Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz — the twin sisters behind soul/R&B duo Ibeyi — have been carving their way into the music scene for more than two years. Last summer, they made headlines when Beyoncé uploaded a video to Instagram featuring their song River.
The Frenchwomen, who spent a short time in Cuba as children, grabbed headlines again when they dropped in as cameos for B’s Lemonade release on HBO. The singers, who belt out lyrics in English, Spanish and Yoruba — a Nigerian language their ancestors spoke — take listeners on an audible adventure between ritual chants, synths and samplers. They also mix in jazz vocals, and Naomi, a skilled percussionist on the rectangular cajón and hourglass-shaped, double-headed batá drum, keeps their confessional lyrics riding.
The Diaz sisters will be in concert at the North Beach Bandshell 8 p.m. Sunday, hosted by The Rhythm Foundation.
Which sister acts like the oldest and how are your personalities different?
Lisa: I acted as the oldest sister for as long as I can remember. During our childhood, Naomi used to come into my bed in the middle of the night to sleep with me. I felt responsible for her; I don’t know why. Even today I tend to wake her up in the morning when we’re on tour so that she doesn’t miss the lobby calls.
Naomi: But if anyone hurts you, I could kill! When Lisa goes away I am always worried that something may happen to her. I hate when she takes trips alone. I can’t sleep until I know she’s safe.
Which musicians would you like to collaborate with and what other genres would you like to explore?
Lisa: We’d love to work with rappers like Little Simz or La Mala Rodriguez, with musicians such as bass player Meshell Ndegeocello, or with James Blake. There are so many we can’t name them all. Music has no boundaries, all genres are interesting, and we see our work as a nonending exploration.
French is your first language; why are most of your songs in English?
Naomi: I guess it’s because we grew up listening to tons of music on the radio in English, like every kid around the world. The first records we bought were in English, and our parents listened to a lot of jazz singers.
How does your writing process begin?
Lisa: I always start with the melody and a chorus. It’s the easiest part for me. The writing process comes after, sometimes alone, sometimes with my mother or my uncle. When I co-write a song, I usually have the chorus and the ideas, and we work on that basis. I also have words coming to me easily, like Oya, for example. I wrote that song in 10 minutes.
Naomi: I come up with the rhythm. In the studio Lisa and I work hand in hand. All decisions are made together.
Do you have a special ritual to calm the pre-show nerves?
Lisa: We need to be quiet backstage. No interviews or talking the hour before the show.
Naomi: That’s when we breathe or apply makeup — a way for us to get ready and concentrate.
How would you define your personal styles?