If you want to find Garrett Borns a good place to look would be up. “I live in a treehouse,” the artist says of his home in the Los Angeles canyons. It was the first place BØRNS, originally from rural Michigan, landed when he relocated from New York to LA and immediately, something about it felt right. “In New York, I was writing darker, more melancholy music. I loved the pace and creative stimulation of the city but I wanted to see what a change of scenery would do to my writing.” So he left New York, where his roommate was a weed-smoking, rock-climbing cat lady, for Los Angeles, where his roommates were chirping birds and butterflies. “It brought me right back to those days when I was a kid making tree forts in my backyard,” he remembers. “It brought out my inner child, but in a very enlightening and meditative way. My kitchen was outside. All I heard at night were crickets and coyotes. And I was writing a lot of music.”
In this secluded, canopied space, BØRNS wrote and often recorded the songs on his forthcoming debut EP Candy, which filters the singer’s naturally moody, sensual sound through “an explosion of sunlight,” as he puts it. “You can feel the sunshine and hear the echoes of the canyon in these songs. The soaring harmonies all came out of singing from the treetops.” The shimmering feel of the EP does conjure images of exactly the kind of bohemian Never Never Land that inspired it. The seductive “Electric Love” bears a strong T Rex influence, and the more explicitly pop “Seeing Stars” is a flirtatious gem propelled by that distinctly Californian sunniness that drew BØRNS to L.A. in the first place. But it’s “10,000 Emerald Pools,” the first track BØRNS wrote in Los Angeles, that most perfectly captures the singer’s signature emotive, youth-and-abandon fueled sensibility. “When you feel an emotion so visceral and potent, the songs write themselves,” he says. “I didn't consciously write it, all of the vocals were first takes, it came from the feeling of longing and the world slowing down when you dive deep into love.”
That BØRNS would so easily and confidently transition from young Brooklyn boy to California bohemian makes sense when you consider his background. Since he was a child, he’s been moving from one inspiration to another, fearlessly changing his plans along the way. His first artistic love was visual arts. As a kid, BØRNS remembers his father coming home from work at his graphic design business with reams of paper. “My sister and I would unroll them inside the house and draw for hours,” BØRNS says. Next came music, courtesy of an eccentric piano teacher who appreciated BØRNS’ desire to apply his evident talent in unconventional ways. “She was this really wild, eccentric character who lived in this rickety house on stilts right on Lake Michigan,” BØRNS says. “She loved the fact that I interpreted pieces differently and started giving me advanced pieces, which were really beyond my level, breaking them down, learning about song structure and melody.”
But the young singer wasn’t content to quietly nerd out on difficult pieces of music, sharing his successes only with his teacher. BØRNS has always had an exhibitionist streak. “Whenever my folks had people over for parties, they would stand around the piano drinking and laughing,” he says. “I was the entertainment, the piano man. They’d give me a subject and I would make up a song on the spot and have them rolling. I loved that. That’s when I realized the power of song.”
You’d think this would be the moment in BØRNS’ story where music took over and he didn’t look back. And to some extent, that's true. The singer was ten when he started taking piano lessons and by 14, BØRNS was attending the prestigious summer program at Interlochen Center for the Arts. He studied filmmaking, but would also tuck himself away in the institution’s various piano nooks and write songs. After graduating high school, BØRNS went to college in nearby Grand Rapids and played out with his band locally. “We had a regular gig at this little sushi bar that used to be an old theater,” BØRNS recalls. In an online world where many young artists are discovered and signed with barely any live experience, BØRNS stands out.
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