This week we find ourselves inspired by Johanna Warren.
Johanna Warren is a singer, songwriter and the founder of Spirit House Records. Johanna crafts powerful songs in unusual time signatures and melancholic open tunings on her acoustic guitar. She combines adept finger-picking with lilting, acrobatic vocal lines and potent poetry drawing from a deep well of mysticism and introspective journeying.
In 2015, Rolling Stone Magazine named Johanna “One of Four Singer-Songwriters You Need to Know.” In 2016 she founded Spirit House Records, a radically artist-friendly community of healers, activists, witches and starchildren bringing medicine to the world in the form of art. She released her third LP, “Gemini I” on Spirit House last September; its twin, “Gemini II,” is due out this summer.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An artist, a farmer, a witch, and/or Bert the Chimney Sweep.
What is your WHY? (The reason why you do the work you do)
Healing. My songs are mostly works of catharsis. I sing about darkness in order to transmute it, and to provide a safe space for others to do similar internal work.
Outside of music, I’m passionate about herbalism and reconnecting humans to the healing magic of nature. I’ve been diagnosed with a lot of chronic illnesses over the years, and the Western medical paradigm really doesn’t work for me, so I’ve found a lot of joy and empowerment in discovering non-pharmaceutical answers to my body’s questions. Much of my path has been about reconnecting with magic, mostly through meditation, journeying alone in the wilderness, and communing with plant consciousness and the mysteries of the moon.
What are the biggest challenges/setbacks you’ve had to face?
My own self-doubt. The parts of me that want to fail.
What’s piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams?
The universe is a kitchen stocked with limitless ingredients, so enjoy concocting an original recipe for your life. Make it how you like it, because at the end of the day you’ll be the one eating it. You will always be tweaking the recipe. You might have to throw many botched attempts in the compost before you get it right. You might find out along the way you have some allergies you didn’t know about 😉 Maybe you find a recipe that works, and spend years happily preparing and eating the same perfected dish, and then one day you wake up with the craziest craving for something completely different… and if that happens, I say, go for it. Always listen to your gut.
If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?
I don’t feel particularly qualified to answer that in a definitive way… I’m a member of the ACLU and the NRDC, and recently gave to Standing Rock’s legal defense fund, and I feel good about all of those things… but the world needs so much healing, and there are so many organizations doing important work, and each of our hearts is going to resonate a little differently with different causes; how we choose to direct our energy is a very personal choice. So please give to whatever cause resonates with you… but please do give!
One of my personal favorite ways to help fight the good fight is actually to give to artists, by buying their work or donating to crowdfunding campaigns. A life without art is one I would have no interest in living, and I believe making art is inherently an act of political resistance. I value the work of organizations, for sure, but I get a special kind of sparkle from giving to visionary individuals.