New Album Excitement: iamamiwhoami
If you were an avid YouTube fan four years ago, you were probably aware of the mystery surrounding iamamiwhoami's channel. A pioneer in the world of viral videos, the iamamiwhoami creator would email and contact various music journalists with links to the first few videos that were posted. Some writers who covered the work online received bizarre packages, containing items such as a lock of blonde hair, tree bark, and pictograms relating to the images in the videos. The channel created puzzling challenges for its soon rabid fans, with the first series of videos all featuring a drawing of an animal, and titled with jumbled number sequences. The music world began buzzing with questions about the identity of the blonde woman in the videos. Her identity was kept shrouded in enigma due to distortion used on her face, and shots that never seemed to include more than one facial feature. I personally scoffed at accusations of Lady Gaga being behind the channel, because her face was too different. However, I found myself more supportive of the idea that it was Karin from The Knife. Swedish musical acts can be a little on the bizarre side, and seeing as how Karin's natural appearance was rarely seen, I could imagine it might have been her. Plus, I had seen Karin with long, ice-blonde hair before.
The second series of videos began trickling onto the internet, each title with just a letter. As videos appeared, fans tried to figure out what each letter meant for the title of the latest series. I specifically recall trying to figure it out, and wasn't 100% sure about the conclusion that the series was called bounty, but it turns out I was wrong!
As bounty videos were released, more claims about iamamwhoami's identity began circulating. A fairly strong case was made by Swedish media for Jonna Lee. In the video for "b," the enigmatic songstress' face is visible, although distorted by what appears to be a heckuva lot of clear packing tape. Lee, residing in Stockholm, had started her music career in 2007, releasing a few studio albums. In 2009, Lee created her own independent label under the moniker iamamiwhoami, and moved forward with releasing the videos onto the internet. Although Lee did not "officially" confirm her involvement with the iamamiwhoami project until its debut album release in 2012 under the label To whom it may concern., it was widely known that she was the force behind it due to unobstructed views of her face in many of the videos that made up the bounty series. In support of the bounty series, iamamiwhoami also performed a live art-concert, which was set in a forest and streamed online. The iamamiwhoami project is actually a collaboration between Lee and her music producer, Claes Björklund. Since the creation of iamamiwhoami, Björklund has also co-written songs and created music for the project.
iamamwhoami went on to win an award in the category of Innovator of the Year for the 2011 Swedish Grammis, and an anonymous woman arrived to accept the award. She handed the announcer an envelope with the words "To whom it may concern" on the front. Inside the envelope was a blank piece of paper, which can be reasonably assumed to reference the introductory video “kin 20120611” in the kin video series, as well as later videos such as the more recent “fountain.” iamamwhoami also picked up a 2012 MTV O award in the Digital Genius category after the release of the series for kin. kin brought a worldwide tour, including some dates in the United States. If I had been better on top of my game, I should have tried to attend a night!
In January 2012, all of iamamiwhoami's online presence was updated to announce the forthcoming Blue album. In true form for the project, videos have been released intermittently throughout the year. The official release date has been listed as 20141110, or, as we are more used to seeing it in the USA, 11/10/14.
I have been listening to all of the videos in the Blue playlist on the project's YouTube all day, and I am not exaggerating. Although I dearly love many of the songs from bounty and kin, Blue is more aligned with my usual musical interests. If you're a fan of Grimes, you'll probably be into Blue. I'm really loving the visual aesthetic I'm seeing from the Blue videos. I think the crystalline colors and light scenery really amplify and mesh with Lee's look.
And last but not least, I suppose I must mention the question that haunts a lot of iamamiwhoami's fans: WHAT THE HECK DOES IT ALL MEAN? I personally support a loose tale of relationship that fell into ruin and extreme loss, and is now perhaps turning around for the protagonist in Blue. In the first series iamamiwhoami released, which the numbers as titles, I do not see a definitive narrative, but I think one starts in bounty. bounty seems to lay the groundwork for a relationship which may not be the most healthy (images of puppets, mother nature's destruction, suicide), and kin seems to feature themes of being antagonized, confusion, and a potential abortion or miscarriage (images of the hairy creatures chasing/surrounding the protagonist, waking up lost and near-naked, and a gesture that indicates a removal of something from the abdomen complete with a suggestion of water breaking). Blue so far features more light/optimistic imagery that is balanced by dark figures that follow or hunt the protagonist. Could they stand for a haunted past? Does that tie into my idea of a lost child?
You can join me in the pre-order phenomenon for Blue HERE. And if iamamiwhoami is too weird for you, it's likely you're not weird enough to be my friend.
Till next time, thanks for reading!