Artists to Watch in 2015: Ibeyi
By Tanya Rae
Twenty year old twin sisters and mystic beauties Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz have just released their self-titled, full length debut album Ibeyi, on British independent record label, XL Recordings. The French Cuban musical duo released their Oya EP in June 2014, showcasing their extraordinary talent and releasing music videos for tracks Oya and Mama Says, on YouTube.
The Cuban born and Paris-raised twins sing in English, Spanish, French and Yoruba, a Nigerian language that travelled to Cuba via slavery in the 1700's. They often sing of heritage, family and loss, a reoccurring theme in their highly emotive music. Their father, renowned Cuban percussionist Angá Diaz, passed away when the twins were eleven, as well as their older sister Yanira, to whom they often dedicate their music.
"Ibeyi" translates to to "twins" in Yoruba, the official language of the West African ethnic group, who have the highest twinning rate in the world. Twins are widely celebrated in Yoruba villages and Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) embrace their connection to the culture.
"[On Yoruba music] It's heavy on bass with a lot of repetition and chanting. It's about nature and spirituality."
"It's what we grew up listening to. It's a part of us."*
Ibeyi released singles for tracks Oya, Mama Says, Ghosts and River, before announcing a tour of Europe and the US for 2015. Their debut album (which took only three months to produce) was released on iTunes yesterday and features thirteen tracks. Check out one of my personal favourites, Ghosts, below (It's genuine, warm and truly enchanting). Seriously.
The twins flawlessly compliment one another, physically and musically. Lisa wears an impressively regal afro, plays piano, writes the song lyrics and sings main vocals, while Naomi, the slightly older of the two, sports emerald green eyes, plays the percussive instruments (the cajón and the batá) and sings back up vocals. In interviews they often finish each other sentences and speak at the same time. Together they personify the melody and the rhythm. Yin and Yang.
Ibeyi shared their debut album online to stream a few days ahead of release, which was scheduled for the 16th of Febuary on iTunes. It's lively, it's melancholic and it's absolutely spellbinding. Expect goosebumps.
While there is little variation between the thirteen tracks, Lisa's mature, haunting voice (and widened vocal range) has the ability to crawl under your skin and speak directly to your heart. Naomi's tribal percussive beats provide the perfect backdrop. Their songs are layered and often drawing from soul, hip hop and classical inspirations. Mama Says is a highlight, creating an eerily beautiful form of nostalgia, however, their live performance utterly destroys and wins over the version recorded on their album. It's no wonder these girls are my pick for artists to watch in 2015. Stream their album below:
*Taken from interview with Ibeyi on YouTube