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



Add +

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

Jen Lyon and Katie Longmyer

“We were at the beginning of that trend, and it blew up so quickly.”


“The edge where it’s gonna fall apart and be ruined keeps getting pushed.”

Tory Lanez

“It’s not about being in one lane.”

Julian Casablancas and Karen O

“It’s hard as shit to write lyrics.”

St. Vincent

“I like the mischief aspect of stage-diving.”

John Lurie

“I actually had to hide the fact that I practiced or they would sneer at me.”

Laurie Anderson

“It's been a wonderful, kind of hallucinatory year.”

Steve Reich

“Who’s the best do-it-yourselfer in history if not Johann Sebastian Bach?”

See more in Music

Users say


Listen to “Two Weeks” on Spotify

Listen to “Pendulum” on Spotify

Read more music features

Interview: Julian Casablancas and Karen O

These New Yorkers, who both recently launched new solo ventures, get together for a chat on their home turf

Interview: John Lurie

The Lounge Lizard, Jim Jarmusch star and all-around NYC alt legend gets a tribute worthy of his multimedia brilliance

The best fall concerts in NYC

Get ready for a busy season this fall, with shows from arena heavy-hitters to indie gems

Afropunk fest 2014: Our favorite photos

Sharon Jones, Bad Brains and Shabazz Palaces wowed at the Brooklyn blowout

Interview: Laurie Anderson

The composer talks about life after Lou Reed, her history in the record business—and her upcoming shows at the BAM

See more in Music