When Garrett Borns — known best simply as BØRNS — first burst onto the scene, there was an immediate vibrance to him and mostly everything could be taken at face value. His debut single “10,000 Emerald Pools” sounded exactly like you think it would: shiny with hints of glimmer that cools and calms you. His breakthrough track, “Electric Love,” had the same effect: it was highly charged and full of power. Both songs landed on his debut EP entitled Candy and yeah, you guessed it: it was sweet, addicting, and delectable.
Once his first studio album, Dopamine, hit your veins, that was it. You were a BØRNS fan for life. After more than a year since the release of Dopamine, BØRNS returned with “Faded Heart” during the summer and his addicts were treated to something a little bit different. This time around, the sweet and cool BØRNS was still there but now with just…more.
“It’s not much of a rebrand as it as a different headspace,” BØRNS told THE RADICAL backstage before his show at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles. “It’s a reawakening.”
“I never want to make stuff that sounds the same. It’s always going to be a little different but still have my DNA,” he explains. “At the end of the day, I feel like I write the same song over and over again. But it’s just trying to reinvent your own songwriting process. That’s what I tried to do on this record I just finished: try to push myself with songwriting and vocally — just the way I’m singing — and subject matters.”
With the release of “Faded Heart” and “Sweet Dreams,” there’s also something that BØRNS has done that pushes himself even further into this new head space and that’s the addition of short films to accompany these singles. “The Search for The Lost Sounds” and “The Faded Heart Sessions” seems to follow a narrative, one that BØRNS wants to continue. He has adopted an even bigger love of visuals and how they connect with the sounds he’s creating. These short films started to physically show a clearer divide between BØRNS the performer and Garrett the person.
“The persona is really just the performance part, of course I have to separate myself,” he admits. “It helps me perform to be in that character but it happens very naturally. That’s what happens when you’re on the road, you find your on-the-road than who are you in person.”
Touring extensively with Dopamine and then returning home to Los Angeles had a profound effect on BØRNS and the next step of his musical evolution, as it would for any musician. Life on the road is a crazy thing to grasp. You’re constantly in different environments and every night you’re propped up on a literal pedestal, where people shriek and cry and essentially treat you like a god — some unworldly creature sent down to fulfill some sort of fantasy, act as a distraction, provide some sort of service. When you come off of that pedestal and float down back to the real world, rediscovering who you are without that sensation is a whirlwind within itself. Developing this separation of BØRNS and Garrett helps him remain true to himself and in a way, elevates both in the process.
“That works itself out,” BØRNS says of that balance. “Embracing that power you have on stage — that’s why people want to see you perform. I also think that there’s a vulnerability in the power too. You’re not powerful for the sake of being powerful. You’re up there performing music to help them gain some perspective. And then once you’re offstage, it’s about resetting. It’s exhausting. You can’t always be that person on stage because if you were, you’d be really hard to work with. At the end of the day, I feel fortunate to work with the people I tour with. They’re very talented and supporting — we’re all working towards the same vision. That’s the grounding effect: to know that there are people willing to give their time to this project and that means a lot. I’ll never take that for granted. It’s a very rare and special thing.”
Even more new sights and sounds from BØRNS are on the way in the new year and while “Faded Heart” and “Sweet Dreams” are small tastes of the next phase, it’s only the appetizer.
“The rest of it doesn’t it sound like that,” he says coyly. “It goes to different places.”