I still crack a smile thinking back to this interview. Last Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to an extremely talented artist by the name of BØRNS. Not only did we bond over the Backstreet Boys, but we also chatted about what it is like to live in a tree and his new EP Candy — which is dynamite. If you haven’t had the chance to listen you are seriously missing out. Here is BØRNS.
The Soul Dynamic | So originally you are from Michigan correct?
BØRNS | Yes, I am from Michigan.
The Soul Dynamic | Did growing up in Michigan have any influence on your music or has it been your L.A. base?
BØRNS | Yeah I think everywhere that I’ve lived up to this point, which hasn’t been a whole lot of places, anywhere I’ve spent time and called home for a little bit has definitely influenced my music and been a part of my musical journey. I would say Michigan influenced my music just growing up and listening to records with my parents. They played a lot of jazz records and a lot of R&B, you know things you can dance to. A lot of the Beatles and the Bee Gees, and the environment I grew up in Michigan was very inspiring. Especially for a kid. I grew up with a really big wooded back yard and lake Michigan was right there. I had a lot of freedom in nature, you know what I mean?
The Soul Dynamic | Yeah.
BØRNS | It was really good for a kid to explore.
The Soul Dynamic | You definitely get some good creativity and inspiration that way.
BØRNS | Yeah for sure! And just building things in the woods, and making things and being creative just as a kid. Not that I didn’t have toys, ha, I mean I had plastic toys. But I loved making tree forts and I felt that a lot of my childhood was kinda of meditated in the wood.
The Soul Dynamic | That’s awesome! Ok, you mentioned that your parents used to play old records, would you say that they were your biggest influence in music, or was it another artist?
BØRNS | I mean there was a point where I had Backstreet Boys and N’Sync posters up in my room not, gonna lie about that one, but it was funny because I went from that, to all of the sudden this crazy obsession with The Beatles. But really if you were to take some of the timeline back from the pop writers that wrote the N’Sync type music, it all comes back to The Beatles.
The Soul Dynamic | Haha!
BØRNS | Haha, so yeah in a way I just loved pop music growing up, still do. I mean at the time my parents were also very influential in my musical taste as well.
The Soul Dynamic | You and I are one in the same my friend! I was also huge Backstreet Boys fan and definitely had those posters as well.
BØRNS | What about O-Town? Did you listen to them?
The Soul Dynamic | Oh yeah! Of course.
BØRNS | Did you watch ‘Making the Band’?
The Soul Dynamic | Yes! On MTV, you bet I did.
BØRNS | Haha yep! That was my jam growing up!
The Soul Dynamic | Wow that brings me way back, and I’m not even that old.
BØRNS | Listen to “Liquid Dreams” tonight, and see where it takes you…Haha. The music video was ridiculous…they were floating around on this total green screen set. Remember those old Capri Suns commercials where the guys are like mercury looking?
The Soul Dynamic | Yeah! Haha.
BØRNS | Well instead of those guys, there are these like silhouettes of girls in that mercury looking way. And the guys are all sitting there like, “this is cool.”
The Soul Dynamic | I’ll have to go back and look at it again haha, classic. That’s too funny. I actually just saw the Backstreet Boys on their tour this summer! They were the first concert I ever went to as a kid, and then went back about 10 years later and saw them again — it was wild.
BØRNS | Woah! No way! That’s actually really special that you can do that.
The Soul Dynamic | Yeah they actually have a documentary coming out about their journey, and I’m definitely showing my crazy fan girl side right now.
BØRNS | Are you wearing a Backstreet Boys T-shirt right now? Haha
The Soul Dynamic | No! Haha. I’m getting way too personal now, this is about you!
BØRNS | Haha, ok ok.
The Soul Dynamic | Alright, back to the interview. I also read something about a tree house? And you probably get this a lot, but can you explain that a little more?
BØRNS | You are actually the first person to ask me about that.
The Soul Dynamic | REALLY?!
BØRNS | Haha — no.
The Soul Dynamic | Ah damn, fell for that.
BØRNS | Haha, so I live in a bode among the trees. It’s a guest house that I found when I first moved out to California, and its a really amazing, peaceful sanctuary. I have an outdoor kitchen. But it’s living very strictly, I don’t have a lot of room for a lot of belongings. I mean I just moved in here with a guitar and suitcase. But I’ve written a lot of music up here, and I’m very close with my landlords. They actually don’t let me call them landlords anymore, I call them my L.A. family. They are so gracious and loving and supportive of my music. And they treat me as a part of the family. They have little kids that play music, and are SUPER talented. Rock Stars of the future. We always play music, and I’m like their music influence and they are mine. It totally takes me out of my head as a professional musician, and brings you back to a kid playing music. And you have no inhibitions, you don’t think about if it sounds good, you just play ya know?
The Soul Dynamic | Yeah.
BØRNS | It’s been a really amazing environment to live in and write in. I didn’t know anyone when I moved out to California, so I felt very at ease and accepted here.
The Soul Dynamic | You’re new EP Candy is killer, I can’t stop listening to it. How has your career changed since it was released?
BØRNS | Well…it’s gotten a lot busier I suppose. I just kind of hit the ground running. I mean we were working hard up until its release and everything, recording this past year. But ever since we dropped it I’ve just been working and rehearsing and playing a lot with my band, getting back in the studio as well working on my full length. Doing a lot of interviews. I want to keep the momentum going and keep making good content. It seems like people are really enjoying it, but it also seems that people still don’t know really what BØRNS is, which I like.
The Soul Dynamic | What do you mean?
BØRNS | Well like I went to play CMJ and obviously I only had a single out at that point, I didn’t even have the EP. It was all very new. And I was at this show that I was going to play at and this girl comes up to me and she goes “Hey! Who are you here to see?” And I say “Oh I’m here to see BØRNS,” and she was like “OH MY GOD I LOVE BØRNS!”
The Soul Dynamic | HAHA!
BØRNS | And she continues, “10,000 emerald pools — such a good song!” and I’m like “Yeah it is a good song!” It was just really funny, but I kind of like the anonymous bliss of it. But it’s cool, because people are like ‘I love this band!’ but really its me and four other guys that did the record, so it’s like as a performance piece it is a band, but really it’s just me. I’m rambling now but what I’m trying to say is that the early stages are exciting. You see everyone trying to figure you out.
The Soul Dynamic | Yep. Ok if we were sitting here a year from now, celebrating, what would it be?
BØRNS | Ohhh, I don’t know…is it a holiday today? Is this like a trick question? Haha.
The Soul Dynamic | Haha! No It’s not a holiday, and this is not a trick question.
BØRNS | Oh ok, I was like uhh… President’s Day? Haha. Ok so what have I accomplished this year?
The Soul Dynamic | Yeah, maybe your full length album?
BØRNS | Hopefully I’ll be on the road and I will have seen things and I will have a beard by then.
The Soul Dynamic | Hahaha!
BØRNS | I’m totally kidding, I can’t grow a beard right now. Haha. You know I’m really grateful for the things that I’ve been able to do so far. I’ve met some really great people, who have turned into some really great friends. The people that I’m working with are really awesome…I guess I hope to continue to write good music and playing cool shows.
The Soul Dynamic | Those are all good answers!
BØRNS | Yeah?
The Soul Dynamic | Yes.
BØRNS | Ok. I also want…World Domination.
The Soul Dynamic | HAHA! That is a great answer.
BØRNS | Ha, I also hope to inspire the ears of many people…Haha. That’s such a good question though, makes you think about things. I’ve been so living in the moment and I guess I take my music and my career day by day at this point. I have a lot lined up so I’m trying to live in the moment. So hopefully a year from now I will be like “Woah that was a year ago?! I’ve done so much in a year” and hopefully you will be like “Yeah me too!” and then we will be like “Hey Backstreet Boys are in town!”
The Soul Dynamic | Haha, this is hilarious. Ok, two more questions and you are free, what do you want people to take away from your music?
BØRNS | Well I want people to take away. Hmm hopefully having it stuck in their heads haha. Well I write things that feel good to me, what I want to sing and what I want to hear and hopefully it resonates with other people. And then they have it stuck in their heads. In a good way! I don’t want it to pound into peoples heads and brains. I hope it makes people feel good. Its interesting with social media these days, you can see an instant response about how people feel about your music. Or an instant reaction. Where as before, you would have no idea what people thought when they heard your song on the radio or on a mixtape. I see things like “The perfect wake up song! 10,000 Emerald Pools” and I’m like ok, rad. Or I see “Going out on a road trip #10000EmeraldPools.” I just hope it inspires happiness and freedom in people.
The Soul Dynamic | I like it, ok last question. What inspires you?
BØRNS | What inspires me? There are a lot of things that inspire me. I actually had an interesting conversation last night with this bass player in my band. We were talking about brand new instruments. I feel so weird playing brand new instruments. I’ve never actually spent money on a good guitar or any instrument really…I’ve always just borrowed them. And I really like that because I love an instrument that has gone through things. And also has been played by someone who is much better than me. That way it already has some life in it — I feel like I can write easier. Old pianos that are kinda janky, or old guitars. Instruments that make you work for the sound. Sometimes you can play something and it sounds great right away, because its a nicely made instrument. But I like to work for it. That’s just one thing that inspires me. I’m inspired also by listening to music. I’m always interested in what people are up to and what they are doing today. And also discovering really old music, that I never knew existed just being like “Holy shit this was here the whole time!” Do you listen to a lot of old music?
The Soul Dynamic | Yeah! My parents influenced me a lot with my music taste.
BØRNS | Yeah, and sometimes you come across something and it’s almost like a new song to you, but it’s been there for so long. Traveling also is inspiring, living in new places and meeting new people and getting new outlooks on life. I think exercise is also inspiring and good, haha, just getting to the gym. It really balances the mind and helps you understand yourself.
The Soul Dynamic | Agreed, this was all good! Thank you! Anything else you want people or your fans to know?
BØRNS | Something for my fans… hmm. Thank you for listening! (So my mom doesn’t have to be the only one that tells me my music is great).
Picture of Garrett driving | Kristina Pedersen
In Pool | Tony Katai