While Garrett Clark Borns (better known as BØRNS) is already making a name for himself in the world of music, that hasn’t stopped him from trying his hand at other forms of art. In the lead up to BØRNS’ sophomore release Blue Madonna he’s been keeping busy in the world of fashion and writing his own stories and scripts. While also directing his own music videos, BØRNS’ other creative endeavors helped him team up with Lana Del Rey as well. We caught up with BØRNS ahead of his show @ Club Soda in Montreal on February 10 to talk about keeping the fire burning and why blending art forms has him more excited than ever.
Northern Transmissions: I understand you actually produced the ambient nature sounds that pop on the record yourself from a trip home to Michigan, so was this something you thought back to or intentionally sought out for the record?
Garrett Clark Borns: I was touring and I was really close to where I grew up in Michigan. I had a day off with my band so I showed them the fresh water of Lake Michigan, and that was really great in this hot and humid summer day. In the evening, the forest behind my house was really alive with these crickets and owls. I couldn’t tell if it was two owls talking or one really chatty owl so I recorded this sample on my iPhone. I was working in the studio for a couple days in L.A. and I thought it would be interesting to use that atmosphere as the foundation of a song, and see what melodies could coexist with the owls. I found some lush synth patches with my producer Tommy English and “Sweet Dreams” came out of that.
NT: How has the process evolved between you and Thomas Schleiter (Tommy English) and was there something new he brought to this album?
GCB: We hadn’t recorded too much between Dopamine and this new album. Dopamine was still the beginning stages of us working together, and then I hit the road for two years while he worked on other projects. In a way we were both just exercising our creative muscles, he was doing production and honing his craft while I was performing. Once we got together in the studio, we were just ready to go and we were ready to work on new music. It happened pretty quickly from our sheer excitement. From the beginning we both agreed we wanted to make something we hadn’t heard before to make it special.
NT: How did you get Lana Del Rey involved with the album and what did she bring to the process as an artist?
GCB: “God Save Our Young Blood” was one of the first songs that Tommy and I recorded for this record, and even when I was recording it I could hear Lana’s voice on it. I was doing some photography and film projects with her sister Chuck Grant, and since Chuck and I hang out so much she showed Lana some of my new songs. Lana hit me up and said “I really love this song,” and since we had already been talking about getting her into the studio it was the perfect excuse.
NT: While there is a largely consistent core sound to the album, many songs seem to carry different writing styles, would you say this comes from trying to discover yourself as a writer?
GCB: I think a lot of the album just came from things I’ve been pondering about and different ideas that I had on the road. I was thinking about my mortality, lost innocence and sweet sadness, because there was a lot of disillusion on the road for me about being a showman and a traveller. I think a lot of these themes I’d been exploring found their way out to the album.
NT: I understand you’re always doing something creative like writing stories, looking to the world of film and taking part in fashion weeks, so how do you keep yourself from burning out creatively?
GCB: It’s really just keeping a fire burning. I had written and at least co-directed all the videos around this album and I even directed a few. It keeps me going, because I love different outlets of creativity. Music is just a small part of what I like to do, but music has allowed me to branch out into other mediums like Fashion, film and writing.
NT: I also read that you pulled a lot of inspiration from old religious texts and renaissance paintings, but what was your key to making them feel relevant to a modern audience?
GCB: The way of making music today means whatever you do is just baked in technology, and it will sound like it’s happening now unless you record with tape. I find it really interesting putting different things through the filter of “now” and mixing different technologies, as well as working with different formats. I recorded things with my iPhone that ended up on this record, and I’m using my condenser microphone which sounds crystal clear. Blending these different eras excites me and Alessandro Michele (Creative Director, Gucci) does that really well, he takes such old references and makes it current.
Words by Owen Maxwell