Benjamin Millepied Directs a Kabuki-Inspired Collaboration with the Dark Pop Duo
A lone kabuki dancer performs against an urban tableau wearing full kumadori makeup in choreographer Benjamin Millepied's video for the Io Echo track “Eye Father.” Since meeting at a party and bonding over masochism and The Velvet Underground, Washington D.C.-native Ioanna Gika and her London-born partner in crime Leopold Ross have scored films for Harmony Korine, toured with Florence and the Machine and opened for Nine Inch Nails’ last-ever show. In “Eye Father,” Io Echo’s koto harp, hazy guitars and ethereal vocals are visualized in the vivid palette of classical Japanese theater. “Kabuki sets are so beautiful and rich in color, I wanted to find urban spaces with that quality,” explains director Millepied, who shot the film at a number of scenic Hollywood spots, including Los Angeles Harbor and a SoCal supermarket. “It looked like we were in rural China, but we were in this all-American urban landscape.” The cultural mash-up resonates well with Io Echo’s own penchant for mixing musical influences. “We’re interested in the sound and aesthetic of Asian cultures, but we’re not trying to emulate it literally,” Gika explains. “You can listen to our songs and imagine a Far Eastern forest, but ours is infused with purple smoke and twisted willows.” Currently in the finishing stages of Io Echo’s debut album, Gika shares the dreams that inspire the work, and a custom haiku.
What was on the stereo when you were growing up?
Ioanna Gika: Enya, Vangelis, chant, classical and new age.
Favorite new band?
IG: Haleek Maul, a teenage rapper from Barbados.
Dreams: black and white or Technicolor?
IG: Technicolor. Once the sky was so blue I was terrified.
IG: Kofi Annan or Philip Glass.
Favorite Japanese restaurant in LA?
IG: Sushi Ike––they do a great fresh octopus.
Write us a haiku?
IG: Wrote haikus all day
and apparently I am
still writing haikus.
Click here for Io Echo and Benjamin Millepied's second video collaboration, plus a chat with Leopold Ross.
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