Ionnalee started her newest musical venture “as a small short term anonymous and personal side project” deeming its core the connection with her audience, and it’s palpable: during her recent NYC show the crowd coordinated their own flashmob, and in São Paolo they recited along to each word of her feature film before the show started. Stuck in the idea of the “now” she started live Youtube broadcasts, only available at a specific time and place. She says its “just like a physical concert, so the participants watching online share the experience with each other as it happens.” “Remember the Future” will be released on May 31st – marking the second project/album under her alias “Ionnalee.” Jonna Emily Lee — a.k.a. Ionnalee — is an electronic vocalist, producer and audiovisual artist from Sweden. Her shows are not reserved for music – she merges performance art and video visuals (on site and online) to bring her ideas into concrete form – resulting in cathartic unison of all the senses. Check out our exclusive interview with the experimental visionary below.
How would you describe your musical style?
Experimental visionary electronic pop.
Your experimental project “iamamiwhoami” has since 2009 gathered an enormous international following. Can you fill us in on how you developed this project and what you wish to say with it? What inspired the name?
It’s a project spanning over 10 years. A lot has been said and done with it. It is and has been a hub for creative expressive freedom for me and my collaborators. It started as a small short term anonymous side project for me to start over as an artist when I wasn’t happy with my current output. With audience real-time interaction it grew into a world of its own. The transformation and constant creative artistic evolution, as well as the communication with my audience, is the core of this project. The name reflects that, even though it is not a name, it is a YouTube account which was used so frequently by media and audience that it organically became the name of the project.
Explain the live concert installations you’ve done on Youtube.
To be honest, it’s difficult to in short explain projects that took years to make, but I work with the connection I have with my audience in focus. Both installations are very different from each other, but they both share the idea of a momentary experience available only in the now, just like a physical concert, so the participants watching online share the experience with each other as it happens.
The artwork for REMEMBER THE FUTURE features a robot built by you. Can you tell us about that process and how the robot idea came to you?
The album evolves around future hope, where to find it, on a personal and on a global level, and the state of the world dystopia we find ourselves in but completely disregard in our daily lives in favour of comfortable living with an individualistic mindset. The robot is a retro space-age symbol of the visions of the past when people were dreaming of exploring the universe and the possibilities seemed endless. Whereas now, we are looking for other planets to live on as we’ve consumed ours. I am interested in the state of the world and worry a lot about how the different scales we operate our lives in disables us to see the big picture.
How is the process of coming up with the visuals for your music videos?
It’s all happening simultaneously with my music making. I’ll start out from a core of a song as I’m writing/recording, and go into writing script for visuals with lyrics as the backbone. Drawing storyboards. then I continue working on both when I feel like it until it’s ready for completion/filming. Usually, as I begin filming the music is in the final mix and mastering is my final step before release. Often this is done very soon before release as I like to set deadlines for myself.
You’re currently on tour through Europe and America. Is there any specific place you’ve toured in (And that you’ve never been before) that really inspired you and stayed with you? I just began touring my own work last year so in most places, I’m seeing my audience for the first time. Each and every show has been so different and inspiring, cliche as it may sound, but that’s the reality. Of course, there are standout moments that come through like hearing the São Paolo audience singing and talking along to each word of my feature film before the show, so loud that I heard it in the dressing room. And playing my first show in Seattle last night and premiering new music to them was very intense. In NYC I was taken by surprise by the audience who coordinated their own flashmob during the show. Very cool.
How was collaborating with ZOLA JESUS and Royksopp? Can you explain their music genres and how your style aligns with theirs?
I’ve worked with Röyksopp live since 2015 and we’ve toured the world together. I am connected to their music, their rawness and their music before all mindset. An excellent match overall! Zola Jesus and I are a great vocal match, it was so much fun producing the track she is singing on (matters) on my new album. I also think we share values and are both hard working independent artists.
You have also collaborated with Comme des Garçons – can you tell us about that?I have a humble creative alliance with CDG via Adrian Joffe, they have dressed a lot of my projects for 4 years, I also collaborate with Dover Street Market. Adrian found my work through a friend and we connected creatively. Rei Kawakubo is such an incredible artist and her and Adrian are a breath of fresh air where art meets fashion.
What can we look out for next from you?
After this week of my final US shows in San Francisco and LA, I go back to Sweden for more intense work on my new album which comes out on May 31. I’m really proud of it! After a little break this summer I will begin my EU tour this fall, and who knows, maybe I can come back to the Americas soon too!