BØRNS IN NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 2015. SWEATER: LANVIN. COSMETICS: MAC, INCLUDING ACRYLIC PAINT IN BLACK BLACK. HAIR PRODUCTS: TIGI, INCLUDING CATWALK CURLS ROCK AMPLIFIER. STYLING: MICHELLE CAMERON. HAIR: EDWARD LAMPLEY/D+V MANAGEMENT. MAKEUP: KUNIO KATAOKA FOR MAC COSMETICS.
Like many 23-year-old men before him, Garrett Borns was captivated by Playboy. Unlike many 23-year-old men before him, it wasn’t the photos that transfixed him—or the articles, for that matter—it was the advertisements. While recording his debut LP, Dopamine (Interscope), under the eponymous-with-a-Nordic-twist moniker Børns, the bashful musician killed time between takes by flipping through vintage issues from the ’60s and ’70s. “The language was so sexy and clever,” he says, recalling one particularly striking image of a woman draped over a sofa with the words overnight sensation written beneath her. (Not coincidentally, “Overnight Sensation” would become a song on the album.) “The advertisements were so carefully done. I wanted that feeling to be on my album. I wanted everyone to know that even though this album was recorded on a computer, every part of it, every sound and every lyric was very carefully chosen.”
This kind of purposeful meticulousness isn’t the most overt trait when it comes to music of the drowsy, meandering dream-pop and electro-folk varieties. But the trick, says Borns—a former magician—is to make it look easy. Last year, he recorded his ethereal debut EP, Candy, in a rented tree house in the canyons of Los Angeles. He describes his time “in the trees” as being free and whimsical and bohemian. This time around, for Dopamine, Borns integrated a strong consideration of what the live show would look like into the recording process. “My favorite songs of all time are songs that take you on a journey and give you pleasurable moments you weren’t expecting,” he says, citing David Bowie as a major influence.
Now based in the Silver Lake neighborhood of L.A., Borns speaks of his coastal Michigan childhood fondly—a rare thing among artists his age, who are often wont to mythologize their youths into angst. Borns, on the contrary, channels lingering senses of playfulness and wonder into his work, however attentive he might be. (His stage name means “children” in Danish.) “I like the idea of creating from your inner youth,” he says. “You don’t have to think too hard about it. Just make what feels good.”