“I kind of just made an album and hit the road immediately.”
There’s nothing quite like the wisdom and charm that fills the air of the sublime dining room at Regents Street’s finest inn the very moment BØRNS-real name Garrett Borns-makes an entrance.
With all the time to relax, having just completed a hectic album cycle for his debut record Dopamine last October, BØRNS insists on leaving his sleek, close-fitted leather jacket on and keeping his posture straight. “I’ve done a lot of touring for that album, much more than I expected,” he says twirling around the glass of water in the palm of his hand. “I kind of just made an album and hit the road immediately.”
The accusation that artists debuting post-2010s have more than enough time to perfect their craft is often false, and that whipping up a record full of likeable songs to connect to the public is the way forward. Having an abundance of material before getting your first ‘smash hit’ is every artist manager’s dream; this then progresses to rushing out the album and hitting the road, because that’s where the money is. BØRNS admits to learning more about his music whilst performing it on tour “cause at the time I hadn’t put much thought into them”.
In a way, touring with material you still need to dig deep into and get to the core of can often work in your favour. “By the end of the record cycle I already knew the next sound I wanted to break into,” BØRNS claims, unworried about reproducing the 2015 effort all over again, because over time his influences have shifted.
During the miniature hiatus taken cooking up the almighty sophomore record, the ‘Search for the Lost Sounds’ project by the man himself gave the listeners an insight to the endeavours BØRNS got up to in order to find the sounds needed for his next piece of work. The inspiration was generated by the surroundings of his LA home.
“I lived in this neighborhood where there were a lot of mariachi bands playing on the weekends, ice-cream trucks and tiny dogs barking, he recalls. “It just all had this Mexican culture that I loved.” He feels that energy of mariachi music infiltrated his own creations whilst being around it, and stepping out of his comfort zone was a must. “I was like, ‘What if I bring a mariachi band into the studio?’ Or even sample the dogs barking in my neighborhood as it reminds me of making my record. So, then I wrote this script about me going around LA searching for these sounds for the new album and finding this muse where she’d tell me the sounds I needed to incorporate.”
BØRNS is well-known for ear-candy pop-too infectious not to swallow whole-and coincidentally titled his four-track debut EP ‘Candy’. Making the move from his hometown Michigan to the always-sunny Los Angeles has changed the way he writes music; with each lyric sun kissed by the West Coast gods. Most of the record was written at the house of Dopamine producer Tommy English. “It’s like a guest house in his backyard, and that’s where we recorded some of the last album too,” image is everything. Breathing and surrounding himself around atmospheres he wishes his music to look like is just a small process of BØRNS’ songwriting. Overriding themes of love and tranquility can be heard on the new record. “Some of the vocals were recorded up near San Francisco in a beach house overlooking the ocean.”
Dopamine, a record that went onto receiving critical success and landed BØRNS multiple festival slots/headline shows over the summer of 2016, is no longer on any of his playlists. “It’s quite funny, I haven’t listened to the old record in a long time,” he laughs before adding, “I was teaching some of the players in my band that album and whilst we were listening to it I was like ‘God, I can’t believe I used to sing like that, I don’t even sing the same way.’” He insists it wasn’t an immediate choice, more so a progression of performing at the hundreds of shows over the past couple of years; the voice may have changed but it’s those steps that made him a better performer for the future.
Since the very beginning BØRNS has had a clear vision of what he wants his works to look like; visuals being the number one priority. “I think some of the songs are even inspired by visuals in the first place and then those visuals turn into the videos or references for photography around the album,” he ponders. “For the video for Faded Heart I took a lot of inspiration from this Japanese film called House, it’s a 70s-fantasy horror. It’s all subtitles but the soundtrack is beautiful and everything is very vibrant and disjointed; quite uncomfortable at times but also playful and magical.”
BØRNS is found sitting in the director’s seat for the first time with the new album campaign, and much to his surprise it’s a lot handle. “You’re not really in the seat, you’re in the video. It had me saying, ‘How am I going to do this?’ How do you know if you’re getting the take if you’re not at the monitor?” Moments of madness spiral around BØRNS mind before the whole crew safety net him with preparation, so that the actual filming of it was the easy part.
From his obvious passion with music, to being so inspired by his fashion idol Thom Browne that inviting just him to a collective dinner party would result in the most wonderful evening; BØRNS is quite the mystical figure, and that’s what makes him so marvelous.
Nothing can ever be straight forward with BØRNS, and artists like that are what the industry is lacking. He sits describing themes for the sophomore record, blurting out the words “supernatural phenomena” that came to him from reading a collection of old folk tales during his time away.
Being away from the spotlight has left us with a recharged Garrett Borns. “I always feel extremely fortunate that I can even say that I’m able to do this; travel and meet great people, perform with friends.” This time round he’s ready to continue his world domination, and by looking back at what’s been accomplished over the past couple of years, it’s sure looking like BØRNS has absolutely nothing to sweat about.
Words by Jordan White