Give Johanna Warren a cozy, nostalgia-soaked, wood-paneled room, a piano and an Ear Trumpet Labs mic and you've got the perfect setting for Banana Stand Media's latest series of stripped-down sessions. Unpeeled intends to provide a very intimate experience, and this session is particularly so for both viewer and artist.
Sitting down at the piano, Warren played "circlenot astraight" from her 2016 record Gemini I. "This was the first time I've ever performed this song live in front of anyone, except for my engineer when we made the record, so I was a little nervous," she tells. "This song will always be a little mysterious to me. I stand by the fact that it was co-written by a ghost. It holds a lot of pain and loss and questioning; sometimes I feel like the narrator is at the end of a lifetime, looking back at a history of disappointment and abandonment.
"The two choruses work together to address the essential human conundrum of being a walking paradox: The first says, 'My afflictions make me hate, but my addictions make me kind,' while the second insists, 'My addictions make me hate, but my afflictions make me kind.' And then the repeated defense, 'I'm a circle, not a straight line,' to me kind of evokes Whitman's voice: 'Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)' Maybe it's all true, maybe none of it is."
Gemini I is a twin, and "Its twin, Gemini II, will be out this fall," Warren says. "Each album consists of nine songs and each song has a corresponding 'twin' track on the other album, tied together by either musical motifs, thematic/lyrical content, or production choices. They were all recorded at the same time, and I'm excited to be rereleasing Gemini I on vinyl with its twin as a double LP."