Garrett Borns, also known by his stage moniker, BØRNS, has had quite a busy year. His first full-length album, Dopamine, dropped back in October 2015 and he hasn’t stopped to catch his breath since. His distinctly vintage yet futuristic grooves and other worldly sound have earned him a steady rise up the pop charts and the affection of a loyal, growing fan base. I sat down with Borns at his Louisville tour stop to chat about music videos, moths, Dopamine, pump up jams and what his occupation would be if he were a Bachelorette contestant.
the Lala: If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
Garrett Borns: Well, probably the opposite of the animal that I’m feeling right now. Currently, I feel like a hibernating hedgehog because I’m always kind of cocooned…. actually no, I’d probably be a moth because I recently did some work with moths and they’re pretty fascinating creatures.
What kind of work did you do with moths?
I can’t give too much information, but I hung out with a moth wrangler, which is a full-time job. And this woman has many species of these beautiful moths that range from very small, dime-sized [moths] to like large almost small bird-sized moths. And they’re really just beautiful, gentle creatures. Some of them have like orange horns. They’re nocturnal and I feel pretty nocturnal these days. [I’m] up pretty late performing for the night crowd so, I feel pretty moth-like.
Dopamine is pretty packed with love songs and you seem to have a penchant for those. What is it about those types of songs that makes you drawn to writing them?
They just sort of come out. I think it’s just me trying to understand love and relationships in a very fleeting sort of lifestyle. Always on to a new city, it’s hard to maintain relationships. I think it’s just my way of kind of living in a fantasy world of like “oh this could be us” or “this was us, but it’s not anymore because you’re way over here and I’m right here.” I tend to live in a pretty prominent fantasy world all the time in my head.
Speaking of love, are you familiar with The Bachelor or The Bachelorette?
I’m not. The TV show? Well yeah, but I don’t get it. Why? Are you a fan?
(Laughs) I am! People always come up with really funny job titles when they go on the show, like “Hipster,” “Canadian,” “Dog Lover,” “Bachelor Superfan.” So if you were a Bachelorette contestant, what would your occupation be?
I didn’t know hipster was a career. (Laughs) Interesting. Wait, if I was a Bachelorette contestant…what does that mean? Does that mean I’m the bachelor that all the bachelorettes are trying to get with?
No, like you’d be a contestant competing against 25 other guys to date the bachelorette.
Okay, I get it. That makes sense. My occupation…I would be a Fire Hydrant Painter. Keeping those hydrants nice and sparkling red.
I know you have some pretty interesting pre-show rituals like drinking tequila on the rocks, listening to the new Drake album, reading about the yoga of sex and popping champagne in car sunroofs. But what’s your “pump up” jam before going onstage?
Pump up song…I guess it depends on the night. A lot of the time, we listen to hip hop. That’s pretty good pump up music. The new School Boy Q single is a great pump up song. It’s actually our intro song that we’ve been using that we walk out on stage to. That part with Kanye. Good track. But then sometimes, The Knife is a good pump up listen. The Knife and a lot of electronic jams get the blood flowing. Cyndi Lauper is a good pump up sometimes. It depends on the mood.
You’ve done a lot of traveling and you’ve mentioned in other interviews that you took a really impactful trip to Paris a few years ago. How have your travels influenced or changed the way you approach music?
They definitely do. I think it’s just everything that’s infiltrating through you and the things that you collect on the way. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music on the road and everyone in the band has different musical tastes so I’m always picking up new music to listen to. And there’s a lot of very long drives so I do a lot of reading and staring out the window aimlessly, listening to records. It’s a good way to review and study new music. And just the shows and performing and meeting other bands. You just kind of get into a flow when you’re on tour; pushing yourself to a new place as a musician.
I really like the dreamy feeling the album has to it- through the lyrics, melodies and instrumentals. Was that something you decided to do purposely or did it just happen organically?
I think a little bit of both. I mean I think I just like that feeling in music. I’m always striving for a feeling of weightlessness in the music. I don’t want anything to feel too heavy.
You recently put out a cover of Zayn’s “It’s You”- which was incredible, I might add. What was the experience of recording that in a castle in France like?
Oh, thanks! Honestly, pretty freezing. You can’t tell in the video, but it’s really, really cold. It’s just this stone castle. It was wintertime when we did it and it was absolutely freezing, like we’re all covered in blankets in between takes and my fingers were like frozen. And Misty was in a skirt and we were just like (makes face as if cold). We were doing it all in one take every time. I mean we had multiple cameras but we wanted to get it in one take. We just kind of threw together an arrangement on the road and recorded it there. We had to put a piano through the window of this castle on a conveyor belt. We tied it up and lifted it up through this window and put it in there. So it was definitely a full-on thing. My good friend and video collaborator, Olivia Bee, directed it. She’s an amazing director and photographer. I just did my next music video that’s coming out with her. It’s for “American Money.”
For BØRNS’ upcoming tour dates, visit his official website.
Check out BØRNS’ cover of “It’s You” here:
Listen to his upcoming single, “American Money” here: