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 +
FKA twigs

FKA twigs 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

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?”


“I was treading water and avoiding tough decisions.”

Boyz II Men

“We’ve been told that we are an R&B group, but we’ve never felt that way.”

United Nations

“Thursday would shut down bad ideas; we embrace them.”

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