Ibeyi talks about their hair and music. Feel it!
Wednesday April 26th, 2017
My experience with Ibeyi’s concert in São Paulo was so intense that only now I can share with you how amazing their art is. Check out this interview and a my take on to the art of this gorgeous duo.
The first time that I’ve seen Ibeyi was at “Mama Says” video. It was recommended by a friend of mine that knows all about amazing emerging artists. Their music video shows how losing a loved one can destabilize a family. There are scenes of sadness and loneliness and also of support that helps them struggling and overcoming those events. In the video, the delicate relationship between the twins and their mother appears strengthened so that they can go through a moment of pain and loss together. Icried together with them. It’s been so long since I was impacted so deeply.
I believe there is a sacred connection between sisters. As soon as I met Ibeyi I ran to show them to my sister and I’ve told her that we should be singing together, since we grew surrounded by music and that we have always enjoyed our combined, harmonized voices and that we are harmonized as well. It’s been awhile that I have the privilege of working with her, she is an extremely talent and very sensitive photographer. And because I needed great pictures of Ibeyi for this article we went to watch them live. I’ve got a gift from this gig, which is bringing back the feeling of achieving all our projects together.
I was so excited after their gig that I woked up at 6AM next morning, just to write down about the experience. When they entered the stage I felt that night was going to be special. Listening and watching to Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz giving it all to the music and feeling the synergy among them was one of the most amazing artistic moments that I have ever experienced. It was beautiful watching people’s reaction and commotion in the audience too. Everyone was singing along with them and they seemed to feel the magic that was happening on stage too. It was as if the music had the power to deeply connect everyone that was there.
After attending their show, I had the honor of interviewing the duo for my Blog das Cabeludas and I’ve had the chance to know a little more about their “contemporary black spiritual music”, a term created by the Franco-Cuban sisters to describe their art. It was strong and I needed the days to pass by so that I was finally ready to write about our conversation.
Have you heard of Ibeyi?
Their mother is Maya Dagnino, a Venezuelan singer and manager of the duo, and their father, Anga Diaz, was one of the most famous percussionists in the world. The girls talk to each other most of the time in French, but they also speak Spanish and English, as well as they sing in Yoruba, a language spoken in several African countries. Naomi and Lisa are the daughters of Yemanjá and Oxum and they have taken some of the beauty and diversity of their multicultural background for their world tour, a two year journey through all continents. They have also participated in Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album.
Ibeyi have been travelling to several countries to perform the songs of their first album. Their final two gigs for this world tour took place in Brazil, in São Paulo (Audio Club) and Rio de Janeiro (Circo Voador).
We have talked about our common multiethnic heritage, beauty standards, representativity and how the natural hair reflects on their identity. Our meeting, in the hotel where they were staying, was the last interview of the day, after a very busy afternoon talking to the brazilian press. It was particularly challenging to ask them questions that were not obvious, because I’m really a fan of Ibeyi and I didn’t want to bore them by asking the same old questions that everyone asks.
Of course everything went different than I have planned and when we were face to face I was so nervous that I could not even start recording our conversation properly with my cell phone. x)
Check out the best moments of our talking. I hope you like it! ☺
Me: “You look younger”
Together: “Everybody says that!
Naomi: “And you look smaller.” It depends on the day. Maybe tomorrow I we will look older.
Lisa: Also we don’t wear contouring or stuff that make people look older.
Naomi: Sometimes there are days I know that I look older.
Lisa: And also people imagine us and when they meet us then they are like
“oh, younger than what I have imagined”
Me: Perhaps it’s because on stage you look huge, it might be related to the performance.
Me: So, how does it feels playing in Brazil? The experience, the audience?
Naomi: The audience is amazing! We’ve had that in the United States. We love when people scream and sing all along!
Lisa: It was amazing! We were expecting it but not that much because they said to us “You know, in São Paulo they won’t sing as much as in Rio, they are going to be a little more shy, but don’t worry.. and they were not shy yesterday!!
Naomi: They old us Rio is more than that and we were like: Wow! can it be more than that? It was amazing!
Me: How many countries have you played in this tour?
Naomi: The whole world. We have been to Australia, Japan, All around Europe..the US
Lisa: All around the US..
Naomi: Five times in the US!
Lisa: Latin America, all around Europe, we didn’t do Sweden and Norway. We didn’t do Russia..
Naomi: And in Asia we did only Japan. But we did all the continents!
Lisa: We just travelled.
Me: Wow, that’s a lot! Are you excited to go to Rio?
Lisa: Yes, it’s so nice to come to Brazil because we feel like we have such a common history and culture and background and ancestors that we feel a little bit at home.
Naomi: Even here you have buildings and stuff that it looks like sometimes Barcelona and Cuba. But people are like Cuban. I was out the first night we got here and people were dressed out like Cuban girls really short clothes and tacone (high heels). We feel like home.
Me: You hair is part of your complex and multi ethinc DNA and it’s interesting that it is different.
Naomi: Actually when we were little our hair was different. My hair was straight when I was little and she had
Lisa: I’ve had BIG curly hair
Naomi: like yours but bigger. And now it’s growing up and mine is curly now. It’s every seven years I think. I’ve heard that every seven years is a new period and that your hair changes.
Naomi: I don’t know if it changes completely but..
Lisa: We are 21, I hope it’s going to change, I want it long! I just want it to grow faster.
Naomi: like when you were little?
Lisa: I want a long afro.
Naomi: It grows up, it’s not going to be like this.
Lisa: I think it will get long, Naomi. I want an afro that falls.
Naomi: it’s not going to be like that, are you going to wait?
Lisa: If I want an afro again I just cut it off and that’s it. Do you know the twins TK Wonder and Cipriana Quann? They are my hair inspiration.
Uma foto publicada por Tk Wonder (@tk_wonder) em
Me: How does your hair reflect in your personality and identity?
Naomi: I don’t know
Lisa: I think my afro build an identity for me. Because I cut my hair when I was a teenager (my mother have cutted my hair) and it was the year that I’ve started singing, really. I think it was a shock for me. I hated it at first, I was really pissed because I didn’t know how to wear it, I didn’t know if people were going to like it.
Naomi: She was always tightening it.
Lisa: None of my friends had an afro, can you imagine? No one I have grown up with had an afro. None of my friends, I couldn’t see no one with an afro on tv or anywhere else. The only person that had an afro was Michael Jackson when he was young and
Together: Angela Davis!!!!
Lisa: That’s it. I was like people are gonna think I’m weird, I was a teenager, so how people would look at me and if people were going to like it or not was really important for me. I was terrified, maybe not terrified but scared that people were not gonna like it and push me away. Actually it gave me such an identity. Who’s Lisa? The girl that sings and has an afro and it was really cool for me that I’ve became the only one that had an afro in my school. For years.. and I’m proud! I realized that it was a really strong statement, because for me it wasn’t a strong statement when I was growing up. I didn’t see it like that, then I started thinking “well, it is a strong statement when I receive messages on Instagram of mothers saying “My daughter loves to grow her afro like the singers of Ibeyi.” Yesterday the promoter said: “My daughter has an afro but she doesn’t love her hair so I’ve showed her a photo of Ibeyi and she was like ohh, she has an afro!” and I think it’s a great thing that I can do that for people.
Naomi: Everytime people say: you have a beautiful hair I don’t think it’s something about my personality.
Lisa: For you no. Not that much.
Naomi: I don’t think so, I don’t know, maybe.
Lisa: Your eyes might be…
Me: Yes, you have beautiful eyes
Lisa: Strong eyes.
Me: Naomi, How was your hair when you growing up, when you were in school?
Naomi: I’ve just reminded! I’ve had straight hair but I’ve had a lot of hair. People used to tell me “You have too much hair for your little face.” It was straight but épais (thick).
Lisa: it’s because you used to brush it all the time.
Naomi: yeah.. I don’t brush my hair now.
Lisa: Me neither.
Naomi: So because of that I used to wear it like this (tide in a bun). People were not being mean, saying things in a negative way, it was just 2 friends commenting: “Oh, you’ve got a lot of hair” and I was like: okay, i’m gonna tiden it.
Me: So, how do you feel now about your hair? Do you embrace it, the frizz, and everything?
Naomi: I feel good, but sometimes I’m like: Oh, have too much hair and then I forget. But I’m happy!
Lisa: I love your hair!
Me: Do you wear specific products for your curly hair?
Naomi: Nothing !! We don’t treat our hair. Maybe we should.
Lisa: I think we should.
Naomi: When you are on tour you can’t do that.
Lisa: Maybe when we go back home we won’t bother doing a mask.
Me: How do you feel about beauty standards? Have you ever felt the need to change anything to fit?
Lisa: No, but when I was a teen it was hard for me too, because I’m not a model at all. I have loads of curves AND an afro and I’m small and also I was not the type of.. you know I thought I would end up alone and that I would never have someone to like me.
Naomi: Me too! When we were little we were the best friends of the beautiful blonde girls.
Me: I can relate to that!
Naomi: And now it’s like we know that people like us and like them less so that’s weird, that’s fun. When we were little they were the type of them and now it’s different.
Lisa: I don’t think they love them less now..
Naomi: Yes, I’m sure they do!
Lisa: We have entered an age that..
Naomi: being different is good!
Lisa: When I was growing up it was really hard, because I was 15 and I was in love but people that liked me were 25. I was 15 and I was like “how I’m going to do because..”
Naomi: You were in love with the people that liked the blonde twins.
Lisa: Oh yeah, but what I mean is that people that used to like me were man that couldn’t see that I was that age. I didn’t change much. I still have my baby face but I didn’t change a lot and I think that was really hard for me because I was like “if people from my age don’t like me what am I gonna do” – I was a teenager and I didn’t know that I was going to grow. Well, I knew it but it was not in my mind. And today if a guy that is 10 years older likes us there’s no problem. We are 21, we are old enough to be okay with that. At 15 it’s not okay. We’ve grew up in France and in Cuba. In France I was no one’s type and in Cuba I was everyone’s type. So it’s funny to see how it depends of the country where you are in.
Naomi: When you grow up you see that people like more people who are different than people who are common.
Lisa: I ensure to you that it depends.
Naomi: We are the type that you like or you don’t like, there’s no in the middle!
Me: Perhaps there are people who like common people and people who like more authentic people.
Lisa: I think common people are authentic in their own way, so it depends on the taste and on what you see all the time. I’m sure if all you could see was black women with huge hair in TV and there’s just black women everywhere people would prefer or would love black women, I think it’s a matter of what you see. I think if the models weighed 10 pounds 20 pounds more people would not like skinny woman. Centuries before, being round meant to be healthy. People adored round woman. And then they started putting corsets. I’ve always wondered who created the corset a man or a woman, I often think it was a man, but maybe it was a woman, who knows?
I think it’s all about the taste, as much as you empower who you are, you are proud of who you are and you fight for it. I think it would be total unfair to have just black women on TV too. The beautiful thing is to have both so that every single child is able to see someone that looks like them on TV or cinema.
Me: or the internet
Lisa: Yes, and the internet. And it’s the same with asian people and indian people and it’s the same for everybody.
Me: I couldn’t agree more, I don’t understand why we need a beautiful standard.
Lisa: Yeah, but it’s changing, little by little. Today there’s loads of afros out there.
Me: That’s true. When I started taking pictures of women with natural hair for my blog I couldn’t find many girls who embraced their hair to interview and photograph them. Nowadays I can easily spot many of them and I do take more pictures, but it’s because we are in downtown. There are still places that don’t allow you to wear and work with an afro or with braids, for instance.
Naomi: In Africa and in the US little girls always have braids. It’s cultural. That’s why when Beyonce lets her child with natural hair some people say: why are you letting her with her natural hair?
Lisa: it’s a big statement what she does. And I think it’s wonderful because she didn’t do this to herself but she is doing it to the next generation. If one day you wanna change it’s okay, you have the right to change. If one day I want braids, I’m not going to be like “No, I have to have an afro”. The thing is to liking your hair. Then if you like it and you wanna change, it’s great, but if you don’t like it and you wanna change because you think that it’s awful that’s the problem. I think it’s a huge statement when she says to her child “you are gonna love your afro, you are going to be proud of it.” And then if one day you wanna change, it’s up to you.
Me: How about brazilian music?
Naomi: We like Elias regina, Seu Jorge, Caetano Veloso, Carlinhos Brown (our father played with him).
Lisa: People gave us pendrives with brazilian music from nowadays.. we are gonna listen to it.
Me: I had thought of giving you this same gift, but I’ve picked an illustration by a friend of mine instead. I think this drawing is very representative of how I see you. Lisa would be the roots and Naomi is in the opposite side, pulsing. You can see it upsidown too.
Together: Thank you!
Lisa: Look, Naomi, it’s your hands playing :
With the recorder off:
Me: My sister will arrive soon. We love to sing together and we would love to be a duo one day.
Together: You should try!
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It started raining and our time was over. They were going to a shop. If I was given 3 wishes they would be: going shopping with them, watching them again in Rio, in the day after, and asking them to sing for us. 😉
Check out more photos from the interview and also the natural hair girls that we’ve met at Ibeyi’s concert: