Music is identity – in it, we find the freedom to change it, to question it, to embrace and to defend it. In times marked by brutal political shifts, many of our most important pop artists have responded to the chaos by shifting the focus towards the individual – vulnerable, ever changing, but strong. The young french-cuban twins Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz offers their own original angle on all of this. They call their music “contemporary negro spirituals” – inspired by the music the yoruba people (Nigerias largest ethnic group) brought with them to Cuba during slavery, and which the twins grew up with at home.
The themes, textures and techniques they use are all modern, but this tradition is apparent in the music. The way the different styles come together in their music convinced producer Richard Russell, founder of XL Recordings (the xx, Adele, the Prodigy etc.). He decided to produce the duo. On their sophomore record, the critically lauded Ash from 2017, they are joined by kindred spirits like Kamasi Washington and Meshell Ndegeocello – two artists who, like the Ibeyi sisters, know that spiritual music can be a place where anger and consolation coexist. On their first album, they mourned the loss of their big sister and their father, cuban percussionist Miguel “Angá” Diaz (Buena Vista Social Club, among others). On Ash, global politics mixes with personal experiences. For Ibeyi, the intimate becomes universal – and the personal is, as always, political.