By: RICHARD BOHAN
Iamamiwhoami—quite the mouthful for a band name, but perfect for an anonymous music project that has songs named after letters of the alphabet, videos that feature a nude woman dancing in a forest, and a ‘concert special’ where they invited a super-fan from Germany and then proceeded to burn him in a cardboard box.
Yes. They’re that kind of band.
Fronted by Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee, iamamiwhoami continues a distinct Scandinavian tradition of surrealist, electronic musicians, amongst veteran heavyweights, such as Björk, The Knife, and Röyksopp. Icy and ethereal, synth-driven music, often juxtaposed with natural landscapes, is usually what defines the scene.
However, unlike their peers, the project is purely a viral phenomenon. Enigmatic music videos are uploaded to Youtube on a regular basis, and then the songs are put on iTunes—other than that, there is no other outside communication from the band. There’s no official iamamiwhoami Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, nothing. The project chooses to stay anonymous, relying on fans, blogs, and other outlets to spread their music videos, and the few times they do speak, it’s in code.
Don’t get me wrong; this marketing strategy is nothing new. Cryptic, and google-unfriendly, band names and song titles were the M.O. of Witch House, a novelty genre that didn’t last. However, what separates iamamiwhoami from the other attention-seeking weirdos is the sheer quality and volume of their work.
The project has 19 stunning musicvideos under their belt. The latest two are entitled “sever” and “drops,” which mark the first two chapters of an on-going story, culminating to the release of their debut “audio-visual album,” kin on 11 July 2012.
In the latest installments, Jonna Lee appears in her underwear in a sterile-looking apartment. She has hallucinations of dancing with hairy monsters, then falls through the floor of her apartment until she crashes into a parking lot, clad in a suit-of-armour made of plaster. It’s like if David Lynch was obsessed with Swedish folklore.
While the videos are surreal works of art, it’s the music that I constantly go back to. The songs are all multi-layered electropop, sprinkled with elements of industrial and noise, and what Lee lacks in vocal range, she makes up in having one of the most distinctive, and downright otherworldly voices. Think a mix between Lykke Li and Karin Dreijer Andersson.
Though the band isn’t for everyone, iamamiwhoami has managed to create a cult-like fanbase on Youtube, and with the promise of a new album, it seems to be growing.
But the biggest pleasure—there’s no idea what they might do next.