Ibeyi is made up of twins Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Díaz, and the myriad of cultural influences that come with them. Their electro-twinged spirituals are awash with their ancestral tradition and language of Yorùbá, and a modern sensibility influenced by their hometown of Paris, France.
Listening to their powerful harmonies, it seems the women have been collaborating musically since they shared a womb; having been raised by the Afro-Cuban percussionist Miguel “Angá” Díaz certainly contributes to this assumption. However, Ibeyi came together officially only a few short years ago. In fact, neither twin showed any particular interest in music until their father’s death in 2006. Naomi and Lisa-Kainde, then age 11, began studying Yorùbá songs shortly after their loss, at their mother’s insistence. Their mother, who was a French-Venezuelan singer in her youth, has always ardently encouraged her daughters’ musical ventures. Even so, the twins never considered pursuing music as a career until the head of XL Records, Richard Russell, reached out to them in 2013.
Since then, the sisters have grown closer than ever over their art, admitting in a KEXP interview from April 2015 that they “were born together, but […] really met three years ago”. Like so many other twins, they seem to share a psychic connection, in the studio and on stage. Each is the perfect compliment to the other. They fall seamlessly together in rhythm and tone, mixing and melding to forge music that glistens with originality. The gleaming product is a perfect memento to their father’s life and legacy.
Angá is not the only loved one Ibeyi have sealed in musical remembrance. The eleventh song on their self-titled debut, “Yanira”, pays starkly beautiful homage to the oldest Díaz daughter, the namesake for the track. Lisa-Kainde and Naomi’s older sister died tragically from a brain aneurysm in 2013. The album is dedicated both to Yanira and their father, and carries themes of not only death, but love and hope throughout.
Words: Darby Dayton