“There’s mountains and lakes in the far background. And there’s desert land. And there’s like monstrous, glaring hotels. It’s kind of such a strange… it’s like all the madness below, standing up here and stuff,” Garrett Borns says at the beginning of his interview. He is standing on a balcony, overlooking and describing—as he calls the place—Sin City. Borns, better known by the stage name BØRNS, has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years. After the release of his 2014 debut single, “10,000 Emerald Pools,” the psychedelic pop singer appeared on Conan, received a shout-out from Taylor Swift, and even performed at Coachella in 2016. In anticipation of his upcoming performance at Boston Calling on May 28, The Harvard Crimson sat down with BØRNS to talk about his plans for his upcoming tour and the ways his past performances have affected him.
The Harvard Crimson: What are you doing in Vegas?
Garrett Borns: I’m playing a show tonight at this hotel. It’s kind of like a pool party… so it should be a good time.
THC: Compared to concerts, what’s it like doing those types of shows?
GB: Actually, these past couple of months have been a lot of one-off sort of shows, so… I don’t even know what exactly a normal concert is anymore…. We just played a few nights at a theater in Denver, now we’re playing at a pool party, and we played at a museum in LA last week. So it’s like every show is different lately. I’m going on tour soon, and then I think the shows will be a little more alike because we’re playing in theaters. But still, yeah, it’s been kind of like an all around randomness.
THC: What should concertgoers expect from your tour?
GB: What to expect? Well, I like to keep most of it a secret, but you know, I think people can expect a good show… and it should be an all-around very melodic sort of experience.
THC: What are you looking forward to with Boston Calling?
GB: I don’t really know what to expect, to be honest, but I will definitely be putting on the best show that I’m capable of putting on.
THC: You've been called "Coachella's coolest rockstar" by Teen Vogue. You've been recommended by Taylor Swift. How do you feel about all of this attention and praise?
GB: It's all extremely generous to say. I'm really glad listeners are connecting to the music.
THC: Can you describe your creative process?
GB: My first album was a collaboration between me and Tommy English, except “10,000 Emerald Pools,” [which was] produced by Kennedy. The creative process is a mix between arranging drum samples; old analogue keyboards; and iPhone sound clips of birds, talking and coyotes.
THC: You have a long history of performance, such as your time doing magic or working with TEDx. How do you think those experiences have shaped your own shows now as a performer?
GB: I think that I’ve gone through a lot of different... artistic outlets just growing up. I don’t know. I feel like I just kind of dabble in a lot of things, just because I’m always trying to figure them out. I mean, magic is like a pretty good metaphor for, really, a lot of the arts. Because you always look at the behind-the-scene, sort of secret thing that you don’t see when you’re experiencing art, whether it’s a painting—you don’t see someone paint it—and you don’t see someone write songs. You don’t experience the kind of, like, secrecy of art; you only see the final product. I’m always interested in the creative process of art and figuring [that] out—everyone has a different way of approaching writing music or the melody or playing an instrument.
—Staff writer Ha D.H. Le can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @hadh_le.