Anyone know what the Romanian is for smorgasbord? Nah us either, but if such a term exists, it’s be spot on to describe Romanian-born, German based DJ and producer Borrowed Identity. At one end of the scale, you’ve got releases for DVS1’s Mistress Recordings, right on through to a more disco-indebted releases for Fina then the balearic 4/4 sentiments for Legendary Sound Research. His DJ sets are similarly wide-reaching, and therefore we had to see what he would come up with when given the reigns to curate a mix for us.A self-confessed soul boy at heart, his mix is packed full of the stuff, while packing enough punch to rattle your headphones. To accompany it, we asked him a few questions, which cover how he works across genres, some insight into the burgeoning scene in Romania and also a suprising case of mistaken identity!
Catch Borrowed Identity at The Nest, London on 19th March.
Hi! How is 2016 treating you so far?
Great, I already had a lot of inspiring and kind of healing shows in the last two months and im super productive again in the studio!
First a bit of an ice-breaker. Can you recall your first musical memory?
Dr. Alban – ‘Its My Life’. I think I was four or five years and I was obsessed with that tune. When my mother played this song, I would jump around the room and sing to it! haha
Are we right in assuming Borrowed Identity refers to your chameleonic music tastes? Rather than asking you the meaning behind the name, we’d be interested to know if you’ve ever had any amusing cases of mistaken identity?
To the first question, yes it has to do with that but not only with that. My alias means a couple of things to me but I want people to think their own part and make whatever they want out of it in their imagination. I find most things boring once I get them explained in detail, a bit of mystery makes everything more exciting to me! To the second question yes actually in dark clubs people often think im Prosumer or look like him haha. I have to say we a have a couple of similarities in our beards and so on, but we dont really look the same. Most people asking me that are already pretty drunk 😀
As a Romanian, what do you think of the attention the scene over there has been getting over the past few years, esp. the a:rpia:r guys. Do you spend much time soaking up dance culture at home?
They deserve their success they are brilliant DJs. Some of the productions are a bit too minimal for my taste though – what can I say I’m a soul boy haha! But I have a lot of a:rpia:r records in my collection that are magical and very inspiring. Romania is all about the groove and I love that but sometimes I’m missing some more melodies and vocals in the scene over there. Unfortunately when I’m from in Timisoara, I’m not really soaking up a lot of dance culture because I’m always too busy being with my family and friends when I’m there once a year.
One of the things that’s really apparent in both your discography and DJ sets is a lot of variety. You show a keen ear for music across the spectrum of house, techno and disco. How/why do you think you’ve developed such a wide music palette?
Hmm good question. I guess I always had an eclectic music taste and was listening to everything from rap, rock, soul, pop, disco to house. In the beginning I started out as a DJ at school and birthday parties – back then I wasn’t infected yet with the techno virus 🙂 I always had to play a big variety of music to keep everyone on the dancefloor, so basically I’m still doing what I have done from the beginning as a DJ. I just got more electronic over the years. As a producer I was working for rappers and singers in the beginning and always produced what they wanted, so maybe that’s also a reason why I developed a lot of styles and ways of producing.
I generally think sets with variety go down quite well in the UK, we are really suckers for a curveball. Are there any curveballs you’ve played that have a) gone down a lot better than you expect and b) gone down a lot worse than you’d expect?
Yes in the beginning I thought I have to play a lot harder because I had that picture of UK hardcore ravers from jungle, DnB and the UK techno but that was wrong. UK crowds are a lot more soulful than german ones for example, so playing hard never went down that well haha. But the more groove and soul the music has without failing to pump, the more response you get in the UK. Actually all over the world in my opinion. But that’s just my own subjective feeling and my own way.
On the topic of receptive crowds, what are some of your favourite parties you’ve played at in the last year, and why?
Oh man that question is impossible to answer, every night and scene is so different. All of them have their ups and dows and their own beauty. I’m feeling joy for every single person that is coming to hear me play out and everybody who is booking me and making me live my dream through that. So all of them are my favourites, every night has its unique qualities!
Your productions vary as well from some really jacking stuff to some great disco edits. Do you have a different production approach for these different genres of music?
Yes of course, every genre has its own kind of ways and rules. I try to break them all the time but often I’m too conservative and old school, but I’m trying. A big reason for the variety is that I lose my inspiration after doing one sound for some weeks and everything sounds so forced then, when I often change the genre I’m doing, I just have so much more ideas and inspiration and I can take ideas from one world and put it in the other. I have a strong hip-hop background and hip-hop always did that – taking something from a different genre and make something new out of it. My DJ name has a lot t do with that by the way 🙂
Do you have a favourite piece of kit in your studio?
My MPC 5000 was that but I replaced it with a Push 2 because I get the same results with it but a lot faster. I just bought a Jomox xbase999 and I think that’s my new favourite. It can create a nice classic 909 sound but also so much more unique sounds and the kick is so diverse and powerfull!! This drum machine gives you so much control of the sound that you can create much more different sounds like with most other drum machines in my opinion.
Your latest EP Red Light Jackers is about to come out on Quintessentials. How did that release come about and what can people expect if they’ve not listened yet?
I made those tracks in the beginning of 2015 in a period where I was suffering a lot from my depressions and touring too much for the first time in my life. The A1 is a very personal one I made with my homie Albert Vogt. I wasn’t sure if I will release it because it almost felt too private but I decided to release it because I’m happier with being honest and being me instead of always trying to be cool like a lot of people do it in the scene.
I know I make myself vulnerable through putting my soul into my DJing and productions and showing all my beautiful but also ugly sides, but I rather have a couple of people following me that really appreciated who I am, instead of a lot of people that follow an image or stereotype I created! Come on DJs, nobody can tell me they only listen and love 100% all the time just one sound all their life!
It’s accepted that certain types of music will be released on certain labels. For example, your tracks on Mistress are understandably heavier than your edits on Homesick. As someone who releases a lot of DJ mixes online, do you cater your mixes toward the platform you are releasing them on?
To some degree yes but the only rule I have for myself is I always try to only play what I feel and what I want to hear myself in that moment. I feel there’s a different energy when I’m focussing on playing everything that is exciting to me and on my mp3 player in that time because I have more fun this way, which is more interesting than just recalling a pre-made playlist without surprises.
And it’s the same approach with my productions. I just try to do what I feel without limitations instead of fulffilling a concept that I made years ago. Im seeing a lot of friends losing the passion because they made them self too much rules I had that problem myself years ago with my other aliases when I had concepts and puristic projects, if you go down the route to make a concept and stick to one sound at some point after some years your taste is changing and thats the moment where a lot of people lose their inpiration because the rules they made them self are becoming kind of a prison.
To carry on from this, was there a certain concept in mind when you curated this mix for us?
You asked me for a house and discoish mix and I was happy to do that with a couple of breakouts in between.
Where and how did you record it, and are there any standout tracks you’d like to shout out?
I recorded it at home with two CDJ 2000s and an Allen & Heath Xone 92. The second tune is an unreleased favourite of mine from my homes Danny Vibe from Malta called ‘Funkadelic’. This guy is super talented and has a killer groove!! Jeremiah feat. Vusa Mkhaya – ‘Khawuleza (Brawther Unreleased Dub)’ is also a magic tune. Stereo People – ‘Stereo (Rhadoo ReEdit)’ is something I love to play because it has this hip-hop vibe but is on a house tempo, nice to break it up a bit in the club. But I love all all the tracks in the mix, all standout ones for me. I try to avoid playing stuff that is only okay or that I only like a bit. I’m trying to only play music I can listen to hundreds of times without getting boring to me, so only standout tracks in my sets for myself always.
Final variety related question! Could you give us one house, one techno and one disco label whose music you are really rating at the minute?
For house Oscillat Music is super on point, killer grooves with a lot of soul!! For Techno Non Series always delivers good tools that I can play together with house without losing the jacking house drive. For disco edits Razor N Tape is doing a great job – I’m playing lots of their releases!!
Finally, is there anything we should be looking out for from you in the coming year?
I canceled my debut album because I wasn’t happy with the tracks but I’m still working on my debut g-funk house collab album with Mechanical Soul Brother. I’m also finally starting my own label, Chameleon Tracks, and I have an EP I’m very happy with coming out soon on Hardgroove from Ben Sims. Also I’m always on tour and happy for everyone of you reading this coming out to have fun with me!!