This interview is so fucking long and self-indulgent on my part that I won’t bore you with a meandering paragraph of my innermost thoughts about Io Echo‘s music. I’ll just say that while their sound is most commonly referred to as “New Orientalism” (whatever that means), to me it sounds like what would happen if my smallest, shyest emotions were stripped of their self-consciousness and self-loathing and thrust onto a massive stage, pushed to project themselves in a booming voice so that the entire theater, the entire world, could hear them. (I studied music criticism at the University of Sappy Metaphors, Denver).
Anyway, here’s my interview with Ioanna Gika and Leopold Ross, two people who are far cooler than I will ever be in my sad, cat-filled life.
(all photos by Matt McGinley)
How did you and Leo (the 2nd most important person in your life after myself) meet?
Ioanna: We met through Katy Perry. So basically (this is an exclusive) I saw him at a bar, and I thought he looked pretty cool so I asked him to bum a cigarette and he totally dissed me. He was like “I don’t smoke.” And then six months later I went to go meet Katy at a bar, and Leo was also invited to the same bar by Katy Perry and I was like “oh there’s that guy who wouldn’t talk to me.” But then we talked about “Venus In Furs”, a song which I was listening to on repeat at the time, and he informed me he was named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, and there’s really nothing like masochism to bring two people together. We’ve sort of made music and been inseparable ever since.
What’s up with the kimonos?
Ioanna: Well, I have a collection of them. The visuals of our live performance pay homage to a layer of sound that goes through our whole album, which is that we have Japanese koto harps and other instruments from the Far East that are sort of the common denominator of all the songs on the album. So our visual art reflects that, but not in a literal way, more in a surrealist way.
If you guys were each a book in the bookstore, which section of the store would you be in?
Ioanna: I would be in the Dead-British-And-Irish-Authors section. Like near Joyce and Shakespeare. I’m a romantic in that way. If I could own a long black cape right now, I totally would. I came close to owning one in Portland in fact, but I didn’t have enough cash.
Leo: I would probably be kind of tween erotica. The sort of like lightly erotic, when you’re just discovering your own body, sort of literature.
Ioanna: Like Are You There God It’s Me Margaret?
You found Are You There God It’s Me Margaret? lightly erotic?
If your band was a movie on Netflix, what other movies would be recommended to people based on having watched Io Echo?
Ioanna: The film Audition. Japanese horror movie that starts off like it could potentially be a romantic comedy and then it takes a very dark and terrifying turn.
Who would play Jo in this movie (the Io Echo movie not Audition)?
Leo: Rick Moranis probably.
There is a slight resemblance. Who would play Leo?
Ioanna: Cousin It absolutely. Actually it’s a tie. As we said in an earlier interview when asked what our spirit animal is, we said obviously Tilda Swinton.
Leo: I heard that Tilda Swinton lives in a castle in Italy and that she has swinger parties there.
Ioanna: I heard that Angelica Houston lives in a house that has no windows and if I could ask her to marry me I would.
That’s a good story. Leo what do you think of this?
Leo: Of what?
That Jo wants to marry Angelica Houston and not you.
Leo: Oh I’m okay with that. Can I be the best man?
Leo: She told me that Angelica Houston lives in a house with no windows.
That’s interesting. As it was when Jo just told me about 1 minute ago. Anyway, what do you love most about living in Los Angeles?
Ioanna: Oh sushi for sure. They have the most fresh, delicious food. And avocados, and fish…
Leo: I like the food, I like the lifestyle. It’s awesome being in New York but it makes me appreciate how much I love living on the West Coast.
You do look like quite the sun-worshipper. You go to the beach a lot?
Leo: I like to cruise with the top down in my Caddy.
Ioanna: With SPF 70?
Leo: With my parasol.
What character of historical fiction do you most relate to?
Ioanna: I really dig Joan of Arc in a major way. She went out in a blaze.
I think she was real though.
Ioanna: Oh you said fiction! I thought you said historical, I’m on another planet.
Leo: Historical fiction?
I meant a character of fiction in the past which would make it historical…I don’t know. Technically every character of fiction does exist in the past because they already happened okay? I don’t know I’m kind of drunk.
Leo: I see. Character of fiction…Axel Foley, probably?
From Beverly Hills Cop?
Leo: From the best movie of all time, yes.
Ioanna: I’m reading a book by Nabakov called Mary, and I can relate to the guy in it, Ganin, on some levels. Either that or Claudia from The Babysitter’s Club.
Is this because you have an Asian fetish? Wasn’t Claudia the Asian one?
Ioanna: No! I grew up with really dark hair, and she was really creative.
Stacy had dark hair.
Ioanna: No Stacy was blonde.
Oh I meant the other one. The lesbian.
Ioanna: Which lesbian? There was no lesbian!
I mean they didn’t talk about it but she played softball and stuff. Kristy. And Stacy was diabetic.
Ioanna: Yes! And remember Dawn?
The sunny California girl? Duh. Which babysitter would Leo be?
Ioanna: One of the junior ones. Or one of the babies that they sit.
Who is your favorite band that you have ever played with ever?
Ioanna: Oooh I’d say Nine Inch Nails That was hard to beat. But also our lovely friends The Drums, whom we have a song with. Leo?
Leo: I would probably say in terms of teenage fantasy, it was Nine Inch Nails because I grew up listening to them. We’ve been lucky to play with a lot of cool bands. TV On The Radio was awesome. The Drums were awesome. Florence was awesome.
What are you guys looking forward to, both life-wise and career-wise, in the next year?
Ioanna: We have our full length coming out early next year, and we have a couple of festivals, two big ones which we are excited about.
Leo: I’m looking forward to playing in Europe. We’ve been over to the UK, but I’m looking forward to getting to that mainland Europe bit, to that Rotterdam area, really leaning into Hamburg and shit.
Ioanna: I’m also looking forward to leaning into some hamburgers.
Last question. Who is the worst interviewer that has ever interviewed you? Is it me?
Ioanna: It is absolutely, categorically, unequivocally not you.