Børns: An Interview With One of Taylor Swift’s Favorite New Singers

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Upon winning over a hoard of noteworthy fans, announcing his debut album “Dopamine” and preparing to embark on a North American Tour, Garrett Borns is making his way to becoming a household name.

Over half a year ago, music industry demigoddess and shot caller Taylor Swift Instagrammed “So ‘Electric Love’ by Børns sounds like an instant classic to me…..#justsayingggg.” Seeing as how I’m not a diehard Swifty, I paid the post little attention until hearing the name BØRNS again in connection to the septum-ring version of T. Swift, Zella Day, who accompanied the upcoming American singer-songwriter in the “Electric Love” video. After one listen, I was instantly hooked, and to an insatiable degree.

Hailing from Grand Haven Michigan, Garrett Borns ventured off to California after spending a few years in New York, soaking in the Golden State’s warm ambiances and incorporating it into is sunny So-Cal sound. His sweeping melodies and dream pop explorations are heartening to the ear, capturing the feisty and genuine optimism of youth in a sonically ripe manner, seamlessly pairing ballad-like verses with over-the-top theatrical choruses. It’s no surprise that the world’s biggest artists are trying to rub shoulders with the newcomer on the ground floor, and our strong hunch is it’s only the beginning. BØRNS just announced the release of his debut album Dopamine, out October 16th and available for pre-order here.

We spoke to BØRNS about growing up as a musician, finding fame, and handling cougars that attend his shows. Check out our talk below, as well as a full list of his North American tour dates.

When you were a little boy, you loved to perform magic in front of audiences. What was the appeal for you?

I guess it was always just like an innate part of me to perform or to just create. It’s kind of something I just have to do, like a daily routine. So I was always finding different ways of doing that because I get bored easily, or something. I’m always trying to switch it up and keep my mind going and challenge myself creatively. I was doing a lot of painting, visual arts, but also I was playing piano and composing at a young age. Magic kind of played a role in that too with performing. I like having a few different things going on at once because I like being stimulated in different creative avenues, and all of those avenues that I went to brought me to where I am now.

 

Do you feel like you had the platform to express yourself artistically in Michigan?

I think I did. It’s all I knew, too. I would just kind of find other creative people or go whenever people were putting on shows. I made my own entertainment. Like with magic, I had a weekly gig at these restaurants. There were other local magicians, older magicians, in my area. I was like, “Why can’t I do this? I’m ten years old but I want to do table magic, make some money and have that experience.” So I was very much just kind of making my own entertainment.

 

How did you go from entertaining yourself to becoming a professional musician?

Obviously, I wanted to find a way to sustain myself as an artist without having to get a job that I absolutely hated. So I guess that was always kind of the goal. But I never thought it was going to get to this point with music. It was kind of like taking certain steps. I started traveling when I graduated high school as a musician, and I wanted to just work with other songwriters and other musicians and really develop my craft that way. I knew the only way to really do it was to get out and have life experience. I was in New York city for a while, then I came up to California, and California just felt really right for me, for my writing style and just who I am as a person.

Borns Album Cover

You’ve been switching between the world of recording studios and that of live touring. Do you have a preference?

They are two completely different animals, being in the studio and performing live. Yeah, for sure. You can get as weird as you want in the studio and there’s not a crowd of people to judge you. It’s nice to get back in the studio. Right now I’m working on my full length, and I can kind of just experiment and get as weird as possible behind closed doors and work on the LP. I guess I really enjoy live performing though, it’s really exhilarating. I’m [going on tour] with Charli XCX and Bleachers, who have a lot of energy in their shows.

 

You’ve had a lot of success with the few songs you’ve already released. Has this success affected how you’re writing your new music in one way or another?

Not really. I don’t think any of the stuff that I’m doing right now somebody would listen to and say, “Oh, that sounds exactly like ‘Electric Love.’” I mean definitely, that’s my writing style, but I think it’s evolved and I’m writing about different things and just pushing myself in the studio production-wise, and just songwriting-wise, and with my voice and everything. I just want to top those songs. I don’t want to do anything like it—I just want to do something better. I don’t want to fucking bore people, and I’ll be bored to be honest. There will definitely be some of the same or similar sounds, but it won’t be the same.

 

You really strike me as a master of melody. Do these sonic ideas emerge spontaneously or with a bit of thought?

I guess it’s a few different things. A lot of the time it’s just subconscious and I like to let whatever melody I’m feeling at the moment come out, because I want this to sound really natural. But I guess I was influenced by a lot of Retro Pop melodies like 50s style kind of stuff. Even some musical-inspired stuff, because I think those melodies are super swoopy and souring, and something about that is just very ethereal. I just liked that. Definitely Doo-wop kind of melodies, too. I think those are some of the best melodies ever written. A lot of the time it’s really just whatever I feel like sounds cool. I wrote the verses of “Electric Love” just driving around.

 

How does it feel to have so many people already listening to your music?

I guess it feels good that the music is resonating with people because that’s obviously the end goal. It’s been a huge surprise that people have been so into it because really, I made it with a close friend of mine that produced it and we just did it and didn’t really think too much about it. So the fact that people are really digging it feels really good. It feels awesome.

 

What type of person is connecting with your music?

To be honest it’s a very random, wide array of listeners, and I only know that because of the kind of immediacy of social media. I got a message from this 70-year-old man the other day on Facebook and he was like, “Just want to let you know that I’m jamming to your songs. I’m 70 but I have good taste.” So, hell yeah. There were a few shows on my last tour where there were mother’s coming up with their kids like, “This is their first concert ever!”

 

So maybe the moms wanted to come see you.

Yeah exactly, maybe it’s just the cougar moms that are prowling! I guess it’s just a wide array which is cool—I’m into that. I don’t really write for a particular audience.

 

What are your goals over the next year?

I do have some goals; their top secret though. I guess music is always therapeutic for me. There’s some fun stuff to come though. I can’t say too much.

Catch Børns on tour now:

Sept 7 Seattle, WA Bumbershoot Music And Arts Festival
Sept 9 Boston, MA Northeastern University
Sept 10 Albany, NY The Hollow
Sept 12 Easton, PA Lawn at Lafayette College
Sept 13 Syracuse, NY Syracuse University- Skytop Field
Sept 16 New Yor, NY Mercury Lounge – SOLD OUT
Sept 25 Las Vegas, NY Life Is Beautiful Festival
Oct 1 Los Angeles, CA Masonic Lodge at Hollywood – SOLD OUT
Oct 4 Austin, TX Austin City Limits Festival
Oct 6 Kansas City, MO The Record Bar
Oct 8 Dallas, TX Club Dada
Oct 9 Houston, TX Walter’s Downtown
Oct 11 Austin, TX Austin City Limits Festival
Oct 13 Broomfield, CO 1st Bank Center
Oct 15 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel
Oct 17 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall Of Williamsburg
Oct 19 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
Oct 20 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair
Oct 21 Philadelphia, PA First Unitarian Church
Oct 22 Providence, RI Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
Oct 24 Charleston, SC Lipton Festival
Nov 10 Montreal, Canada Petit Campus
Nov 11 Toronto, CA Legendary Horeshoe Tavern
Nov 13 Minneapolis, MN University of Minnesota
Nov 15 Chicago, IL Double Door
Nov 18 Davenport, IA The Village Theatre
Nov 19 Vancouver, CA Fortune Sound Club
Nov 20 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
Nov 22 San Francisco, CA The Independent
Nov 24 Solana Beach, CA Bell Up Tavern

Premiere: Escape to The Ocean in Findlay Brown’s “Mountains Fall To The Sea”

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Singer-songwriter Findlay Brown first unleashed his artistic determination when he sold his grandfather’s Beatles autographs to purchase himself a guitar. Soon after, the Yorkshire-born, Brooklyn based artist began crafting gentle and stunning folk gems, released via his critically acclaimed debut album Separated By The Sea. On the verge of releasing his third album, Slow Light (September 4th), Brown has stayed true to his raw acoustic sensibilities, also continuing to draw inspiration from nature, spirituality, psychedelics, and poetry by the likes of Rumi and Kahlil Gibran.

Premiering today on BlackBook is the music video for Brown’s track “Mountains Fall To The Sea.” About the clip, Brown tells us, “This song is the oldest song on the record. It’s just guitar and vocals. I see it as a sister song to “Separated By the Sea” off my first album. The lyrics mean a lot to me. I love the simplicity of [the poet] Rumi’s work and wanted to capture that feeling.”

The video’s award winning director, Liam St. Pierre, adds, “A troubled boy looking for an escape route from an unhappy life. The film was shot in East London and the East coast of England, and follows two friends’ journey from a mountainous tower block to the openness of the sea, offering a brief but reflective release from the sometimes difficult experiences of life in the city. The film was shot over two days and cast local talent in the narrative piece.”

You can watch Findlay Brown’s vide for “Mountains Fall To The Sea” below, and learn more about the folk troubadour here.

See the Future: South London Rapper Conrad Kira Premiere’s New Video for ‘Baka (Up In The Ear Remix)’

Conrad Kira
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South London rapper and producer Conrad Kira’s personal brand of Grime music is overflowing with industrial beats and futuristic trappings, culminating in a body of work that feels a few years ahead of anything else. As a citizen of the world who splits his time between the streets of London and the ultramodern, cosmopolitan realm of Tokyo, Kira’s upcoming EP Rictus (September 4th) draws an international influences and genres, all cohesively orchestrated under the artist’s swift and sophisticated wordplay.

Today, BlackBook is premiering a video directed by Greg Pond for the Up In The Ear Remix of “Baka,” the lead single off of the forthcoming extended play. The track’s beat is a lively and persistent, propelling the song forward as the deep grime bassline plays under lyrical goodies like, “I don’t give a damn—I’m going Green Eggs and Ham.” Check out the premiere below, as well as more on Conrad Kira here.

Premiere: See Dear Sara Perform ‘Mona Lisa’ Live in West Hollywood

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Los Angeles group Dead Sara have been one of BlackBook’s go-to rock bands since the release of their eponymous debut album in 2012. Just this March, we caught up with the band again to discuss the release of their second album Pleasure to Meet You, and how their sound has evolved over the past three years. Since then, Emily Armstrong (vocals, guitar), Sean Friday (drums, backing vocals), Siouxsie Medley (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Chris Null (bass guitar, backing vocals) have wrapped up their second, completely sold out tour of North America. Without wasting any time, they’re already working on their next album. Apparently, hardcore rockers can also be hardcore prolific.

Dead Sara PTMY Album Cover

Premiering today on BlackBook is a new video for their track Mona Lisa, shot live at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. We’ve yet to see the band IRL, but after watching this clip, are fully determined to see Armstrong in action. Her crassly textured voice, sometimes emitted with delicate vibrato, at other times strappingly solid, glides over feisty guitar chords, which pulsate like the song’s heartbeat. Check out the video below, and learn more about Dead Sara here.

Premiere: Power Through Thursday with Feenixpawl’s “Blue Sky” (Jason Forté Remix)

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Australia seems to have no shortage of massively talented DJs/producers. Now living in LA, production duo Feenixpawl originally hail from Melbourne, where Aden Forte and Josh Soon met in 2003. Within a decade, the group achieved international recognition and success for the track “In My Mind,” which had them sitting pretty at the top of the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) club charts for a record-breaking twelve weeks. The song also got them one of those little Grammy online casino nomination (NBD). The duo went on to remix the likes of Kaskade, Cash Cash, Strange Talk and more, gaining a great deal of support from fellow musicians and more established acts. Just last year, they changed up the game by launching their own record label, Eclypse Records (in a joint venture with Wind-Up Records).

Today, Feenixpawl will be releasing the Jason Forté remix of their single “Blue Sky” featuring Mary Jane Smith. You can check out the exclusive premiere on BlackBook below, as well as learn more about Feenixpawl here

Premiere: Get Obsessed With ‘Your Love,’ the Lush New Track from WITHOUT

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Los Angeles’ independent Dim Mak Records never seems to fail. Earlier this week, we released an exclusive playlist from the Steve Aoki-founded label’s San Francisco beat masters Viceroy and Giraffage, and today we’re continuing the electronic pop sweetness with the premiere of “Your Love” from English indie duo WITHOUT (W\). The track comes as the first track off of the brother-in-law twosome’s debut EP, Cheap Touch (mastered by noteworthy upcomer Mura Masa). Produced and manifested on the tiny island of Guernsey in the English Channel, the record tactfully combines unrelated genres and influences into one, consistent body of work, calling upon everyone from Paul Simon to R. Kelly for inspiration. “Your Love” in particular opens with serene, cloudy synths before falling into a sticky beat underneath lush, smartly textured synths and a gutsy falsetto voice. About the track, the duo tells BlackBook:

The Cheap Touch EP is inspired by the good islndbys (Island Boys) lifestyle and a love for music that still sounds a little rough around the edges. We live on a small island off the coast of France and produce DIY electronic tracks written with a jam band ethos. Tracked between surfs in our living rooms and mixed with one of our best mates Mura Masa, we just wanted to write a chill party record and not think too hard about the production process. We had fun with it and hopefully that comes across in the songs.

You can check out “Your Love” below, as well as pre-order Cheap Touch, here.

Premiere: Watch the Video for ‘In This Together’ From Australian Sensation Art vs. Science

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Currently, a lot of Australian’s are flipping over a comment their Indigenous Affairs Minister made about Aboriginal communities getting drunk off of Vegemite. If you’re wondering what Vegemite is (a breakfast spread), you’re definitely not Australian, and have probably not heard of another one of our favorite exports—Art vs. Science, an electro dance three-piece from Sydney that’s been playing sold out shows and headlining festivals throughout their country since forming in 2008. Consisting of James Finn (vocals, keyboards), Dan Mac (vocals, guitars, keyboards) an Dan W. (vocals, drums), the group has been deemed an Australian Indie success story, having won “Best Independent Release” for their debut LP The Experiment in 2011, an album that reached No. 2 on the ARIA Charts.

Premiering today on BlackBook is the music video for Art vs. Science’s track “In This Together.” Shot by New Zealand director Sam Krisofski, the video was inspired by 90s video games, hitting a soft spot for loads of twenty-something, ex-Mortal Kombat players (cough). Krisofski intentionally uses low quality graphics, gnarled by fuzzy cuts to summon nostalgia as the bandmates and friends humorously fight each off each other, flying helicopters, and the harsh climates of varying levels (including a wheat field and the beach). At the end of this thing, you’ll be rummaging eBay for an old Game Boy or Tamagotchi. About his clip, Krisofski says: I was told by the band that I can do whatever I want, which I don’t really get a lot! So taking the rare opportunity, I tried to fit everything I had thought of in the last four months into one video.

Take a listen to the premiere below, and learn more about Art vs. Science and their forthcoming, debut effort, here.

Guest DJ: Viceroy and Giraffage Share Their 'Songs to Listen to While Taking Off'

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San Francisco became the music world’s focus over the weekend with its annual Outside Lands festival, featuring a lineup of both burgeoning artists and mainstream acts. However, the city has a lot more than its Golden Gate Park venue to offer music lovers. Local beat gurus Viceroy and Giraffage of Dim Mak records have become increasingly popular with their signature, respective brands of mouthwatering electronica, landing them a plethora of international gigs and recognition.

Recently, the two paired up for the release of “Impressions Of You,” a joint track that’s already reached #1 on HypeMachine and won over both new and established fans, thanks to the track’s dazed, trop-pop perfection under the ballad-ready vocals of Patrick Baker.  To celebrate their collaboration and upcoming tours, BlackBook had Viceroy and Giraffage put together a playlist entitled “Songs To Listen to While Taking Off.” Check out the playlist below, as well as the official music video for “Impression Of You,” here

Viceroy:

John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s an absolute jam, plus it has some pretty comforting vibes for taking off.

CCR – Fortunate Son This is my go-to song when I’m leaving on a vacation, preferably a trip with my best homies and whisky on the rocks in hand. Grateful Dead – Eyes of the World This song gets me excited to see the views as we take off, being on an airplane gives you a really awesome chance to look at the world from birds eye view. I love this track, especially listening to one of its live versions. 

A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It I love Tribe Called Quest’s music with a passion, especially their jam “Can I Kick It.” For me, it’s pretty perfect for cruising around with the top down or taking off in a plane. I just can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t love this song.

Tiesto feat. Sneaky Sound System – I will be here (Wolfgang Gartner Remix)

This may seem like a strange choice at first to most people, but it’s very nostalgic for me. I online casino first heard this song taking off on my flight to California when I was moving back to San Francisco. It has those classic progressive house vibes that you just don’t hear as much anymore, making it is extremely soothing. It never gets too intense and somehow stays in the sweet spot for the duration of the song.  

Giraffage:

The Field – Everyday

This is one of my favorite songs ever and it”s great for planes because it loops so hypnotically that I sometimes forget I”m even stuck in a super small, confined, hot space next to dudes fighting you for arm rest dominance.

Porter Robinson – Sad Machine

This song is epic and sometimes I pretend it”s a music video when you look out the window and see the entire city from an aerial view while this song is playing. 

Young Thug – Check

Leave it to Young Thug to be the best at drowning out the noise of a hundred babies crying. The baby cries are almost like ad libs sometimes. 

Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand In Mine

Something about listening to really pretty and epic post-rock while being thousands of feet in the air is awesome. 

American Football – Never Meant

When I first started touring a lot and flying, I would listen to the American Football album on repeat. 

PREMIERE: The Debut Mixtape from Age of L.U.N.A. Will Refresh Your Summer

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While maturity and technical prowess undoubtedly accompany time and experience, there’s a certain unrestricted fervor when it comes to youthful creativity. Take London act Age of L.U.N.A., composed of rappers Butch Arkas and Kyoto Noir, producer NK-OK-, and singer Daniella Thomas. With an average age of 18-years-old, the quartet are teetering over to adulthood while already producing a brand of absorbing hip-hop that strives to reintroduce musicality and sophistication into mainstream rap music, breaking through the clutter of dis songs and unimaginative, uninspired beats.

About the work, Thomas says: 

This projects whole concept is for the people…especially the youth. The slogan ‘Live Under No Authority’ as anything, is open to different interpretations. For us it represents who we are and what we stand for. No one was ever going to tell us what to do with our life and/or what is right or wrong because there is no right or wrong way of doing things. It’s to let the youth know that they can do whatever they want and set that path themselves. Without sounding cliche, throughout this whole project we talk about finding ourselves, inspiring the youth, reminiscing on past occurrences that moulded us into the people we are becoming. The beautiful musicality gives it an edgy colourful flavour to contrast the dark things we are actually speaking about, “searching for peace beneath the blossom tree.” There are references to the relationship between mood and the seasons, bonds with nature and pathetic fallacy where you’re feeling reckless emotionally and “you will blame it all on the winter.” On ‘Better Than Love’ we three (Daniella, Kyote and Butch) speak on love in individual ways. We wrote it as a poem or like a school kid that runs home and writes in their journal and NK-OK lays the foundations and echoes the emotion. The question the song pushes is “What’s better than love?” The question the EP pushes is “What are you waiting for?” The seasons are changing. 

Check out their debut mixtape below and learn more about Age of L.U.N.A here