BØRNS on songwriting, touring and Lana Del Rey



New wave.

Following his rise to fame in 2015, Garrett Borns’ accolades now span a Coachella appearance, Lana Del Rey collaboration and praise from the late Prince himself.

Under the moniker BØRNS, Garrett’s love for art spills into his adventurous sense of style, which is as dynamic as his indie-pop vocals. He’s already caught the attention of the fashion industry through an archive of daring and androgynous looks. Last month saw the release of his sophomore album Blue Madonna, almost three years after LP Dopamine debuted with critical acclaim.

We caught up with the talent ahead of his Australian tour, to chat songwriting, touring and the frenzy of New York Fashion Week.

Congratulations on Blue Madonna. With three years between releases, what’s the reception been like?

Thank you. It’s been good, it’s kind of an experiment getting into playing new music for theatre [settings], especially because me and my band pretty much hit the road right after it came out. You just never really know how people are going to react, but it’s been nice and exciting.

What was the journey of making Blue Madonna like, compared to when you were first writing Dopamine?

Blue Madonna is very different to Dopamine. I wanted to make songs that were a little more intricate and more involved to play live. Everyone in the band plays some pretty crazy things, so we were all on this roller-coaster together. [Dopamine] was really fun to perform, but I wanted to make something that reminds me of my favourite Beach Boys songs and Elton John.

Were there any particular moments from the past three years that majorly influenced the record?

I think just the experience, playing so many shows. I really learnt how to sing differently and just have more stamina. The muscle of performing and singing, and trying to be engaging, was definitely a challenge at times but I think it just made me a stronger performer. I kind of took that to the studio and the songs came off a little bit differently. It’s funny, your mind can play tricks and tell you that you can only go so far, you only have enough battery power to make so much. On the road, you don’t really have a choice. You’re like, “alright, I have to perform tonight, no matter if I didn’t sleep last night.” I like those challenges because you really can break through into a different headspace like, “oh I actually can do this.”

Did you ever get writer’s block throughout the process?

I try to keep a constant flow of ideas, so when I do have an opportunity to get to the studio, I have concepts to go off. Writer’s block is kind of funny because most of the time, it’s like fitting something round into a square hole. Sometimes your ego is telling you “this is how it’s supposed to sound,” but your mind’s saying “you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sometimes you just have to let the song write itself, which is easier said than done.

Tell us about the title single ‘Blue Madonna’? What was it like working with Lana Del Rey?

Lana’s incredible, she’s one of a kind. Her voice is so nostalgic and beautiful and sensual. It was really cool hearing her voice going through a microphone at the studio and onto one of my songs. We’d been talking for a while, and been wanting to do something. When I wrote that song, I kind of pictured her singing. I’ve always been a fan of her music, writing style and imagination.

What was the experience like playing huge shows for festivals like Coachella and Falls?

I have such amazing memories from playing all those festivals. Everything was so new when I was going from tour to tour. The shows kept getting bigger, the festivals were getting wilder. Falls Festival was so fun. I’m really excited to get back to Australia.

You’ve got an incredible sense of style. Is fashion something you’ve always loved?

Thank you (laughs). I love what clothes do to you, they make you stand differently, walk differently
or become a different character. Since I was really young, I always wanted to be characters in different scenarios. Of course, that definitely goes with performing and being on tour. I love experimenting with fashion, but I’m still getting to know the whole fashion world. When I was writing the record, I was really inspired by Frankie Valli and the ’80s era of David Bowie, where he was wearing this double-breasted baggy suit, so I kind of wanted to perform in that realm.

What was it like being an ambassador for New York Fashion Week in 2017?

It’s a crazy thing, Fashion Week. It’s very inspiring. I got to meet some of the designers from the shows I went to. It’s always interesting to see the man or woman behind the curtain and get their input because, most of the time, they’re very mellow and very softly spoken people. But a runway show can be so powerful, and such a spectacle.

Would you ever branch out from music and pursue anything else?

Yeah, music is just one element of my passion for art. I’m very involved in all the videos I do, like writing and directing. Film is a really important medium to me. I think music is just kind of an excuse to dive into all these other things – fashion, film and photography.

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 176. You can read it here.

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