Dark, stylish, and atmospheric, L.A. shoegazers IO Echo combines big guitars with a '90s-goth-meets-East-Asian sensibility. (The band's Facebook page describes its style, quite accurately, as "pastel doom.") While IO Echo has only just released its debut LP, Ministry Of Love, the band has already toured with Garbage, opened for Nine Inch Nails, and scored the Harmony Korine/James Franco film Rebel. Not too shabby. Comprised up of Los Angeles-via-DC lead singer Ioanna Gika and the U.K.-born Leopold Ross, the band is currently in the middle of a tour behind its new record. We caught up with Ioanna and Leopold at Coachella to talk summer festivals, IO Echo's unique style, and how Ioanna bonded with Jeremy Scott over a shared love of kimonos.
So, we just caught your set, which was great. How was it up there for you guys?
Ioanna: "We played at noon, and it was totally packed. We didn't know what to expect. But we were thrilled — getting to play Coachella was a dream come true."
Leopold: "Yeah, it was an honor for us to play Coachella. It's a big thing, at least in my life. It's my favorite festival. I've been here a bunch of times as a fan."
Your style seems to gravitate toward darker environments. Did playing out in the open, in the bright sun change how you approached the set at all?
Ioanna: "We did eight shows in four days at South by Southwest, and that was a bit of a boot camp for daytime playing in indirect sunlight. And at least this wasn't direct sunlight, although I'm open to that as well [laughs]. It's like that scene in Interview With The Vampire at the bottom of the well. It can get really vibey. I'm just thrilled that we got to play."
Leopold: "Being a nocturnal person, I'm actually surprised how much I enjoyed every day show that we've done. The ones at South by... it was actually kind of cool playing in the daytime."
Can you tell me a little bit about your kimono. Is that the one that Jeremy Scott designed for you?
Ioanna: "Yeah, I'm wearing it. I've been collecting kimonos for a long time, for a number of reasons. It started when my family lived in Southeast Asia for a while. And throughout the years, I've gotten kimonos from awesome vintage shops around the states, and some of my Japanese friends have given me kimonos. I was having a conversation with Jeremy — I'm a huge fan of his — and we were having a talk about how we were doing Coachella. He was very kind to make me this hologram one."
Leopold: "And he also collects kimonos. He's got a huge collection."
Could you each describe the other's style in one sentence?
Ioanna: "He's sort of like a floral Edward Scissorhands."
Leopold: "She's like, I dunno, a goth on ecstasy."
Ioanna: "I like that. It couldn't get closer to the truth."
So, how does it feel having the album out?
Ioanna: "Amazing. It's our first full length. The first day it was out, we were opening for a band, and we sold like 80 CDs at the merch table. I never imaged that that would be the case. I thought the music we were doing was pretty specific, but I'm so grateful that it's connected with people."
Leopold: "It's been really exciting. I guess we've been around for a year and half or two years. People have been aware of us and we've been picking up people's attention here and there, but it feels pretty good to have it out so people can digest it. And it's great to have it streaming online so people who have heard of the band can immediately get a sense of the sound."
So, what's next for you guys?
Ioanna: "We're going on a tour with The Joy Formidable, which we're looking forward to. And we just got off a tour with Garbage. We're also going to be playing Lollapalooza, which we're excited about."
Leopold: "Yeah, basically touring and we're about to release a video for the song 'Ministry of Love.'"
Photographed by Mark Iantosca