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In The Mix... with Borai

For our second instalment of our new mix series, we've turned to Bristol based producer and DJ, Borai. Known for his jungle and breaks output via Club Glow, the record label he runs alongside LMajor, Denham Audio and Mani Festo, as well as his death metal band Spiritflesh with DJ October, we've managed to get something a little bit different from him in the shape of a big beat mix. Pop this on for a time travel journey back to the late 90s/early 2000s and read our interview with him below...

Hi Borai, please can you tell us a bit about your mix? You went for a big beat theme for this... What inspired this?

I was there, in those heady days, with all those chaps wearing pork pie hats, Hawaiian shirts, and ladies in full festival fancy dress dancing to the sounds of The Chemical Brothers, Propellerheads, Fatboy Slim, et all. I was buying records right through from the start, onto breakbeat, nu school breaks, breaks, breakbeat garage, broken beat, breakstep, dubstep and onwards. We’ve had revivals of some of those sounds but big beat has always had a kind of stigma attached to it, words like cheesy and rubbish are bandied about and it’s almost as if the collective consciousness has swept the good memories under the carpet along with the bad and moved onto “cooler” things.

I thought it was high time for a dig back through some of those tunes, and this mix is the result. Due to me not being able to find a few “key” records in time (I know they are somewhere... damnit), I’ve probably not included some of the most known tracks and maybe veered off course a tiny bit, but hopefully I’ve helped rediscover a few under appreciated bangers from back in the day. The last track isn’t a big beat track but a forgotten gem produced by Zed Bias and featuring the amazing vocal talents of Mpho Skeef, I found it again whilst digging for tracks and had to include it.

Your show on Noods, Higher Level, often has a really broad range of themes. Some highlights being the recent Shirley Bassey show and also your hi-nrg show. Can you talk us through your monthly process putting together such vastly different shows?

Panic that I’ve got a show in five days because I’ve been slack and not planned or actually done anything about it despite the amazing crew at Noods Radio sending out reminders and calendar invites... every month.

Since the start of the pandemic I haven't been able to go into the studio to broadcast the show, so have had to rely on my set up at home to record mixes. The Noods studio has Pioneer CDJs so I used to turn up with my already prepped USBs and play pretty much a “club” set with the freshest dubs and my own productions... but at home I have two Technics 1210mk3 and a Xone:22 mixer. I also have a Serato box for playing digital files, but to use Serato means I have to import everything beforehand which is a bit of a faff, so I usually play vinyl rather than the new digital stuff and it's given me time to delve deep into a loads of material that I’d forgotten about.

I have maybe 3000 records arranged into sections by genre, so I have been choosing a section and putting together shows using just those records. I’ve done shows on jazz, breaks, jungle, hi-nrg (the “proper” stuff... lol) reggae and dancehall, and plenty more. I’ve always had a wide ranging taste in music and buy across the genres, so I have plenty of material at my disposal.

Your new EP due out on Club Glow is killer, with lead track Need U already sounding like an instant summer classic! What are your hopes for events this summer?

Thank you! We’re all really pleased with how the EP has been received and I look forward to hearing it in the club in due course. I am hopeful that by the end of summer we will start seeing events happening, but I am also realistic. There are a lot of things that have to happen correctly to be able to pull off partying “like the old days” without serious risk of harm to a lot of people and or livelihoods. I have not been impressed with much of what the government has been doing to support anyone, let alone the nightlife industry, so for me it’s very much a case of see what happens and try and do my bit to help, whatever that is.

How did you hook up with the rest of Club Glow?

It all started when Peri from Denham Audio hit me up about possibly collaborating on a track. one thing led to another and we soon had an album of tunes that needed a home. It was Peri again who suggested that maybe we look into putting it out ourselves on tape instead of shopping it about. I thought that was a great idea and Club Glow was born to do just that. Mani Festo designed the cover/artwork so he was a natural choice to come onboard after our initial success, and we started discussing who else we might want to join us in our journey of running a label and forming a collective. LMajor had been on our radars as he was putting out such amazing music in exactly the vain of what we were trying to do ourselves, once we all met we realised that we were all on the same page and he was up for getting involved...the rest, as they say….is history.

Can you pick one fave track by each of your Club Glow cohorts? And one from the label that you love.

A perfect example of why we all hold up Louis as one the best producers around. When we realised that we missed the chance to release this track on Club Glow there was a little pang of jealousy, some jokey insults thrown about in the group chat and a vow to make sure nothing got missed in the future. I honestly think this track is going to have a long life and be regarded as a modern jungle classic.

I’ve played this track in pretty much every ‘club’ set since I was given it, now unleashed on the world on their recent Lobster White 12in, I would recommend grabbing this skull crusher ready to destroy the dance when the time comes.

From his recent WNCL EP, this slice of slick future-funk caught my ear the first time I heard it. A wicked example of Nick’s world-building skills and hitting that sweet spot between techno and breaks he does so well.

This is possibly my favourite track we have released to date; it gives me the feels every time I hear it. It’s almost perfect in its construction and takes the listener on a sublime tripped out journey to the stratosphere. :rocket emoji:

Let’s get nerdy for a sec. Talk us through your home set-up/studio please!

My pleasure!

I run what I like to call a “legacy system” in the studio which basically translates to using a 10+ year old computer for all my sequencing and recording combined with a whack load of outboard synths, samplers and effects to mould sounds and come up with ideas.

I just last week upgraded my studio computer from a 2008 MacBook laptop (Which I used to write/record every track i’ve released till now) to a 2009 Mac Pro tower (Upgraded 4,1 > 5,1) with all the bells and whistles. I am still running OS 10.6.8 and Logic 9.1.8 as my DAW, as not only is it rock solid but I have quite a few small helpful apps that only run on SL and interface with my outboard equipment.

I have an Allen & Heath GS1 Mixing Desk that is the centre of my setup, alongside two rack units and patch bays to connect it all together.

In the vein of all those old Keyboard Monthly and Sound on Sound magazine interviews where they publish the full kit list, I’ve compiled mine…..this is strictly for the nerds! lol

Studio Equipment:

Logic Studio 9 (DAW)

2009 4,1> 5,1 Mac Pro Dual 2.66Mhz / 24gb / 2 x 500gb SSD (Computer)

Apogee Ensemble Firewire (Audio Interface)

Allen & Heath GS1 (Mixing Desk)

Emagic AMT8 (USB Midi Rack)

Emagic Unitor8 (USB Midi Rack)

4 x Behringer PX3000 Patch Bays

Quiklok RS Rack System x 2

KAM DDX5000 w Shure MX35 (Turntable)

Synths & Samplers:

Akai S1100 (Sampler)

Roland S760 w/ Screen & Mouse (Sampler)

Roland DA-400 (DAC for S760)

Roland S750 w/ Screen & Mouse (Sampler)

Roland W30 (Sampler)

Yamaha A4000 (Sampler)

Ensoniq Mirage Rack (Sampler)

Ensoniq SQ1+ (Keyboard)

Oberheim Matrix 1000 (Analogue Poly Rack)

Roland MDC-1 (90s Romper Rack)

Roland JV-1010 (90s Rompler Rack)

Yamaha TX7 (DX7 in a box)

Kawai K1r (90s Rompler Rack)

Behringer Pro 1 (Mono Synth)

Behringer MS-1 (Keyboard)

Behringer TD-3 (303 clone)

MAM MB303 (303 clone)

Yamaha VSS-200 (Keyboard w Sampler)

Effects, Compressors, EQ’s:

Roland CE301 (Space Echo w Chorus)

Ensoniq DP/2 (Multi FX Unit)

Oberheim GM1000 (Multi FX Unit)

Digitech GSP2101 (Multi FX Unit)

Digitech GSP5 (Multi FX Unit)

2 x Sony HR-MP5 (Multi FX Unit - the fabled “Photek” one)

JHS Digitech Delay (12bit Digital delay)

Phonic Taxidermist 47.2b (DIY FX Unit)

Drawmer LX20 (Compressor)

2 x La Audio CX2 (Compressor)

Alesis 3630 (Compressor)

Alesis CLX-400 (Compressor)

Electrix Filter Factory (Filter FX Unit)

Lexicon ALEX (Reverb Unit)

Klark Teknik KT-EQP (Pultec EQ clone)

and finally...

A ton of cables to wire it all together….

What’s the weirdest piece of hardware you own?

That would have to be my Phonic Taxidermist 47.2b. Mine’s actually a stereo one, so it’s got two of them in the one box. It’s an 4 way audio frequency chopper and a ruff as anything delay based on some old IC chip. Originally released as a DIY kit by Maplin in the 80s/90s called the “Voice Vandal” designed to make you sound somewhat like Dalek, this one I bought from a website that sells a redesigned modern version and built it myself. It took me ages (the 2nd one was actually to replace the first one that I messed up... but later fixed, so transferred them both to the same enclosure for maximum weirdness)

It sounds CRAZY and is very unwieldy, and not always in a good way… I’ve yet to use it in anger in a track... maybe on the next Spiritflesh project it will get its debut.

Here’s some video of one in action..imagine this but in stereo!

For our last mix and interview we spoke to Niamh, who advocated for doing away with riders. As someone who is not really a big drinker, what are your thoughts on this aspect of club culture?

As you say, I don't really drink and riders for me have always usually meant a few cans behind the decks in lieu of payment for the gig, or if I’m lucky there's a bottle of something (and a mixer… a glass even) that hasn't been devoured in the first 10 min by thirsty DJs (or the entourage) but ever since I started to DJ out more in a “professional” context, I’m struck by how much it seems to be an intrinsic part of the whole “DJ” culture, right down to preferred brands/types of alcohol and how much people pay attention to it...I had to start putting options on my own rider, as without I would get the promoter ringing me up before the gig asking me what I wanted.

I feel alcoholic based riders promote an unhealthy expectation that a DJ must be “having a party” when they are playing and the reality of it is that we are working and maybe it's not such a great idea to be completely plastered when you are. Free booze is cool, but it's dangerous and there are too many people who have fallen to its charms and had their lives destroyed in the process.

If you could change one thing about club culture what would it be?

Ending racism, along with misogyny, would be a start.

Boris's new EP, Need U, comes out on Club Glow on 2nd April. Pre-order the record now!


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