Ulisex!Mgzn issue 119 ionnalee cover.png
Preguntas para desnudar la mente creativa de Ionnalee
publishing date March 28, 2018
interviewer Rafael Góngora
publisher Ulisex!Mgzn
photography John Strandh


Hemos descubierto a lo largo de casi 10 años que hacer lo que nos gusta conlleva más esfuerzo que seguir órdenes. Sin embargo hemos podido aprender que existen diferentes razones para dar cabida al arte a la cultura y a la perspectiva de género en todos los aspectos de la vida, algunas buenas, otras lamentables, pero eso no nos limita a seguir proponiendo nuevas formas de crear lazos entre la Cultura LGBTTTIQ Mexicana y el resto de la sociedad.

Existimos porque en buena medida muchas mujeres y hombres antes que nosotros, caminaron por las calles exigiendo sus derechos para que no los mataran, para que nos detuviera la Policía o para que el Gobierno no los dejara morir sin una digna atención médica. ¿Cuántos de nosotros no estaríamos aquí si esas batallas, ya libradas no hubieran sido a la postre, victorias históricas?

Esta edición se trata sobre dos mujeres importantes, aunque muy diferentes tanto en su contexto histórico como en sus ambiciones creativas una es mexicana y la otra es de Suecia.

Primero Nancy Cárdenas, la matriarca del Movimiento de Liberación Homosexual que a su vez nos ha dado la Marcha del Orgullo de la Ciudad de México que este año celebra su 40 aniversario, el titular, no le queda grande “La mujer más importante de la Historia LGBT en México” es indiscutible ¿Y de los gays? Esa es otra discusión para próximas ediciones.

Luego, Ionnalee, la artista sueca, quien no estaría en el cover de Ulisex!Mgzn esta edición de no ser por un gran “Te lo diiiijeee” para Rafael Góngora, quien se arrimó a buena sombra y recogió el fruto de un árbol de creatividad internacional, que se suma a nuestra colección de portadas europeas, como cuando damos de qué hablar en el Viejo Continente.

Rematamos, la edición 119, con dos miradas a la noche drag de Monterreina, lugar de un universo paralelo al nuestro, donde las vestidas gobiernan la noche. En el Imperio de Ilusiones no importa de qué familia provienes, todo se trata de ser la más perra. Las fotos son obras documentales de dos fotógrafos regiomontanos, Laura Álvarez y Unosobrecuatro.

Feature spread

English transcript

Interview by Rafael Góngora

Since when did you think about creating something like iamamiwhoami and how have the results been from that initial idea?

10 years ago in 2008 with before the release of my last album under own name. i was miserable and frustrated with how things were set up, and started planning for change to take some bolder steps forward than what i felt i had been doing. me and Claes Björklund who i had been working with for a long time and Robin Kempe-Bergman who directed my first few videos and we were equally fired up about the idea of creating audiovisuals together. today we have created a body of work that will stand in time.

2. One of the last songs released with your name as Jonna Lee was "Something so Quiet", correct? Part of the lyrics are sung as follows:

This place is like a maze / I'm not sure where I'm heading / But it's to a darker place / That much I know and I am ready / I really want to come with you / I'll help you fight your demons and ghosts too
I had the best feeling when I came here / And now I'm never coming back.

*How does this relate with your collaboration/work/relation with the artist Claes Björklund? 

*What meaning did this have with your life objectives and with the risks you would confront to achieve your target? 

i can see how you see this song fits with the origins of iamamiwhoami, but this song is about a specific personal experience i had a long time ago and it was written prior to my plans with iamamiwhoami. but yes, it was within the era where i started experimenting with out first audiovisuals. there was an underlying wish for something different. it’s a description of knowing you’re going to do something you can’t undo but don’t care about the consequences. 

3. Until what extent will you allow the audience / followers be involved in the project itself?

i see it as a communication. the creation creatively comes out of me but in conversation with what’s going on around me. the audience have always been an integral part of my work. iamamiwhoami wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for this communication. online based followers of my work know underneath the surface there’s a lot going on. many different arenas on the internet to interact and take part that aren’t visible from above. 

4. How can artists get involved in and participate / collaborate in a project with your label "To whom it may concern”?

TWIMC was funded as a tool to release iamamiwhoami alone and i have had to expand it to what’s necessary with each new step for my projects and my closest allies. for each release the work load is immense for me, being the creative/visual director. i’d love to be able to release other acts at some point, when it doesn’t have an impact on my own releases. i encourage people to start their own label instead. when it comes to our projects one can take part in different ways, creative and volunteering. for CONCERT IN BLUE the followers were a central part of the concert, performing on a distance. with my new solo audiovisual we’ve had volunteers that actively help support the release by putting up posters all over the world, not to mention the kickstarter for my EABF world tour which will now come to life because my followers have a strong will and sharp mind.

5. Is there a specific state of mind you require to get the inspiration and write the lyrics? Or, on the other hand, would you say it comes out of the blue?

lyrics are sacred to me. i write them when i have something to say that i haven’t been able to put into words yet. and only when there’s a place for them. like a melody that must have words so i can sing it. or a story to write.

6. What is your favorite mythology and has this served you as an inspiration to create?  Why? 

being from the nordic i’ve grown up with norse mythology. we learn tales as kids. some in school, some told by families. they are always nature based and moody and the story books were often brilliantly illustrated. there’s a specific mood in them that i believe comes from being subjected to the nature here. 

7. What importance does History have to you? Why?

knowledge. i’m historically and generally very interested in human, animal behaviour, but also archaeology and the history going forward: science. am keen on learning and growing. i think it’s the interest of understanding the unknown and the known better that drives this.

the whole audiovisual of EABF draws these parallels between then and now both aesthetically, sonically, and in it’s ideology.

8. It is common to say that, when we confront injustice and pain in our life to an extent that we don't understand, this will eventually serve us in the future if we confront it as it is. Is there anything you would like to share to us about your upbringing, something that definitely has targeted you to create in this manner?

yes i think that’s right. acceptance is a powerful thing. i carry quite a heavy luggage from my upbringing and i work with myself constantly to cope with some things. i think it’s the events that created behaviour patterns that are roughest to carry around, because they affect you every day. i was brought up on my own basically. i had parents but they were divorced since i was one year old. living with one of them i got to look after myself and eventually my siblings at an early age, spending a lot of time alone. singing, drawing and dancing became a lifesaver. it was a hidden world no one knew i had until i was about 8 years old and someone accidentally heard me sing in the back of the choir i joined. and from there i noticed i was good at something and started practising to get really good at it. i think this has enabled me to create ‘worlds’ for myself that i now share with listeners and viewers. 

9. How important is it for you to give a statement or to be relevant in this world, while you are here, and why?

i’d say it’s of importance to me. i am here now, there’s only so much time. 

10. What is a meaning of a shadow to you, regarding the project? Has the importance and significance changed throughout your trajectory? Moreover, why?

a shadow can be many things. a follower, somewhere where you can hide, or something that can be cast upon you or that one can cast upon others. 


11. The first release for the new album was "SAMARITAN" and it undoubtedly caused an impact for, not only the community, but for people that hadn’t heard of the project per se. Part of the lyrics are sung as follows:

Oh, thy beauty makes me go blind / When you are near, my senses don’t function / I give you this empty life / Can I be your soldier with a knife?

*Does this have something to do with what people expect from what they classify as a “Divine Human being” or with the meaning of religion itself now days?

SAMARITAN is written as a declaration of my own views, and is drawing parallels between how we iconise artists in the same way history shows that humans have been doing forever. and i’m questioning the expectations we have on the ones we put on a pedestal, and what leads to this behaviour. 

having a strong communication with my followers, doing projects like kickstarter where you’re not just emotionally invested but also chose to financially support my work and this can create an imbalance where expectations are bigger than what i can ever live up to. in the end, i will follow my own vision. not anyone else’s.

12. Something I’d like to clarify. In Ulisex we had the audacity to say that “ShootUpTheStation” has an appearance in the audiovisual Chapter 6 “Not Human”. A day after we published this, ‘SIMMER DOWN’ was released. When I heard the song lyrics, as follows:

Your shallow truth / fractures and distorts our self views
 / And my tether beat
echoes in the minds of a few.

*I felt like those words were for me, for being so foolish to “assure” that it was him. If it was not, then I apologize sincerely and I have learned my lesson. Can you clarify this to me?

OH. well ShootUpTheStation is no longer with us, so he isn’t featuring in NOT HUMAN. SIMMER DOWN was recorded 6 months before it was released, so these mentioned events bear no relation. no worries.

SIMMER DOWN is about the surface of our society and my reflection of it from where i stand. ‘your shallow truth’ is me building a case against a shallowness that i think has numbed us to think it’s all about our individual exploration. the majority of the world population don’t need to struggle to survive anymore, and the energy that once focused our attention to survival is now channeled into branding of ones persona on instagram to gain likes and it’s something i struggle with to be part of.

it’s also about acceptance as we talked about earlier. i’m working from the shadows as an independent artist. 

i know that chances are that my work won’t be seen in the extent that i think it should be during my lifetime at least.

(“all light absorbed, in the shadows i will hide. ’til the contour of my silhouette fades to undefined. i still have fire.”)

13. In the live version of “Dunes of Sand” it was informed that this was the place you started to learn the art of sound (when everything started), how was it for you to record the song and share something so intimate with the world? How important was it for you to do this?

it wasn’t planned to be such an intimate thing. but just going back there, it became something really special. it felt surreal to stand at the exact same spot as 20 years ago and to ‘just sing’. i loved it.

14. What does magic mean to you?

magic is what happens between humans in interaction with each other and with nature. 

15. What would you tell to someone that wants to undertake an artistic project but thinks he would never have the enough money/time to do so?

i would say excuses, excuses. just do it.

don’t look at others work, make your own world. use what you have and let your imagination go. there are no rules. 

Thank you for this moment.

thank you kindly

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