Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins, ibeji, electro pop act Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee) are comprised of 19 year-old French-Cuban twin sibling duo, Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz, who come from a rather renowned musical family — their father, Anga Diaz, was a percussionist with Buena Vista Social Club and collaborated with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo.
When the Diaz sisters were 11, the elder Diaz died. And upon his death, they studied their Yoruba folk songs and their father’s instrument, the cajon, an Afro-Caribbean drum. Interestingly, Yoruba, a dialect primarily spoken throughout Nigeria and Benin has been spoken in some fashion throughout Cuba since at least the 1700s, when the slave trade brought Africans to the Caribbean. In some way, it would appear that the Diaz sisters studied their father’s instrument and ancestral culture to have a greater understanding of him, his music and their past.
Live, Naomi Diaz (in the video, she’s on the left) plays the percussive instruments of cajon and batas, a double-headed hourglass shaped drum while Lisa-Kainde Diaz (in the video, she’s on the right) plays piano and keyboards, while both sisters create gorgeous harmonies with each other — although on occasion they’ll switch instrumental duties.
With the release of their self-titled debut earlier this year, the sibling duo have gained international attention for a sound that possesses elements of contemporary pop, hip-hop. electronica, jazz, blues and traditional Yoruba folk music in a fashion that’s similar to Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective‘s Roots Before Branches; in fact much like that album, the Diaz sisters make a sonic and spiritual connection between the African Diaspora here in the Western World and with Africa in a way that’s both incredibly modern and yet timeless.
Before their packed Summerstage, Central Park show with British neo-disco act Jungle last month, the folks at OkayPlayer caught up with the Diaz sisters and filmed this acapella version of album closing track “Ibeyi (Outro)” which highlights the sisters’ use of gorgeous harmony.