FKA Twigs has been the name on everyone’s lips over the last twelve months. Featuring in many ‘sound of 2014’ lists, including The Edge’s very own THE LIST 2014, the 26 year old former dancer caused a stir in the music scene with her unique style of experimental trip-hop. For those of you that are unfamiliar with FKA Twigs, her real name is Tahliah Barnett, and you may have seen her in famous music videos such as Jessie J’s ‘Do It Like A Dude’ in which she was acting in her former profession of a backing dancer. A topic brought up in ‘Video Girl’ on the record in question, LP1. The name often brings confusion, to put it simply, she calls herself Twigs because her joints crack when dancing, but another artist got there first and so was born FKA Twigs (Formerly Known As Twigs). Not the most interesting of stories is it? So now you know where the name comes from, let’s move onto the more interesting side of FKA Twigs, her music.
What adds to FKA Twigs’ appeal is the ethereal mystique surrounding her – aided by the awe-inspiring artwork that assists her music. Jesse Kanda’s hyper-stylised, manipulated images make FKA Twigs look like a piece of art herself. These images, for example the distorted doll-like LP1 cover, all the way to Nabil directed, exquisitely sexy video for ‘Two Weeks’ give her the whole package – talented, intriguing and interesting.
LP1 has felt like a long time coming for those that have been following her since the release of earlier tracks such as ‘Water Me’ and ‘Papi Pacify’, however, it was definitely worth the wait. What surprises me is how commercially well received she is becoming. ‘Two Weeks’ is one of the stand out tracks on the album and it is also the most commercial. Despite its constant radio play in recent weeks, FKA Twigs doesn’t shy away from the frequent use of the phrase ‘motherfucker’. The song, and the rest of the debut, are smoulderingly sexy; with lyrics such as ‘Suck me up, I’m healing with all the shit you’re dealing/ Motherfucker, get your mouth open you know you’re mine’, it’s hard to not sit up and pay the attention the song commands.
Even though this is her debut record she has managed to bag some high profile collaborators across the record. For example super-producer Paul Epworth, Emile Haynie (Eminem, Lana Del Rey), the supremely talented soul man Sampha, and Solange Knowles’s former enabler, Dev Hynes. Despite these people being staple names in the music industry, she has created her own unique sound, one that makes this one of the most exciting debuts of the year so far. There are already talks of her being one of the favourites for this year’s Mercury Prize, and I wouldn’t it past her to win the thing.
The in-vogue barely-there R’n’B she demonstrates is taken to staggering new heights on LP1. She has already stapled some trademark FKA Twigs sounds into this record. For example, the creaking mechanic knocking we first heard on ‘Water Me’ returns on tracks such as ‘Pendulum’ and ‘Closer’. This paired with her choral falsetto vocals stand her apart from other female artists populated the R’n’B sphere. Sonically, the closest artist to her sound would be Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, and if his rise to fame is anything to go by, Taliah has a pretty smooth ride ahead of her.