“10,000 Emerald Pools,” the single from dream-pop artist Garrett Borns, who performs simply as Børns, has an accompanying underwater-themed video that features the composer on guitar, keyboards and a chorus of airy background vocals.
The track wasn’t conceived seaside, but in a California treehouse the Michigan-bred singer called home for over a year and a half.
“That and environment and living that way definitely made for some really interesting music,” says the 23-year-old, who plays San Francisco tonight promoting his debut EP “Candy.”
Residing under the canopy of a sprawling loquat tree, he says, “It’s like a childhood fantasy, right?”
He found the unusual rental by accident when he moved to Los Angeles two years ago, and — because he hit it off with his landlords and their musical children — an initial two-week lease kept getting extended.
“It was a very free and artistic environment, so it was really fun to create there,” he says. “And the family was really supportive of my music, so we all became very good friends.”
Modern conveniences were not included. There was no refrigerator, and only an outside shower: “So I used to have to walk in my towel past the family’s house, past their windows, and I’d be like, ‘Uhh … howdy!’”
Then there were the raccoons, whom he came to view as roommates. “They would always steal my fruit at night, but it was always just the fresh fruit — they were very pick. One night, there was actually a weed brownie left out on the table, and in the morning it was gone. So somewhere, there was a family of raccoons totally high and terrified that day — I hope they learned their lesson.”
Dates even found Børns’ lofty bachelor pad intriguing. “Girls really liked the treehouse — having your own little private environment was pretty romantic,” he says.
He found it easy to work there. “It’s such an easy environment to write and record in, because you’re not disturbing anyone with the sound you’re emitting. So I could play electric guitar at all times of the night, and I was literally singing from the treetops,” he says.
Børns was born artistic. As a child, he performed restaurant magic shows as Garrett The Great, and by middle school, he was winning awards and scholarships for his prodigious paintings — before music took over.
When California’s rainy season recently hit, he finally traded his nest for a dry apartment.
“To have an actual indoor kitchen and a refrigerator?” he says. “Oh, my God! I felt like a king!”
IF YOU GO
opening for Mister Wives
Where: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. March 12
Tickets: $15 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 771-1421; www.ticketfly.com