Written By Erin Mathis
Michigan native Garrett Borns, better known as his stage name BØRNS, has been traveling all around the U.S. for his headlining tour, and will be making stops at several big name festivals as well. With his name is on the rise, and the demand for his talent high, BØRNS is a true breakout star, and I believe his songs will become a part of many fans’ summer soundtracks. Despite his insanely busy schedule, he was able to speak with Pop-Break, and provide us with an insight into the creative mind of Garrett Borns.
So you’ll be playing at Shadow of the City this year! How did Jack Antonoff approach you and ask you to play the festival?
I did a tour with Charli XCX and Bleachers, and so that’s kind of how we got acquainted, and what led to me doing this festival.
Your first studio album, Dopamine, was released last October. Did you anticipate that it would be a huge success or did it catch you off guard?
I was actually recording the album in between touring, and actually while I was on the Bleachers and Charli XCX tour. That was a really intense period, cause it was my debut album. I didn’t really have a lot of time in the studio, I was kind of just like always on the go. I don’t know what I thought of it, I just was trying to do my best work as quickly as possible, and I’ve been touring ever since.
You’re 24, an age when most people are graduating college and finding their way into their careers. Did you know early on in life that music was the right direction to go in, or did you have other possible aspirations that you considered?
I had other aspirations once I graduated high school. And I’m still figuring it out, actually, to be honest. I still have things that I’m really passionate about that aren’t music, but actually they tie into music. Like design and film-making and all that kind of stuff. And I think those are all gonna play a role in my music career.
Definitely, because you can make decisions on things like album art, music video concepts, things like that.
So you’ve been touring a lot, and you have a huge summer tour coming up. Now BØRNS is just you, Garrett Borns, but when you play live I imagine you have other people with you playing instruments? Who do you bring with you on tour?
I have a full band, and we have a good time. Everybody, I met in Los Angeles, and they’re super cool, and extremely talented. And the band has gone through a few small changes, some people have come and gone, but it’s solid.
A lot of your songs are about love. Do you find it easier to write when you’re celebrating love or when you’re hurting from it?
I don’t know, I guess it depends on what kind of mood I’m in. It’s probably easier to write when you’re feeling something like broken open. And you can be broken open by being happy too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heartbreak that makes you feel something really intensely. I feel like I’m heartbroken every day, but also that I’m optimistic about things. I’m kind of in a constant state of trying to figure out what love is.
I’m subscribed to your VEVO account on YouTube, and you’ve recently released a series of “After Dark Sessions” for a few of your songs (“Holy Ghost”, “American Money”, & “Electric Love”). They’re really beautiful, both aesthetically and obviously musically. Can you talk about where the inspiration to make these videos came from?
I wrote the whole concept while I was on the road, just kind of like in the notes of my phone. I just wanted to make sort of like a live music video, one that would be an homage to like, Hugh Hefner, back in the seventies, he used to have these “After Dark” sessions in his Playboy penthouse. And he would have like a cocktail party with all these people over and would have bands like Deep Purple play while people are drinking cocktails and lounging about. I definitely borrowed the aesthetic from old Playboys for my album, both lyrically and visually, so I wanted to do something that tied into that. A friend of mine arranged the string quartet and then Olivia Bee, who directed it, went to this mannequin warehouse…
Yes! I needed to ask about the mannequins.
I kind of wanted to make fun of like a Hollywood party so to speak, where it’s like people are at a concert and are acting like they don’t care, but by the very end it’s like I’ve infiltrated them with enough Dopamine that they come alive.
Oh I love that.
It was a really fun thing to make, and it was pretty crazy. You wouldn’t think that performing in front of mannequins would make you nervous, but it actually does. It feels like a bunch of people that are uninterested in you.
Hits your ego a little bit?
Yeah! Like why aren’t they enjoying it? But yeah that was a fun thing to make. And Olivia Bee, she’s actually directing another video that I have coming out very soon, as well as my next music video, so she’s really amazing.
One of the reasons why I love your music so much, is because it makes me dance, and I love dancing. Do you dance? Or would you consider yourself a dancer?
Do I consider myself a dancer? I don’t know, I guess it’s just one of those things like, “Do you consider yourself an artist?” No, but I enjoy drawing. “Do you consider yourself a chef?” Eh, I don’t know, but I can definitely make something good. So yeah, I definitely feel music in a very visceral form. But I’m not like a choreographed sort of dancer, but yes I do enjoy moving to music.
Finally, you’re super busy touring, but do you write on the road, and is there new music in the works?
I don’t write like full songs on the road, but I do a little bit of programming and stuff on my computer just to make demos. I always write ideas down for songs, I’m just constantly taking notes of the world around me. But just the schedule I’m on, it doesn’t really permit for me to do anything creative other than of course performing.