Sounds Like: The Afro-Cuban diaspora, filtered through contemporary trip-hop and the uncanny harmonies of twin sisters
For Fans of: James Blake, CocoRosie, FKA Twigs
Why You Should Pay Attention: Twins Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz moved to Paris from their native Cuba as small children. They never stopped living with their artistic heritage, though — their late father, famed percussionist, Angá Díaz played with acts like Buena Vista Social Club. After a few live performances together around Paris, their take on Afro-Cuban rhythms, Yoruba chanting and contemporary hip-hop, electronic and lounge attracted the heads of XL Recordings. Four months after their first big show in Paris, they scored a deal. Four months after that, they had finished their self-titled debut album with producer Richard Russell, released earlier this year. Now, less than a year from the beginning, they've just played a spate of lauded performances at SXSW and are finishing their first U.S. tour.
They Say: Part of their debut in the U.S. includes the opportunity to educate new audiences about the various roots of Cuban music. "Our music is Cuban, but it's Yoruban," says Naomi. "It's not salsa."
"For people, when you say you're Cuban, they just visualize cigars, rum and salsa," says Lisa-Kaindé, as Naomi finishes her sentence simultaneously and laughs. "Yoruba is from Nigeria, and when the slaves were shipped to Cuba their culture remained. So we are just explaining to people why we are singing in an African language."
Each time they do so, they revisit intimate memories of their father and their late older sister, Yanira, who died in 2013. "Ibeyi," the album, is an homage to them, say the sisters, but revisiting feelings about them onstage every night feels positive. "I think it's our way to feel good about it, and to talk about them, and I think we needed it," says Lisa-Kaindé. "No really, it feels good!"
Hear for Yourself: "River" mixes unmistakably Afro-Caribbean dipping melodies with slowly rattling, Portishead-style beats — and ends with a chant to Yoruba deity Oshun. Arielle Castillo