Urban duo

Technically speaking, ibeyi is the word for twin in Yoruba—the West African language that was transposed to Cuba at the time of slavery. However, if you’ve been listening to trendy European radio stations as of lately, the term is more likely to evoke an up-and-coming French-Cuban twin-sister duo composed of Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz that fuses urban beats with electronic music and Afro-Cuban chants.  

Lisa studied classical piano and Naomi trained as a percussionist. They were spotted by the independent London-based label XL Recordings barely out of high school. “We came into the studio just like that— with plenty of songs. And that’s when we felt the fire of becoming musicians, of inventing the sound that resembled us the most,” says Lisa. 

Their debut album, scheduled for release in early 2015, is described by Lisa as “very personal”: “It’s about our lives—my sister’s and my own— but at the same time I think everyone can relate because these are themes that everyone is familiar with: death and love and life.”  

Lisa and Naomi are the daughters of the late Buena Vista Social Club conga player Miguel “Anga” Díaz. Their Cuban origins transpire into their music through the Yoruba hymns that are interwoven into many of their songs. “We had been listening to Yoruba music since we were small. When we started composing, it came out naturally. It’s part of us,” explains Lisa.  

Although they live in Paris, they often return to Havana, where they spent part of their early childhood. “What I like about being here is the simplicity of life,” says Naomi. “You don’t have too many things, and yet still enjoy yourself. I feel free here.” 

Although Lisa and Naomi are in perfect musical communion onstage, they admit that they are exact opposites, personality-wise, which leads to a whole lot of arguing in everyday life. “Naomi is crazy,” says Lisa. “She has the sort of madness that I’d like to have. I admire her— she has rhythm, which I don’t have, and knows what she wants deep inside.” Of Lisa, Naomi says: “She is a wonderful, extremely talented and sweet woman.” In the end, they admit that the magic of the duo is to be found in this contrast: “Two personalities that confront each other.”

Ibeyi's official website: http://www.ibeyi.fr
Album is out now: http://x-l.co/ibeyiiT / http://x-l.co/ibeyiamazCD'

Artists appear courtesy of XL Recordings