Tag: ibeyi

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Ibeyi Release a Dreamy and Symbolic Visual for Swaggering “Made of Gold”

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.

New Video: Venezuelan-French Artist La Chica Releases a Haunting and vivid Fever Dream

Emerging Venezuelan-French singer/songwriter and pianist La Chica has developed and honed a unique songwriting approach informed by classical music, her love of Debussy, analog synths — and a desire to reunite the spiritual with the material world, the New World with the Old World. The end result is a lush and feverish collage of sounds and textures informed by folk traditions and modern influences, paired with unvarnished and brutally honest lyrics that alternate between introspection and abstract poetry.

Interestingly, much like acclaimed Cuban-French sibling duo and JOVM mainstays Ibeyi, Santeria — and more specifically the rhythms of the Orishas — play a major part in La Chica’s creative process: She regularly performs her own rituals informed by the indigenous cultures of Venezuela and elsewhere, often before practice and live shows as a way to get into a more enlightened consciousness.

The death of the Venezuelan-French artist’s brother earlier this year, sparked a desperate need to connect with the spiritual world — and her forthcoming album La Loba is reportedly an uplifting and powerful reaction to the profound and heartbreaking loss of her brother, and the increasingly polarized world around her. Additionally, the album is a boldly feminist statement from a woman, who feels liberated from restrictive social norms — while being in touch with her Venezuelan and French heritage.

La Loba’s first single, album title track “La Loba” manages to be simultaneously haunting, unsettling and forceful. Centered around an arpeggiated, four note piano sequence, flamingo-like stuttering handclaps, atmospheric electronics, Latin rhythm patterns and the Venezuelan-French artist’s incendiary delivery and feral howls, “La Loba” is an urgent song that sonically will draw comparisons to Fiona Apple and PJ Harvey, as it captures a woman that’s a force of nature, about to burn down everything that has held her back.

“La Loba” is a the story of a wolf woman brought back from the dead through ritual — and during the performance of the ritual, her skin grows back over her once lifeless bones, after hearing transcendental chanting and votes. Interestingly, the song is based upon a Mexican/Texan legend documentary by feminist author Clarissa Pinkola Estéss in Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.

Directed by Marion Castera, the recently released video for “La Loba” is a feverish and unsettlingly vivid fever dream in which we see the Venezuelan-French artist covered in blood and playing the piano, as a feral and undead force, as a literal, living wolf woman and just chilling with a wolf while smoking a cigar and watching TV. In some way, the visual captures a woman that’s in touch with and fully in control of her wild, animalistic nature, using that inner wolf when needed.

Live Footage: Ibeyi Performs “Deathless” with Harlem Gospel Choir and Onyx Collective on “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

Deriving their name from the Yoruba word for twins ibeji, the French-Cuban twin sibling duo Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee), comprised of Lisa-Kainde Diaz and Naomi Diaz have become JOVM mainstays and a critically applauded, internationally recognized act. Interestingly, the Diaz sisters are the daughters of the late and renowned percussionist Anga Diaz, best known as a member of Buena Vista Social Club, and for collaborating with Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo. The elder Diaz died when the girls were 11, and upon his death, they studied Yoruba folk songs and the cajon, an Afro-Carribean drum, which their father had specialized in throughout most of his musical career. 

While Yoruba is primarily spoken throughout Nigeria and Benin, it has been spoken in some fashion in Cuba since the 1700s when the slave trade brought Africans to the Caribbean — and to the island. When the Diaz sisters began studying their late father’s musical culture and heritage, it gave them a much greater understanding of the man, where he came from while putting them in touch with their ancestral history. Unsurprisingly, the Diaz sister’s self-titled Ibeyi debut, which was released to critical praise in 2015, thematically dealt with the past — the loss of their father, their relationship with each other, their father’s and their own origins and roots, while sonically the duo’s sound possessed elements of contemporary electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues and traditional Yoruba folk music in a way that brought to mind Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective‘s Roots Before Branches as both albums conscientiously made a spiritual and musical connection between the African Diaspora in the West and the motherland. 

Up until last year though, some time had passed since I had personally written about  the Diaz sisters, and as it turned out, they had spent the better part of 2016 writing and recording the material that would comprise their sophomore effort Ash, which XL Records released late last year. Now, as you recall the album’s first album, “Away Away,” lyrically and thematically focused on accepting pain as a necessary part of life, while celebrating life for its complicated entirety.  Of course, sonically speaking, the track further cements their  reputation for resoundingly positive messages sung with their gorgeous harmonizing paired with slick and swaggering electronic production. However, the material overall reportedly finds the Diaz sisters writing some of the most visceral, politically charged material they’ve released to date; but while centered on who the Diaz sisters are after a year in which racial, gender and sexual identity issues are among the most important and vexing of our current time. 

“Deathless,” Ash‘s second single found the Diaz sisters collaborating with contemporary jazz great Kamasi Washington, who contributes saxophone lines that mange to be mournful, outraged, proud, bold and riotous — within a turn of a phrase. The song is inspired by one of the most outrageous and humiliating experiences of Lisa-Kainde Diaz’s life — she was was wrongly arrested by French police for a crime she didn’t commit. Throughout the song is a sense of fear, knowing that the police could practically do anything they wanted without reprisal; of righteous rage that’s palpable yet impotent in the face of a power that can crush you at will; of the burgeoning recognition that you can never escape racism or unfair treatment; and the shame of being made to feel small and worthless while knowing that it’ll happen repeatedly throughout your life. As Lisa Kainde explains in press notes I was writing Deathless as an anthem for everybody!” For every minority. For everybody that feels that they are nothing, that feels small, that feels not cared about and I want them to listen to our song and for three minutes feel large, powerful, deathless. I have a huge amount of respect for people who fought for, what I think, are my rights today and if we all sing together  ‘we are deathless, ’they will be living through us into a better world.”

Just the other day, the Diaz sisters made their major television debut performance on Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which features the Harlem Gospel Choir and Isaiah Barr of Onyx Collective on the last day of Black History, as a fiery and passionate reminder of the plight of black folk across the African Diaspora. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays IBEYI Return with Strikingly Gorgeous Visuals for New Single “I Wanna Be Like You”

Over the past three or four years, I’ve written quite a bit about French-Cuban twin sibling act Ibeyi (proounbed ee-bey-ee), who have become JOVM mainstays and an internationally applauded act. And as you may recall, Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz’s self-titled, full-length debut thematically focused on the past as it drew upon the loss of their legendary father Anga Diaz, their relationship with each other, their origins, and a connection to their roots– while sonically meshing elements of contemporary electro pop, hip-hop, jazz, the blues, Cuban folk music and Yoruba folk music in a way that brought Henry Cole and the Afrobeat Collective‘s Roots Before Branches to mind.

The duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort Ash was released today and the reportedly the album’s material finds the duo writing some of the most personal, visceral and politically charged material they’ve released to date — and while continuing to be firmly rooted in the Afro-Cuban culture that has influenced their personal and creative lives, the material thematically focuses on who the Diaz sisters are now, in a period in which the world has seemingly turned upside down, and issues of racial, gender and sexual identity continue to be at the core of society’s most vexing sociopolitical issues. 

Ash’s fourth and latest single “I Wanna Be Like You” pairs the Diaz Sister’s gorgeous harmonies with a sparse and hyper modern production consisting of Afro-Cuban percussion emphasized with stuttering beats, whistling and shimmering synths and an effortlessly slick and soulful hook but much like it’s predecessors, the song continues a further exploration of the sisters identity within a world in which identity, and being true to it is desperately needed. 

Directed by Remi Besse, the recently released video for “I Wanna Be Like You” continue a lengthy string of striking visuals that emphasize the Diaz Sisters unique role as twins and as separate individuals, with their distinct personalities and moods  — and of course, throughout they also remind the listener and viewer that they have a profound intimacy.