As ionnalee, Swedish singer/songwriter Jonna Lee takes her heartfelt and ambitious electronic pop in rawer and more personal directions than she did with the mysterious multimedia experiments of iamamiwhoami. On 2018's Everyone Afraid to Be Forgotten, she presented stark, moody meditations on mortality and the passage of time, then delivered their flip side with 2019's uplifting Remember the Future. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the project's differences from Lee's previous work, ionnalee reaffirms Lee as an artist who continually challenges herself to innovate.
Growing up in the Swedish village of Fågelsta, Jonna Lee showed an interest in music at an early age, and she moved to London in her teens to pursue her dream of becoming a singer and musician. She returned to Sweden in 2002, settling in Stockholm and making a name for herself in the city's underground music scene. Lee released her music on her own website until she signed with the indie imprint Razzia in 2007. That October, the label issued her debut album, 10 Pieces, 10 Bruises. Featuring a duet with Ed Harcourt and drumming by Supergrass' Danny Goffey, the album also marked the first time Lee worked with her longtime collaborator Claes Björklund. Lee followed it with the 2008 EP This War and 2009's full-length This Is Jonna Lee, which reflected the increasing influence of electronic music on her style. Later that year, she released a cover of Nitzer Ebb's "Violent Playground" that the group liked so much that they featured it on their website.
In 2010, Lee founded her own label, To whom it may concern, and continued work on iamamiwhoami, a project that combined darkly ethereal electronic music with cryptic films and visuals. Initially, Lee denied involvement with iamamiwhoami, which gained a strong online following thanks to the mystery surrounding the artist's identity as well as the music's strengths. However, in June 2010, Lee revealed that she, along with Björklund and their visual collaborators, was behind the project. That year also saw the release of the live album In Concert. In 2011, iamamiwhoami won the first Swedish Grammi for Innovator of the Year. To whom it may concern released iamamiwhoami's 2012 debut album, Kin, to critical acclaim; that year, the project won the Digital Genius category at the MTV O Music Awards. Bounty, which collected iamamiwhoami's earliest songs, arrived in June 2013. Late in 2014, Lee and Björklund returned with Blue, another audiovisual collection that reflected a lighter, brighter sound than their previous output. The following September, the live album Concert in Blue, which comprised a CD, DVD, and book, appeared.
After two years of touring in support of Blue, Lee set aside her work as iamamiwhoami to begin a new creative phase. In March 2017, she debuted her solo project ionnalee with the single "Samaritan," which revealed a more direct take on the arty electronic pop of her previous project. Several other singles appeared that year, all of which were included on ionnalee's debut album, Everyone Afraid to Be Forgotten. Arriving in February 2018, the album was produced entirely by Lee and featured duets with TR/ST and Jamie Irrepressible. Early in 2019, the album was nominated for Best Synth Album of the Year at Manifestgalan, a Swedish award ceremony for independent music. That May saw the release of ionnalee's second album, Remember the Future, which included contributions by Björklund, former tourmates Röyksopp, Zola Jesus, and Jennie Abrahamson. ~ Heather Phares