By Noémie Attia
With his latest and most dense album Blue Madonna, Garett Borns offers multifaceted artistic compositions. Between nostalgic references and new sounds, complex art and a natural creative gift, his multiple flamboyant personas and his light and humorous self, BØRNS is a beautiful enigma, able to transport you in a pop bliss while singing about broken hearts.
The sounds Blue Madonna are as much the result of retro inspirations as experimenting in collaboration with his producer Tom English. “We were both trying instruments and referencing a lot of older music like the Beach Boys and ’90s pop music, and tons of influences, just to see where it lands. And it kind of created this universe for Blue Madonna.” A mariachi, a theremin and hypnotic retro California sounds, lit in blue and pink, make up the mood for Faded Heart, the first track of the album.
BØRNS is passionate for visual arts: he recounts the origins of Blue Madonna in a series of metaphysical and humorous short films available on his YouTube channel. “I wanted to show this psychedelic landscape, in Los Angeles, and show me discovering all these sounds around LA and gathering them and putting them into a record. I called them The Lost Sounds because I feel like I was putting a few different instruments and influences on the record that I haven’t heard in pop songs in a long time.”
Indeed, BØRNS is resurrecting this very ’70s and ’80s glamorous and arty side of pop music by impersonating eerie, out of time and androgynous figures while pleasing the ears of a large audience. “I’m really influenced by David Bowie, I love how he can be in so many characters and how his looks really depict his persona. I wanted to do a look for every song in the album.”
On stage, he swings between delicate and iridescent Sies Marjan silky getups and what he describes as “kinda glammed out activewear” (understand, fringed bandana red sweatshirt and pants he designed with Nike). The show is one of aesthetics as much as a musical performance.
His satin pop music rises as much from his sleek looks as from his opera-trained, malleable voice. “I like to make my voice sound differently on albums. With the Blue Madonna, I do all my background vocals. So some of it might sound like a woman singing or some of it might sound a lot deeper.”
Every one of his live performances is different: the mood, the lighting and the channelled energy, which influence the way his voice resonates. “There are shows where I feel very introverted; and those are the shows where I express more and I’m more wild and open. And then there’s times that I feel more extroverted and I almost force myself to be more closed off. I think it makes you perform and sing differently, depending on your mood. So I like to contradict my mood.”
BØRNS performs at the Orpheum on October 21.