BØRNS is a Michigan-bred California-transplant who spent his early days in L.A. listening to Bowie and T. Rex, looking to vintage Playboy magazines and ‘70s iconography as he created his contemporary, decadent glam-rock debut Dopamine. More recently, nearly two years since his 2015 release, the indie musician has taken up with the cosmos, mid-century science fiction comic books, and an expansive roster of sonic influences to move into the next phase of what Garrett Borns — the brainchild behind the poetic, psychedelic project — believes BØRNS is.
Though the singer embodies the glitzy look and falsetto of a rock god, after over a year of touring, Garrett — who draws a line between himself and his performative persona — hopes to create a sophomore album about his vulnerability as an individual and an artist, connecting his otherworldly music with the human experience.
“The road is the school of hard knocks. It’s a very good education for a young vagabond,” BØRNS tells Billboard. “Ending the last tour was like this curtain call, and then the curtain rose up again and I was just back in L.A., making music and in a completely different head space than I was during the first record.”
BØRNS says the new head space that influenced his forthcoming full-length, slatted with an early 2018 release, was a fascination with “the humanity, the way people consume music, why people like music, and why someone will go to a show for a live musical experience” that he witnessed on the road. “I learned a lot about that,” he says.
His new song “Faded Heart,” which is out today (July 28) via Interscope, was brought about by these very tour discoveries, with the artist explaining it as “this lamentation of my own morality.”
“I realized after tour it’s pretty crazy the power someone can have with their voice being projected to people. I felt this power on stage that I’ve never felt before,” he says. “Then, just flash cut to me in my own bed at the end of tour, and I was like, ‘Woah, did that even happen?’ Like, now I have a sink full of dirty dishes and I’m trying to keep my house plants alive … it’s like this snap of reality in a way, and so ‘Faded Heart’ is my dealing with my life and morality.”
“Faded Heart” sees BØRNS calling into the universe for a sign of his fate, as he pleads in a glistening wail, “Don’t you break my faded heart / don’t put me out / show me what it’s all about.” Though his heart may be fading after over a year spent on the road, the track is buoyant, luxurious, and far-reaching.
“I didn’t want to finish the record and be like, ‘I could have gone deeper. I could have gone farther.’ I wanted to have to bang my head against the wall and have to figure out what is the 2.0,” he says. “There were crazy frustrating moments for me, but it felt good and it felt like there were breakthroughs for me on this album.”
Though BØRNS’ Dopamine visuals and sound were drenched in ‘70s nostalgia and the era very much a part of his artistry, some of his recent breakthroughs were made by a modern quest to discover something else — a search for the most divine sounds.
Leading up to the release of “Faded Heart,” BØRNS shared an elusive short film —The Search for the Lost Sounds, shot by Chuck Grant and PipusTheWise, following the singer in a daze around SoCal as he discovers music lost on the present, a reflection of his ethos with the upcoming release. “I live in the noisiest neighborhood in L.A. — it’s so funny. There are a whole choir of these little chihuahuas that are barking day and night and ice cream trucks and car alarms and fireworks and Mariachi bands,” he says. “So, that’s why I made [The Search For the Lost Sounds] to promote the first single — and that’s where it came from — being in and around all of those sounds when I came back to L.A. because they were so inspiring to my record.”
He says he aimed to make a body of work that is increasingly enjoyable with each listen by including melodic soundscapes, inspired by artiss such as Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys, sonic specialties like those bursting from his street, and instruments lost over time, like the paranormal theremin featured in his short film. “There are sounds from music that I don’t really think are very prevalent in the way people write music right now,” he says. “There are some [instruments] that have fallen into this mysterious space that I wanted to bring them back onto my record.”
Finding the perfect sound was an essential component to BØRNS 2.0, but his longtime love affair with poeticism in unexpected places helped him to craft the words he wanted to say. “When I came back [to L.A. after touring] I went to this little, dusty trinket shop and I found a stack of these digest size science fiction magazines from the ‘50s and ‘60s,” he says. “I love the titles and the way that they speak is so hilarious and it has this mystic vibe to it — I like the playfulness of that, so that influenced the verbiage in some of my songs.”
“It goes back to the vulnerability of just a human,” he says of singing into the stars and exploring celestial spaces. “I think it’s pretty interesting how much confidence we can have as a human species, when really it’s pretty hilarious that we have any confidence at all. It’s so funny to me.”
His heart may be wary of fading, recognizing vulnerability’s pull on him like the moon and the tides, but Garrett Borns says he’s ready to flourish in the luminous, cosmic pop project he’s created. The former Michigan-bred songwriter says he doesn’t necessarily like looking into his past because he’s simply too excited for the future of BØRNS, like he’s actually already seen the fate he’s been searching for in the reflection of a crystal ball.
Listen to BØRNS’ new single “Faded Heart” out today via Interscope below and check out his new set of upcoming tour dates.
Oct. 15 – Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
Oct. 17 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe
Oct. 20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
Oct. 21 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
Oct. 27 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Viaduct
Oct. 28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Morrocan Room
Nov. 3 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
Nov. 15 – London, UK @ Oslo, Hackney
Nov. 16 – Amsterdam, NL @ Q-Factory
Nov. 18 – Copenhagen, DK @ Vega/ Ideal Bar
Nov. 19 – Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Strand
Nov. 21 – Berlin, DE @ Prince Charles
Nov. 23 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique
Nov. 24 – Paris, FR @ Le Pop Up Du Label