[NOTE: This post covers the streamed 'live' Iamamiwhoami concert from 2010. For their first UK live performance in 2012 as part of Ether Festival at the Southbank Centre, London, please visit HERE or HERE.]
The recurring message adopted by Iamamiwhoami
I do not think that it is often that we feel truly part of an Age. Usually we potter along in our daily lives and then, fifty or sixty years on, look back and say, ‘Oh yes! I lived through that time! It really was revolutionary!’ For want of sounding like the Smirnoff advert on Spotify, last night I felt like I really and truly was there. Last time I felt like that was when a friend and I stayed up all night to watch Obama win the general election.
This time, however, it was for the sake of music that I lost sleep. If you have been reading this blog for a bit you will have noticed my increasing OBESSION with the musical video youtube mystery that is only known as Iamamiwhoami (that’s right, I’m chatting about them again!)
Since 31st January 2010 the youtube user Iamamiwhoami has been releasing these cryptic videos. Firstly they were little minute-long teasers, full of blurred dark images of a blond woman caked in mud, writhing around in dark liquid in a forest of trees with human limbs, or six black dogs or cats frolicking through snow or undergrowth. Always there were suggestions of birth and a kind of primal sexuality with nature. Always also, the videos were set to the unsettling but beautifully composed tunes comprised of a woman’s ethereal whisperings and electronic beats of the Nordic variety (it has been suggested that everyone from The Knife to Christina Aguilera are involved musically. I have a secret suspicion that the visuals may be something to do with Chris Cunningham.).
After two months the videos turned into full music videos. Previously titled in codes comprised of numbers (each spelling the name of an animal – goat, wasp, etc) where as now they were titled with letters, eventually spelling out BOUNTY. These videos (most of which I have already posted!) were full of imagery made from paper, cellophane and cardboard, always suffused with that dormant, creepy sensuality. They are sort of like going to Sigur Ros’ wake, I imagine.
Anyway, after Y, the plot thickened! Youtube users were asked to select an advocate. The narrative of Y then continued as the lead female (now free from sludge and cellophane, also identified as Swedish singer Jonna Lee, see the previous post about her below) walked down a bleached out spiral staircase and rang the user SHOOTUPTHESTATION on a phone attached to the wall.
Then, in increasingly more frequent installments, we followed SUTS' journey via plane, car and hotel to what was advertised on their now dormant WEBSITE to IAM IN CONCERT.
This ‘concert,’ was broadcast last night at 12am Swedish time. The anticipation of watchers and commentators on youtube was pretty crazy. When the video was streamed from their website fifteen minutes late, the outcry through comments was insane. This just goes to prove the enormous power of the internet. I know we all know this, but I have never experienced it in quite the same way. After one comment was posted, three seconds later twenty more would instantly appear. This commentary continued throughout the ‘concert’s’ duration of one hour and ten minutes.
I assume after the six-hour window given by Iam, they then removed the video, which saw SUTS being led through a dark forest by Jonna performing all the now famous video-songs and eventually taping him into a cardboard coffin and burning it in a cardboard fortress. She also premiered a new song at an electric organ in the middle of a field, before donning a cardboard monkey mask and taking a toast with other dark-clad people wearing cardboard masks of the other featured animals.
IT WAS ALL VERY MYSTERIOUS.
What amazed me about the entire thing was that, despite having no idea what was happening for almost all the time, hundreds of thousands of people have been following this for an entire year. Indeed, surely it is the element of not knowing that keeps us interested (not to mention the catchy songs and well-produced videos). It really made me feel like I was part of the so-called Digital Age. Thousands of people from all across the world tuning in on the Internet for this potential explanation or reveal. The Internet is increasingly taking over from Television, and I think it is partly due to the inherently conversational quality that it posses. The interactivity has certainly worked in favor in the case of Iam.
It is also interesting to note the way this phenomena has upended the notions of live and recorded in popular music. It usually works in reverse; the artist plays a great deal of live shows and eventually gets a record contract, records their music and makes a promo video. Iam has worked precisely the other way around, utilising the power of the Internet to reach a wider audience while maintaining their mystique. Their ‘concert’, while more ‘live’ than their previous offerings, was also evidently edited and not streamed, as we were led to believe. And SUTS may very well have been a plant to draw us in, the pin-board-black-cat aesthetic of his youtube channel matching the aesthetic requirements that have become synonymous with Iam.
Jonna Lee performing to only SUTS during the 'live concert'
Well, and a few hundred-thousand youtube addicts.
Well, and a few hundred-thousand youtube addicts.
Is the next part in his logical backward sequence an actual live tour for Iam?? It would seem ridiculous to waste the interest they have spent the last year generating, to just drop off the pop map altogether. Whether they will or not, I, along with many thousands of others, have enjoyed the ride. It is inspirational, I think, the way artists can continually surprise us, utilising a medium we had perhaps become blasé about. In the case of the Internet, its ubiquitous quality has here been used to subvert what we thought we knew about pop music and what it could be, and what maybe, it will become. In short, I feel they have brought a very live, fleshy, human element to the cold mechanics of the Digital Age, as the ghost in the machine is still eluding us.
new song from iamamiwhoami from The Glitoris on Vimeo.
Insanely, someone has already made a video of
stills from the concert and put it to the new track.
And, if you want another Iam remix, HERE YOU ARE. It was sent to me after the online concert and is of O by Fleshteque (Einmeier & Ovenbröd Remix). Rather compassionately, it was released just before the concert began (during the 20 minute wait) to make the period of expectation more bearable. Isn't it glorious the way this musical mystery can bring people together??