Having recently released an EP on Ostgut Ton, the record label of the iconic Berlin club Berghain, DJ and producer Borusiade speaks to Niloufar Haidari about the environmental anxieties of our times, buying bootleg tapes on the streets of Bucharest, and how they made it to the German capital.
Bucharest-born, Berlin-based Borusiade – real name Miruna Boruzescu – approaches electronic music from a different perspective to many of her contemporaries. For a start, she is reluctant to even define the music she makes as electronic music, or indeed to define it at all. Her atmospheric, churning, anxiety-hued sounds have been described as everything from new wave to industrial, EBM to techno, but Boruzescu rejects all attempts at categorisation. “I don't think I'm the right person to describe my sound,” Boruzescu says. “For me, my sound is something very organic. I create it in a sincere, honest way and I don't really think about how it should sound. I choose from what's crossing my mind at a certain moment, or a feeling. It's a mixture of feelings and ideas.”
When we meet on the hottest day of the year, Boruzescu is just about to put out her latest EP on iconic Ostgut Ton, the label owned by Berghain, the city’s world-renowned techno club. Comprised of four tracks, with titles like “Forewarned Is Forearmed” and “Doublethink,” the record is just under 30 minutes of doom-laden, rolling beats and anxious strings, conjuring images of a looming apocalypse – an idea we have become increasingly accustomed to of late.
“The idea behind this EP was mostly about the environmental disaster we're living in right now, which is something that I think concerns all of us,” Boruzescu explains. “It's not a political record, but that was my way of expressing some thoughts on this issue. The record is called “Their Specters,” and I chose it thinking about the ghosts of everything that is dying or has been destroyed under this civilization of constant evolution, which is not bringing us anywhere apart from to self-destruction.” This penchant for storytelling is a consistent theme in Boruzescu’s output, something that seems tethered to her background in film studies. “There is music for each image that I see, but I’m more interested in the mood of a movie rather than the actual story,” she says. “The story is very important, but I feel there is more about image and what it transmits through the power of an image rather than just telling a story from A to Z”.
Boruzescu grew up in Bucharest, Romania, immersing herself in music from an early age. She sang in Romania’s national broadcasting corporation’s choir from the age of six, a hobby that would take up most of her free time until she was 18. The producer admits that the intensive practice and touring schedule – three nights a week during the school year, and two solid months out of her three month summer holiday – “formed a lot of what I am today”. Boruzescu also tried her hand at piano and singing lessons, but neither stuck, while her father’s record collection exposed her to artists such as Bob Dylan and The Kinks.
Boruzescu’s own taste was largely developed through the counterfeit tapes she bought on the streets of Bucharest. “You could buy anything,” she reminisces, “there was no mainstream access to the internet, so this was the easiest way to get the new stuff. I was listening to whatever I liked, I didn't really care what it was, I just had to like the song.”
From there, she stumbled into electronic music, an interest compounded by a visit to The Web Club. “It wasn't really even a club, it was more like a house, but people were playing good music. I was very intrigued by the DJs and what they were doing there, and one day I asked one of the residents if I could maybe play once, and they were like, 'Yeah, sure!'”, she laughs. “I was really into Kraftwerk and the Bunker [Records] stuff from The Netherlands, this really rough electro sound, which I think was my first approach into electronic music. Then I started to open my appetite more towards techno or whatever. I still don't know what I'm playing.”
A few years after her introduction into DJing, Boruzescu decided to “try her luck” and move to Berlin, excited about the idea of the fabled electronic scene in the city. She played a few clubs and bars, mostly at alternative parties, before returning to Bucharest for a year. It was only during her second stint in Berlin that things really began to take off. “I don't know if I would have had the same chances to put in practice the ideas that I have in my head”, she says of how the German capital has shaped her sound. “Here you encounter it on almost every corner of the street. There is so much opportunity to see, to listen, to meet… In Bucharest, there are things happening but I think there is still a limited scene, it's hardly comparable to Berlin. But then, Berlin is hardly comparable to most of the world.”