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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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Sabina: Viva L’Amour

The Brazilian Girls Singer Unveils a Pencil-on-Paper Collaboration with Artist Oliver Clegg

“We filmed Sabina in her flat in Paris and then used to footage to create the backbone of the video,” says British artist Oliver Clegg of his collaboration with Sabina Sciubba on “Viva L’Amour.” Marking the release of the lead singer of avant-garde electro-punk outfit Brazilian Girls’ debut solo album, Toujours, this is his first foray into moving-image, made with the New York design studio, Eyeball. “I met Sabina ten years ago at Nublu in the East Village, NYC when the Brazilian Girls were playing regularly on Sunday nights at the venue,” says Clegg, whose work has showcased at Art Basel Miami, Saatchi Gallery and Venice Biennale. The animation uses rotoscoping, invented in 1915 by Max Fleicher, in which stills of a film are traced in a broken sequence to give an animated, hand-drawn quality. “I wanted the piece to be full of contrasts—humorous yet sincere, childlike yet sophisticated, direct yet enigmatic, says Clegg. “The choice of drawing was part of this consistency of opposites: the desire to create dimension and conceptual spaces out of the simplest descriptive tool available, the line.”

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Miley Cyrus: Tongue Tied

Sarah Nicole Prickett Unties the Pop Phenomenon's Kinky Collaboration with Quentin Jones

In the USA, any fresh ‘n’ hot star with blonde ambitions is bound to be a sex symbol. Miley Cyrus wears that bondage lightly. And literally. She stretches the definition of kink, making it pop. On stage, riding a giant hot dog, she grins like the girl who yells loudest in the “penis!” game. She could stop, actually, if she wanted to… but she won’t. She wears her latex like she’s dressing up as herself for Halloween: “I’m a Sexy Miley Cyrus! What are you?”

As part of Cyrus’ current Bangerz tour is a two-minute video directed by mixed-media artist and filmmaker Quentin Jones, whose signature soignée graphics and splashes of paint transform a pornoriffic-almost-parody into artsploitation. Stripping the color from our heroine’s cartoonish persona, Jones goes in on popular symbols of sex: the fishnets; the beauty mark made darker like Marilyn’s; the black collar fit for a 'Bunny. To Miley, as to a little kid, even the most dangerous object is a toy. And like a kid’s, her near-nudity is hardly erotic. She’s just happier naked. Her poses are jokes, even that infamous tongue—stuck out—remains firmly in cheek. She holds up the cardboard cut-out and winks. Get it? She’s playing with herself.

It should be clear as ink that Miley Cyrus is no former Disney kid. She’s a forever Disney kid. Sixty years after Walt himself collaborated with Salvador Dali, his phantasmagorical dreams of goofy innocence and erotically charged surrealism have been reanimated.

Sarah Nicole Prickett is the founding editor of Adult magazine. 

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