BØRNS on Taking ‘Blue Madonna’ on the Road and Working With Lana Del Rey
Singer-songwriter BØRNS is quickly making a name for himself with his stylish indie pop persona. After spending the better part of 2015 crafting his debut album in a treehouse in the canyons of Los Angeles, Garrett Borns unleashed “Dopamine” onto a world that was all but craving an artist whose style was equally as intriguing as their substance. The smash single “Electric Love” not only caught the attentions of millions of worldwide fans, but corporate America even injected it into some of their commercial efforts. This helped launch the 26-year-old into the realm of artists with much-anticipated sophomore albums. Lucky for us all, BØRNS’ follow-up “Blue Madonna,” released Jan. 12, lived up to all its hype.
As he sets off on his supporting tour, BØRNS spoke with Entertainment Voice to discuss his new record, collaboration with Lana Del Rey and his eclectic fashion influences.
As your sophomore effort, how does “Blue Madonna” reflect on the success of your debut album “Dopamine?”
It’s been good. (We) basically kind of hit the road immediately and see the instant reaction to it. I hope people are enjoying it and it’s growing on people. I know it’s a lot different than the first record, different in tone, a different way to experience it. I guess it’s kind of finding its way. So, we’ll see. It’s still a baby.
What do you feel is the biggest progression, the biggest step forward you took on the new album?
I think after performing the songs on “Dopamine” for a while, I found that by the end of touring that album, the songs completely transformed the live show from the original, sort of, studio version. I wanted to write songs that had a little bit more instrumentation and that would make an interesting live show. Just kind of see where those will progress after the tour because I’m sure that they’re gonna find their own, sort of, life. So, I just kind of wanted to make things that were a little more challenging in a way.
There are a handful of new musical elements that you incorporate on “Blue Madonna.” From orchestral bits to the Theremin. Will you be incorporating these things during your current tour?
Yea, I hope so. I would love to have the Theramin in the live show. Armen Ra that plays the Theramin on the record, (who’s) like probably one of the best in the world… So, I hope to play a show with him at some point. It’s pretty fascinating watching him play that instrument. The strings, yea, I hope to have that as well. I’ve played a couple shows with an orchestra and it’s unlike anything else. One of my favorite bands is Electric Light Orchestra and there’s something about a fuzzed-out guitar with strings that’s just, kind of, one of the sweetest things in the world.
You’ve talked before, in more spiritual terms, about how you tackle life on the road. But do you enjoy the more basic aspects of touring? The travel itself, living out of a suitcase, eating out, etc.?
Yea, I do. I enjoy the nature of traveling and seeing new cities and people and everything. I think some of the more spiritual aspect of it is just a way to keep my headspace light. Because you kind of have to abandon a lot on tour. It’s a lot of ‘hello’ and ‘goodbyes’ very quickly. Everyone deals with that differently.
Do you feel that both you and Lana Del Rey, who contributes to the single “God Save Our Young Blood,” share a kinship in both style and substance?
Yea, I think so. On my first record I had this song called “American Money” and I… thought about her when I wrote it. It seemed like a title she would use. She ended up liking that song and then when I was working on the next record, she heard “God Save Our Young Blood” and really liked it so we ended up getting into the studio together. Just kind of talking about the album and I showed her a bunch (of songs). I pictured her on (the song) “Blue Madonna” too when I was writing it. So, it was really fun to just be in a studio together and just hear her voice on a microphone. It’s just such a, kind of, one-of-a-kind thing. She has such an iconic presence. It was really fun to collaborate.
You recently took part in annotating some of the “Blue Madonna” lyrics on the music site Genius. How interesting is it for you to not only clarify what your lyrics mean but to see some of your fan’s interpretations?
That’s my favorite part of putting music out is hearing how people interpret it. Especially lyrically, because a lot of the times people will come up with different lyrics than what I actually wrote. But I think they’re so beautiful. I love misinterpretations because, like, there’s a lot of poeticism in that.
Tell us about the following songs from the album?
That song I wrote starting with a sample of these owls that were in my backyard. I put that sample into a Pro Tools session and just kind of let myself get lost into that atmosphere and see what chords sounded good over it, then the synths. Then that song kind of came over it.
“I Don’t Want U Back”
“I Don’t Want U Back” started on an Omnichord, (which is an) auto harp with a little drum machine on it. That was kind of a…not a joke but it wasn’t a song that I was really taking seriously at the time. I was just kind of trying to sing like Prince on something. I kind of forgot about it, then I came back to it and was like “Oh, that’s kind of an interesting song.” So, we just put a couple instruments on it.
“Bye Bye Darling”
I think the whole concept of “Bye Bye Darling” was coming to terms with things changing inevitably. Things are always meant to be constantly evolving. Just kind of figuring out your place, or my place. And evolve time. It’s kind of cool to see both sides of things. There’s so many, sort of, advancements in technology that even like video cameras that I was using in high school to make movies are now even looking retro. When I was making movies in middle school and high school, that looked so crystal clear to me. But now, you can make a beautiful cinematic thing on your phone. It’s crazy. But yea, I think it’s just kind of coming to terms with change.
Much has been said about your unique style, both on and off-stage. Who are some of your personal fashion icons?
Yamamoto, who did a lot of collaborations with David Bowie in the 70s. He did all those beautiful Japanese costumes for him. Who else? I mean, I love Elton John’s over-the-top sequence suits. Even a lot of the old country artists that wore, kind of like, bedazzled onesies (laughs).