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​ionnalee 285

@ionnalee

About ​ionnalee

EVERYONE AFRAID TO BE FORGOTTEN
new album feb 16 2018
PREORDER

Swedish singer, songwriter, producer and filmmaker, Jonna Lee, brings the evolution of her ten-year creative career to a new peak with the release of her maiden ionnalee offering, EVERYONE AFRAID TO BE FORGOTTEN on 16 February 2018 on To whom it may concern. and Kobalt Music.

Two years and two albums into a solo endeavour as a guitar- wielding folk’n’roller, 2009 saw Jonna Lee beginning a seminal metamorphosis which would lead her to join forces with best friend and long-term producer, Barbelle a.k.a Claes Bjorklund, in creating the organically viral, electronic pop phenomenon that is iamamiwhoami.

A mystery and a riddle, iamamiwhoami’s visuals-backed clue trail of short, sharp, gratifying musical shockwaves stumped fans and the media alike. It formed a gripping guessing game, which enticed audiences to explore its dark, elusory storyline. Moreover, as an entity still in its nappy days, iamamiwhoami’s real-time work process also meant that its cast of creatives’ initial decision to remain anonymous unintentionally caused a frenzy around the question of who was behind the surprise releases (Christina Aguilera and Karin Dreijer were but two of many suspects).

The group’s three ground-breaking audiovisual works [bounty (2010, digital); kin (2012); and BLUE (2014)] served as Jonna Lee’s vehicle for change, through which she has kept challenging limitations and untethering inhibitions in favour of development and innovation.

The iamamiwhoami Youtube channel has, since its inception, garnered over 42,300,000 views and in 2011 – even before its first physical release – the group was awarded Innovator Of the Year Award at the prestigious Swedish Grammis.

In the three-act play of Jonna Lee’s creative voyage to date, whereby her late-noughties solo albums planted the inciting incident and iamamiwhoami provided a riveting plot twist, the artist’s debut as ionnalee ushers in the exhilarating climax, letting all that’s gone before culminate in an opus that honours the past, whilst simultaneously devising a recalibrated, fresh future.

Reflecting on her own perspective, ionnalee says: “I’ve been evaluating the role that’s cut out for me by society in general and the music business in particular, as to how I should look and behave, both as a woman and as an artist.“ In shaping the record, ionnalee has been preoccupied with the experience of societal pressures on women, such as the inescapable normative push to become a mother, pitted against the professional pull of meeting the audience’s expectations of her as an artist.

Fulfilling and transformative as it was, the hectic and exhausting, non-stop cycle of work since the inception of iamamiwhoami has, cumulatively, taken its toll on the musician, resulting in significant stress and periods of depression. “I’ve been burnt out”, she admits, ruminating on an invariably stringent schedule, exacerbated by the pressures of running her own independent record label. “The independence I have has enabled me to be bold and innovative as an artist but, by default, it also often makes the workload overwhelming.”

Never one to go for the easy option, however, ionnalee made a defiant choice: “I wanted to bring out my insecurities instead of my strengths.”

The most significant source of insecurity and fear has, ultimately, proved to hinge on ionnalee’s health, as a cancer scare, numerous medical screenings and a subsequent diagnosis of a thyroid disorder exposed a serious possibility of permanent damage to the singer’s vocal chords.

Facing that real risk of not being able to sing in the future and the fear of losing her most important way of self-expression, there arose in ionnalee an even greater drive to produce something special and perdurable with EATBF. “The thought of not being able to sing had never occurred to me. That would be like losing my gut”, she says.

For ionnalee this record not only had to be made, but it had to be made now and it had to bring in elements of her history in order to open a door to a hopeful thereafter. “I wanted to see who am I in the present, as a solo artist. I want a lifespan career and, for that, I need to make sure I’m clear about who I am as an artist now.”

“I would like to view this as the beginning of the rest of my career. I want to grow my audience in my way, without compromising and without having to turn myself inside out. There’s a bigger, more personal weight for me with this record and much, much more at stake.”

words by Doron Davidson-Vidavski
October 2017