Børns: An Interview With One of Taylor Swift’s Favorite New Singers
Upon winning over a hoard of noteworthy fans, announcing his debut album “Dopamine” and preparing to embark on a North American Tour, Garrett Borns is making his way to becoming a household name.
Over half a year ago, music industry demigoddess and shot caller Taylor Swift Instagrammed “So ‘Electric Love’ by Børns sounds like an instant classic to me…..#justsayingggg.” Seeing as how I’m not a diehard Swifty, I paid the post little attention until hearing the name BØRNS again in connection to the septum-ring version of T. Swift, Zella Day, who accompanied the upcoming American singer-songwriter in the “Electric Love” video. After one listen, I was instantly hooked, and to an insatiable degree.
Hailing from Grand Haven Michigan, Garrett Borns ventured off to California after spending a few years in New York, soaking in the Golden State’s warm ambiances and incorporating it into is sunny So-Cal sound. His sweeping melodies and dream pop explorations are heartening to the ear, capturing the feisty and genuine optimism of youth in a sonically ripe manner, seamlessly pairing ballad-like verses with over-the-top theatrical choruses. It’s no surprise that the world’s biggest artists are trying to rub shoulders with the newcomer on the ground floor, and our strong hunch is it’s only the beginning. BØRNS just announced the release of his debut album Dopamine, out October 16th and available for pre-order here.
We spoke to BØRNS about growing up as a musician, finding fame, and handling cougars that attend his shows. Check out our talk below, as well as a full list of his North American tour dates.
When you were a little boy, you loved to perform magic in front of audiences. What was the appeal for you?
I guess it was always just like an innate part of me to perform or to just create. It’s kind of something I just have to do, like a daily routine. So I was always finding different ways of doing that because I get bored easily, or something. I’m always trying to switch it up and keep my mind going and challenge myself creatively. I was doing a lot of painting, visual arts, but also I was playing piano and composing at a young age. Magic kind of played a role in that too with performing. I like having a few different things going on at once because I like being stimulated in different creative avenues, and all of those avenues that I went to brought me to where I am now.
Do you feel like you had the platform to express yourself artistically in Michigan?
I think I did. It’s all I knew, too. I would just kind of find other creative people or go whenever people were putting on shows. I made my own entertainment. Like with magic, I had a weekly gig at these restaurants. There were other local magicians, older magicians, in my area. I was like, “Why can’t I do this? I’m ten years old but I want to do table magic, make some money and have that experience.” So I was very much just kind of making my own entertainment.
How did you go from entertaining yourself to becoming a professional musician?
Obviously, I wanted to find a way to sustain myself as an artist without having to get a job that I absolutely hated. So I guess that was always kind of the goal. But I never thought it was going to get to this point with music. It was kind of like taking certain steps. I started traveling when I graduated high school as a musician, and I wanted to just work with other songwriters and other musicians and really develop my craft that way. I knew the only way to really do it was to get out and have life experience. I was in New York city for a while, then I came up to California, and California just felt really right for me, for my writing style and just who I am as a person.
You’ve been switching between the world of recording studios and that of live touring. Do you have a preference?
They are two completely different animals, being in the studio and performing live. Yeah, for sure. You can get as weird as you want in the studio and there’s not a crowd of people to judge you. It’s nice to get back in the studio. Right now I’m working on my full length, and I can kind of just experiment and get as weird as possible behind closed doors and work on the LP. I guess I really enjoy live performing though, it’s really exhilarating. I’m [going on tour] with Charli XCX and Bleachers, who have a lot of energy in their shows.
You’ve had a lot of success with the few songs you’ve already released. Has this success affected how you’re writing your new music in one way or another?
Not really. I don’t think any of the stuff that I’m doing right now somebody would listen to and say, “Oh, that sounds exactly like ‘Electric Love.’” I mean definitely, that’s my writing style, but I think it’s evolved and I’m writing about different things and just pushing myself in the studio production-wise, and just songwriting-wise, and with my voice and everything. I just want to top those songs. I don’t want to do anything like it—I just want to do something better. I don’t want to fucking bore people, and I’ll be bored to be honest. There will definitely be some of the same or similar sounds, but it won’t be the same.
You really strike me as a master of melody. Do these sonic ideas emerge spontaneously or with a bit of thought?
I guess it’s a few different things. A lot of the time it’s just subconscious and I like to let whatever melody I’m feeling at the moment come out, because I want this to sound really natural. But I guess I was influenced by a lot of Retro Pop melodies like 50s style kind of stuff. Even some musical-inspired stuff, because I think those melodies are super swoopy and souring, and something about that is just very ethereal. I just liked that. Definitely Doo-wop kind of melodies, too. I think those are some of the best melodies ever written. A lot of the time it’s really just whatever I feel like sounds cool. I wrote the verses of “Electric Love” just driving around.
How does it feel to have so many people already listening to your music?
I guess it feels good that the music is resonating with people because that’s obviously the end goal. It’s been a huge surprise that people have been so into it because really, I made it with a close friend of mine that produced it and we just did it and didn’t really think too much about it. So the fact that people are really digging it feels really good. It feels awesome.
What type of person is connecting with your music?
To be honest it’s a very random, wide array of listeners, and I only know that because of the kind of immediacy of social media. I got a message from this 70-year-old man the other day on Facebook and he was like, “Just want to let you know that I’m jamming to your songs. I’m 70 but I have good taste.” So, hell yeah. There were a few shows on my last tour where there were mother’s coming up with their kids like, “This is their first concert ever!”
So maybe the moms wanted to come see you.
Yeah exactly, maybe it’s just the cougar moms that are prowling! I guess it’s just a wide array which is cool—I’m into that. I don’t really write for a particular audience.
What are your goals over the next year?
I do have some goals; their top secret though. I guess music is always therapeutic for me. There’s some fun stuff to come though. I can’t say too much.
Catch Børns on tour now:
|Sept 7||Seattle, WA||Bumbershoot Music And Arts Festival|
|Sept 9||Boston, MA||Northeastern University|
|Sept 10||Albany, NY||The Hollow|
|Sept 12||Easton, PA||Lawn at Lafayette College|
|Sept 13||Syracuse, NY||Syracuse University- Skytop Field|
|Sept 16||New Yor, NY||Mercury Lounge – SOLD OUT|
|Sept 25||Las Vegas, NY||Life Is Beautiful Festival|
|Oct 1||Los Angeles, CA||Masonic Lodge at Hollywood – SOLD OUT|
|Oct 4||Austin, TX||Austin City Limits Festival|
|Oct 6||Kansas City, MO||The Record Bar|
|Oct 8||Dallas, TX||Club Dada|
|Oct 9||Houston, TX||Walter’s Downtown|
|Oct 11||Austin, TX||Austin City Limits Festival|
|Oct 13||Broomfield, CO||1st Bank Center|
|Oct 15||Washington, DC||Rock & Roll Hotel|
|Oct 17||Brooklyn, NY||Music Hall Of Williamsburg|
|Oct 19||New York, NY||Bowery Ballroom|
|Oct 20||Cambridge, MA||The Sinclair|
|Oct 21||Philadelphia, PA||First Unitarian Church|
|Oct 22||Providence, RI||Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel|
|Oct 24||Charleston, SC||Lipton Festival|
|Nov 10||Montreal, Canada||Petit Campus|
|Nov 11||Toronto, CA||Legendary Horeshoe Tavern|
|Nov 13||Minneapolis, MN||University of Minnesota|
|Nov 15||Chicago, IL||Double Door|
|Nov 18||Davenport, IA||The Village Theatre|
|Nov 19||Vancouver, CA||Fortune Sound Club|
|Nov 20||Portland, OR||Mississippi Studios|
|Nov 22||San Francisco, CA||The Independent|
|Nov 24||Solana Beach, CA||Bell Up Tavern|