At just 20 years old, French-Cuban twin sisters Ibeyi have gained quite the following with sold-out shows in London and Paris already under their belt.
Singing mainly in a mix of English, French and Yoruba (an old West African dialect, brought over to Cuba during the slave trade); ‘Ibeyi’ is Yoruba for ‘twins’. Their Venezuelan mother introduced the sisters to the language and their late father was Angá Diaz, acclaimed Cuban percussionist in the Buena Vista Social Club. Angá died when the girls were 11, so although he may not have had a direct influence on their sound, he was definitely part of their musical education from a young age. Based in Paris, the sisters international roots give the pair a unique sound.
Their blend is soulful with Yoruba folk, electronic and hip hop influences. Signed to the ultra-cool record label XL, they only took 3 months to make their self-titled debut album so things are moving fast, and I can see why. Of course I had listened to their album before attending their recent gig – their album is good, but live they are a different class altogether.
Lisa-Kaiendé and Naomi Diaz excitedly come on stage, both lighting a candle and opening a capella with ‘Eleggua (Intro)’. For the majority of the night Lisa-Kaiendé is on the piano and Naomi between the cajón and hand drums, perfectly highlighting their differing personalities. Lisa-Kaiendé the calmer of the two writes the music and lyrics where Naomi adds the rhythm and is definitely the party starter. They balance each other.
To say it was magical is an understatement. There is a spirituality about their performance and as they make their way through the album you are captivated. Their voices swirl around the hall, the harmonies and beats taking you in. Their chemistry is beautifully obvious and their different characters easy to see. After they perform their last song they head backstage but only last a minute before they run back to finish the evening with an a capella version of their most well know tune, ‘River’.
Ibeyi are performing a number of festivals this summer including Glastonbury Festival. If you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets for Glastonbury they’re back in London on 3rd November at Koko. Get your tickets booked!