Ibeyi is 22-year-old French-Cuban twins Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz. Since the release of their critically- acclaimed, self-titled debut album in February 2015, Ibeyi have been captivating audiences across the globe with their unique blend of modern pop, hip-hop and electronic influenced with the traditional sounds of Yorùbá. On September 29th, Ibeyi will release their sophomore album Ash via XL Recordings. Their first album, the eponymous Ibeyi, grappled with the past - the sister's relationship, origins, loss, and roots. It earned them fans and collaborators in some of the most iconic and crucial artists of today, Beyoncé and Alvin Ailey included. By contrast, Ash is a more visceral and potent political statement, and while firmly rooted in Afro-Cuban culture and history, finds itself entirely concerned with Ibeyi's present: Who Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi are, what's important to them, and how they live today, especially given that the spheres, both personally and politically, are entirely different from when Ibeyi was recorded. It's also a testament to their cathartic live performances, where they're able to transmute a vast array of emotions - sorrow, anger, sensuality, happiness - to and through their fans.
Ashes typically have a funereal connotation, and suggest a sense of crumbling. And it's true that the twin sisters of the electronic-soul duo Ibeyi, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz, wrote the first song for their album Ash, also entitled "Ash," during the American elections in November 2016. Despite the heaviness in the air, Ibeyi sought to write a song that plucked positivity from the very place where all hope seemed to be lost, which, in turn, became an underlying theme for the album as a whole. "We can do positive things with ashes," Naomi says. "Ashes can fertilize," Lisa-Kaindé adds. "There's still hope."
Ibeyi worked once again alongside XL Recordings head Richard Russell, a confidante and friend, to produce Ash at his studio. Along with Russell's stylized production sensibilities, Ibeyi drew from a host of influences ranging from Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica, Meshell Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu and Nina Simone and beyond, to craft the wide-ranging musical landscape of Ash. Yet visual art also played a pivotal role here, with the sisters particularly drawing inspiration from video artist Chris Cunningham for a track on the album. Meanwhile, the sisters have never shied away from writing lyrics that reflect the depth of their shared heritage, and include songs written in English, French and Yoruban. Yet Ash also brings with it the first song the two have written that includes Spanish lyrics.
Instrumentally, Ash finds Naomi refining her skills at the cajón and the batá, and Lisa on the piano, and expands the use of electronics, as well. It's the idea of transmission, though, that lies at Ash's core.