At London’s Bush Hall on the 19th February, French-Cuban 19-year-old twin sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz performed songs from their debut album ‘Ibeyi’, which goes by the same name as their band. Pronounced ‘ee-bey-ee’, Ibeyi’ means ‘twins’ in the Nigerian language Yoruba.
The duo’s music, which has been widely dubbed as “doom soul”, offers a captivating listen that spans cultures and continents. Combining electro-soul and elements of their Afro-Cuban heritage, the sister’s sing in English, French and Yoruba. It is enchanting and authentic – so much so that the audience’s attention is immediately grasped and they become immersed in the haunting, soulful melodies. This is perhaps partly due to the nature of the languages; there is a great deal of mythical undertone to Yoruba, which can be felt within the sounds.
The lighting and stage setting was very minimalistic, which although no doubt intended, provided a very genuine and innocent interaction between the duo and the audience. There is a huge amount of chemistry between the two sisters. They always look into each other’s eyes and smile. It draws the audience in and creates a beautiful connection between all, while reiterating the power of ‘Ibeyi’.
Their hit single ‘River’ proved to be soulful and upbeat, despite the lyrics suggesting otherwise. In ‘Mama Says’ they delivered a captivating performance thanks to the combination of the tropical yet spiritual sounds of Lisa-Kaindé and the amazing body percussion skills of Naomi. Their music sounds far beyond anything you would expect two teenagers to make.
Having signed to XL Recordings in 2013 and released their debut album already, Ibeyi are no doubt destined to reach a larger audience in 2015. Make sure you listen to their songs if you haven’t already, and let the lyrics draw you in.
Listen to their debut album here.
[The Yoruba have the highest non-identical twinning rate in the world, with an estimated 45-50 twin sets per 1,000 live births. This surprising statistic is believed to have come about as a result of the Yoruba’s high consumption of a particular kind of yam, which contains a natural phytoestrogen that is thought to stimulate the ovaries to release an egg from each side.]
[Bush Hall was originally built in 1904. It is an independent live music and events venue with a history steeped in rock & roll. The postcode is W12 7LJ.]
[The Nigerian language Yoruba, which was spoken by an estimated 20 million people during the 1990s, first travelled to Cuba in the 1700s via the slave trade.]
Words: Dimas Bian