If you think you can hear the sounds of Los Angeles in the Børns debut album Dopamine, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, it might be the howls of coyotes that he recorded for his song “The Emotion.” Like a palm tree, Børns (née Garrett Borns, minus the slashed “o”) looks good against an LA sunset but is actually not a native, a fact given away by his shocked reaction at multiple parking tickets acquired in a single week.
When he caught the ear of Interscope Records, a temporary trip turned into a more permanent stay—but it’s hard to say how long he is actually going to be in town. Since the release of his EP Candy, the Michigan transplant (by way of NYC) has been touring with Misterwives, Bleachers, and Charli XCX, performing at festivals and even playing live at the only radio stations we are still listening to, BBC and KCRW. His first album was written half in a tree house overlooking the LA canyons and half on the road.
The outcome is a work filled with what he calls “intense cosmic vibrations.” And the androgynous heritage of Ziggy Stardust extends beyond his penchant for feather boas and iridescent blouses. His reverb-laced falsetto has many mistaking him for a woman, a fact that he embraces wholeheartedly. “Music should have no gender,” says Børns. “If it’s good, then it shouldn’t matter.” He lives up to this mantra by touring with badass musicians Kristen Gleeson-Prata (on drums) and Lauren Salamone Perez (on keys)—“The yin to my yang,” as he likes to call them—while Connor Doyle jams on guitar and Jon Joseph handles bass. Unfazed by jet lag or LA’s never-ending Indian-summer heat, Børns had some wisdom: “Stay cool.” I thought about saying, “You too,” but I figured he was already about as cool as you can get.