A true music lover at heart, Borak’s move from Turkey to Los Angeles to pursue production and broadcasting at UCLA has opened up unexpected avenues for his lifelong passion. Influenced by the psychedelic rock of the 70s & 80s, Borak began getting involved in the music world as a rock guitarist and radio DJ. It was his experimental approach to blending genres which started gaining him attention as a performing DJ however, where at LA after-parties he found an audience eager for his unique, eclectic sound. Creating sets that feature “different elements from all around the world”, sounds from places like Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America can make appearances among a kicking 4×4 beat in a signature Borak set.
Performances at top festivals like Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle have continued to spread Borak’s music to a widely growing audience, while he still loves to play for his local LA scene. Soon he will be transporting listeners across the world with a 2022 tour in the works and the official launch of Raks Bazaar on FRISKY’s DEEP channel. Tune into the premiere on January 20th @ 1PM EST [convert timezone] or listen anytime after on demand with FRISKY Premium. Go behind the scenes with Borak was we get ready to journey together:
How are you? What’s currently going on in your world? 🙂
Hi there, thank you for having me for this interview.
I guess I can say I’ve had a pretty good 2021 on my end. Besides all the restrictions going around the world and here in Los Angeles, I’ve had a chance to play a lot both locally and outside of LA under legal permits.
One of the biggest achievements that happened recently is that I’ve had a chance to release my very first original track, ‘Disco Tabriz’ in collaboration with one of my favorite record labels Inner Shah, which was released as a free download and in their January compilation album available on all major platforms.
Also last year I graduated from the ‘Toolroom Academy’ electronic music production program and that helped me a lot to start and finish my originals. Which also led me to create hybrid acts as a guitar player during my DJ Sets.
At the moment we’re working on our 2022 calendar and hopefully, I’ll be able to travel across the world and share my story.
Also, I have to mention that I am super excited about my residency for Frisky Radio, you guys have been a great impact on the world dance music culture, by supporting so many up-and-coming artists in the past.
What originally brought you to LA and what has your experience been like in the music scene there?
Back in Turkey, I was a radio host in one of the national radio stations that plays foreign pop music (mainly Top 40) and I’ve had a goal to become a radio personality here in the United States. So I came here to study “Theatrical Production and Broadcasting” at UCLA.
The more time I’ve spent there I’ve managed to make my way in the scene with my podcast recordings that I was sharing as a hobby of my own.
I guess it’s safe to say my very first encounter was that I started an internship for one of the top crews and nightclubs here, Sound. I can say that I learned a lot there. From graphic design to promoting your brand, your music, your parties, it was a good learning process for me.
Overall, in my opinion, the scene in LA compared to other scenes in the US such as New York, Miami, and Chicago is still extremely young and with all the Hollywood productions happening here the major genre of music is still mainly Pop and HipHop yet as I mentioned just because the dance music culture and impact compared to the other scenes is still a bit ripe, LA has a lot more to offer to the rest of the world.
Currently, here in LA, we have so many experienced, both big and small, production teams that are creating so many good environments for dance music lovers. Thanks to that I started to see more and more eclectic acts here and equally more opportunities arose for me. So it’s a natural process of both learning from world-renowned artists and being able to share my art.
I’d love to go back to the beginning and hear more about your early influences – were there any particular artists or musical experiences that you feel have shaped who you are as a musician?
As I’ve mentioned earlier this year, I started to perform hybrid acts featuring my guitar and that comes from high school times. I used to play in rock bands as a lead guitar player at the time.
I grew up in a household where we listened to a lot of 70s/80s rock music and I guess I can say that influenced my style a lot. I’m still a big fan of the 1970s Turkish Psychedelic Rock music era which utilizes a lot of folk rhythms and grooves. Guess my fascination with world music comes from there.
Also, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin are still my favorite bands to this day. I believe guitar players and composers like Gilmour, Page, and Clapton are timeless and I’m learning a lot by just practicing their old songs.
Besides that, I don’t categorize the music I play by the artist or genre but I follow closely the trends around the world.
Having been involved in different genres, what was it that first got you hooked on electronic music?
I’d say the very first introduction for me was probably Daft Punk. I’ve born in 1991 and as you can imagine classics like “Around the World”, “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” were pretty big at the time.
Why did you want to be a DJ?
I didn’t want to. It sort of happened naturally.
My whole concentration and focus were to become a Radio Personality but before I moved to America I was already playing music back in Turkey so I knew how to use the mixer and the players. I played in a couple of after-parties here in Los Angeles and then I guess people liked the music I was playing.
Although I’m so happy that it worked out this way. I sort of see DJing as more of a performing act rather than just playing good music so I guess, I still have the mentality of the high school version of me playing guitar in small, dark, and sweaty rooms.
How has your experience as a DJ been similar or different to what you expected when you first began?
I mean… I have a much different style at the moment compared to the time that I first started but I guess I was not expecting people would ever completely feel free and dance while I’m playing the music. It’s the best feeling for me as a DJ. Watching the room, literally seeing every single person dancing in there, what makes them move and what does not. To be able to follow that is so fascinating to me.
Can you share with us one of your favorite memories from behind the decks?
I have two amazing moments. One of them just happened recently, I was playing a show in Venice Beach in a medium-sized room and it was not a long set, I guess a played 3 hours of music. Right after I played the very last song people started chanting my name for minutes, watching them screaming ‘Borak!, Borak!, Borak’ was amazing and I can’t express enough my gratitude. I felt over the cloud.
The other is from 2019. I was playing at this after-party for our friends and I wasn’t booked. I just happen to have my USB with me and the system they had was just this small house speakers and a very old DJ mixer that requires Traktor or Serato to play. The DJ booked wasn’t able to figure out how he was supposed to play with that system and they asked me to play. I started playing. It was super loud, insanely distorted sound quality coming from the small house speaker and somehow people managed to enjoy it and I ended up playing 9 hours non-stop. The sound quality was the worst yet people somehow like it enough to stay 9 hours. Still to this day, it is one of the best days of my life.
What is most important for you to accomplish with music? Do you have any specific goals or a mission?
I think music has a different impact on people’s life. As an artist, by just telling your own story sometimes you touch people’s lives in such a strong way that you can change them. I hope one day I could have that kind of an impact on the scene.
In any genre of art, the goal in my opinion is to leave a fingerprint. That’s why I value originals a lot, that’s why creating my songs stresses me so much. If you look at a mural of a graffiti artist you’ll see the little tag of the artist’s name on the corner. I guess that’s one way of saying “I was here…’. That’s exactly what I’m trying to achieve but in a bit more collaborative way with the audience. To be able to say ‘we were there, we witnessed it’ to define an era would be good.
How would you describe what makes the “Borak sound” special?
I think my main style is world music. I always try to play a well-diverse set that has so many different elements from all around the world. While a strong 4 on the floor going on in the bottom a nice Indian flute or some Swahili vocals would be a good combination for me. I guess that can be described as the ‘special’ in my style.
How do you find yourself able to stay true to your artistic and creative vision while there is often pressure to fit into a certain mold and/or “market” yourself?
That’s one thing that I think about a lot as well. Honestly to this day, I don’t have a full answer for this but for the last two years that I accepted the reality of dance music being a progressive form of art.
Especially with the evolution of technology the dance music is re-creating itself every 10 years from scratch. If you minimize this time I think the sub-genres are also changing every 4-5 years. Even though it circles back to its original roots being open to new creations and always trying makes this musical style beautiful.
So I set this formula as a way for myself. Every day I have a routine of listening to 2 hours of new music either from artists or bands I follow. The genre loses its importance under this practice, I’m trying to broaden my mind and learn new elements each day.
What is the story behind the name “Raks Bazaar”? Can you give us some background on your new show and what listeners can expect?
Raks is a common term or “Dance” in most middle eastern or old dialects and Bazaar usually a place for all. I thought it’d be fitting term for my music since I like to play a mixed and diversed sound from all around world combined with powerful groove. It represents the idea of Dance music doesn’t have any boundaries and any sort of element can serve for the house music grooves. Essentially, dance music for everyone. No certain group or medium or a niche should be categorized under dance music. That’s why “Raks Bazaar” will feature the perfect balance of dance music coming from each and every genre… The possibilities of each show is endless.
Within the year 2022, I’m leaning towards a bit more electronic sound rather than the downtempo and tribal inputs. Eclecticism will be the key for this show but I’ll try my best to stay diverse and to create a special showcase on each episode.
I’m truly excited about this collaboration and looking forward to watching and experiencing the feedback.
We will see this all together. 🙂