboarded before, and I had a couple days off in the French Alps. I really like the vibe of a small town — hella bars and cool stuff. You hop on the lift and you’re in the mountain. It’s very cozy to me, so I guess I would I say I enjoy that more than the beach, because I’m not really a beach person. Sometimes it’s nice to just chill by the pool, but I guess for me vacations are all about getting to explore archaeology, looking at history and art. Those are the things that really interest me. My job is to party, but one of my true passions is art. We had a couple days off recently, so we went to the Guggenheim. I like to see stuff in Rome too. We went to most of the historical places — awesome experiences.
CR: That sounds amazing. I’ve heard wonderful things about the Guggenheim! Now, being well traveled and cultured, how do you feel music and travel really fit together best in your life?
B: It’s good to travel as a musician, because you can experience so many different things. What they listen to in Spain versus what they listen to [in the United States] is completely different. So, you can grab and channel different inspirations. You get to learn about new music genres. It’s kind of like adding things to your inspiration pallet. As far as traveling goes, one of the best things is being able to taste the local food in a place. When we went to Russia we had borscht. In Japan we had sushi — Chinese food in China. There really is nothing like getting that authentic taste in the area it was created.
CR: I absolutely could not agree with you more! What are some of the first things you like to do when touching down in a new location?
B: I’ll be honest, I always go look for local food I’ve not had before, or food I have had and love. Sometimes when I touch down I like to get a workout in. We always try to adjust our activities based on where we are. So, traveling for us has its ups and downs.
CR: What effect has seeing and experiencing different cultures had on you? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
B: I think it’s crazy how different we all are, but it’s also crazy how similar we all are. I’ve learned that most people enjoy the same kind of stuff, so fighting is kind of stupid. I have also learned that I’m immune to getting sick. I literally never get sick, which is crazy to me. On a serious note, I truly do feel blessed that I’ve been able to travel the world and see all of these things I would’ve not otherwise seen. If I wasn’t a DJ I would have never seen or heard of half of the amazing places I’ve had the pleasure of going.