A singer, producer and director, Lia Ikkos is an artist by all means. A second year DEBUT artist who blew minds in her lasted live performance at DEBUT 4th birthday bash, she speaks to us about art, music and future as she sees them.
You took part in DEBUT 4th birthday party with a marvellous live art performance that moved everyone who saw it. We are curious to hear about the inspiration behind it. Could you tell us more about it?
The opera installation I presented for the birthday party was all about the perception of perception or the idea of going beyond what we believe to be total. A girl in a fish bowl fantasy place is suddenly alerted to the world beyond her beautiful environment, outside the myth she created for and about herself. She sees the faces of others, the art of others, the inside of the gallery and finally the outside world, where she is finally brave enough to go. It was custom made for the Debut space that I was offered, being in the shop window, but it was also the consequence of two major elements; the book I was reading at the time, and my collaborator for the piece. Adrian Bell made the set design and as soon as I approached him without mention of a concept it was clear we had to go under water. The book in my hands at the time was The Silence of Animals by John Gray, which looks at various conditions of humanism. The operatic element, Lascia ch’io pianga by Handel, came through the ether as the music which had to be expressed for this particular metaphor. The Italian translates as “Let me weep my cruel fate, and sigh for liberty. May sorrow break these chains of my suffering, for pity’s sake” expressing that we are the designers of and become attached to the limits which entrap us. But it was with these words that also I came into very intimate and wonderful contact with the people in the space, singing for them individually as the act of exploration. So while the song carried the sorrow of letting go of the fantasy, the reality of interaction lent the taste of the amazing. Because when we really abandon our preconceptions the possibilities are truly limitless and there is no past that can weigh us down. There is only the real world, which is as yet everything which is undiscovered.
Dance and performance are another way of expression. What do you generally intend to say through your performances?
I work from the voice outward. I’m extremely flattered this piece was misinterpreted as dance. I’m not a dancer, although there’s nothing I love more than dancing. But I’ve been working on my voice through my body for a long while because actually for 5 years I was completely voiceless. I literally had to reconstruct how I made sound, which is a very physical thing. So I worked in a physical / musical theatre company for 2 years in Poland, where the method is extremely visceral and operatic, emphasizing ensemble connectivity. That was the real foundation of my training in performance making, and where I was able to question myself most, which leads onto your next question. What do I intend to say through my performances? There’s just about enough material I’ve made to begin, just begin to understand that. Each piece is extremely different, though I stick to a basic rule of working with composers to make anything which goes beyond a solo performance. In my most conscious faculty I want to show the audience that we are all hypocrites on some level, and that it’s human to be wrong, it’s human to be mistaken about ourselves, but because of that it’s also our right and the first necessity to venture to understand ourselves by whichever independent means we find, and that we have to do that before we can pretend to understand and genuinely be part of the world around us. At the same time I’m completely obsessed with beauty, with movement, with magic, just as I was since as long as I can remember, going right back to the days when me and my best friend made potions and sunk our feet into the mud of her garden pond. So I think my pieces combine the elements of self-destruction and an other worldly light.
Any secret rituals you do before performing?
Do I do the voo doo and the juju? Just spray the audience in love potion. I’m joking. Really affirmation is the most powerful tool, knowing what feeling you want to give people and then be intent on tuning into not only that feeling in myself but also into them. Sometimes I get the chance to really just look at the audience – peoples’ faces – before performing, and that’s the most powerful tool I find. Taking the time to know who I’m trying to affect, because ultimately I’m offering them a gift and they can only take it on a very personal level. So although I can’t speak to them in their language, just knowing they are there, and it’s not someone else but this very person… that’s a game changer for me in terms of really letting out the performance.
Besides dancing, you are also a producer and a director.How do you find these three art disciplines related?
Besides singing I also direct and produce. They’re a holy trinity. The music is from the highest place, the offering. Directing is about working with other people, and we are always in life somehow working with other people. Producing is about the architecture and environment that hosts what it is that is being witnessed. So they’re different aspects of letting something special happen. What else is life for?
Does music inspire dance or dance inspires music?
Dance is a method of mastery, which is a human thing, but music, real music, is form elsewhere and it reduces the human to a blissful nothing.
What do you remember about your first performance?
I think it was about baking cookies.
When you need an escape, where do you go?
To escape?I go dancing to soul and jazz. When I’m really in a twist I walk around at night. I think for me the moon is probably what best undoes the nonsense.
What’s on your schedule for 2015?
2015. . . well this month I’m working on a BFI production, doing my first bit of surreal staging for documentary film maker Victoria Fiore. I’ve got the new London based ensemble EVIXO which is a mediterranean music group lead by the most astonishing guitarist and composer Panteleimon Michaeloudis. So as many concerts as we can muster. I’m developing The Color Blue which is an opera set to a real boxing match; a very exciting performance art music theatre piece I’ve been nurturing for years. The composer Simone Spagnolo is in the first drafts. I hope to be back at the Aix en Provence festival as a European Network of Opera Academies scholar this summer. The only thing I ask of 2015 is to bring me commissions so I can be a full time artist, so I can continue developing musical and vocal understanding above all.
Where will Lia be in 2020?
In 2020 I’ll be working with composers form different corners of our beautiful planet as a vocalist. My voice is going to be in its prime from for the next decade or so, so that’s my avant-garde force now. Communication and languages are integral to my way of thinking and feeling, so my direction which is quite anthropological is towards other cultures, other people, deeper through other sounds into the other dimensions, other worlds. But I’ll be here to give concerts and to stage them in ways that glue the music into space, and bring people into new relationships through experience