After getting the Taylor Swift co-sign on his debut EP, the Los Angeles transplant drops his first full-length.
BACKSTORY: A gentle soul who moved to LA, found new inspiration, and set out to take the music world by storm
FROM: Los Angeles, via Michigan and New York
YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: Taylor Swift calling his song “Electric Love” an “instant classic” on Twitter
NOW: Releasing his debut album, Dopamine, on Interscope
They say there are three things to consider when it comes to real estate: location, location, location. It seems that adage can go a long way when it comes to music, too, because it wasn’t until Garrett Borns moved from New York to Los Angeles in 2013 that inspiration for his first single as BØRNS, “10,000 Emerald Pools,” struck and his dreamy, breezy, ethereal synth-pop sound was, well, born.
“The energy definitely felt right out here,” says the twenty-three-year-old singer-songwriter over the phone from Los Angeles, “as well as the place I was living and the people I was seeing…and my headspace. Everything interconnected and it felt very inspiring for a new kind of sound to come out. It’s very enlightening, living out here. California is definitely where I’m meant to be right now.”
Although he moved to Silver Lake at the start of last year, Borns’ first place of residence in LA—where he wrote “10,000 Emerald Pools” with his friend Jack Kennedy—was a secluded tree house that overlooked the city. Location, location, location.
“It was a beautiful environment,” says Borns, who’s originally from Grand Haven, Michigan. “It was very open, there was no traffic, it was up a hill, and I didn’t really have any neighbors. I could pretty much just play music at any hour of the night, whenever I felt like it. I had an outdoor kitchen and fruit trees around me. But it was definitely rustic and it also definitely needed some TLC. It was not glamorous. It was very ramshackle. But it was also about time that I moved out, because it was starting to crumble and be eaten by termites.”
“California is definitely where I’m meant to be right now.”
Before the bugs got it, though, Borns managed to write three other songs—these with his good friend, producer/songwriter Tommy English—resulting in his debut EP as BØRNS, Candy. Released in November 2014, its four tracks are sumptuous, serene slices of summer that simultaneously look back to the past and step forward into the future. “Past Lives” starts off with a Beach Boys-esque melody before heading off in a totally divergent electro-pop direction, while “Electric Love” is a kind of sad, kind of happy, wholly upbeat pop song.
“That was just my headspace at the time,” he explains. “I didn’t know anyone in California when I moved out here, so I guess my kind of escape was to write these fantastical love songs about how amazing it would be if the woman of my dreams just fell from the clouds!”
While that hasn’t happened just yet, “Electric Love” hasn’t gone unnoticed—not least by one Taylor Swift, who branded it an “instant classic” to her millions of Twitter followers. With a debut album—Dopamine, which was released October 16—to support, you’d think that might put some extra weight on his shoulders, but Borns insists he isn’t feeling too much pressure as a result.
“I think pressure’s good,” he chuckles. “I don’t let it affect me in a negative way, I kind of just use it as fuel. I don’t like to think too far ahead—I like to absorb as much as I can each day.” FL