Despite seemingly opposing tastes, Los Angeles-based pop duo, Io Echo, otherwise known as Ioanna Gika and Leopold Ross, consider themselves musical soul mates. “I love Enya, Yanni, Vangelis, Enigma, and other New Age artists,” says Ioanna Gika. “Prince, Nirvana, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Neil Young, The Cure, Aphex Twin,” chimes in Leopold Ross. Together they produce an ethereal sound that weaves diverse textures into thumping backbeats. “Our sound has a texture of Far Eastern instruments running through it, such as the Koto harp…with inspiration of the Far East, romance, pastel colors, escapism and death.” Their varied interests have resulted in a new generation of sound, with the contrasting tonalities somehow seamlessly joined. Their unique sound is gaining them some interesting momentum on the music circuit as well as in the film and art scenes. They recently collaborated with filmmaker Harmony Korine and James Franco scoring the film Rebel, and co-curated an audio-visual festival at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles with Jeffrey Deitch.
The Untitled Magazine: How did you get started with music?
Ioanna Gika: I was given a Yamaha keyboard for Christmas when I was seven and freaked out. It was such a tremendous gift. I dove into the world of sounds. It was like exploring another planet.
Leopold Ross: I have big brothers who are passionate about music. They would feed me the music that they were listening to, and we would also write music together.
UM: How did you come up with your performance name?
IG: “Io” is short for Ioanna and we chose the Echo because it felt sonically compatible.
UM: What inspired the creation of your EP, IO Echo EP?
IG: The Far East, romance, pastel colors, escapism, death.
UM: How long have you been performing?
LR: I started playing guitar when I was about 12.
IG: I loved participating in the arts and music, and musical theatre, and did so from the time I was about 10.
UM: What was your breakthrough moment?
IG: When random people started sending us pictures of themselves on Facebook dressed up as us for Halloween.
UM: Do you have a favorite band or musician?
IG: I love Enya, Yanni, Vangelis, Enigma, and other new age artists .
LR: Prince, Nirvana, Old Dirty Bastard, Neil Young, The Cure, Aphex Twin to name a few.
UM: Who is the most inspirational person in the music industry?
UM: Do you have a mentor?
IG: My father, but he passed away recently. He was too young to go, but his words of wisdom have stuck with me.
UM: If you could be any other musician or band who would it be?
IG: There are musicians it’d be amazing to hang with, like Prince, but I’m ok with being me.
UM: If you weren’t in music what would you do?
LR: Dread to think.
UM: What was the most difficult performance in your career and how did you handle it?
IG: The first show we ever played. I had stage fright. I puked beforehand. The show went well though, thank G!
UM: How did you come up with your “look” for the band?
LR: We didn’t have a purposeful agenda going into it. Ioanna owns a lot of kimonos and our sound has a texture of far eastern instruments running through it, such as the Koto harp, which Ioanna plays, so our look pays homage to that. But overall we wear what we feel like on the day.
UM: Do you have a favorite designer?
IG: Jeremy Scott, who made me a hologram kimono which I wear on stage. I love him.
UM: Who is your favorite artist?
IG: Balthus, a visual artist who lived from 1908-2001.
UM: Do you have a motto or words of wisdom you live by?
LR: ‘I don’t fear the sleep of death, I fear the life that’s slept through.’ — by Ioanna Gika. It’s something she once said and she ended up putting it in an IO Echo song of ours. I think those are words to live by.
UM: What is it about music that you love?
IG: It’s ability to conjure up emotions, connect, polarize, and inspire.
UM: What is your favorite song you have ever produced?
IG: “While You Are Sleeping.”
UM: In what direction do you see your sound evolving?
LR: We don’t have a plan or a map of what direction we want to head sonically. It’s more a case of letting the ideas flow and discovering where they take us as it happens.