To best understand Ioanna Gika and the world that she has created, it is best to shatter all that you know to be reality and toss on a druid robe as you embark on a personal journey of monastic sorcery. There is something witchy and transformative about her music which has been easily captivating to new audiences. The music bares something traditional while bridging into soft techno undertones that has created such a strong narrative for those who balance the moods of raving and meditating.
Her album Thalassa, released earlier this year, is an amalgamation of the conflicting feelings she had experienced while going through a break up as well as coping with familial sorrows. Taking refuge in Greece to write the album, the musician took to her Greek mother-tongue as well as English to construct her poems which were amplified through her vocals which evoke spirits of sirens songs. Hey lyrics have even been quoted by Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy in her best-selling book The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness. These unified layers of complexities pared with previous collaborations with electronic maven and Grammy nominated TOKiMONSTA can be heard throughout as the album slips and slides through the varying emotional extremities.
Having recently come back from a spring tour opening for Garbage, we managed to slip in words with Gika ahead of her recent announcement of a fall tour with Chelsea Wolfe.
Congrats on the album it is such a great project to see you evolve into this full envisioned lilth goddess figure. How did you come about producing the album away from your previous work with Io Echo?
Several life changes occurred. My family moved back from living throughout South East Asia to our home country, Greece to find it in economic disrepair. My father, uncle, stepfather, grandmother, and cousin passed away. I wrote the songs in Greece at my family home during this time. The content of the songs coupled with being in my native land gave the body of work a particular feeling that set it aside from Io Echo. My surroundings have always informed my writing but this was my first time executive producing an album. I hope to continue to grow and evolve in this process.
How did you come to fully embrace this post nu age sound. It is very much in line with some of the soundtrack work you have done with “Gone”, it’s wonderful to hear your voice fully show cased.
I decided to strip away layers of reverb and effects that I would normally include, so that I could lay the emotion and the lyrics bare. I wanted to examine the theme of change through varying sonic landscapes but to have the voice be a zipline through chaos. That's a new thing for me, not hiding behind layers of reverb. I grew up listening to Enigma, Enya, and Yanni, so those were influences probably made their way into the album as well.
Instrumentally what have you been experimenting with I saw the bow triggered FX pedal.
I am interested in found sound. Exploring nature and sampling textures and real life ambience
What was your process of writing the songs, there is an amazing nuanced baroque pop and Chamber pop.
There were certain themes that informed the song writing process. Change being one of them. The idea of impermanence. Not settling into a pattern, not being afraid of interrupting it.
What have you been listening lately to get you in the vibe- outside of Enya!? There is a worldly diverse sound.
I still listen to a lot of New Age music. I love NTS radio and they have a channel called Slow Focus that is beautiful, seraphic, and new age. I also listen to bird sounds, nature sounds, deep sea frequencies, oxyrhyncus hymnal music.
Some of your percussions and programming’s are very close to that of your last IO Echo EP, how important is it to bridge the sounds and create a continuity when evolving your sound?
There will always be textures that I am drawn to or that are meaningful to me so if there is continuity it is because they have organically made their way onto the record.
What is the significance of the birds you mention on each track?
What has it been like touring with Shirley Manson and Garbage? What have they taught you?
Floating in water looking up at the rays of light: that light is Shirley. Her warm laugh echoing through a maze of theater hallways across the country, coming into the dressing room with a big hug, and all of Garbage bringing meaningful conversations and a welcoming nature night after night. Continually inspired, in awe, and grateful for the powerhouse that is Shirley Manson and all of Garbage.
You have had a strong track record working with fashion, how did your collaboration with Olivier Theyskens come about, what other projects are you working on in that fashion vein?
The collaboration with Olivier Theyskens came about because sound wizards Michel Gaubert and Ryan Aguilar heard my new album, played it for Olivier and they decided to use four tracks to open his show in Paris. Completely surreal being under headphones working on an album for so long, and then hearing it come to life in that space.
I heard a rumor that people have been having quite unexplainable occurrences happen after their first play of the album?
Humanity has a traditionally uncomfortable relationship with the inexplicable. This album was written during an inexplicable time especially in the events surrounding the death of my father. When my father first fell ill and doctors could not explain what was happening, he first lost the ability to speak English. Then he lost his ability to speak Greek. The last thing he could do before dying was sing. Music is what's left when language fails.
Upcoming Tour Dates with Chelsea Wolfe
18 — San Diego, Calif. @ Observatory North Park
19 — Phoenix, Ariz. @ Crescent Ballroom
21 — Salt Lake City, Utah @ Metro Music Hall
22 — Estes Park, Colo. @ Stanley Hotel
24 — Chicago, Ill. @ Metro
25 — Detroit, Mich. @ Senate Theater
26 — Toronto, Ont. @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
27 — Montreal, Qué @ Le National
29 — Boston, Mass. @ Royale
31 — Philadelphia, Penn. @ Union Transfer
01 — New York, N.Y. @ Brooklyn Steel
03 — Washington, District of Columbia @ 9:30 Club
04 — Charlotte, N.C. @ McGlohon Theater
05 — Atlanta, Ga. @ Terminal West
06 — Nashville, Tenn. @ Mercy Lounge
08 — Dallas, Texas @ Texas Theatre
09 — Austin, Texas @ Levitation
10 — Houston, Texas @ White Oak Music Hall
12 — Santa Fe, N.M. @ Meow Wolf
13 — Tucson, Ariz. @ Club Congress
15 — Los Angeles, CA @ The Palace Theatre
16 — San Francisco, Calif. @ Regency Ballroom
18 — Portland, Ore. @ Wonder Ballroom
20 — Seattle, Wash. @ The Showbox
21 —Vancouver, B.C. @ Vogue Theatre
Photographed by: Jasper Rischen.
Styled by: Sadie Sapphire.
Makeup: Fidel Gonzalez using Senna Cosmetics, Danessa Myricks Cosmetics, and Runway Rouge Beauty at Opus Beauty.
Produced by: BJ Panda Bear.
Location: Property of Halil Hasic Esq, by BBL Construction.