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Mystique and intrigue are difficult aims for any artist who wants to succeed and thrive in our voluntary Big Brother media and society, but the electronic multimedia project iamamiwhoami nobly took on the challenge. At the core of iamamiwhoami is Jonna Lee, a fact that was not confirmed until August 2011 which was almost two years after iamamiwhoami shared a series of mysterious videos. Eventually the shadowy blonde figure featured in a series of ambient synth-pop shorts was named. Now, with the release of bounty, the audiovisual prologue of iamamiwhoami's debut release kin, we spoke to Jonna Lee about her enigmatic reputation.
Firstly, tell us about the name. Where did it come from? Were you worried about such a tongue twister perhaps holding you back?
People started referring to us as iamamiwhoami due to the name of our channel where our work is published. So it became our name through that. It reflects our constant evolution and development of identity. And it really isn't stranger than any other foreign name or word. You just need to make an effort to get it right at first.
It seems like we’ve been hearing your name for a long time. We remember reading a piece about iamamiwhoami in NME years ago when no one knew who you was behind the name. One of the guesses as to who you were was Christina Aguilera – were there any rumours that made you laugh before you revealed your identity?
It could have made me laugh. But I take our work seriously. And the talking didn't have any relevance to the actual work we displayed, so instead I focused on making music and film. I was always visible and hearable. I just chose not to comment on my motives for this project until I felt there were words to describe what we are doing.
Do you think it’s possible for artists to retain an air of mystery anymore in our access-all-areas internet age?
If you choose to yes. But as gradually people get used to easily accessing more and more information, with that often comes adaptation to it that turns into the normative. And the conventions of normative ways often kills all creative lust.
Your album bounty has just been released – how long has this album been in the making?
bounty is our first series released in 2010 that is now getting a physical release. It's the prologue to our series kin and it reflects the start and first steps of iamamiwhoami. I wanted bounty to have the same physical weight as kin was given. It's wonderful to be able to deliver it to the audience now. All audiovisual pieces of it are equally important to me in different ways.
Your debut kin was very warmly received by critics. Did you have any fears about following it up? Or do you avoid reading your own press?
Fear is a thrilling emotion. But no. I'm proud of our work. Others opinions are relevant to those who tries to understand it. The work we have done is what it is to me no matter what.
kin was an audiovisual album. Which is more important to you – the visuals or audio of your work? Does one tend to come before the other for you or does it alternate?
All our work is audiovisual up to this point. But it all starts with music, being the core of us. I have a passion for playing with ways to expand it. It's a search to realistically reflect my experience of making it to the audience.
How are you feeling about playing Latitude? It will be your first UK festival appearance.
It feels exciting. I'm looking forward to showing bounty in it's best light and to see the audience again.
Who are your idols?
Anyone who dares to lose it all and take the fall for it.
Bounty is out now through to whom it may concern via Cooperative Music on CD/DVD and LP/DVD
iamamiwhoami play Latitude Festival on Sunday 21 July
Interview by Kate Allen
Written for IDOL