XL Recordings added a new star to its musical galaxy. Or 2 stars actually. The British independent record label who has also embraced artists the likes of The XX, Jack White and Sigur Rós, signed the French Cuban Diaz twins aka Ibeyi (which means Twins in Yoruba).
A smart move. Ibeyi certainly seems to have that indie glow that makes the XL Recordings stars shine and stand out. Their je ne sais quoi is as rock’n’roll as it is genuine and mystical.
Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz ooze heritage in their repertoire. Their songs, sung mainly in English and Yoruba, take you into a spiritual trance and make you want to echo their prayerlike lyrics and sounds. Because that is what their songs sound like: prayers. Sometimes possessed cries of worship, sometimes honest-to-god pleas filled with devotion to higher spirits no mind can grasp. A sound that is as minimal as it is complex and layered. A perfect blend of modern, electronic influences, acoustic renditions, and traditional Yoruba elements, strung together by a soulful and natural percussion that gets you in and through the rhythm of the tracks and gives every song its own heartbeat.
Although Naomi and Lisa-Kainde mainly grew up in Paris, they do stay true to their Cuban roots and Yoruba culture. They cite some more modern influences like hip-hop, ragga (a sub-genre of dancehall music or reggae), dancehall, soul and electronic music, but also jazz and blues, like Nina Simone. Another important influence seems to be their own upbringing. Being the daughters of famous percussionist father Anga Diaz and a mother who they described to Pigeonsandplanes as “a musician without an instrument”, the musical talent and rhythmic creativity seems to stem as much of the blood as it seems of the mind.
It is thanks to her [their mother] that we are musicians today, and thanks to our father that we knew we could be musicians.” – Pigeonsandplanes.com
Wherever their inspiration comes from, I’m eagerly awaiting what these multilingual, multicultural artists are up to next. But I’m sure XL Recordings will be a productive breeding ground for them. Not really fitting any kind of category, they were asked how they would label themselves, but they also admit there’s no real existing category to file them under.
It is hard for us to describe our music. If we had to we’d say we do contemporary Negro Spiritual, since our music is based on prayer.” – Pigeonsandplanes.com