Ibeyi is a French-Cuban musical duo consisting of twin sisters, Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz. The duo sings in English and Yoruba, — a Nigerian language their ancestors spoke before being brought to Cuba by the Spanish to be made slaves in the 1700s — though Lisa's is the lead voice. Naomi plays traditional Peruvian/Cuban percussion instruments cajón and Batá drum, while Lisa also plays piano.
Ibeyi is pronounced ee-bey-ee. In the Yoruba language this translates as "twins".
Their music has elements of Yoruba, French, and Afro-Cuban and fuses jazz with beats, samples with traditional instruments.
Early life and career
The twins were born in Paris but lived in Havana for the first two years of their lives. They often visited Cuba yearly on holiday, but were primarily raised in Paris, where they currently reside. Their father was the famed Cuban percussionist, Anga Díaz, who has received a Grammy for his work with the latin jazz band Irakere and was also a member of Buena Vista Social Club played with Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González and Máximo Francisco Repilado Muñoz aka Compay Segundo. On his death in 2006, Naomi, then aged 11, learned to play his signature instrument the cajón. Together, the sisters studied Yoruba folk songs. Their mother is French-Venezuelan singer, Maya Dagnino, who serves as their manager and encouraged Lisa-Kainde's songwriting. In 2013, they signed to the record label, XL Recordings. Label owner Richard Russell is the only other contributor to their self-titled debut album, released in 2015.
At the age of 20, they released their self-titled debut album. The album pays tribute to their deceased father and the track Yanira immortalizes the duo's older sister, who died in 2013. The end of the song trails off with a synth that sounds like a life support monitor. In 2014, they received attention for the video for their album's second single, "River". The twin sisters, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz, appear in a closeup shot throughout, taking turns having their heads forced underwater while the other sings.
As well as their father Anga Díaz, the duo claims Frank Ocean, James Blake, and King Krule among their influences. In live shows, they have covered rapper Jay Electronica's Better in Tune with the Infinite and others.
Their recordings also show a strong and spiritual connection to their Yoruba roots, as do the name and themes. The Yoruba tribe they descend from presents the highest dizygotic (fraternal) twinning rate in the world (4.4 % of all maternities). The high perinatal mortality rate associated with such pregnancies has contributed to the integration of a special twin belief system within the African traditional religion of this tribe.
They also pay tribute to Santería, a syncretism practiced by many Afro-Cubans.