Somewhere at the intersection of art, fashion and music, style often becomes substance. How something is presented is almost just as important as the thing itself. When it comes to music, it’s easy for us cognoscenti to dismiss fashion-forward artistes as lacking a sort of verity. But rock ‘n’ roll’s always been about the intertwining of style and art. It doesn’t matter how “real” or “authentic” a band or musician might be perceived, it’s still, true or not, an image.
Now out of always-image-conscious Los Angeles come glammy duo IO Echo, a group that’s just as likely to get a review in Pitchfork as a nod on Style.com. The band has a definite affinity for goth rock and Asian imagery (like Japanese instruments and designer kimonos) as well. The band is frontwoman Ioanna Gika and her British-born partner Leopold Ross–brother of Trent Reznor collaborator Atticus Ross. Speaking of Reznor, he was an early fan of IO Echo, and asked the duo to open up for Nine Inch Nails. They’ve also shared stages with Florence and the Machine, TV on the Radio, and Garbage. IO Echo supplied music for a short film called “Rebel” by Harmony Korine and James Franco for the 2011 Venice Biennale.
IO Echo just came off performances at this year’s Coachella, and they’re heading out on the road with The Joy Formidable (including their Austin date tonight at Emo’s East). They also just released their debut full-length Ministry of Love earlier this month. The title track comes with a pretty cool, interactive video (made by the folks that did Arcade Fire’s “We Used To Wait” video). The song itself is awash in goth-rock fog and a doomy bassline and rhythm. Despite the downcast atmospherics, the chorus is a soaring hook and plenty poppy. “Ministry of Love” is the kind of song made for a big hall with an arty light show. And IO Echo is the kind of band that’s that special mix of art and style.