IO ECHO are Leopold Ross (bassist of The Big Pink) and Ioanna Gika from Laurel Canyon. Having supported bands such as The Drums, an starring in a fashion shoot for Italian Vogue, the band also love pairing their music with stunning homemade videos; they used a mesmerising traditional Asian performance for their ‘Shanghai Girls’ track and a beautiful geisha forms the central theme for ‘When Lillies Die’. Haunting, yet melodic, the duo are currrently laying down tracks for their debut record.
What does being in IO ECHO mean to you?
Ioanna: Gang life.
What part of IO ECHO is the most enjoyable process for you- writing, recording, or playing live?
Ioanna: I think it’s difficult to compartmentalize it. With writing, recording, and playing live, things can feel in unison or things can go catastrophic, but there’s fun in not knowing what’s going to occur and just letting things happen. I think people have a tendency to get really uneasy in the gray area, but for me that is when I am the most inspired. I believe that if you let yourself sink in the chaos and float in it’s channel- that is it when you are able to rise out of the mediocrity. I really do enjoy every stage of the creative process.
You mentioned you will be touring with The Drums again this year, this time in the states. How did that friendship start out?
We met in London and it was a love at first sight.
Laurel Canyon where you live appears to be a hub of musical talent. Do you have any favourite bands in your area?
Leopold: There are loads of good bands that exist presently, and that have come out of Laurel Canyon in the past. More historically, some favorites- Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors haunted the place.
Does literature interest you or inspire your songs in any way?
Ioanna: Yes, definitely. I’m big into dead British and Irish authors. Our new song “Ministry of Love” gives reference to Orwell’s “1984.” But also over the past couple months I’ve been really into Brian Greene’s works: “The Elegant Universe,” “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” and “The Hidden Reality.” It’s science theory explained in this really charming and human way.
Your music strikes a balance between uplifting melodies and brooding darkness. Did you intend this sound to become such a signature of your work?
Ioanna: We didn’t intend for this to be a signature of our work although I think it’s fair to say it has somehow become a signature of our work. I’m interested in studying contrasts. Life is neither categorically happy nor is it all sad. There is a balance struck between the two and sometimes misery and joy exist alongside each other and I think that is reflected in our music.
Leopold: Yes, as Ioanna said, we did not intend for it to be like this. It was borne out of our subconscious. Music should be from the heart, not from the head.
What was the last song you wrote and what was it about?
We wrote a song called ‘Aokigahara Forest’ for a Harmony Korine/James Franco film project. I can’t really talk about it much more until it gets released, but it was loads of fun to work on.
Do you feel like you are similar to any other bands that have existed- past or present?
Ioanna: Our stage performance is greatly inspired by Japanese styles of Kabuki dance and Noh theater. Although those aren’t bands, per se, it is their styles of performance we admire and channel, both in our recording process and in the live show.
Tell us about your favourite hang outs in LA:
Leopold: We eat a lot of sushi. Shintaro is our favorite place for that. Origami vinyl and Vacation vinyl are good record shops. We prefer house parties over bars but The Body Shop is the best strip club in LA.
Ioanna: Yes, this is true. To me The Body Shop somehow feels like a David Lynch film. It’s great.
If you were to do anything outside of music, what would that be?
Leopold: Honestly, I am terrified by that idea.
Ioanna: I have a good work ethic. I also have an obsession with murder mysteries. I would combine the two and be a murder detective. I would still continue to wear kimonos.
Last question.. if IO ECHO ruled the world, what kind of world would that be?
Leopold: It would be a bit like Nazi Germany except instead of Jews it would be reality TV hosts/judges/contestants. On the bright side sushi would be free.
Image: Nathaniel Wood