Last year, Johanna Warren took listeners on an unexpected journey into her singular and overtly welcoming musical realm with her sophomore record, nūmūn. However, the singer-songwriter only gave visual representation of that album’s world in one music video: the revealing “True Colors”. Warren noted that the process of shooting “True Colors” was an incredibly challenging one in terms of the clip’s natural progression as well as the actual shoot itself.
(Read: Johanna Warren: All Will Be Healed)
Still, what “True Colors” ultimately illustrated was Warren’s penchant for compelling artistry, no matter how challenging it was. Now, with another record looming in the distance, Warren returns with a standalone song and accompanying music video that expands on the songwriter’s unique vision. “Great Lake” is a deeply cinematic work, complementing Warren’s fluidity with astounding amounts of finesse and grace. Though no less difficult than “True Colors”, the filming of “Great Lake” proved so rewarding that it helped launch a separate and new vocal project, STONEHOLDER.
Check out the video below, followed by Warren’s statement about the making of the video and the formation of STONEHOLDER.
Great Lake - Johanna Warren ft. STONEHOLDER from samantha shay // source material on Vimeo.
“What you see captured in this video is a live group ritual, the manifestation of a vision I had six years ago when I first saw Brazilian mage Hermeto Pascoal’s “Musica da lagoa” and immediately knew that some day I would re-envision it with a magical circle of women. This vision seemed, for a long time, unattainably ambitious, but last summer I suddenly realized I had everything I needed to make it happen: a lively coven of adventurous souls, a hidden waterfall lagoon I stumbled upon while wandering Mt. Hood National Forest on psychedelics, dream director Samantha Ravenna Sóley Shay (Source Material Collective) – a learned witch who enthusiastically approached me shortly after the discovery of said waterfall – and supreme badass videographer Victoria Sendra, who derives more pleasure from jumping into polar waters with a GoPro strapped to her head than most people do from the most incredible sex.
“On our descent down the treacherous slopes that led to our secret lagoon, Ravenna guided us on an internal journey framed by the Sumerian goddess Inanna’s descent into the underworld. At each of the seven gates of the underworld, the elaborately dressed Inanna loses something; when at last she arrives before her sister Ereshkigal, she is naked. This story was beautifully, unexpectedly reflected in the unfolding of our shoot: My initial plan was to record a live, partially improvised rendition of the song I had written for the occasion (‘Great Lake’); we had come equipped with a variety of instruments and props that, once we were on location, looked sorely extraneous. ‘Let’s get all the stuff out of here,’ I said. ‘I just want to see women and water and rocks!’ Ultimately, the very song itself was discarded – we had rehearsed it for weeks, but once we were in the water, it became apparent that singing dutifully memorized lines was not the experience we were there to have. Clinging to any kind of structure felt awkward and forced. ‘Forget about the song! Just make whatever sounds want to come through!’
“The resulting experience – channeling the pain of the water and the forest, expressing the collective sorrow of the feminine, and connecting with each of our own authentic voices through a shifting soundscape of toning, screaming, crying, laughing, cooing (authentic field recordings of which are interspersed throughout the studio recording of the song) — was so powerful for everyone involved, it gave birth to an ongoing experimental ritual sound healing project called STONEHOLDER. Our first public ritual performance will be at the video release party (February 29th) in Portland, OR at Church.”