The hypnotising music of French-Cuban duo Ibeyi knows no bounds. With an overwhelming worldwide success mirrored by their ever-growing fan base, Ibeyi arrived on the music scene in 2013 and have continued year-on-year to gain recognition for their lyrical sounds. They’re certainly here to stay through 2016.
Lisa-Kaindé (on piano and vocals) and Naomí Díaz (on percussion and vocals), are the 20-year-old twin sisters that together form Ibeyi. Daughters of legendary Cuban percussionist, Miguel Angá Díaz - who has played with many Cuban artists including Havanan members’ club, Buena Vista Social Club - the girls were exposed to creativity and culture from an early age. Their Parisian childhood saw them engage with hip-hop, soul and jazz, whilst frequent travels to Cuba kept them in touch with their Yoruba heritage.
A language and culture originally from Western Africa, Yoruba was brought to Cuba and the Caribbean through slavery. Learning Yoruba chants from a very young age, the girls’ inherited yet another musical reference to add to the extensive repertoire that influences their original sound.
Fluent in several languages, but singing mostly in English, Yoruba retains a special place in Ibeyi’s music - most notably in their name, ‘Ibeyi’ being the Yoruba word for ‘twins’. Yoruba references similarly permeate Ibeyi’s songs, with many of the tracks from their debut album dedicated to Orishas, Yoruba spirits. Track ‘River’ for example, is about Oshún, the goddess of fresh water, love and fertility; ‘Oya’ bears the title of the spirit of hurricanes and ‘Eleggua’ in turn is a prayer to the spirit that opens and closes the path of life and prosperity.
Perfectly portraying the worlds they were brought up in, Ibeyi offer spiritual magic – lighting candles and holding hands at the start of each show – alongside personal lyrics and experimental soul that continue to win fans worldwide. The question to ask is not ‘will they stay’ but, ‘what’s next’?
Read: On Tour - Ibeyi -->
Words: Astrid Scheuermann
Photography: Flavien Prioreau