Before he ever stepped foot into the Nerdist offices in Burbank, Garrett Borns was transfixed by an extremely well-endowed squirrel.
Oddly, I was not taken aback by this. After listening to the Michigan-born musician’s debut album, Dopamine, I found myself most interested in his descriptions of elemental scenes: vast skies and interminable bodies of water. And of course there is the oft-repeated factoid that BØRNS once lived in a treehouse. Presumably this is a guy who is holistically interested in nature—even the sordid and potentially grotesque aspects of it.
After this insane moment, we made our way through the byzantine halls of The Nerdist HQ, making sure to pose with the LEGO replica of Chris Hardwick that sits poised at the entrance of our building in Burbank. (Whimsically, Jenna Elfman made a surprise appearance in a picture with him, squeezing up next to the sunflower jacket clad songwriter. Check that out below). I have heard people describe BØRNS as a mythical creature, and though skeptical about this phrase in general, I couldn’t help but sense his cosmic gravitational pull as we began chatting about his debut album and more. Below you can read/watch our conversation as we navigate topics such as his friendship with Taylor Swift, the Las Vegas Hooters hotel, and his ideal Halloween costume. Objectively, this was such a weird day.
Nerdist: What music have you been listening to on tour?
N: Reverential descriptions of elemental forces are consistent throughout Dopamine. Can you address that?
B: I feel like where I grew up, I spent a lot of time in my backyard. Basically my backyard was very wooded and emptied out into these huge sand dunes, and then Lake Michigan. That environment definitely influenced me creatively. I always took little pieces from the earth. I was always collecting things, like rocks. There’s all these really amazing rocks that are in Lake Michigan, like Petoskey stones. That’s the state rock, which is a fossil. I always made things out of stuff that I found, or made potions. When you just take everything from the refrigerator, put it inside a thing, mix it up, and then put it in the sun. You’d always put it in the sun.
N: Taylor Swift gave you a shout out about “Electric Love” a few months back. How have things changed since then?
N: What question are you most tired of answering?
Borns: At this point I feel like there’s been a lot of questions about this treehouse that I may or may not live in. It was one of those things that I just threw out in one interview. I was living up in the canyons of LA, and I lived in this little shack on the side of a hill. I mentioned it was a treehouse, and then that’s always a question that comes up. It’s like, “Tell us about your treehouse that you built with your bare hands.” It’s like a game of telephone. It always changes.
N: What is your ideal Halloween costume?
N: Did you think about any specific places while writing the new album?
B: I think a lot of my songs come from kind of like a fantasy, like a fantastical place in my mind that’s almost where I always find my dream relationships in my mind. I feel like most of my songs are about this lover that I just can’t have or that has run away. Even “Electric Love” is about this fantasy of this girl. Really, if you look at the lyrics, the song’s about not being able to get sleep because you want this feeling again with this person. You want most what you can’t have, but the chase is more rewarding.
N: If you had to dance to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
B: There’s a number of early boy band songs that I would have probably chosen when I was a young feller. I had an NSYNC posters on my wall. On the other side was Backstreet Boys. And then I plastered over it O-Town. So I am going with “Liquid Dreams“. That is a great track.
N: Thanks for coming in—I feel like we may have peaked early with the squirrel.
B: Maybe that squirrel is my spirit animal.
Featured Image: Tony Katai