Let’s be honest, you’ve probably seen the beautifully made up doll-like face associated with the name FKA Twigs and wondered what or who this is. Born Tahliah Barnett, under the moniker FKA Twigs the multitalented vocalist has created a niche for herself as well as her music where her personal obscurity and Martian like R&B prevail as an introverted Barnett takes a backseat.
It’s apparent that Barnett and FKA twigs are one in the same. Lately duality, privacy and elusiveness seem to work against artists and entertainers in all realms, however with FKA twigs that isn’t the case. With social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram making celebrities, entertainers and artists more accessible, their humanity isn’t too far behind as consumers crave commonality and category. We search, stare and make sense of those we consider important or impactful in an attempt to validate their product based on who we think they are on account of what’s been shared. People not only want to know who they’re listening to but people also want to be able to endorse whoever they’re supporting and their work concurrently. Here, Barnett’s background, permeability of dance in her performances juxtaposed to her experimentation of sound and cool resolve are reinforced as FKA Twigs and I love it.
Unfortunately when art and lifestyle don’t add up, artists find themselves shrinking in interviews and disappearing from our playlists (if they ever make it that far), unknowingly allowing their anonymity to work against their product rather than allowing it to be the catalyst behind its inception and execution. Luckily FKA twigs has successfully meshed her world of realism, R&B, dance, sensuality and composition, all the makings for alt pop stardom.
In the wonderful world of music one will never be able to be anonymous and musically disenchanting, however, if the product is unequivocally dope and affective then a full background check on an artist can take a backseat. In some cases even the face of an artist can be secondary as we’ve seen with MF Doom, the Gorillaz, Daft Punk and even upcoming NY female emcee Leikeli47, all masked. However as listeners, we get to share in FKA Twigs’ odd beauty, saucer-like eyes, while still appreciating her talent. FKA Twigs has made a name for herself through her composition, assembly, sound and vagueness and its working.
Following a stretch of solo releases including two EPs oddly titled EP1 & EP2, 26 year old English singer and producer FKA twigs released her debut studio album, LP1 on August 12, 2014 here in the US. The 10 track production was released by Young Turks of London on the 6th in the UK and is truthfully a concrete introduction to the elusive and quite frankly weird singer, producer, composer and former back up dancer.
Her original nickname ‘twigs’ came from the literal sound of her joints cracking and popping due to her flexibility. Before becoming FKA twigs as we know her, she pursued a career in dance and danced back up in a host of pop videos, most notably for artist Jesse J. FKA an acronym for “Formerly Known As,” was added to her nickname Twigs at the request of another artist named Twigs.
In the most mesmerizing of ways, the same dysmorphic flexibility represented in her name resounds in the packaging of her debut studio album LP1 as her voice casts listeners into a state of fixation. Rhythmically, LP1 follows the alternative R&B path of combining offbeat textures, bold negative spaces and pop into one where experimentation and glory work. FKA twigs is erotically soulful electronic and full of mystery as she gives you a nice blend of Bjork, Janet, XX, Portishead and Kelela all in one. I’m certain that if she maintains her vague persona, eye catching vids and impenetrable product, all while continuing to deliver unequivocally transporting music then the future of R&B is hers.
A formal intro to FKA twigs and the blunt uniqueness of her sound can be experienced through “Lights On”, “Give Up” and “Two Weeks” on LP1 where seduction, provocation, command and fear are all explored unabashedly. “Numbers” being my least favorite on the album still deserves a listen, as formality and rhythmic pattern are thrown out of the window as her voice weightless catches it in the distance.
Undoubtedly this week’s album of the week, LP1 can be purchased via iTunes and is produced by FKA twigs, Arca (Yeezus), Sampha (Drake), Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey), Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and more! Take a listen and tell us what you think!
Check out the video for “Two Weeks” and “Pendulum” below and experience FKA twigs for yourself!