Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) take their name from the Yoruba word for twins — ibeji and are comprised of 19 year French-Cuban twin sisters, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz. The Diaz sisters are the daughters of the late and renowned Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz, who was best known as a member of the Buena Vista Social Club, and for collaborations with the likes of Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. The elder Diaz died when Naomi and Lisa-Kainde were 11 and upon his death, they studied their father’s instrument the cajon and Yoruba folk songs. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising as Yoruba, a language spoken primarily in Nigerian has been spoken in some fashion in Cuba since the 1700s when the slave trade brought Africans to the Caribbean island nation.
With Naomi Diaz playing the percussive instruments of cajon and batas and Lisa playing piano, the twins have started to gain attention across the blogosphere for a sound that employs elements of contemporary pop, hip-hop, electronica, jazz, blues and traditional Yoruban sounds in a trippy mix that manages to do something similar to what Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective‘s Roots Before Branches does — make a sonic and spiritual connection between the African Diaspora of the Caribbean, the rest of the Western world and Africa itself, and in a way that’s both modern and timeless.
“Ghosts,” the latest single off their forthcoming debut full-length effort, is a sparsely arranged song comprised of percussion, electronic bloops and bleeps and vocals and manages to mesh jazz, electronica, Afro-Caribbean jazz and African pop in an effortless and breezy fashion.