In 2009, on December 4th, a videos were uploaded to youtube, and the URL sent to a number of music journalists, blogs and magazines. The video was a surreal music track accompanied by visions, limbs growing from trees, a woman and a picture of a goat.
A series of videos would be released, all in a similar vein, surreal visions accompanied by music and a picture of an animal, each titled with a series of seemingly meaningless numbers. A mysterious blonde woman was also featured in each video, although her face was always obscured, either never fully in shot or covered in some sort of substance.
The videos featured (in order):
In the final video; 188.8.131.52.15.13.5-184.108.40.206.3383, we finally hear what sounds like legible words being sung by the woman, who finishes the video by saying ‘Why?’ (or ‘Y’, I’m not sure.)
Throughout the videos, there are numerous references to the plant genus Mandragora. The Mandrake was fabled to be a human plant, grown from the semen of a hanged man. The male mandrake was fabled to be white, and the female to be black. When the numbers of the tracks were translated, using their number to identify the position of the corresponding letter in the alphabet, they were translated as “educational”, “I am”, “its me”, “mandragora”, “officinarum”, and “welcome home”.
Soon after the end of these releases, another series started to appear. A video simply titled ‘b’ was released, in which the mysterious woman reappears, covered in tape, her voice distorted as she plays a piano. More videos; ‘o’, ‘u-1’, ‘u-2’, ‘n’, ‘t’ and ‘y’. In ‘o’ we hear the same melody as was sung in 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.13.5. Finally, in ‘t’, her face was revealed without any distortion, and turns out to be Swedish singer Jonna Lee, working under her new pseudonym ‘iamamiwhoami’.
Combining the videos for ‘b’, ‘o’, ‘u-1’, ‘u-2’, ‘n’, ‘t’ and ‘y’ a sort of story is revealed, although the message may be a little unclear.
In February 2012, another prelude was released: ‘kin 20120611‘, spelled the release date for the first album from iamamiwhoami and her label ‘To Whom It May Concern’. The album was to be entitled ‘Kin’.
When I found out about all this, I was enthralled, and picked up the CD/DVD as soon as I could. These seemed like such an unlikely series of events, I wanted to know what was going on.
The music was beautiful. I love it. And I fell in love with the container immediately.
left: DVD right: CD
What I had bought was a black, cardboard CD wallet, with only a small square on the back which displayed the track titles… The rest was black. The wallet opened out into three sections, a CD which contained the music (black) a DVD which contained all of the videos in order (black) and a booklet (black) which, over several pages, starts black and, page by page, slowly reveals Jonna Lee.
kin inlay booklet
A year later, and I had the physical copy of Bounty preordered, with two new tracks, ‘;john’ and ‘clump’. The same deal, only the box to ‘bounty’ was white.
The enigma that came with the releases, the slow reveal of the artist and the complete surreality of the videos is wonderful. I heartily recommend you watch the videos for ‘kin’ and ‘bounty’ in order.
I intend to take a leaf out of iamamiwhoami’s book, and perhaps reveal my project in a similarly enigmatic fashion. At some point, I’d love to do something similar. It’s such a wonderful story and the final product does not disappoint either (if you’re into that sort of thing. Which I really am.)