Published on September 2nd, 2018


The received wisdom in audiovisual arts used to be that experimentation grew out of experience: You had to understand continuity in film editing before you tried jump cuts; or know sound recording basics before making musique concrete. But as the analog era recedes — its innovations prepackaged in content creation software — the mentality that mastery comes first and then fosters radical advances is less accepted.

But it’s not dead. “I still have a record player and an old Wurlitzer keyboard,” the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Garrett Borns told Indie magazine earlier this year. “My space is in an industrial building, and it naturally evokes a sense of nostalgia.”

Borns, who goes by the stylized BØRNS, embodies the dichotomy of modernity and past. As a young academic prodigy from Muskegon, Michigan, he blazed through a formal education in the arts and music before moving on to New York and then his current home of Los Angeles. His forte may be electronic music, but his work is also telling of a deep-seated appreciation and understanding of jazz and improvisation.


Couple that with a gender-bending persona that is somehow both cosmopolitan and in touch with Borns’ small-city beginnings — a heartlander’s eye view through Gucci frames — and you have a recipe for pop success.

In a world of overt glitz and Instagram eye candy, BØRNS is the rare talent to gain access to the mainstream hive mind surreptitiously. After his “Candy” EP put him into focus, his 2015 debut LP, “Dopamine” satisfied critic and fan ears alike with the sexy chemical pleasure its title promised. His sophomore effort, “Blue Madonna,” bowed to critical acclaim this spring. Featuring Lana Del Rey on a pair of tracks, the album shows maturity and progression and higher appreciation of ’60s chic and rock ’n’ roll hooks.

If all of the above calls to mind David Bowie, it would not be time wasted to watch what BØRNS might glean from the Thin White Duke’s ceaseless self-transformations. Bowie had the advantage of decades in which to keep reinventing and refining, but it’s not far-fetched to imagine this young American having a chance at similar greatness.

BØRNS performs with Twin Shadow on September 18 at Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale. SOLD OUT! ~ Abel Folgar

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