ABOVE: BRITT WARNER. PHOTO BY JESSICA EWALD
Britt Warner was seven years old when she packed her things and left home. Placing the essentials in her ruby red Radio Flyer wagon—Casio keyboard, Fisher Price tape recorder (“with microphone,” she adds), Hello Kitty diary, a blanket, and as many Capri Suns as the wagon would carry—Warner journeyed from the front door of the family household to the end of the driveway, where, away from the scorching Los Angeles sun, she set up camp beneath the shade of a eucalyptus tree.
Though Warner’s stint as a juvenile “runaway” may have been short-lived, she eventually would go on to depart her childhood home for real, exchanging her toy wagon for a Dodge Stratus and traversing the United States in pursuit of a musical career: Austin, Seattle, Vermont, West Hollywood. “I have always been a proactive wallower,” says Warner of her experiences.
“Papa Says,” which we’re pleased to debut here, is a lush, sobering plea; written from the perspective of an older, wiser Warner, she explains to her father the motivations for leaving home. Musically, she brings to mind a stripped-down Lana Del Rey—poised cinematic excess replaced with raw, haunting intimacy. When she describes the look in her father’s eyes, confessing of her chosen profession, “I don’t have a choice,” it’s quietly devastating.
“I haven’t shown the song to my dad yet,” Warner admits, “but I think he’ll like it. This song feels representative of every artist I’ve ever known and the involuntary obsessive compulsion that calls us to create, no matter the cost or conflict. No parent wants to see their child starving and destitute, though. It’s a conversation more than an argument.”