The music of Ioanna Gika, as repeatedly written in many American media, “has a magic and otherworldly touch that throws her audience into raptures”

Ioanna Gika

Magic Moments of Music

Text: Dimitra Kehagia
Ioanna Gika

The music of Ioanna Gika, as repeatedly written in many American media, “has a magic and otherworldly touch that throws her audience into raptures”. She enjoys having concerts alongside Chelsea Wolfe, whom she describes as “such a sweet human”, while confessing that she is saddened by the fact that she will never have the chance to work with legendary Greek composer Vangelis Papathanassiou. Having resorted to music ever since a child searching for a way to share everything she could not express through words (she was just a little girl when she first listened to Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero”, a melody that defined her as an artist), she gained recognition as a founding member of Io Echo that played as a support band in the US shows by Nine Inch Nails, Haim, New Order and Jon Hopkins. In 2019, she toured alongside Garbage, as a solo artist. In 2012, the song “Gone” was included in the soundtrack of the film Snow White and the Huntsman, featuring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.

She writes both the music and the lyrics of her songs – some of which were quoted by the best-seller novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy – while her most surreal experience in the music industry came when U2’s Bono expressed his admiration for her music. Her ultimate goal is to guide the listener to a state of identification-methexis through her artistic statement. A true citizen of the world, she was born in Washington, but her family has lived so far in various parts, from Greece to Indonesia, interweaving images from distant places and the Greek idiosyncrasies. This array of experiences, in tandem with her Greek origin, had an impact on her way of thinking and on how she finds inspiration. As a result, her music is riddled with many powerful and distinct cultural references. “As someone who has moved places a lot, I do not define home by four walls, but rather by the people who surround me,” she goes on to say, before adding that this blend of miscellaneous influences has greatly affected her style, both music-wise and in terms of appearance.

She takes pride in being financially independent ever since her adolescence, having worked in many different jobs, she “holds her breath” when being around people who ooze negative energy, but most of all she is in love with imperfections. “Imperfections convey character and humanity. Some people say that symmetry is the ultimate form of beauty but I disagree.  I like finding beauty in unbeautiful situations.” Going back in her childhood years and the summers she spent in Greece, she recalls the wind brushing aside the white curtains in the entrance of a monastery, the chrysocolla-tinted colors of the sea, the blackness of the urchins, the fresh taste of tomatoes, the air thickened by the cicada chorus. Her connection to the sea is so powerful that she decided to give the title Thalassa (the Greek word for “sea”) to her debut solo LP, released in 2019. An album inspired by her parents’ homeland during a period of emotional turmoil. An album triggered by grief, in combination with the Greek landscape.

From her childhood years in Greece, she vividly recalls the walks to the Panathenaic Stadium in the company of her father. She found herself returning to the same place many years later, in the summer of 2021, taking part in the Dior Cruise 2022 show, in a captivating performance, against the backdrop of an orchestral track from Thalassa. “Moments before the show, as I stood amidst the marble, I thought not only about the literal steps I was about to take to the stage, but also about the steps my ancestors took before me, and the steps we, as a civilization, have had to take during the past few years. It was a deeply meaningful experience.”

Ioanna Gika is particularly fond of mythology, fascinated by the nature of the Ancient Greek gods. “What I like about the ancient Greek Gods in general is that they were multifaceted. The modern God of Christianity, for example, is supposed to be this entity of purity that people aspire to, but the Gods of the ancient world had texture, humor, passion”, she concludes.