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Showbox Presents
Be Here Soon World Tour

ionnalee | iamamiwhoami

with Luminous Kid

Artist Information

Going into the recording of Be Here Soon, ionnalee (Jonna Lee) felt unsure. The Swedish musician has made a career as the enigmatic iamamiwhoami, crafting haunting audiovisual pop alongside co-writer/producer Claes Björklund and cinematographer John Strandh who she’s worked with since the inception of her iamamiwhoami project. Not only is Lee the enigmatic voice of iamamiwhoami, she also serves as the writer, producer, and director of the visual counterpart that encompass the world of each album—in addition to heading To whom it may concern. (TWIMC), a label that she established in 2010. So the idea of facing the intensity of the creation process of leading the group again was daunting, particularly when the haunting, highly-produced pop she had made in the past no longer fit the reality she was living in.

And so, in order to move forward, she started by letting go. In the past, she’s had quantifiable success, including more than 100 million streams on Spotify and 100 million views on YouTube, a legion of devoted fans, sold out shows across the world–and of course, her very first videos, that went viral when she appeared as a glitched out image with a haunting voice. But it was time to try something new. 

“I usually use a lot of layers to create soundscapes with my voice, and this was more about, now just the one lead,” she says of the decision to record in single takes and leave behind many of the electronic sounds that had begun to feel like a limitation. “We just wanted to do something that would be true to where we are in our lives and careers now. A lot of personal stuff has been going on as well. Claes had just become a dad through the process, and I'm carrying a child now. That kind of brought us to a pretty raw state."

The way Lee sees it, becoming a mother (something she had never considered for herself before) gave her the motivation to continue questioning her previously held beliefs. With a clear deadline, suddenly she was forced to grapple not only with the direction of her art, but who she was as a person—not just in the past and present, but also who she was about to become. The expectations around iamamiwhoami shifted. And she found that she was no longer interested in removing her identity from the music, but rather using it to reveal herself to listeners. Alongside Björklund, the collaborative pair decided to move forward into a folk-based sound to explore this new set of emotions and meet their legacy before the inception of iamamiwhoami.

“There was a time where I was kind of ashamed of what I did before,” she admits. “It was kind of like my discography before iamamiwhoami wasn't really counted in, and it wasn't worth as much. So, it's kind of nice to face yourself in the mirror, examine the stuff that you're trying to shield from others, to bring that in, and put it into focus in the center point.”

It’s in that spirit of openness that Be Here Soon winds its way through many of the issues that were heavy on Lee’s heart. “Don’t Wait For Me” reflects on closing old chapters of your life, while starting new ones. (Although Lee notes that the song’s tone is one of self-indulgence.) “Canyon” (with an assist from Swedish folk musician Lars Winnerbäck), pulls apart that idea a bit further, ruminating on returning to one’s starting point and past life while still feeling distant to the world around you. In the beatific hush of “A Thousand Years,” Lee considers her disconnect from reality—and how more time, the only thing worth dying for, is the only thing that she can’t have. Emotive track “Thunder Lightning,” finds Lee meditating on the difficulty of forming relationships, warning a would-be partner, "Say I did no wrong by you I’m full of lies. Got malice pumping in my veins. Are you beat yet? Pressure keeps rising high. Nothing kills the silence like the rain.” On “Zeven'' she reveals her real-life OCD diagnosis, and the struggle that she’s faced finding a balance with the invisible world of control she’s experienced that runs parallel to everything else in her life. And “Changes” (a nod to David Bowie), moves through memories of growing up in a desolate countryside home where music was a luxury not to be taken for granted, and gives her the opportunity to reframe those memories in a different light. 

Lee’s bare and celestial voice functions as the spine of the album guiding the listener through moments of cinematic soundscapes and organic intimacy.

Meanwhile, the album's visual progression slowly traces the path of the new life growing inside her as Lee explores her artistic and personal evolution in the spellbinding surroundings of her native Sweden. As with all of iamamiwhoami’s previous releases, each song will be released with a corresponding video in consecutive order.

"Be Here Soon is a story about meeting memories with new eyes while creating the present,” she says. “It’s about the complexity of becoming a mother as a working artist. About the psychological, emotional and physical changes this means, and the choice to be open with these changes through my work process of making this audiovisual in relation to myself, my collaborators and our audience. It’s also about living with OCD and reevaluating my work/process and the level of sanity of it all while struggling with motivation in the current music industry climate."

Ultimately, the album is a work of clear vision. Through the recording, Lee and her collaborators challenged their perceived limitations, ignored expectations, and created exactly what she felt she needed to experience in order to move forward. More importantly, Lee emerged from the process knowing even more about who she is.

“My career started at age 17,” she says. “My motivation and life goals at that time were just to be on stage. And then that developed it into something else, performing according to my own values, and maintaining my own creative independence. But then as your career progresses, you start to criticize and think critically about, ‘what kind of business am I in?’ ‘How am I being treated as a woman inside of this life that I've chosen?’ So, that's the crossroads I found myself at when we began writing this record. In the beginning of iamamiwhoami it was important for us to be anonymous, to not put the focus on our personal identities but on the project itself. But that’s had to sort of evolve gradually with my life and career. I’ve now given myself enough space to be personal in the project. The otherworldliness, I would hope it's still there, but in a way where I can also exist inside of it.” 

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  • Fri, May 5, 2023
  • The Showbox
  • 8:30 PM
  • $28.00
  • All Ages to Enter, 21 & Over to Drink
  • Buy Tickets