They’ll put a spell on you: French-Cuban duo Ibeyi finishes out U.S. tour at Miami Beach Bandshell
Twins Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz make up the musical duo Ibeyi, who bring their transcendent live show to the Miami Beach Bandshell on Sunday, April 2. (Photo courtesy of Suleika Muller)
For twin sisters who not only shared their mother’s womb for nine months, but also stages, studios, screens, and a tour bus for ten years, Lisa-Kaindé Díaz and Naomi Díaz couldn’t appear more different. Lisa seems gentle, good, and a tad nerdy. Harder to read, Naomi is quieter but gives off the air of being someone who’d be more than willing to whup the behind of anyone who dared mess with her sister. Together they form the duo Ibeyi, which capitalizes on the talents of each in a musical alchemy that has entranced world audiences and musical royalty alike—their fans range from the late Prince to Beyoncé, from Adele to Lin Manuel Miranda. The French-Cuban sister act perform on Sunday, April 2 at the Miami Beach Bandshell, presented by the Rhythm Foundation.
“Miami is the last show of our U.S. tour,” says Lisa, “so we want everybody to come celebrate!” You may think you know Ibeyi from their recordings, but the real magic is in seeing the captivating artists perform live.
On a Zoom call from the aforementioned tour bus, which was making its way from a sold-out performance in Brooklyn to another sold-out venue in Boston, the two look relaxed, their sweaters and flannel a far cry from the sleek Chanel outfits and rhinestones they donned for the intimate May 2022 release party for their newest album, “Spell 31,” at London’s Hoxton Hall. And with makeup or without, it’s plain to see why the Queen B would use them for her “Lemonade” music video. Drop-dead gorgeous and disarmingly charming, the twins seem born for the limelight, comfortable with their fame and happy to be sharing the road, wherever it leads, with one another.
Lisa is the more cerebral of the twins; the wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for their songs, she’s also more likely to take the lead in conversation. Naomi, a percussionist whose rhythms are the beating heart of their music, at first appears content to sit back and let her sister do the work of explaining the inspiration behind “Spell 31” and the artistic journey they have taken together in the years since they released their first CD in 2015.
“It’s an album full of hope, full of energy, full of healing, at least for us,” says Lisa of “Spell 31.” They wrote co-wrote the music during the pandemic, with Lisa in at her home in London and Naomi in Paris.
“At a moment of a lot of doubt and fear, we realized that we wanted to make an album to celebrate the things that we hadn’t taken the time to celebrate and to heal the things that we hadn’t taken the time to heal,” Lisa says. That healing comes through in songs like “Creature (Perfect),” which speaks of letting go of perfection and living in the moment, “Los Muertos,” a strangely soothing recitation that simply lists the names of loved ones lost, and “Sister 2 Sister,” a hymn to girl power at its finest, to the extraordinary bond the young women feel with one another.
“We wanted to celebrate our sisterhood,” says Lisa of “Sister 2 Sister.” “We had written love songs for many people . . .but we had never written a love song for each other.”
Both musicians embrace experimentation and evolution, and the sound of the ten tracks on “Spirit 31” feels bigger, more produced than their previous two albums, while still hewing true to the pair’s musical roots in Cuban rhythms and haunting Yoruba harmonies.
“The only rule we have in music and everything is that we don’t want to repeat,” says Lisa. “We want every single time that we do something for it to have something new for us and challenging for us and interesting for us to discover through the making of it.”
The title of the album refers to an incantation in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It hints at the many mythological elements that run like a golden thread through the album’s lyrics. Lisa quotes the spell verbatim:
“‘Oh, you with the spine, who would work your mouth against this magic of mine. It has been handed down in an unbroken line. The sky encloses the stars, and I enclose magic.’”
I asked if there was a spiritual practice that informed their creative work. It was clearly a question they had been asked many times before, and that Naomi seems weary of answering. “I think we don’t think of it so much,” she responds.
“For me,” Lisa says, “there is nothing more spiritual than making music. It’s what is connecting ourselves to each other, to our dad that passed away, to our culture, to our reality, to the world.”
She explains that the Yoruba elements that have always infused their albums were always a part of their lives, which they spent between Paris, where they grew up with their Venezuelan French mother, and Havana, where they would frequently go to visit their Cuban father, renowned conga player Miguel “Angá” Díaz (1961-2006).
“I am the daughter of Yemayá and Naomi’s the daughter of Changó,” Lisa says, referring to the Yoruba deities of water and of thunder. “We were initiated in our mother’s belly. It was something quite natural and personal and easy to find because it was always there–there was no coming back. It felt like singing with our ancestors on stage every night.”
Singing with their ancestors and, always, singing with one another.
“Our differences are our strength,” Lisa says. “We have found our creative purpose together.”
The opening act for Ibeyi will also have audiences seeing double. The Colombian duo Vale is made up of sisters Valentina and Valeria Pérez and was nominated for a 2022 Latin Grammy for Best New Artist. Although, like Ibeyi, they shared a womb, they’re actually two of a set of triplets.
WHAT: Ibeyi presented by the Rhythm Foundation
WHEN: 7 p.m., Sunday, April 2
WHERE: Miami Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
INFORMATION: 786-453-2897 and miamibeachbandshell.com