Ibeyi
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Ibeyi

“Come have a party with us!” cries Lisa-Kaindé, one half of the French-Cuban duo Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee), who have taken the music world by storm with their blend of Yorùbá prayer, piano, percussion and electronic R’n’B.

“We can’t wait to meet everyone,” adds Naomi (who is quieter, more reserved and the elder of the pair by two minutes). The Diaz twins are in high spirits as they prepare to fly to Australia for the first time. Booked to play a show in every major city next month – including WOMADelaide – the sisters say that this tour is a dream come true.

“It will be our first time in Australia,” Naomi says. “And we’re really excited about it,” Lisa-Kaindé continues, finishing her sister’s sentence (something that happens a lot). “We know that Australians are really cool people and there’s loads of nature, waves and sand – it will be beautiful!”

Ibeyi may be new faces on the international stage, but don’t be fooled, they’re old souls with a rich musical ancestry and strong connection to their faith. On their self-titled debut album (released last year through XL Recordings) the sisters sing in English and Yoruba (a Nigerian language brought to Cuba by slave ships in the 1700s). “We learnt this language from our mother. When we were girls she would sing to us,” Lisa-Kaindé says.

Their bond with their mother, French-Venezuelan singer Maya Dagnino, is strong and with the death of their father, musician Miguel “Angá” Díaz, in 2006 and the passing of their oldest sister in 2013, their family ties (and tragedies) have become a source of inspiration and have set their life in a new direction.

“We never wanted to be musicians before, even though music was a huge part of our lives. I wanted to be a music teacher for teenagers,” Lisa-Kaindé says.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be,” Naomi chimes in with a cheeky grin, before Lisa-Kaindé adds, “Now we always say that life took us on that path – we were not expecting it at all.”

Originally created as a homage to their father and sister, today Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi see their debut release as a celebration of hope. “I remember people used to ask us a lot about the message of our album or about what we were trying to say with it,” Lisa-Kaindé says.

“All we could say was to have hope – that’s the most important thing for us,” Naomi says.

“And the beautiful thing about music is having people connect to it. For me, writing is really personal and I never thought those songs were going to be out in the world one day,” Lisa-Kaindé, who writes most of their lyrics, explains. “So when I hear people say that our songs have helped them a little bit, even for two minutes, then that feels really nice. In our songs we just talk about what’s going on in our lives, and talk about our pains and our joys. Making pain look and sound beautiful – that’s our goal.”

An Ibeyi gig will no doubt be a sight to behold, with Lisa-Kaindé at the helm of a piano and Naomi slightly hunched over her cajón drum to produce the perfect rhythm. “When we play live, our music comes to life. We just want everyone to enjoy the party and come to our show!”
Written by Natalie Rogers

When & Where: Max Watt’s, Melbourne – March 10 & WOMADelaide, Adelaide – March 12

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