Artist Spotlight: BØRNS makes glam rock cool again

Børns performing at day two of Boston Calling, May 2016. (digboston/Flickr Creative Commons)

BØRNS draws from the well of David Bowie and T-Rex. He’s flashy, he flies toward the sky with his falsetto and he puts a modern spin on the 70s rock movement that blended visual and musical arts.

“[T-Rex frontman Marc] Boland and Bowie, I think they had an eye as much as they had an ear, which has influenced basically everything that you see and listen to in fashion and music,” BØRNS said in a Noisey mini-documentary.

Born (ha) Garrett Borns, the 25-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist has two EP’s and a full-length under his belt. His second full-length is slated for January 2018, with single “Faded Heart” released over the summer.

“Faded Heart” represents everything that made Borns breakout with his hit “Electric Love.” It features fuzzy 70s rock guitar and Borns’ vertigo-inducing falsetto. “Galaxy, galaxy/Won’t you be my consolation?/I need someone to kiss my hands and my feet/And make me feel complete, oh yeah,” Borns pleads in the opening lyrics of the song.

Unafraid of playing outside the box like his glam rock predecessors, Borns released a live-in-the-studio version of the song this past week complete with a mariachi band and alien-sounding Theremin. Look it up, you’ll thank me later.

Borns’ androgyny is another central part of his artistry. At times, the long-haired singer shows off his high-pitched falsetto and wears midriff-bearing floral shirts. Other times, he’s undeniably masculine, as he is on the provocative cover of his debut album “Dopamine”. The cover depicts Borns sitting in a chair, framed by a pair of presumably female legs. The signer is suggestively glancing up at the owner of the legs. In the “Electric Love” video, he’s depicted wearing glittery makeup while female dancers wearing tight shorts dance in front of him. It’s a wonderfully non-conformist celebration.

“I feel like growing up, I remember consciously having the feeling of like, ‘I know I’m gonna wear this to school and people are probably going to make fun of me,’” Borns told Noisey. “I really liked the feeling of getting out of my comfort zone and seeing how they reacted to it.”

Sexuality underscores Borns’ music. His ambient, synth-inflected cover of “I Touch Myself” by The Divinyls is catchy and light-hearted. Many of his lyrics concern love, physical touch and pleasure, hence the title “Dopamine.” “All I need is you/You’re all I need to breathe,” he sings dreamily in “10,000 Emerald Pools.”

Borns’ music videos are stories within themselves. “Faded Heart” features the singer drunkenly stumbling around a hotel room and chased by skeleton puppets. He’s later buried up to the neck while the puppets dance around him. “American Money” tells the story of two lovers, one depicted by Borns himself, while they dance, lay in the street and ride on a bike together.

Borns is one of a select few musicians bringing a full package of the sonic, personal and visual sides of art together. He spoke about his appreciation for artistic freedom in the Noisey documentary.

“Glam rock has definitely laid the foundation to allow people to do whatever the hell they want, and they should be able to.”


Schae Beaudoin is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at schae.beaudoin@uconn.edu.