Is Børns The Modern Day Bowie?

Hannah Beach,

Garrett Clark Borns is an artist with the world at his feet. The musician, who has spent the summer at festivals all over the world touring his second album, embodies a sixties-flower child sensibility tempered by an ultra-modern sound. Sought out by Gucci’s imitable Alessandro Michele, Børns became a brand ambassador who brings his designs to life on stage.

A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine.

You grew up in rural Michigan, how did you first come to find music?
I went to a lot of folk concerts in summers with my family and had albums of CDs on road trips. Lots of Beatles, Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac.
I learned how to play those songs on piano and that was my early musical education.

How did this setting come to influence the way you live and create music?
Well, Lake Michigan was through the trees in my backyard. It gave me a sense of freedom and curiosity at a young age.

When did you start making music?
When I started breaking into the kitchen cupboards.

You moved to New York before settling in LA. What is it about LA that seem to be a better fit for you creatively?
The space. Palm trees. Warm sunlight.

Børns for Gucci, Photograph by Inez + Vinoodh

Upheaval and taking yourself out of your comfort zone seem to be motivators for your creative process, why is that?
Because that’s where the electricity lives.

You released your first album, Dopamine, in 2015 to much public acclaim, how did you then reposition yourself to create Blue Madonna? Did you feel pressure or excitement in creating something new after your first success?
I knew I wanted to dive into something completely different after touring the first album for two years. All those songs came from Tommy English and I jamming in his LA studio.


There is definite evolution of your sound in Blue Madonna. Where did you find your inspiration?
Listening to classical music and reading a lot about immortality. That’s a prominent theme in Blue Madonna.

Your work often deals with some big ideas about the world, but also has a distinct nostalgic feeling.
Should listeners feel a sense of escapism or a call to action by your music? It’s not my place to tell someone how to experience vibrations. All I can do is emit from my own emotions and once it leaves the tip of my tongue it’s no longer mine.

People talk a lot about your androgynous look, but androgyny and music have always had a close relationship since the likes of Jagger and Bowie took the stage in the 1960s.
Is it a conscious part of your performance or something that has always existed in you?
I was stealing my sister’s clothes since I was a youngin’ so I guess its in my nature to wear whatever.

Besides your on-stage performances, you also engage in vignettes, shorts and clips you post on social media. Is acting an important component in your life? Is it something we should expect to see more of?
Yes, my good friend and talented director @pipusthewise directs those videos. His Instagram is so hilarious. The adventures will carry on.

Do you believe, as a musician, it is important to try and be multifaceted in your creative endeavors?
For me, yes, music doesn’t always have to inspire music. I enjoy reading old folklore and fairytales and going to puppet shows for inspiration.

Do you like to take a break between making music, or is creating songs a stimulus for your everyday life?
I like to keep the creative process constantly flowing.

You once said you thought it was important to work with your weaknesses to find something often really special in your work. How have you managed to do this working on new music?
Yes, I work with my weaknesses every day. I’ve written some terrible and lovely music that way.

Like a lot of musicians, you have become entangled with the fashion industry, most notably with Gucci, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein. How important is fashion to you on and off stage?
On stage it dictates my character and performance. Off stage, well, I guess it does the exact same.

Going back to this 1960s sensibility of gender fluidity, stage costumes were a huge part of a performance and in freeing up peoples’ belief systems. Do you think the same is true today?
Yes of course, seeing is believing. Stage performances move a lot of energy.

Børns for ODDA by Cameron Postforoosh; look by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello

Are there any designers out there you would love to work with?
Yes, but it’s top secret.

What can we expect in the coming year from Børns?
The virtual Børns with continue to charm you through pixels, while the spiritual Børns will be crooning in a city near you.

Music making is often a cathartic process. Do you find therapy in writing songs?
Yes, of course. My schedule keeps me constantly moving and touring which can cloud my thoughts. The number of people I meet and energies I’m around can become heavy on the mind.
I write music to release that tension and energy.

What does your music aim to do?
Making music is a very sensual thing and I always aim to please.

Where in the world do you feel the most creative?
On wildly hot LA nights without any air conditioning. There’s some kind of a primal creative nature that comes out then. Must be from my cave-painting ancestors.

Do you feel that, in recent times, there is a great pressure on artists like yourself to continue to keep producing new work or content?
I don’t think there are other artists like myself right now. I’m just going to keep doing my thing and tread territory where no one else goes.

What is the hardest part of your job as a musician?
Jet lag.

Hannah Beach
Hannah Beach is a freelance London based writer specialising in fashion and culture. She is a Central Saint Martins graduate with an encyclopaedic knowledge of fashion past and present.  Her career has seen her work appear in several European publications, including many institutions such as the British Library and Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. She is currently studying for an MA in Fashion Curation where she hopes to create stronger  ties with artists, designers and performers through writing and research.
the writer

Hannah Beach

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