Ibeyi’s Home

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“Ibeyi’s Home” is an interview/review of the Franco-Cuban duo, Ibeyi. The article, by Anupa Mistry (Fader’s Diaspora Issue) with spectacular photography by Amber Mahoney, centers on the twins’ relationship with Cuba, what the island means to them, and how their friends and family—including their Franco-Venezuelan mother Maya Dagnino and Cuban father Anga Díaz—have inspired their music. Mistry writes: “The Díaz sisters were raised in Paris on dreams of their father’s Cuba. Now that the island is opening up, they’re unfurling the roots of return.” See excerpts from “Ibeyi’s Home” here:

[. . .] There’s a house that’s slowly under construction at the end of a long, quiet street in western Havana. Urban development in the capital city is ramping up — in 2011, president Raúl Castro reversed a decades-long ban on Cubans buying and selling homes, and last year the U.S. scrapped its 60-year-long embargo — but this sculptural, light-filled, wood, glass, and concrete bungalow isn’t an entirely new structure, it’s a restoration.

The house is being worked on for twins Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz, of the French-Cuban electronic soul duo Ibeyi, and their mother and manager, Maya Dagnino. The whole building is white, which stands out in a city mottled with faded pastel facades. Inside, Lisa shows me bedrooms that are underway, pointing out raised, loft-style sleeping spaces and glass-walled bathrooms. “Naomi’s bedroom is by the front door,” Lisa says, “because she always comes home the latest.” In the garden, shrubbery partially obscures an outdoor shower for after trips to the beach — “Or when you come home late from a party,” says Naomi, laughing.

Across the street, there’s an imposing, sea-facing police panopticon and a massive, crumbling multi-building apartment complex, where, their mother Maya tells me, just five resident families are holding strong. It’s a short walk to a supermarket that, like the rest of Cuba, only carries non-perishables: stock is regulated by the government, not consumer preference, which is why, when I visit, there’s one whole aisle filled with orange soda and nothing else. But in the ’50s and ’60s, before the Revolution, this barrio was popping. Maya, who is intensely thoughtful and French-Venezuelan, says that for years she and her late husband, the famed Cuban conguero Anga Diaz, had wanted to live on this exact street. Nearby, on the rocky shoreline, locals discretely spear squid and offer prayers to the Yoruba gods. [. . .]

[. . .] But both navigate Havana, and its people, with the same familiarity. They spent time in the country as toddlers, and have always had a family home here. Lisa remembers playing in the streets with their cousins until late at night, being watched over by one adult or the other. “Here, everybody knows each other. Havana is like a village,” says Naomi, sitting in the garden of a cozy rental house a few doors down from their new property. Three sweet little licky dogs toddle around, competing for attention with two wolf-whistling Bahamian parrots in a cage out back. Unripened mangoes from a large tree in the middle of the yard dot the grass, and mounted tropical air plants that would cost hundreds of dollars at hip florists in New York City circle the patio.

“You can say whatever you want about Cuba,” Naomi says. “But the people here are amazing with each other. I’m scared about it changing: capitalism is ‘everybody thinks about himself and not the others.’” [. . .]

For full article, see http://www.thefader.com/2017/05/04/ibeyi-cover-story-interview-cuba-photos

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