Outside Lands Artist Profile: Get to know BØRNS

Photo by: Ben Gabbe / Stringer / Getty Images

Today is the magical day people around the Bay Area wait all year for: single-day tickets for Outside Lands go on sale! In an effort to help you get familiar with some of the artists on this year’s lineup I have been looking at a select few artists that I think you should make time in your schedule to check out. Earlier I profiled Mac Demarco, Shannon & the Clams, and today it’s…


The 26-year-old indie-pop star has been making serious noise on the internet for several years now with his unique take on the pop-alt-psych-electro blend. You have probably unknowingly heard a BØRNS song or two – a few of his songs have been used in nationwide campaigns, including the ever-so-catchy and upbeat “Electric Love” off of his 2015 album Dopamine.

You could say performing was in the cards for BØRNS (née Garrett Borns) from an early age. He started as a 10-year-old professional magician going by the name “Garrett the Great” and performing card tricks around his hometown of Grand Haven, Michigan. By the time he was in 7th grade, BØRNS had won a scholarship to the Kendall College of Art and Design for visual art. It wasn’t long after that BØRNS began studying jazz and taking lessons in classical piano at his local community college. By 2012 he was playing his original music with The Garrett Borns Trio and independently releasing an EP. It wouldn’t take long for BØRNS to branch out on his own, and in 2014 he landed a deal with Interscope Records.

That first album, 2015’s Dopamine, garnered considerable buzz for its genre-defying maneuvers. His androgynous style and stage persona drew comparisons to David Bowie and Prince. But ultimately it was the music that propelled BØRNS to the front and center of the indie-pop scene, and Dopamine climbed to #2 on the Alternative Albums charts. His follow up album Blue Madonna in 2017 reached #3 on the Alternative charts on the strength of standout singles “Faded Heart” and “Sweet Dreams”.

During the Blue Madonna tour, BØRNS come through for a KFOG Private Concert, which ended up being one of our most packed shows. It was no surprise to me, however, as I had gone to his show at San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop the night before to see what all the buzz was about. Long after it sold out, about 80 fans wrapped around the building to wait in hopes of making it on the overflow list. While I doubt any of them actually made it in, a crowd remained outside for the entire show, content to hear his crooning falsetto and hypnotic pop through the thick walls of the club.

I talked to talked to BØRNS at the KFOG Private Concert the next day about his new album and his recent obsession with the obscure Russian instrument the Theramin, which he incorporates on several tracks on Blue Madonna. I was struck by his shyness, which is something that definitely does not come across in most of his music. It was almost impossible to imagine that this was the same man who was parading around stage shirtless the night before, commanding the room like the emperor of some mystical land of glitter. But I guess therein lies the complexity of BØRNS.

Check out the videos below and make sure to pencil him in on your schedule for day three of Outside Lands!

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