By Jill Rothwell – Collegiate Staff
CHICAGO – “I am BØRNS. You are BØRNS. We are BØRNS,” cooed the charismatic 23-year-old singer-songwriter Garrett Borns to a sold-out, all-age show Nov. 14 at Chicago’s Double Door music club.
Earlier in the day at Shuga Records in Chicago, the former Grand Rapids Community College student and Grand Haven native, now simply known as his stage name “BØRNS” celebrated the one-year anniversary of his EP drop with an acoustic show.
BØRNS’ transcendent style has been described as many genres, from pop to rock and folk to electro glam. His hit single, “Electric Love” moved up a notch this week to #12 on the Top 20 chart of Billboard’s Emerging Artists.
A commercial for the American Music Awards was being filmed at the record store, all while anxious fans waited patiently in line. Even with the demands of attention to the work at hand, BØRNS’ genuine concern during the filming was to get the crowd in the store, out of the whipping-cold Chicago winds.
Fans packed into Shuga Records to hear a couple of tracks and to have CDs and posters of BØRNS’ debut album “Dopamine” signed after the performance. The album is a compilation of the previously released EP “Candy” and nine new singles.
Opening with “10,000 Emerald Pools,” the album’s first track, the crowd sang along to every word. BØRNS also took notice, complementing “the great singing voices” in the audience.
BØRNS studied under GRCC Associate Professor of Music Debora DeWitt, who recalled him as being “a natural talent.”
“When he auditioned he sang an original song for me and accompanied himself on the piano,” DeWitt said. “It was very impressive.”
BØRNS described performing at GRCC as a nervous experience at times, because his peers were all playing advanced pieces. On the other hand, he felt it challenged him to work harder.
After studying classical piano at GRCC, he went on to Muskegon Community College to study jazz composition and music history before moving to New York City in 2013 at the age of 21.
“I knew I had do it on my own, to put myself almost in a vulnerable position,” said BØRNS of his move to NYC. “It was the only way I was going to learn.”
A short time later he moved to Los Angeles, thinking he would only be there for about a month, to try a new atmosphere for writing. Instead he made some significant creative connections and decided to stay.
Within a few weeks of relocating, “10,000 Emerald Pools” would be his first song written in L.A., a joint collaboration with songwriter Jack Kennedy. The song’s title is named after the street in Las Vegas where Kennedy’s mother lives.
BØRNS received a National Scholastic Art Award, the “Gold Key,” as a seventh grade student at White Pines Middle School in Grand Haven. In 2011 he was invited to perform for Grand Rapids TedX, and then discovered by Interscope Records at an open mic event in 2013.
Most recently Southwest Airlines used “Electric Love” for their commercials and BØRNS performed the same track on “The Jimmy Fallon Show” in October.
The road life is good according to BØRNS, describing it as “a huge test of endurance with teaching moments of appreciation.” Songkick’s latest estimate for the group is 91 concerts played in 2015 with 55,243 miles traveled.
When asked to explain the lyrics of the national hit “Electric Love,” BØRNS said “it’s kind of up for interpretation but also kind of self-explanatory, basically the fantasies in your sleeping mind, a longing, lustful chemical reaction (dopamine).”
By his fans and handlers, BØRNS is described as an amazingly talented artist and very kind in nature.
BØRNS acknowledged his fame with a simple expression of gratitude.
“Going back three years and looking into the future, if I had a crystal ball, I would be very grateful things are going like this.”