#FALL IN LOVE WITH BØRNS AND PETITE MELLER
Rising stars Børns and Petite Meller created the soundtrack for the season’s most romantic campaign. H&M Life brought them together in New York to discuss love, magic and music.
Like great romances, the best artistic collaborations are intense and wild and expressive. Done well, they can be hypnotic. Which is why when H&M wanted to celebrate the timelessness of true love in music, the brand decided to matchmake two exquisite singer-songwriters to produce the notes.
Across three countries and over several sleepless nights, Michigan native Børns and French pop songstress Petite Meller remade Sunday Morning, which the Velvet Underground debuted in 1967. The composition is the soundtrack to the newest campaign on hm.com and an ode to this season. There is no better time to #fallinlove.
Even so, Børns and Meller admit they have yet to decode the mysteries of passion. When conversation on a sun-soaked evening turns to matters of the heart, Børns makes it obvious: “I’m very confused about that.”
“Love became the theme of the album I just finished. I didn’t really realize that was going to happen, but it did,” he continues. He hesitates, grinning. “The record is called Dopamine.”
DO YOU WORK OUT EMOTIONS IN MUSIC? DOES IT HELP YOU FIND OUT HOW YOU FEEL?
Børns: I don’t know. Whenever I’m writing a song, it just kind of goes there. I don’t really mean for it to, but it’s what I think I default to.
Meller: I think when you write a song, you don’t think. You just feel. I just see what I have in my subconscious, and sometimes I don’t know really what I sing about. But after a while, I go back and analyze it. My last song was Baby Love, so there is love there, of course. The song is about a love that you don’t really know what it means.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, IT’S A CHEERFUL SONG. IS LOVE ALWAYS SO ECSTATIC?
Meller: It comes from pain, I think, but, yes, it moves into a cheerful place.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST FALL IN LOVE WITH MUSIC?
Børns: Music was just always playing when I was younger. My folks weren’t instrumentalists or anything; they weren’t singers. But they danced a lot. They were always dancing in the kitchen and playing records.
Meller: Really? Like hippies?
Børns: They were kind of hippie parents. They played music all the time for me. My mom is a raw foodist, so she’s really an artist in the kitchen. My dad is a painter and architect, so he definitely inspired me artistically. Music was just always present.
Meller: For me, I always knew it. There’s no point where I had to say, ‘I love it.’ It was always like that for me.
DID YOU GROW UP AROUND IT, TOO?
Meller: My mom used to listen to French chanteuses and jazz records like Dizzy Gillespie and saxophone and African records—mostly vinyl. I’ve tried to combine all of that into my own genre, which I call nouveau jazzy pop.
WHAT’S THE FIRST LOVE SONG YOU REMEMBER LISTENING TO?
Børns: Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers.
I think we both know how to do magic.PETITE MELLER
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MYSTERY AND MUSIC?
Børns: There are sound bites from Los Angeles hidden in this new record. I used to have this place up in the Hills, and these coyotes used to always come out at night. The wildlife up there is amazing. There was this one night where the coyotes were going crazy. I stuck my iPhone out the window and got this really wild sample. We put it in a song and put a delay on it, so it sounds really cool. You can’t really tell what it is exactly. There are little hints of that in the record.
Meller: I like that everyone can have a different interpretation of my music. I think not everything should be fed to you with a spoon. It’s good to have a bit of mystery. This is what art is. It gives you something to think about and to go home with.
Børns: When I was younger, actually, I went through this phase where I really got into magic. I was going to all these magic shows. The magic capital of the world is in Michigan where I grew up. It’s this little town with, like, top hats as planters on the sidewalk. They have a big magic convention every year, and magicians around the world go there and sell magic tricks and teach each other stuff.
Meller: Can you do magic?
Meller: I think we both know how to do magic.
Børns: It just makes me think how magic and music are synonymous in a way. When you go to a show, you never really know what to expect.
Meller: It’s true. We are all magicians.
I KNOW YOU EACH RECORDED YOUR MUSIC SEPARATELY. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO PRODUCE A SONG ACROSS THE WORLD FROM EACH OTHER?
Meller: We recorded in three different countries—L.A., London, and it was produced in Sweden. But the music is related to New York—where we are now. It’s all Lou Reed and Andy Warhol and that downtown scene. As artists, I think we both connected to this vibe and our voices came together.
Børns: It was the first time I’ve done a duet in two different places like that.
Meller: It was intergalactic.
Børns: We each have these characteristic and unique inflections, but I wanted it to feel like there was a real relationship between our voices.
HOW DID YOU PUT YOUR OWN STAMP ON SUCH A FAMOUS SONG?
Børns: It’s tricky. You have two choices. Either, you can try to do a song exactly like the original, or you can give it your own spin completely.
Meller: But no matter what you have to connect with the song. You have to bring your own perspective to it. I’m still learning it. It’s an amazing album. The song is kind of a mystery to me, still. I don’t totally understand it.
HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN A LOVE SONG FOR SOMEBODY?
Meller: Of course! What do you mean? It’s always for somebody—always.
WHAT IS THE MOST ROMANTIC SONG YOU’VE EVER LISTENED TO?
Meller: All of Lionel Richie. I think he makes the most romantic love songs ever. In your darkest moments, they lift you up and make you feel better and heal you. That’s the purpose of music.
Børns: I think the Bee Gees did it for me. I think the Bee Gees have written some of the most romantic lines. Like, More Than a Woman. All the lines in that song—it’s like, damn. Every line in that song is just amazing. The way the words work with the melodies is just so good.
Meller: What does it mean “more than a woman”?
Børns: Oh my god! If you told that to someone? If you looked into someone’s eyes and said, “you’re more than a woman, more than a woman to me”? It’s pretty powerful.
Meller: That’s great music, yes? It’s something that stays with you and sticks on your mind. It’s like a virus.
See the #fallinlove video here.