In a September 2012 interview with Notion Magazine and Gay Times Magazine, Lee defined iamamiwhoami as herself in a "collaboration with amazing people" that she loves, also stating "iamamiwhoami is not something [she] can shake off." Running from an initial set of prelude videos and a series of full length songs under the collective title "bounty," to the release of its first studio album and film kin (2012), the project has maintained a continuous story around Lee's lead role.
Lee, seen performing here in 2008, developed iamamiwhoami with Björklund after the release of her second album under her name.
iamamiwhoami at its core is Jonna Lee, and the project was created with her music producer Claes Björklund. Lee, giving an interview to Playgroundmag.net, stated that iamamiwhoami was born from "experiencing convention in its purest form," referencing her earlier work on the albums 10 Pieces, 10 Bruises (2007) and This is Jonna Lee (2009), both of which achieved little attention, both critical and commercial. Indeed, iamamiwhoami's musical and visual style is a departure from the guitar-led alternative pop that Lee had previously created, although she acknowledges that "The change is probably more apparent from an external point of view." Lee and Björklund began developing a repertoire of songs following the release of This is Jonna Lee, which they wanted to "grow freely and [tare] the formerly by its roots and start over." The pair envisioned the ability to "physically visualize" the songs they had written, and thus began collaborating with visual directors and photographers, later revealed to be fellow Swedes Robin Kempe-Bergman, Agustín Moreaux and John Strandh. According to Lee, "The idea of iamamiwhoami came to life before it began to take its form. There was a need of change and there were songs to start with," noting the unique "fulfil[ment]" she feels when communicating her music in a visual way under the iamamiwhoami name. Although the project originally had no budget plan, with Lee acknowledging their "limited means," the reasons for continuing later became clear.
iamamiwhoami's videos and music are continuous and is said to operate in "real time," with each collaborator being aware of the concept of each series of songs and videos, which are completed just before being made available for viewing. The first upload, "Prelude 699130082.451322-184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.14.1.12" surfaced on YouTube in December 2009 and was the beginning of the unclear storyline. Each video is part of a continued but elusive plot devised by iamamiwhoami, with debut studio album kin leading directly from the original upload series. Indeed, Dazed Digital magazine quoted Lee as saying "every time a production starts, it’s being released very soon after to keep the conversation with the audience in the present. It’s a chronological storyline of an evolution, from the very beginning up to now. I think the Internet is the place where you can do that." Lee states that essentially, "the core of iamamiwhoami is our music, where the lyrics are the script for the story happening and being shared in real time. Then from that, it is expanded with imagery that reflects our development and current state as part of our chronological storyline." Lee has expressed desire to break "the wall" between viewers and listeners, and for this reason has performed live concerts and aims for visuals that are reflective of nature.
iamamiwhoami is widely known for its secretive nature. Lee's participation was not fully confirmed until August 2011, where she began giving her first interviews regarding the project. She has stated the project was inspired by the fact that she stated that she "didn't really know what she wanted iamamiwhoami to be, hence the moniker." Indeed, Lee finds that her "identity was not hidden but neither articulated by me because what is relevant is the work we have done and the audience reflection of my identity." Although Lee acknowledges that secrecy is essential, she feels there is "a lot of communication from me [to the audience] all the time even though it's not literal." In an audio interview with German radio station detektor.fm, Lee states that although "people realised pretty quickly that [she] was involved," she "chose not to comment on it, because [she] just wanted people to focus on what [they] were doing." She also states that "Now, it feels good to speak about what [they] do", but to speak about who she is "as an individual, doesn't feel relevant".
iamamiwhoami's first live concert at Way Out West portrayed their unconventional performance style and featured Lee singing on a bed of toilet rolls. The appearance featured performances of "; john" and "clump" for the first time, both of which acted as an epilogue to bounty.
The first two iamamiwhoami videos were uploaded to YouTube on 4 December 2009, and were forwarded from an anonymous email account to a number of music journalists and blogs. These videos continued and featured an unknown blonde woman whose face had been digitally distorted, and displayed themes such as birthing and growth. Imagery associated with the folklore of the mandragora (the flowering humanoid, berries, dogs used to pull out the mandrake, and semen of a hanged man) recurs throughout iamamiwhoami's videos. Each of the first six clips end with a drawing of a different animal (a goat, owl, whale, bee, llama, and monkey). Having blogged about the videos, MTV journalist James Montgomery received a package by messenger, which included a lock of blond hair, a piece of bark, and a pictogram of the six animals with the question "Says what?" Furthering the mystery; the sixth video ("18.104.22.168.15.13.5–22.214.171.124.3383") ends with the woman whispering "Why" or "Y." Each video displayed a numerical code as part of its title. When indexed into the alphabet, these spell out words such as "educational", "I am", "its me", "mandragora", "officinarum", and "welcome home". Mandragora officinarum refers to the mandrake root, which when fresh or dry may cause hallucination. In 2012, Lee revealed that they had styled the videos as such in order to "let the work be in focus and push the boundaries of convention in different forms." This initial stage of the project received positive, if skeptical reviews and many websites found themselves asking readers to guess the identity of the blonde woman within the clips. iamamiwhoami was speculated to be a project of many artists, including Lady Gaga, Goldfrapp, Björk, The Knife, Trent Reznor and Christina Aguilera. The number series which were highly stylized teaser videos setting the tone of the project, established several mysteries, and served to foreshadow the projects' complete songs. For instance, "126.96.36.199.15.13.5–188.8.131.52.3383" contained vocally distorted lyrics that later appeared in the later song "o".
The second "series" of the iamamiwhoami project began with the upload of a full song and music video titled "b," one month following the final prelude video. Garnering positive reviews for its dramatic change in style and heavy use of a piano as well as vocal distortion techniques, the song was the first to be uploaded to the iTunes Store, being offered as a paid digital download on 15 March 2010. Although a "reveal" of the artist behind the moniker was anticipated, the video's technique of covering plastic over Lee's body simply confirmed that Aguilera was not responsible for the videos, and that the balsa wood sent to Montgomery featured in the video, perhaps alluding to the artist's Scandinavian origin. With the release of "o" the following month, fans guessed that Lee was the visually distorted lead singer. However, Lee's previous North American management team Philadelphonic commented "If Jonna is involved in this, we have no knowledge of such." Despite this, her involvement in the project was eventually confirmed with the release of the video for "t", in which her face was fully revealed without any makeup or distortion to conceal her identity. According to rraurl.com and MTV Brasil, "o" was directed by Viktor Kumlin, who is also the director of Lee's music video for "Something So Quiet". As the seven videos with letter titles were slowly released, fans gathered that the videos were likely to spell the word "bounty". Each of the seven videos begins with the corresponding sound of the animal, however, the animal sounds are not present in the released tracks. The conclusion of "In Concert" reveals that the onomatopoeia used to represent the animals' calls can be made to approximate the pronunciation of the English word "bounty". On 7 February 2011, several registered songs on ISWC were discovered to be closely related to iamamiwhoami. For example, songs titled, "Up!/Higher", "The Sound of Letting Go/Love", and "Little Hope/Sing a Song of Fire" all pertain to lyrics in iamamiwhoami's songs, "b", "o", and "y", respectively. The works were registered by Lee and Claes Björklund, the two who are believed to be responsible for the project. These songs were registered around the same time as several songs from Lee's This Is Jonna Lee 2009 album. The final set of videos, a series featuring a volunteer from the YouTube community, set up the webcast concert on November 16, 2010. Titled "In Concert," the video featuring performances of both the preludes, bounty and a new song titled "." ran at one hour and four minutes. In August 2011, iamamiwhoami played their first live show at the annual Way Out West Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden. After a long absence, they released the songs "; john" and "clump" which was revealed to be an epilogue to bounty. As a conclusion to bounty, Bullett Media posted an interview article with iamamiwhoami for their Winter 2011 'Secrets' Issue. Questions were answered strictly with sampled lyrics from the current repertoire of songs, with some additional and unknown phrases purported to be lyrics for future musical releases. The article also included promotional images of iamamiwhoami, nude in the forest and posed among similar elements from "; john" and "t". The article is referenced to be written and photographed by iamamiwhoami. Following their performance at Way Out West, iamamiwhoami began recording and preparing their debut studio album.
bounty was critically well received, with Kathy Iandoli of MTV describing the bounty as having "portrayed a flaxen, ethereal goddess twisting her way throughout nature, while other [videos] included distorted imagery that housed industrial, synthy soundscapes set on fire. The combination was mysterious, yet alluring, representing a combination of horror film imagery with new age sensibilities. The titles to the songs were equally vague, [...] numbers and clusters of words [...]. The videos never fell short of several hundred thousand views – and even much greater [...] people obviously took notice." At the Swedish Grammis held on January 2011, iamamiwhoami won their first award in the category of "Innovator of the Year" (Swedish: Årets innovatör), which had been newly inaugurated. An anonymous woman received the award on their behalf and handed to the speaker an envelope with the words "To whom it may concern." taped in front. The content is revealed to be an empty piece of paper. Before leaving, the woman acknowledged by saying, "Thank you. That's all I am allowed to say". iamamiwhoami was also nominated for an MTV O Music award in January 2011 in the "Innovative Artist" category. The award eventually went to Lady Gaga. iamamiwhoami was nominated again in October 2011 for an MTV O Music award, this time in the "Best Web-Born Artist" category.
On 1 February 2012, the iamamiwhoami YouTube channel once again became active with the posting of the video "kin 20120611," which was sent to music blogs much in the same manner as the original release. This continued with each successive release in the kin series. It was speculated that the title of the video pertained to the date 11 June 2012, using the Gregorian big-endian dating system most common in Sweden. The video was followed by the original music video in the kin series, titled "sever," later the opening track on iamamiwhoami's debut studio album. The series consists of nine videos, which culminates in "goods" and is a continuation of the story arc founded by the original uploads, online concert and "bounty" series. Together, the videos form a collective film also titled kin which was released in DVD format as part of CD and vinyl packages of the album, and has been screened at several European film festivals. A digital download of each song was released to retailers one day following the YouTube upload. In terms of imagery, much of kin contains large hairy creatures which interact with Lee throughout the narrative, which she explained as them "represent[ing] a part of me and most others. Life with it is very much a delight. I have experienced the consequences of living without it."
In preparation for the release, iamamiwhoami were signed to Cooperative Music, a British group of independent labels founded by V2 Records. The Italian branch of the label was the first to announce the release of the series as an album, which would be audiovisual and distributed both physically and via digital download on 11 June 2012. This would be in collaboration with the project's own label, "To whom it may concern.," a recurring phrase within both their videos and single artwork. This coincided with the launch of iamamiwhoami's first official website, which had previously been used to air the original online concert. It was also discovered that iamamiwhoami is managed by the London-based D.E.F. Artist Management, whose roster includes other Swedish artists.kin was released on 11 June 2012 in vinyl and CD format through the project's website, with the official release following on 3 September 2012. The release resulted in the first interviews conducted by Lee in promotion of the album, for the first time describing the process of creating the iamamiwhoami visuals and music. She referred to kin in an interview with The Guardian as having taken "nine months of hard labour" and that it was "always going to be [her] baby."
Upon release, the album generated very positive review from critics, who praised the album's ambition as a collective as well as its style, incorporation of several styles of electronic music and Lee's vocals. iamamiwhoami was nominated for "The Best Tease of the Past 12 Months" category by BBC Radio's 6 Music Blog Awards, with fellow contenders being Lana Del Rey, Elliphant, Battlekat, Savoir Adore and The Sound of Arrows. On March 2, 2012, iamamiwhoami was declared the winner on BBC Radio by Tom Robinson, and the project received their first large airplay debut with "o" after the announcement. This was followed by the release of iamamiwhoami's first airplay promotional single, "play," on 30 July 2012. iamamiwhoami won the MTVO Music Awards Digital Genius Award, fellow contenders being Amanda Palmer, Gorillaz, OK Go, Radiohead and The Flaming Lips. The project embarked on a European tour for kin in 2012, playing festivals and venues across Europe.
Originally produced and released in a series of singles throughout 2010-2011, bounty will be released as an album on 3 June 2013 on iamamiwhoami's label To whom it may concern, distributed by Cooperative Music, a group of independent labels. The first music video of bounty titled "b" was released on 14 March 2010 on iamamiwhoami's YouTube channel. After which followed "o", "u-1", "u-2", "n", "t" and "y". Digital singles are released shortly after each music video is uploaded to YouTube. The titles collectively formed the word "bounty". While it was assumed that these songs solely consisted of bounty's tracklist, in 2011 two more singles and music videos, "; john" and "clump" were released and were not confirmed as belonging to bounty until June 2012 when iamamiwhoami's YouTube channel grouped them into a playlist named bounty along with the previous tracks mentioned.
On December 4, 2012, iamamiwhoami's label website To whom it may concern. was updated with a note on the front page which stated "20130603 – iamamiwhoami; bounty", forecasting a physical release of the bounty series. This was confirmed on the very next day when the Release section of the website displayed bounty's album cover art, along with its tracklist.