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August 26, 2014

Ibeyi: River

In the Studio with XL Recordings’ French-Cuban Duo

This week London-based label XL Recordings celebrates 25 years of turning next-big-things into global names—and following Prodigy, The White Stripes and The xx on the independent's illustrious roster is latest signing, Ibeyi. The 19-year-old French-Cuban twins Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Díaz are daughters of the late, Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club percussionist Anga Díaz. “We probably carry his love of mixing different musics and influences on in an unconscious way,” says Lisa, who recorded the debut album with her beat-making sister and the XL owner Richard Russell during a three-month period: “Recording with Richard has been a deep experience, we learned a lot about our music and about ourselves. He and John the engineer recorded everything that was happening in the studio. If one day you find one of our big twin fights on the internet, you know where it comes from.” Taking in Nina Simone, Meshell Ndegeocello and Reggaeton as influences, at the root of the pair’s music is the culture of ‘Yoruba,’ which was imported into Cuba from West Africa. “Yoruba's culture is part of our lives and our music; mixing ancient religious chants with other western influences is what came naturally to us when we started making songs,” says Lisa. “It traveled to Cuba with the slaves but is largely unknown, so it's important to us that people discover how profound it is.”

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Ásgeir: Going Home

A Brooding and Magical Vision for Iceland's Breakout Troubadour 

“I wasn’t planning on recording an album or releasing any of my songs,” says Icelandic singer-songwriter Ásgeir. “I just called a producer and wanted to record one track. He liked the music and a few weeks later we released an album.” The resulting release Dyrd í dauðathogn became a record-breaking phenomenon after it was released in September 2012: the biggest selling Icelandic debut album by a homegrown artist, with one in ten of Iceland’s population now owning a copy. This month, the English language version of the album In The Silence was released on One Little Indian, translated by the American folk artist John Grant and featuring standout track “Going Home,” showcased in this otherworldly music video directed by local filmmaker and artist Máni Sigfússon. “I wanted to capture characters frozen in time, their surroundings changing around them as the world gets more distorted, all up until the point where they find peace and a new home,” says Sigfússon, who is currently collaborating on live concert visuals for Icelandic musicians Sin Fang and Högni Egilsson. Ásgeir is quick to attribute his success to his own home life and upbringing; both his parents are artists and all five of his siblings play an instrument. “I was starting writing songs when I was 10 and my father’s poetry was all over the house,” he says. “For this album, I wrote the music first, then he wrote the lyrics to that.”

“Going Home” / “Dreaming” is released April 7 and “Here It Comes” / “Heart-Shaped Box” is released April 19 for Record Store Day

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Jake Bugg: Messed Up Kids

The British Troubadour Reflects On a Life Once Lived in His Latest Music Video

The council estate or housing project has become de rigueur in the modern music video—but where it might sometimes be called upon to add an easy edginess to a band’s image, Andrew Douglas’ film for Jake Bugg’s new EP “Messed Up Kids” uses the location as a metaphor for the 20-year-old singer-songwriter’s position in the world. Having sold 1.5m albums since the release of his eponymous debut in 2013, Bugg feels estranged from the surroundings that nurtured his songwriting: “I don’t really live anywhere at the moment as I’m always on the road,” says the Nottingham-born guitarist, whose latest release from Rick Rubin-produced second album Shangri La comes as he tours the US, before heading to South America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. “On the first record, I talked a lot about my hometown because I was still a big part of it. Now after everything that has happened, going back feels crazy: I’m somebody looking in from the outside.”


In the shadow of a council block in Bow, east London. “We wanted something gritty but ordinary so it would stand in for the Clifton Estate, where Jake is from, or indeed anywhere in the UK,” says Andrew Douglas. “Jake didn’t want to feature too much in this film, feeling that it would be disingenuous for him to still play a ‘messed up kid’ where he grew up. But he liked the idea of being the author or observer.”

A week’s scouting, casting and equipment testing; a day to shoot.

Shot at a high frame rate while tracking across the action very fast. “Justin Brown risked life and limb to hurtle across the streets of Bow, on camera. The wonderful editor Sam Ostrove at Cut and Run then found a cool way to forensically review the footage for details.”

The work of British social-realist photographers such as Chris Killip.

Pre-order “Messed Up Kids” EP on iTunes and vinyl. Shangri La is available now.

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