BØRNS Talks Mortality and Why Canada Wins
After his debut single “Electric Love” and breakout album Dopamine in 2015, American singer/songwriter BØRNS is back with his second album, having already released two singles from this record before it officially drops in January. After finding inspo from an array of musicians like Frank Ocean and The Beach Boys, the musician is creating a new kind of sound with “rock & roll jammers” and more experimental sounds on the album, teased by “Faded Heart” and “Sweet Dreams”—two tracks from the record that were released earlier this year.
MILK.XYZ talks with the singer about touring for the new record, how the idea of immortality inspired the album, and more. Read the full interview below.
Tell me about your two singles, “Faded Heart” and “Sweet Dreams”.
Well, I guess I put out “Faded Heart” first, and that’s just a little throwback, rock & roll jammer. And then, “Sweet Dreams” is like this dreamy, more experimental, production-wise, kind of song. I guess just kind of leading up to the new album, the new stuff is going to be a lot different than the old records. I think these are kind of the bridge to the new album. I can’t wait to put out the new stuff though. It’s very exciting.
How is it going to be different from your previous work?
I think I sing on it a lot differently. I found different places to sing from, from a songwriter perspective and actually audibly how I’m singing. The production is different; there are some live strings on it, really lush. I’m so ready to get it out in the world. It’s been so long since I put out any music, and there are some fun little collaborations on there.
Yeah? Anyone you can say?
Not at this very moment, but there is a collaboration with a theremin player, which is this really old 1920s instrument, that sounds like a woman crying.
Like, crying in a cool way?
Yeah, yeah, sounds like almost an operatic cry. It’s an electronic instrument. You play it by your electromagnetic field. You don’t even touch it, it’s like this metal thing. And with your hand movements, you can control the sound. So there’s that on it, which is kind of cool. The whole thing I did with my friend Tommy [English], who I recorded the first record with, we just did the whole record together.
So what was like the inspo behind the new album?
The inspo behind the new album was…I was really fascinated by the concept of immortality versus mortality, and how you can really feel, like when I was on the road for a long time, and performing every night, and when it kind of becomes your routine, you kind of feel superhuman in a way, like being onstage performing for people. It’s like this weird feeling of feeling immortal. Then, once I got off the road, I was back in LA, just doing my own thing, and rolling solo, and cooking breakfast in the morning and watering my plants. I was like did that even happen? It’s just a crazy switch of a lifestyle. So I guess the concept of feeling almost like a god and also feeling completely human is a main concept of the record. And that ties into love and relationships and kind of like where a tie between you and another person comes from. Like, why are you attracted to another person, is it just you two, or is it like some external force pushing you together? I don’t know. Anyway, heavy shit.
“Then, once I got off the road, I was back in LA, just doing my own thing, and rolling solo, and cooking breakfast in the morning and watering my plants, I was like, did that even happen?”
What kind of music do you listen to that inspires you or gets you in a good headspace to record or perform?
For this record, it was a lot of The Beach Boys, for the harmonies and the crazy production, and Frank Ocean, and his kind of disjointed way of approaching pop music, which is really inspiring to me. Who else? Serge Gainsbourg, ’cause he’s kind of orchestral, and like Leonard Cohen.
What do you do to prep for a show?
For a show, I sort of just try to shake out any preconceived notion that I have in my body, by literally shaking it out. I look like I’m being electrocuted in the room. It’s actually really freeing, to really shake your shit out for like 5 minutes, like afterward, you just kind of feel like you were sifting out the blockages. And just making noises and freeing yourself of all this stuff. Because there’s this, you kind of tense yourself up, or your thoughts can be kind of boxed in, and I just shake it out. It’s good for you I guess. Kind of makes you aware of where you’re holding tension. Try to just release that.
What’s your favorite song to perform?
On my last album, there’s this song called “Holy Ghost”, which is really fun, all the new songs are gonna be fun, yeah. I like “Sweet Dreams” too, it’s a fun one.
Where are you most excited to tour for your new album?
I’m excited to play L.A. again. It’s going to be nice. I’m playing a show like with a youth symphony orchestra there, and they’re going to play the strings for some songs. And playing in London again, which is always fun; playing in Paris, Scandinavia, going back to Russia, which is kind of crazy. Russia is so wild.
It’s like a whole different planet over there. it’s so weird. I mean weird in a cool way, I guess. Definitely different. Just looking around and everything is a different alphabet, and everything is different, like so different. The currency, I mean obviously, but culturally too. Just people act differently there.
Yeah, different vibes, but it’s nice.
Where in Russia do you go?
“It puts you into this world with the way the instruments are placed. Sometimes what happens around this ear is completely different than this ear, and they kind of mesh in between and give your head a nice little trip.”
So what do you want people to get out of the album?
I hope they get a good amount out of it. I feel like Tommy and I put a lot of thought into the song production, so you can keep listening to them and they get more and more interesting. It puts you into this world with the way the instruments are placed. Sometimes what happens around this ear is completely different than this ear, and they kind of mesh in between and give your head a nice little trip. I hope it’s pleasurable for repeated listens, and you’re always picking new things out. I just hope people don’t get bored of it. I hope it has a long lifespan.
You play a lot of festivals, yeah?
What’s your favorite one you’ve played, and what’s one you want to play?
I played Way Home in Toronto, which was really fun, and Osheaga in Montreal. I like Canada. Pemberton, oh that’s also in Canada.
Wow, you really like Canada.
Yeah, Canadian festivals are smashing it. Coachella was crazy, that was definitely fun. I guess Canada wins.
Images courtesy of Ty Hampton.
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