The initially time I interviewed the Afro-French-Cuban musicians Ibeyi – twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz – was in 2015. I was a college student, Skyping from my damp bedroom, composing about them for my university journal. They have been excitable 20-calendar year-olds in Paris on the brink of placing out their self-titled debut album, the identify derived from the Yoruba term for twins with divine powers. “It’s so bizarre!” beams Lisa-Kaindé now, “People who’ve been subsequent us for 10 decades are still in this article, and nevertheless create to us, and even now want to see our shows!”
This ought to appear as no shock. Because that beguiling 1st album of soulful tunes pulling from the breadth of their heritage, Ibeyi have developed and grown. Their gently experimental tunes teem with harmony and synchronicity, although gentle chants in French, Yoruba and English shimmer with heat and spirituality. Their second album, 2017’s Ash, created many conclusion-of-year lists, and in 2016, they appeared on Beyoncé’s groundbreaking visible album Lemonade.
On our movie call these days they are as sweet and exuberant as ever, but where by once they would speedily interject and finish just one another’s sentences, now they feel calmer and far more conscious of permitting just about every other talk. Lisa-Kaindé joins the simply call from her condominium in London, the city she has referred to as house for the past several decades. Her hair is in extensive braids, and the area powering her is filled with vegetation and vibrant cushions. Naomi, speaking from Paris in opposition to a basic white wall, is much more reserved.
Born in Paris, daughters of the late Cuban percussionist Angá Diaz (known for his get the job done as component of Buena Vista Social Club) and the photographer Maya Dagnino, the ladies expended their childhood amongst France and Cuba, concerned in tunes and dancing from an early age. Soon soon after their father died in 2006, Naomi started to understand cajón (the box-formed instrument he had performed) and Lisa-Kaindé, inspired by their mom, began to compose tracks. By their late teenagers, they had shaped Ibeyi, with Lisa-Kaindé as guide vocalist and pianist, and Naomi furnishing vocal harmonies and percussion. They before long signed to the impartial label XL Recordings, headed by producer Richard Russell, and released an EP prior to that very first album. Each data encompassed like and grief, mourning not only their father but also their sister Yanira, who died in 2013.
Spell 31, their most recent, is their most attained, formidable album but. Naomi ways up far more as direct vocalist, and ups her contribution to creation, together with Russell. The file speaks to expansion, therapeutic, sisterhood and the catharsis of weeping. “It’s a new chapter”, suggests Naomi, “It’s the most well balanced amongst us.”
The album will take its identify from a passage in the Egyptian E book of the Dead, a assortment of rites to be read through to accompany the embalming of the departed in get to find the money for them protection in the afterlife. It is this that Lisa-Kaindé estimates at the stop of the majestic, twisting beats of the solitary Created of Gold, that includes Pa Salieu: “Oh, you with a spine / Who would perform your mouth from this magic of mine / It has been handed down in an unbroken line / The sky encloses the stars / I enclose magic”. The tune, Lisa-Kaindé points out, is about the reclamation of ancestral histories and magic dropped to enslavement, to keep and heal intergenerational trauma. “We however can reconnect to that fire and expertise and ability, for the reason that it is inside of of us,” she says. “Singing has usually been our way of reconnecting to it – we sing for our father, our sister, we sing with our ancestors.”
In fact, the ultimate keep track of of Spell 31 lifts an strategy from their late father, listing the names of deceased beloved kinds and influences on Los Muertos, recalling his Rezos. They even sample him on the song, as a way of folding him into the function. It’s a “way to say ‘we appreciate you’”, claims Naomi. Or a “mausoleum”, Lisa-Kaindé provides: “Creating some thing they are a element of that is beautiful, to say thank you.”
Ibeyi experienced planned on difficult them selves on album No 3 by recording all-around the globe, in Jamaica, France and The us. Rather, as the pandemic hit, it turned a obstacle even to file in their normal place in London. Naomi experienced to vacation from France, and isolate for 10 times every single time she designed the journey. “It was the hardest way to do songs,” she says. “But at minimum we had been all in the identical position.”
The sisters also managed to get their collaborators into the home with them, with massive names these types of as Jorja Smith, whose physical appearance, unusually, is not a visitor verse but a third harmony with the duo’s vocals, “like a 3rd sister”, suggests Lisa-Kaindé. It is a reminder that at the centre of each and every Ibeyi file is the intimacy of their sisterhood. “Lisa is my most important enjoy, you know?” claims Naomi.
On Spell 31 the pair are more mature, wiser when continuing to establish on the themes for which they are acknowledged. “It’s humorous, I remember when I was young, I went to my mum crying,” states Lisa-Kaindé. “And I stated: ‘The only detail I can produce about is really like, I’m a undesirable songwriter.’ She laughed and gave me a ebook about Francis Bacon – he reported he normally painted about the exact thing, just in millions of distinctive approaches. My mum stated: ‘That’s what you’re gonna do.’”
She tells me about an interview with musician Seun Kuti, in which when questioned why he by no means sang about love, he replied that he had no time for like when he necessary revolution. “It’s interesting,” she suggests, “Because for me both equally are so intertwined.”
Their songs have normally been woven with a sense of communal treatment. Ash has a observe sampling a Michelle Obama speech about Trump’s procedure of girls an additional is about police mistreatment and an incident in which Lisa-Kaindé was wrongfully stopped and searched in Paris as a teenager. When I point out their address of the punk band Black Flag’s Increase Previously mentioned with its visitor verse from rapper-producer Berwyn referring to George Floyd, their reaction is measured. “We really do not speak about this things to be ‘political’,” says Naomi, “We chat about things that touches us, and that can perhaps spark a little something in someone else. We’re not below to inform persons how to do points.”
“I would in no way contact myself an activist,” Lisa-Kaindé provides, laughing. “We are the exact same as every person else, just hoping to determine this things out.”
A lot has transpired in the planet and for the Diaz sisters given that we spoke seven a long time ago. As Naomi places it, “We were being teenagers, and now we’re women, so of system we’ve adjusted!” She smiles. “But our romantic relationship? That has not modified at all.”
Ibeyi’s Spell 31 is unveiled on XL Recordings on 6 May. They play Hoxton Corridor, London, on 14 Might and Koko, London, on 14 November