Five Minutes With BØRNS
A quick chat with the LA-based artist before he heads to Australia in the new year.
BØRNS is a American singer/song writer who has been on a whirlwind rise to the top. I’m sure most of you by now have heard of him and his synth-pop, indie guitar driven music, which his album, Dopamine, from earlier this year is packed to the brim with. Inspired by a love of 70s disco, and a world full of dreams, we caught up with him ahead of his Australian tour in January.
How is life right now? Tours, shows etc
Life’s good! I’m on the second leg of my tour, I’m on a two-month headlining tour of Europe and the US. So I’m living in a van. The shows have been pretty good, they’ve pretty much all sold out which was a pleasant surprise. Played in lots of cool venues, and the crowd seem to be very into it.
Are the European fans different to the American?
Yeah it's always different, Europeans have a different personality. Just the way they approach me before the show I feel like Europeans want to talk to you a lot and take photos and say hi, but in the USA it’s pretty much all of the selfies.
Ever met a super fan?
I mean yeah, occasionally, but you know it’s all a part of it. It’s mostly excitement for the music.
Who are you a super fan of?
David Bowie for sure. I’d probably be speechless if we met. Or Prince.
Both very impressive people, so are you playing a show tonight?
Well we are doing like six shows in a row this week, so yeah tonight. Lots of promo, lots of shows, not much sleep it’s a marathon run.
People don’t really realise how much hard work goes into just having to “turn up and play music” right?
It’s all part of the game. I feel like as a musician nowadays you have extra responsibility to be present on social platforms or whatever so people kind of expect that. But then again that is how you create awareness, and get people to your show. The end game is them getting the live experience or buying the music etc. I feel it's win win for us all. It’s pretty amazing I can be playing a show in Amsterdam and I’ve never been there before and it’s a full room. It’s so crazy to think about that, people can download my record the day it comes out anywhere in the world.
Would you call your music pop?
It stems across a lot of different areas of music, I think I like to create a unique record. There is a song on the record that I wanted to make a Jackson 5 song and by the end of it it’s not a Jackson 5 song, but it’s the genesis of that. So you get a new sound. I like a lot of oldies music; 50s, 60s, 70s, motown and disco and even like psych glam rock, like Bowie and The Turtles. I grew up listening to a lot of different music. It’s all in my blood now. I’m always looking for melodies, I kind of don’t think of genres, I like melodies and harmonies, and drum beats. A lot of the songs on the records started with layering guitars and harmonies over chopped up drums.
Yeah I find sometimes people are scared to admit their influence right? People don’t want to sound like someone anymore, people are really caught up in trying too hard about being original. It’s really not a bad thing. Like if someone tells you, you sound like David Bowie, you probably won’t be offended right?
Yeah absolutely, well said man!
So do you have new music on the way?
I mean I’ve been on the road, so I have a lot of ideas, and you write some stuff down as you go, but you learn so much about the music you are writing while on tour you discover that it's much different than what is in your head, and I change parts in different places. And it kind of moulds as I travel. But I think I know where I want to go in terms of the next record.
Oh yeah, and where is that?
I just can’t really say all my ideas, because they aren’t even translatable, and I want to keep them a secret out of fear of sounding like a crazy person trying to explain them.
So where are you drawing influence from? Topically?
Topically, the past album was about being in a half dream state all the time, a fantasy of thinking about something late at night or someone that you wish you had, sung in a fantastical way, that’s done with a triumphant chorus of declaration. Kind of like what The Turtles did... "Can’t see me loving nobody but you” kind of thing, just feel good stuff.
So the new record is a similar formula? Is this what works best?
I just really like to confuse people in a playful way, I feel like what’s more important to me than the chorus is the pre-chorus, it’s like you tease people with it, you make them think it’s the chorus. I like leading people on into thinking they know what comes next but then it’s different. Too many chords disguised as simple music, The Bee Gees did it really well.
You can catch BØRNS at the upcoming Southbound and Falls Festivals, along with sideshows at the Corner Hotel, Melbourne (Jan 5) and Oxford Art Factory, Sydney (Jan 7).