Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins ibeji, the acclaimed French-Cuban, London-based twin sibling duo Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) — Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz — can trace the origins of their music career to growing up in a deeply musical home: their father, Anga Diaz, was best known for his work as a member of the intentionally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club and for collaborating with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. Sadly, Anga died with the Diaz Sisters were 11.
Upon their father’s death, the Diaz Sisters began studying Yoruba folk songs and the cajon an Afro-Caribbean drum that their father played throughout most of his music career. Interestingly, although Yoruba is primarily spoken throughout Nigeria and Benin, the African language has been spoken in some fashion in the Diaz Sisters’ native Cuba since the 1700s, when the slave trade brought Africans to the Caribbean. When the sisters began studying their late father’s musical culture and heritage, they had a deeper understanding of their father as a person; but they also were in touch with their ancestral history.
The duo’s 2015 self-titled debut was released to widespread critical praise. Thematically, the album dealt with the past — the loss of their father, their relationship with each other, their father’s origins, their own origins and connecting with their roots. The album’s saw the duo quickly establishing a unique sound that meshes elements of electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues and Yoruba folk music. The JOVM mainstays’ sophomore album, 2017’s Ash found the duo writing songs firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history while being among the most visceral, politically charged material of their catalog to date, with the album thematically touching upon race, gender and sexual identity.
Earlier this year, the twins headed back into the studio to begin work on their third, full-length album. Understandably, feeling a sense of chaos, informed by the chaotic state of our world, the acclaimed twins set out to invoke the age-old teachings of their ancestors to remobilize the power of their birth-given destiny as Ibeyi.
The duo are currently working on the album, which is slated for release next year. But in the meantime, “Made of Gold” is the first bit of new material from the London-based JOVM mainstays since the release of Ash. Centered around a lush and textured production featuring atmospheric synths, buzzing bass synths, skittering tweeter and woofer rattling beats that evokes unease and menace while meshing contemporary Afro pop/Afrobeats, electro pop and trap in an infectious fashion. While being one of the few songs of the sibling duo’s growing catalog with lyrics sung in English, the song features swaggering verses delivered by Gambian-British emcee Pa Salieu.
“The first song we produced in the studio was ‘Made of Gold.’ Whilst we were creating the layers of the backing vocals, we could feel that we were making contact with our ancestors; that what we were recording was calling on the brujas and our ancestors for their ancient knowledge,” says Lisa-Kaindé Diaz. “‘Made of Gold’ is about connecting to our ancestors’ knowledge, to the truths of the past and the power of the ancient. The line is not broken, nor is it lost. Protected by these spells, our third album will see us conveying our reconnection to that power and channeling that magic into our new music.”
Directed by Daniel Sannwald, the recently released video for “Made of Gold” is a highly symbolic, gorgeously shot visual conceptualized by Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi. The video is inspired by Frida Kahlo’s The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Diego, Me and Señor Xolotl. The video features Naomi as the Queen of Thunder, a referrence to her Yoruba god, Shango — and Lisa-Kaindé as the Queen of Water, a reference to her Yoruba goddess, Yemaya, Emerging from the sky to join the sun and the moon is Pa Salieu. It’s trippy fever dream but much like their music rooted in their Yoruba heritage and tradition.