Wonderland.

BØRNS

The Michigan-born pop maverick on renaissance paintings, Gucci and Lana Del Rey…

BØRNS for Wonderland - check suit
BØRNS for Wonderland - houndstooth coat

Suit and shirt MARNI, jumper MAISON KITSUNE, shoes GRENSON

BØRNS for Wonderland - check suit
Suit and shirt MARNI, jumper MAISON KITSUNE, shoes GRENSON
BØRNS for Wonderland - houndstooth coat

Hands wrapped around a Whole Foods fruit salad, Garrett Borns, known by stage name BØRNS, sits back in his chair whilst a stylist fusses over his shoulder-length hair. Leant back in cropped leather trousers and a fur-lined denim jacket, he tells me his style is influenced by the likes of Prince and Bowie. That much is clear.

We meet in North London midway through his European tour, following the release of his latest album, Blue Madonna. An apparent combined appreciation for literature, art and poetry lay the foundation for the sophisticated 12-track project which showcases the effortless falsetto Garrett is recognised for, perfectly laid over his soaring synth-driven pop-rock sound.

We caught up with the Michigan-born singer-songwriter about Coachella, moving to Los Angeles and taking inspiration from unlikely places…

BØRNS for Wonderland - floral suit jacket
BØRNS for Wonderland - floral suit closeup

Full look ALEXANDER MCQUEEN

BØRNS for Wonderland - floral suit jacket
Full look ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
BØRNS for Wonderland - floral suit closeup

Can you tell me a bit about where you grew up and what you got up to?
I grew up on a little coastal town in Michigan. Kind of tucked away in a sand dune, but basically Lake Michigan was in my backyard, so I spent most of my time in the water. It was a very amphibious childhood. I was part-fish. It was a really peaceful place to grow up.

Did your childhood contribute to your music – do you draw inspiration from it?
Yeah definitely, I think that is where my artistic mind was most alive. I’m always trying to tap back into those days. I feel like I was making a lot of my own entertainment, I always liked my artistic solitude and working alone on stuff.

So are you most creative when you’re by yourself?
Well I’ve found a lot of inspiration in collaborations since I’ve been travelling. When I graduated high school I wanted to travel on my own and meet collaboratives that way. Once I moved to LA I actually met people from the Midwest in LA which is kind of strange, so you have to go across the country to meet people that were in your backyard, you know?

Any key events from your life that have contributed to your music?
I think moving to LA was one. Well, I didn’t mean to move to LA I just kind of went out there and wrote music, and I still feel like I’m on vacation. I’m still there five years later.

So you’re covering a lot of ground on this tour, do you have a favourite destination?
Touring in Europe is always pretty exciting because I never really know what to expect. Paris is really nice, we just played there yesterday and the shows are always lovely with very warm crowds. I’m really stoked to play in London again – I think the venue tonight (KOKO Camden) is really beautiful.

Who do you draw inspiration from when making new music?
There’s an author called Italo Calvino, I really love his writing – it’s very kind of whimsical and clever. So, him as far as a writer. Also Octavio Paz, he is a love poet. Musically, Brian Wilson is a big influence. I was really into the Beach Boys on this past record, a lot of their arrangements are really orchestral.

You recently released your latest album, Blue Madonna, what inspired the name?
I was looking at renaissance paintings for inspiration for the artwork and I found this painter, Carlo Dolci, who did all these religious paintings and one of them was called Blue Madonna. I live in this neighbourhood in LA that has a lot of his murals of the Virgin Mary, Lady of Guadalupe, and I just kept seeing this image whenever I’d go to the studio and it just stuck.

How has your sound progressed compared to your previous album, Dopamine?
Dopamine was mainly written on guitar. In this new album I wrote a lot on piano. I think I sang differently on the new album, whereas when I put out Dopamine I hadn’t toured much at all, and after I toured for two years, I made the next album. So I think I just learned about my voice more, like melodies and stuff.

BØRNS for Wonderland - brown suit
BØRNS for Wonderland - slacks

Suit MOSCHINO, shoes CHIN MENSWEAR INTL, shirt KENZO

BØRNS for Wonderland - brown suit
Suit MOSCHINO, shoes CHIN MENSWEAR INTL, shirt KENZO
BØRNS for Wonderland - slacks

What’s been the most memorable point in your career so far?
I played at Gucci’s LACMA Art + Film Gala two years ago – that was really lovely. I was doing a lot of work with Gucci at the time and Alessandro wanted me to play.

What’s been your most memorable collaboration so far?
Steve Weisburg, who wrote the strings for my album, is a really amazing arranger, that was really cool. Working with Lana Del Ray was cool, she’s got a beautiful voice and it was great to have her on the album because her sister actually shot all the photography for it.

What was it like working with Lana Del Rey, how did it come about?
We were around each other a lot whilst I was finishing up my album. We were both in LA and I’m really good friends with her sister. I had written a few songs and I had her in the back of my mind, but I never really thought she would be on it, and then she heard them and she really liked them so it just kind of happened!

Do you have a particular show that stands out in your memory?
Coachella was really fun. Both times I played were really amazing. I played Glastonbury once, it was very muddy and wet. I had the wrong size wellies though, so I smooshed my feet into these little kids boots – it was pretty awesome.

BØRNS for Wonderland - stripe jacket
BØRNS for Wonderland - long coat

Suit DAKS, sweater STELLA MCCARTNEY, shoes GRENSON

BØRNS for Wonderland - stripe jacket
Suit DAKS, sweater STELLA MCCARTNEY, shoes GRENSON
BØRNS for Wonderland - long coat

Your platinum single “Electric Love” has a pretty crazy music video, what’s the story behind it?
It’s kind of like this electric enchanted forest. I guess it was supposed to represent the inside of my mind – so it’s all these fantasies running around.

Can you tell me a bit about this partnership with Gucci?
Gucci happened because I played on a late night show wearing some Gucci pieces, and a couple of months later, Alessandro flew me out to Milan to see the new line. They’ve been very gracious with tours and dressing me in some great stuff. I love Alessandro’s headspace with it all, he has a great sense of humour and I like the stories he tells. He’s got a really interesting perspective.

What’s your definition of creativity?
Not putting anything into a box. Or if there is a box, working with what you have within it. I feel like I’m most creative when I have restrictions, not everything available to me. I like making things that feel good, feel good to make, and when the people around you are in the same vibe. I don’t like forcing creativity.

Words
Eloise Reader
Photographer
Dylan P Myers
Stylist
Nathan Henry
Groomer
Fabio Vivan using Bumble and Bumble
Production
Cortex Creatives
Stylist assistant
Reanna Clayton
BØRNS

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