After the success with his debut album Dopamine in 2015, BØRNS sophomore album Blue Madonna was one we couldn't wait any longer for. I caught up with the singer-songwriter before his return to the stage in Montreal at the Club Soda. We spoke about the transition from his first album, the making of The Search For The Lost Sounds, certain songs on Blue Madonna and much more!
You’re back to touring, how has it been performing the new album?
Yeah, its been good! We’re finally going out with lights and stuff, its just nice to be able to do that. We wanted to give the people more of a show. I’ve been working with Mat, he’s actually from Montreal, who did all the light show and production and everything, its been fun!
How has the mindset been going into these shows compared to the Dopamine shows?
Just kind of getting back into it. I feel like I forget how much goes into putting an album out and being on the road and playing a show pretty much every night. But its good, I’ve been playing the full record, like top to bottom at the shows. I just wanted to do something different because I don’t know many people who play their whole record and I just wanted to show everyone the music in that context so maybe they’ll go listen to the record top to bottom instead of skipping around cause they’ll have a memory tied to it or something. So yeah, its been kind of experimenting with that, hopefully people like it.
From Dopamine to this album, your writing is still very honest and poetic, do you read any poetry-how do you write that way?
Yeah, I read poetry and I write things a lot. I just have a fascination with words and how they affect people and humour and double meanings. I’ve always been fascinated with words and rhymes and stuff like that. Whenever I find something that I like, I catalogue it and try to put it into a song or something.
And Lana Del Rey, in terms of writing her work is also very poetic, how was it working with her?
It was good! She’s such a presence, like her voice has this presence to it. It was cool to have her sing in the songs. When I was working on the album I was working with her sister shooting a bunch of photography and then Lana heard some songs through her sister Chuck and she was like ‘I love these songs I want to sing on them’ and we just got into the studio
What’s your favourite lyric on Blue Madonna?
Hm, I don’t know. I’ve always liked 'hot pavement, hot wheels in the sun' because I was picturing playing with hot wheels cars, like those tiny cars from when I was a kid and just the nostalgia of that. I remember I called the song 'Hot Wheels' when I first wrote it and then later it became God Save Our Young Blood.
Tell me a bit about Iceberg, like why an iceberg?
Well, its sort of using iceberg in a metaphorical context and just the fact that its cold and dense. It was a poem at first, I had written down this idea of ‘iceberg’ and not being able to express your feelings to someone and feeling a bit frozen. So yeah, when we were in the studio I found the poem and I just sang those words over the song. I also thought it was an interesting title for a song, like if I saw ‘Iceberg’ on an album i’d be like ‘what the hell is that song?’
And Bye-Bye Darling, tell me a bit about that one
That, I wanted to write sort of a ballad for the song, kind of a Beatles-y down tempo thing. That started out with just thinking about all the things I saw being lost like; reading a tangible book as opposed to reading something on your phone or writing something down or having conversations with your voice with someone or like to have a sense of meeting someone in a situation that isn’t virtual. Its all these things where I was like well, these are memories I’m gonna have and I still really like doing things this way but you know, inevitably technology advances and things change and that will affect romantic relationships and how people meet and there is something really honest and pure about that.
Before releasing the album you did a series of videos called The Search For The Lost Sounds, how did that idea come about?
I wanted to make a video or a series, like a making of the album but I wanted it to be a sort of behind the scenes that you never really seen before. I was thinking about and it and I was living in such an interesting and funny world in LA, I really wanted to make a series about my daily life and how I’m searching for new inspirations for the record. I used all the sounds in my neighbourhood and around as inspiration. I wanted to show that subliminally you can get ideas that way and then when you go to the studio you create something, sort of your own universe from all these things that you heard. Those things are dogs barking and an ice cream truck passing by ten times a day, a mariachi band and things on the radio and all these things that you think are your original ideas but its actually just your experiences throughout the day. I just wanted to make a fun video and tease some of the music.
The first song that appears in the video isn’t on the album, would you ever release it?
Oh no it's not! I needed an intro song cause originally I wanted dogs barking but almost like putting dogs on a keyboard, and I did something like that but it just wasn’t the vibe. And then I recorded a quick song on my iPhone and we ended up putting it into the video. I never thought about putting it out as song, I just thought it was an intro song. I like the song though I think it could be something. I was just playing this toy piano and singing into my iPhone but yeah!
You've had women play in your band since the beginning, was it important to you to support women in the industry?
Yeah, I mean to be honest they're just the best musicians I know so it just kind of happened that way. Originally, I sing a lot of high harmonies so I wanted musicians to be able to sing background and play and so having a girl on keys being able to sing those high harmonies helped a lot. But yeah, they're just phenomenal musicians and amazing people and I wouldn't want to be on the road with anyone else. Its a really awesome vibe on the road, there's a good balance of yin and yang energy.
As an artist who has a strong fanbase, what do you think your position as a performer is to create safe spaces at shows?
There's this energy when you're performing, the energy from the audience is-your facing each other the whole time, the energy is coming to you and you're reacting to that and everything you're putting forward they're reacting too. I think a show wouldn't be a show without one or the other so there's definitely a level of respect there. And the fact that some people are waiting a really long time before the show, and we're making sure everything is right and I just want to put on the best show that I can. I have a lot of respect for the fans that dedicate so much time to come to these shows and we dedicate our time to give them a great show. I think there's just a level of respect there and I always want people to feel safe and appreciated because I mean, we're just people and I'm just a performer.