There’s a new girl in town and she comes with a new sound. Meet FKA Twigs. Twigs isn’t your average female R&B artist, she’s far from anything you’ve ever seen or heard. An alternative to the predictive and hyper-sexualised style of Rihanna and Beyonce, Twigs style is edgy, powerful and like no other.
Maybe its that no one is making music like hers, or maybe it’s just that no one is doing it so well, but Twigs continues to break grounds with her material, and her latest track How’s that, (from her album EP2) is no different. Her club-ready ballads, unpredictable beats, soothing vocals and striking abstract imagery is undeniably impressive.
Gloucestershire born, Tahliah Barnett started off as a professional dancer (ballet, tap, backup) and moved to London aged 17 to pursue it further. And she racks up an impressive backlog too. Shortly after attending Croydon College she was often selected for video and tour work with established artists. She says: ‘There was a period of about two years where I danced for everyone: Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Taio Cruzher and Cheryl Cole.’ And her love of dance is evident in her music videos which often feature interpretative skills.
But for twigs her first love was always music. As a young girl, twigs would open find herself sneaked into salsa-clubs by her mum, a Latin-dance professional, where she was instantly drawn to rhythms and moves. At home, Twigs grew up listening to Jazz, ska and African Fusion often played by her parents.“I don’t know any Beatles songs,” she says. “My dad never listened to Elvis or Sting or Bowie. Any band name that’s on a t-shirt, I probably won’t know their music, like AC/DC or whatever. As a kid I would sing along to artists like Tania Maria.”
The 26 year old singer got the name Twigs because of the way her joints cracked. Since appearing on the cover of i.D pre-fall 2012 issue, twigs has given both the fashion and music industry plenty to talk about. Her distinct style and striking features made her an over night sensation. But far more than that, is her sound, her unique blend of R&B, hip-hop and dance beats is fresh, distinctive and exciting. Its much thanks to songs from her 2013 EP2 album like ‘Papi Pacify’ and ‘Water Me,’ which have propelled her into the spotlight and made a real impact with people. She explains: “They seemed to connect really well, everyone seemed really into it.”
If there’s one thing that’s certain twigs is a perfectionist, and control over her work is important to her, from perfecting dance routines to producing her own songs (achieved after teaching herself how to use the necessary software). She comes across as a driven perfectionist. She says, “I have to learn everything there is to learn.” This is further evident in her videos. “My hope for this record is that people will be able to identify my sound as a producer and understand how much of this I do myself. I’m being fearless and finding a strength in myself to be more confident, to make bolder moves.”
But don’t let the exterior fool you, Twigs is a chilled out as they come. ”Someone asked me yesterday, ‘Do you meditate?’ No, I don’t meditate! I watch trash TV when I get out of the studio,”
As a singer and producer, Twigs is a lesson in contrast and she is unafraid to push the boundaries both lyrically and visually. Her silken soft vocals are paired with course beats. Her songs speak of pleasure, lust, pain and obsession, laced with potent sensuality often darting between dominant and submissive within a few lines. She says, “I’d like to think my songs are empowering,”
Colour and textures seem to play a big part too, she says: “I’m always weird about colour. I definitely stick to black a lot. Not in a goth-y way, but my videos are black-and-white, or if I do a video in colour I like the contrast to be quite high. I’m really into textures visually as well. Even within my music, I like smooth things, and then hard and fluffy things, all giving them their place to shine.”
Twigs tells a story through bold imagery, metaphorical lyrics and dance, touching on a number of experiences many can relate to. This powerful mix of all three makes her songs both intriguing and engaging. Music she explains: “Is ultimately, the reason why I moved to London and the reason why I’ve been on this journey is because I really love making music. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
But thankfully you won’t have to wait on her rare live gigs or read up on them. You can enjoy her new album LP1 in the comfort of your own home as its set to drop August 12.
Twigs new album LP1 (realised by Young Turks) is available from 12th August.