From Bach to beats: An interview with Borusiade

Borusiade_2
photo: Dan Beleiu

Music has been a constant companion in Miruna Boruzescu’s life, from the age of six when she sang and toured with a children’s choir, through her affinity for Bach to her current love of electronic music. But for Miruna, or Borusiade, as she is known in these circles, music is music, regardless of its genre. Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, she currently resides in Berlin. Influenced by a classical musical education and fascinated by raw electronic sounds, Borusiade combined these elements in the construction of her DJ sets and, starting in 2005, also in her music production. Her sets encompass elements of dark disco, minimal wave and house with a touch of acid. Borusiade will play at the Rokolectiv Festival in her home town Bucharest (23rd – 26th April 2015) and the ICAS Festival (27th April – 3rd May 2015). We caught up with her in Berlin.

You have been active in electronic music for more than a decade.

MB: I grew up in the past decade in the electronic music and clubbing scene. I’m thirty. I started DJ’ing when I was 19.

Can you describe the whole growth process, the development over those ten years?

MB: It was just about discovering club music. But important is that before that I had a classical music background, so exploring dance music was a new step. These days I combine both of these things.

It is very interesting, because you are the third person I met in the last days who had a very similar paths – being classically trained and then wanting to break out of that and finding freedom in the electronic scene.

MB: For me music is music, be it classical or electronic. It has a certain impact on me or I have an urge to create a certain track. When I say electronic music it’s because the tools I use are mostly electronic but in the end it’s just music. It doesn’t matter if it has classical instruments or raw synthesizers.

You were also singing in a choir as a child. How do you recollect this experience?

MB: This was an important part of my classical music education. I was part of a choir for twelve years since the age of six. It was a professional children’s choir of the Bucharest radio. We had a very broad repertoire ranging from early to contemporary classical music. It involved playing with orchestras at festivals and touring, a lot of work.

Are there any elements from that experience that you transposed into your current work?

MB: Definitely. With this background it’s like my creativity is marked by the history I have. When I create it all comes from there. It’s a whole mixture of all the music that I have grown up with. I come back to the point that for me music is music, I don’t go by genre. It just has to have an impact. I don’t believe in the separation of dance and listening music. As long as there’s a rhythm – and by rhythm I don’t necessarily talk about drums here – it can become dance music.

How did you get into dance music?

MB: Dance music is something that makes you want to move.

That’s also important for you in terms of production?

MB: Not really, but it’s true that a big percentage of the music that I’ve produced until now is music that you can play at a club and people would eventually dance to it. I would call myself a music producer, not a dance producer. Right now I have an urge to involve other instruments into my productions and explore other types of musical universes.

You studied cinema at university, but decided to pursue music instead. 

MB: I’m a film directing graduate. Film is my second biggest love after music. I struggled for several years trying to choose between the two, but it was music which was always taking the lead. Whenever I was thinking in terms of film, I always had the need for music. Right now I’m not focused on film, but it’s all about being inspired. If tomorrow I will feel like writing a script, I will do it. I’m not planning ahead, it’s all about the flow.

In your biography it’s written that you were one of the few female DJ’s on the scene. How were those times?

MB: In Bucharest, there are still not enough women in the electronic music world. 99.9 percent are men. I started with them, some of them are very good friends of mine. I didn’t really question this aspect for a while. I was younger and didn’t think much about this political aspect, but it was important for me how inspiring it was to discover via the internet some of the female DJ’s abroad like the whole Pulp scene from Paris – Jennifer Gardini, Chloe, Miss Kittin. These women were incredible, I would’ve given anything to see their set. If I wouldn’t have these role models maybe I would’ve stopped.

Do you think things have changed or is it still the same as it was ten years ago?

MB: I think it’s starting to slowly change. Maybe it’s also because women started to bond and network more and try to become more visible. The topic has been brought onto the table more clearly. There are already some concrete initiatives that have been started by groups, female producers and DJ’s, like female pressure, which is an amazing idea. They make statistics every year to see the balance between women and men in terms of festivals and labels and this raises attention. People are hopefully really starting to think about it. With festivals, it often reads like a list of shame. There were festivals where there were three women and a hundred men. How is this even possible? It’s all about talking about it and telling people it’s a problem and it has to change and also letting women and girls know that there are other women who succeeded in this area and that they can do it too. It’s not a boy’s game only. You don’t have to be a man to deal with technology. Anybody can do it if they have the talent, passion and inspiration.

What are these boundaries that prevent women from entering the world of electronic music?

MB: There are these preconceptions. I’ve sometimes experienced it too, like: “Let me show you how the mixer works…Can I plug your cables?”, and I’m like “No, thank you. I’ve been doing this for ten years.” And also there is this idea of a music producer being a bearded old guy sitting behind a huge mixer. It’s a question of perception that there’s this idea that this is not a woman’s job. I was talking with a senior lecturer who’s doing research about women in electronic music and the contact of women with technology the other day. At some point I asked her whether she knew any female conductors. It’s an image people can’t even conceive.

What about pop music and women. Many people think it’s better there, and the threshold for women has become lower…

MB: If you ask a completely ignorant person, they will tell you that, of course, pop music is full of women. Even those women are working really hard and sometimes a lot of them are also active in composition and production side of the job. A big part of the public chooses to see only the image and thinks that they have an army of male producers behind them who are making all the hard work.

Björk was talking about this in a recent interview that she doesn’t get credited for the production work on her albums.

MB: There is clearly a problem. What I think should be continued is that the ones who can be heard by more than just by their close circles, need to talk and tell those staying at home that they can do it too. Helping each other is extremely important. I was really lucky to be helped by women who were already more established. I got this amazing invitation from Planningtorock last year, for instance. We met in Bucharest, she knew I was a girl DJ. It was very important she offered me this chance.

You are working on a new release. Can you tell us more about it.

MB: I recently joined the roster of Cómeme, and I will have a release with them probably by April. There’s also another release for a Manchester label called ViAAL. I’ve also been working on the compilation One Night In Cómeme Vol. 4.

When you produce and DJ, is the resulting sound mutually influenced by each of these realms?

MB: The music that I play is the music that I listen to and it inspires me for production as well.

Can you mention three records that have inspired you most?

MB: I’ve been listening to the music of Eden Ahbez with lot of pleasure recently. I’m also into early industrial music, in my iPod I always have Johann Sebastian Bach. I’m not trying to seem eccentric, but I really like to listen to a lot of things. I’ve heard an interview with Glenn Gould, who was playing piano in different parts of his career and they were comparing two of his recordings. I like these things, how music sounds and when. Today I was researching music and found some really interesting reggae. There are no limitations.

https://soundcloud.com/borusiade