Shop UO UO Blog

About A Girl:

Ioanna Gika

Interview by Kate Williams

As frontwoman for Io Echo, Ioanna Gika is about to play Coachella for the first time. She's super stoked, but she does NOT want to get BBQ sauce on her kimono at this festival.

Io Echo is just you and Leopold Ross. How did you two meet and decide to make music together?

We met through a mutual friend at a bar. I was listening to “Venus in Furs” [the Velvet Underground song] a lot at the time, and when he asked how I was doing, I blurted out that I had this song stuck in my head, and he mentioned that he was named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote the book Venus in Furs. That's where the term ‘masochism' came from, so we always joke ‘Nothing like masochism to bring two people together.'

We realized we had a similar passion for music, though extremely dissimilar taste in it. I grew up listening to Enya and New Age music with my parents, and Leo grew up listening to things like Nirvana and Public Enemy. But we shared a lot of other views, so we thought it might be L-O-L if we made music together, because we were so different.

How did you get interested in music?

When I was really little, I did a lot of musical theatre. I was in West Side Story and Guys and Dolls, but I was pretty stubborn as a kid, and I got to a point where I wanted my own words to come out of my mouth.

So was performing with Io Echo the first time you performed your own music?

Yeah, and it was really nerve-wracking. I still have really bad stage fright. It's funny, because for musicals, you can get on stage and be a character. But when it's just you, it's soul-baring. Before our very first show, I puked! I still get really jittery, and whiskey is my liquid courage.

You guys played a ton of shows at SXSW this year. Was that your first time going big like that?

Last year, we just had one showcase and it was for a record label, and we just flew in and flew out. But certainly, it was nothing like the chaos that was this year—we did eight shows in four days! I quite like being busy, so I appreciated how busy it was. It was almost like a physical challenge, because it would be two shows in one day, having gotten two hours of sleep and being ragingly hungover. And so you're like, 'Can I do this without passing out on stage? Ready, go!' It was really fun.

And you guys are playing Coachella this year. That's awesome!

I'm really excited! Especially having lived in California and attending Coachella before, it was definitely one of those festivals where once we started touring, I thought to myself, ‘Oh wow, it would be so cool to get to do that someday.' So we're so honored that they asked us to do that. We found out in the fall, but we couldn't say anything until recently!

How far in advance do you plan out what you're going to wear for shows?

I changed my outfit today, but I have been wearing the same outfit for the past nine or 10 months, on and off stage. Because once I put something on and I like it and it works, I'll never take it off. But I'll rotate kimonos—I was wearing the pink one last night, but when I was at SXSW I got barbecue sauce on it!!

The one you're wearing now is so cool.

This one is the one I am probably going to wear to Coachella. It was custom made for me by Jeremy Scott, so I am so excited about it! But I am also not wanting to get barbecue sauce on it...

That's probably easier at Coachella than SXSW. You guys are on the road so much. How do you kill time when you're touring?

We write on the road. A good example of that would be the song "When the Lilies Die," which is on the album that's about to come out. I have a clear memory of recording the bass outside of a venue in the cold in Europe, and then guitar parts in California, then I recorded the vocals into a laptop in a hotel in Brooklyn. I also like to read, or get into Internet k-holes of information. So, like, all of a sudden I have been looking up iridium until 4 a.m.

What's iridium?

It's this iridescent element that scientists think comes from comets. There is a lot of iridium in this one layer of earth, and it's the same layer from when the dinosaurs became extinct. So because iridium is from comets is part of why people think a giant comet killed the dinosaurs.

Wow, you know your stuff!

Now Pick:

The beach or the desert:

Oh, that's tough…the beach???

Smiley faces or yin-yangs:


Sunrises or sunsets:


Leather or denim:


Restaurants or cooking: