Ibeyi are 20 year old French Cuban twins, Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz who grew up in Paris. They are daughters of the late Cuban percussionist Angà Diaz. Diaz was the percussionist for the famous Buena Vista Social Club. Naomi plays percussive instruments the Cajon and the Batas and takes inspiration from her father, while Lisa-Kainde plays piano. Together the twins sing and combine modern pop, hip-hop and electronic influences with the traditional sounds of their father’s Yoruba culture – Cuban rhythms meet hypnotic minimalism. Glam interviewed them ahead of their WOMAD shows:
GA: First trip down under?
IBEYI: Yes! First trip ever to Australia, we are super excited about it.
GA: A unique element to your performance is singing some songs in Yoruba, a native Nigerian language. What are the unique aspects of Yoruba folk songs that distinguish them from other musical styles?
IBEYI: The Yoruba we sing in is the language brought to Cuba by the slaves who were shipped from Nigeria and Benin to Cuba. It is not spoken in Cuba but their religious chants did pass down from one generation to the other and became what is known as La Santeria. It’s unique in that what remains of Cuba’s African legacy and when you sing those Afro-Cuban chants in Yoruba, you are singing to specific gods the way it has been sung for centuries by men and women. It’s a very powerful thing to carry on with that tradition
GA: Tell us about your father, Grammy award winning percussionist Anga Díaz, his career and his impact on your music?
IBEYI: Our father never taught us music but he did give us the love for music. Music has been part of our lives forever, way before we even started playing. As for Anga, he is one of the best percussionists ever. The first one to play with 5 congas, and more important, he was a wonderful human being, generous and simple despite of his talent and recognition. He is always in our hearts and minds as an inspiration.
GA: We think your music has appeal, not only for fans of world music, but younger audiences who like innovative pop, indie music and RnB. When you compose music, do you set out to appeal to multiple demographics, or is this a by-product of your influences?
IBEYI: It is 100% a by-product of who we are, our lives, our influences, our cultural mix and what we listened to while growing up. We never thought about the audience when recording, we only thought about creating music that we loved and that we could play on our own as we were touring. We recorded the music that was waiting inside of us to come out.
GA: You have cited Frank Ocean, King Krule and James Blake as influences. Do you think pop music is going through an exciting phase at the moment with nu-RnB and more innovative production entering the mainstream?
IBEYI: Those three artists you just named are tremendously talented and creative and there are many others, like Kendrick Lamar or new young ones. There have always been great artists in every genre. The problem they face is not lack of creativity but lack of media support to help spread the diversity of talents around the world. How many young talented musicians never get a radio play? It’s insane.
We cant wait to see this talented duo perform at this year’s WOMAD!
When: 11 – 14 March
Where: Botanic Park, Adelaide