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Under the moniker ionnalee, Jonna Lee’s first solo project in nearly ten years marks her latest metamorphosis. In collaboration with avant-garde fashion house COMME des GARÇONS, Everyone Afraid to be Forgotten is an ambitious fifteen-track feature-length audiovisual film to be released on February 16th.
The Swedish audiovisual artist is best known for both her work with Röyksopp and as part of the trifecta responsible for Iamamiwhoami. With three beguiling albums to date, the trio has produced mysterious viral videos accompanied by a distinctly Scandinavian electronic soundtrack. Boasting 42,300,00 views, Iamamiwhoami has a devoted cult following and fiercely independent nature, releasing material exclusively on Lee’s own label, To Whom it May Concern.
Lee’s work often deals with themes of creation, and Everyone Afraid to be Forgotten continues these musings more explicitly by exploring the dilemma of an artist facing the challenge of crafting something meaningful and lasting in a world increasingly fixated on fleeting distractions. As an artist working simultaneously in two mediums, this struggle is particularly poignant and personal for Lee. “My visuals have always been part of my creation”, Lee explains, “and, yet – frustratingly – they are still often being perceived strictly as a promotional tool.”
To separate the merits of her craft into the visual and the auditory would be an unfortunate mistake. In fact, what makes her work so enticing is that it allows the audience to derive personal meanings from a narrative of recurring dramatis personae, places, and symbolism. Filled with dense metaphorical imagery, cult audiences relish in analyzing and debating her work. The films are incredibly atmospheric, with a sense of place being as much a character as Lee’s mythic, otherworldly personas. It is unusual that an artist succeeds in constructing intricate worlds around a project while remaining entirely consistent with a point of view which defines her body of work.
Jonna Lee’s musical work stands well on its own, however. The transformation from folksy indie rocker to electronic ice queen is truly remarkable, but Lee has made a career out of surprises. To compare her early compositions to her latest offerings is to reveal an artist who has truly found her stride, and it is clear her labors with Iamamiwhoami have allowed the artist to fully flourish. Lee herself echos these sentiments, especially on her track “Gone”, engineered with scraps from an early teaser for Iam’s first project, 2010’s Bounty. “It was actually so healing to go back to where iamamiwhoami started because that’s where I now feel that I started”, Lee explains.
The album also features several guest vocalists, most notably with Barbelle/Claes Bjorklund, Lee’s former partner and collaborator. The erstwhile couple duets on Memento, written after their separation. This tribute to an important chapter in Lee’s life reflects an overall exploration of independence, as she explains that “after years of working with someone really close and whom I’d also been in a relationship with for a long time, I wanted to see who am I in the present, as a solo artist”.
Who Jonna Lee is as a solo artist is a fiercely creative, innovative musician. With six strong tracks and five accompanying videos released in anticipation of Ionnalee’s inaugural album, the project is sure to be a satisfying introduction to her new iteration. A world tour is planned for 2018, with a Kickstarter to support the project and the first date slotted for London in May. Within the first twenty-four hours, the project had halfway reached its goal, proving Lee’s fans are eager to hear what she has planned next.
All quotes taken from press release written by Doron Davidson-Vidavski and provided by To Whom It May Concern.