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by Michael Baggs

Iamamiwhoami: 'It is now relevant for us to play live'

Interview: mysterious Swedish star discusses evolution from YouTube enigma

 

Iamamiwhoami: 'It is now relevant for us to play live'

Photo:

The Iamamiwhoami saga has gripped alternative pop fans since the first series of mysterious videos appeared on YouTube in 2009. Despite intitial suggestions, Iamamiwhoami was not in fact a new project from Lady Gaga, Bjork, Trent Reznor or Christina Aguilera. It was instead a little-known Swedish singer/songwriter named Jonna Lee, who successfully turned anonymity into a work of art with her epic videos and dark, elegant electronica.

Having released her debut album as Iamamiwhoami in September 2012, Jonna Lee this week brings her spectacular alter-ego to London's Ether festival this week with a performance at the Southbank Centre - her first ever UK show. Ahead of her appearance we caught up with Jonna Lee to discuss her progress from internet mystery to aloof electropop sensation...

Why did you first decide to launch the project anonymously?
It was not yet developed into what we now know it to be. I needed time to grow into shape and to figure out what it was going to become. For me and for it's surroundings. So we kept to ourselves and focused on no talk and much action.

Watch 'b' below

Was it always the plan to reveal yourself with the album's release?
I have wanted to avoid any kind of sense of a reveal of my identity which is why I waited to speak about my project until I the focus had shifted from identity into what is essential which is the work we have done.

How did you feel when people initially confused your tracks with big name artists, such as Christina Aguilera?
I felt confused and focused on creating.

Having now revealed yourself to your audience, how will the lack of anonymity affect future IAMAMIWHOAMI releases?
I didn't comment on my work as there was nothing to explain. My face was never hidden in our films. I can now speak about it as there is something to say. So for those who follow iamamiwhoami for the sake of our work, it won't make a difference.

Will you have to work twice as hard now that the mystery has gone? Or is it like a weight being lifted from your shoulders?
For us nothing is gone. As our audience have been aware of my identity since the early days of iamamiwhoami the difference is probably bigger when you articulate it.

The visual aspect of IAMAMIWHOAMI has been a huge part of growing your fanbase. How is the visual side of things represented in your live shows?
Meeting the audience in physical we transfer our message and the purpose of doing live shows into their world. As of now I'm delivering kin. So I bring kin to the audience in our shows. There is song, dance and play happening from both inside and outside of the box.

Did the anonymity of the project prevent you from taking IAMAMIWHOAMI on tour sooner?
No. Everything has it's own time. It is now relevant for us to play live.

You rose to fame on YouTube and have clocked up over 17,000,000 views. How easy (or hard) has it been translating those figures into sales?
If means was at all the motive of what we do I could have chosen a different path.

Watch 'goods' below

Is the person who works out how to do this the one who will save the music industry?
The focus should be to create with heart and mind and I'm sure good things will come from that.

Do you miss your alternative music roots? Does your heart lie in electronic - or guitar based music?
I feel at home where I am now. The artistic difference between then and now is probably bigger from an outside point of view. Categorizing music after what instruments one uses is not necessary.

What do you have planned for the future of IAMAMIWHOAMI?
We produce and share our work in real time. I'm now in midst of delivering kin to the audience as they now need to care for it. Once this process is over I will see where it has taken me. Maybe deeper underground. Or maybe some place totally different.

Iamamiwhoami performs at the Southbank Centre as part of Ether Festival on Wednesday, 10 October 2012. Tickets are on sale now. For more information visit Gigwise Gig Tickets.

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