Five things you need to know about FKA twigs
Here’s the scoop on this London alt-R&B enigma, who's bubbling just under superstardom
Wed Jul 30 2014
Photograph: David Burton
1. There’s a story behind the weird name.
Born Tahliah Barnett and trained as a dancer, she was nicknamed twigs (always lowercase t) for cracking her joints while stretching. After the tastemaking Young Turks imprint picked her up, legal haranguing from twin-sister kiddie-pop duo the Twigs made her add the FKA (for “formerly known as”) to prevent confusion.
2. Her music videos are crazy.
The Twigs may have had a point with their lawsuit: Imagine a computer-savvy fan stumbling upon twigs’ “Papi Pacify,” which finds her locked in the bare-chested embrace of a jacked, dreadlocked dude, who spends half the clip sticking his fingers in her mouth. Or what about her vid for “Hide,” which focuses almost entirely on her mostly nude torso, a red anthurium flower (phallic stamen and all) covering her crotch.
3. She’s a former backup dancer.
You can spot twigs’ unmistakable pout in Jessie J’s “Do it Like a Dude” and “Price Tag” videos.
4. She’s got the sound of the moment.
Like labelmates and fellow eschewers of capitalization the xx, twigs makes super-soulful electropop. Her voice is languid and expressive without being maudlin, her lyrics almost painfully intimate. If new single “Two Weeks” is anything to go by, her debut full-length, LP 1, due August 12, should find her sounding more lush and dramatic than ever.
5. She’s a true polymath.
In addition to her singing and dancing skills, she’s also worked in cabaret (with the onstage persona of a retro, man-eating vamp) and video direction (in addition to codirecting most of her own creepy clips, she directed and starred in “Ouch Ouch,” a just-released video for a track by Chicago MC Lucki Eck$). Onstage, she draws on all aspects of her multimedia savvy: Showing off her sultry, elf-queen dancing, she’s a bit like Lana Del Rey after a B12 shot.
FKA twigs plays Webster Hall Wed Aug 6.
Watch the video for “Two Weeks”
Read more music interviews
“It’s not about being in one lane.”
“It’s hard as shit to write lyrics.”
“I like the mischief aspect of stage-diving.”
“I actually had to hide the fact that I practiced or they would sneer at me.”
“It's been a wonderful, kind of hallucinatory year.”
“Who’s the best do-it-yourselfer in history if not Johann Sebastian Bach?”
“I was treading water and avoiding tough decisions.”
“We’ve been told that we are an R&B group, but we’ve never felt that way.”
Listen to “Two Weeks” on Spotify
Listen to “Pendulum” on Spotify
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