INTERVIEW: FRENCH CUBAN DUO IBEYI MAKE THEIR WOMADELAIDE DEBUT IN MARCH

 

This year’s WOMADelaide line-up is pointing towards another incredible festival, with a range of exciting artists from around the world set to colour Botanic Park with their magic.

One such band, who are visiting Australia for the first time, are the electronic music outfit Ibeyi-thumbIbeyi from Paris.

Ibeyi are 20-year-old French Cuban twins, Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz who are daughters of late Cuban percussionist Angà Diaz, percussionist for the famous Buena Vista Social Club.

Lisa and Naomi spoke with us via skype from Paris about what they want to do when they get to Australia; well, it was mainly Lisa because Naomi was still waking up!

“I want to go to the beach,” Lisa says. “I want to meet people. I hope we have time to walk around. It’s really exciting because it’s the first time ever. We’re not just doing Adelaide, we have loads of other shows. We are doing shows in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne. We’re playing a little bit everywhere,” she says.

“The WOMAD people told us they would take us to see baby koalas. I definitely want to do that too. We don’t have anything like that here in Paris. We have pigeons though.”

No strangers to the festival scene (they’re playing Coachella this year too), Lisa says they were attracted to WOMADelaide after playing the UK version.

“We played at WOMAD in England, and it was awesome. It’s very exciting and we are really looking forward to it. It will be hot, too, which is great because it’s freezing here. I was a bit worried about that. I asked if it would be hot still, because now it’s your summer but March will be less hot. I can’t wait. Like in Cuba. We are used to it and we love it,” she says.

“We hope people will like the show and will connect to the show. We hope we will meet some artists and interesting people and talk to them, be inspired by them and maybe collaborate with them; and have fun. I think it is always the same for us; that’s what festivals should bring.”

Naomi plays percussive instruments, the Cajon and the Batas, while Lisa-Kainde plays piano, but Lisa says they both had a hand in creating their debut self-titled album.

“I start doing the songs: the harmonies, lyrics and melodies. With the lyrics, sometimes I work with my mother and sometimes with my uncle, sometimes I work alone. Naomi then comes with the rhythm,” she says.

“When we went to the studio, Naomi had an idea of how she wanted the album to be produced and I feel that, really naturally, this was more of her taking control of the sound. It was her making the songs her own. I feel all the production is Naomi’s job. Of course I was there, and Richard Russell, our amazing producer, was there – he guided us so brilliantly! -. but I feel Naomi had the vision for the production. Her and Richard worked really closely together and I thought, if you feel it, let’s go that way.”

The twins sing and combine modern pop, hip-hop and electronic influences with the traditional sounds of their father’s Yoruba culture, which Lisa says was an unconscious and natural progression for their music.

“I think it’s unconscious. Our father’s music influences us because he was mixing loads of influences without even being conscious of it. Mixing influences was the way he made his own music. We realise we do the same. We mix electronic music, Yoruba music, and hip hop, because altogether we thought this was our sound,” she says.

“That’s how he influenced us; saying you can mix everything. Don’t be afraid about taking something and making it your own like that, because you can make it live again and grow and it will be interesting. I think that’s his influence in our music. He influenced us in our lives too. He was amazing. He was a really hard worker. He loved his job. He was the type of person to say, ‘You choose one thing and you go for it!’”

“We didn’t know we wanted to be musicians. I thought I wanted to be a music teacher. Now we do this and we feel life took us this way; life took us to this path. Definitely there is something interesting about that. At the same time, we feel it was quite a natural progression. It’s weird though. It depends on the day. But we feel making music together is right; creating something together is right.”

Check out the music video for ‘River’, where the twins hold their breath for a remarkably long time; a feat Lisa says was difficult, but the process was fun.

 

“It was so hard to hold our breath that long! It was hurting a little. We knew it was going to be an amazing video clip though. We met an amazing man called Ed Morris. We said to him we wanted to work with water and we wanted it to be a little twisted,” she says.

“We wanted it not about Ibeyi looking pretty. We wanted to focus on the music and not on the physical aspect. He came to us with this amazing idea and we loved it.”

There are two chances to catch Ibeyi at WOMADelaide, as they will play on the Saturday and the Sunday of the four day festival.

Book your tickets online and check out all that the wonderful WOMAD has to offer.

By Libby Parker

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