FKA Twigs is the UK-based chanteuse who is currently turning ears stateside with her minimalist take on 90’s trip-hop and reimagined R&B.
Originally donning the stage name Twigs in honor of the constant, cringe-worthy snapping of her joints, the angular artist was asked to change it at the request of another musician named Twigs. In keeping with her breezy, uninterrupted style, Twigs quickly adapted, recalling Prince’s famous name change by fixing the quirky abbreviation of Formerly Known As in front and becoming FKA Twigs.
Twigs hails from rural Gloucestershire, UK, and was bitten by the creative bug early on in life, no doubt influenced by her Spanish mother, who was a professional salsa dancer and would occasionally sneak her into her performances and hide her beneath the DJ booth. Twigs’ father is Jamaican and she has admitted that the Jamaican community in her hometown also helped foster her musical ambition.
At 17 Twigs moved to London to pursue dance, but withdrew from school after only a few weeks, deciding to pursue music full-time instead. The lithe performer still takes ballet regularly and currently trains with leading UK Krump group Wet Wipez. She was also a back-up dancer in Jessie J’s “Do It Like a Dude” and “Price Tag” music videos.
Before releasing any official music, Twigs was featured on the front cover of I-D Magazine in August 2012. She followed that with the premiere of her four-track Bandcamp release EP1, a dark, mind-numbing electro R&B blend that tells a poignant, strobing tale with accompanying YouTube videos for each song.
It’s no surprise that independent record label Young Turks added Twigs to their impressive line-up shortly afterwards. They released her second EP, EP2 in September 2013, which boasts production from Yeezus producer/engineer Arca as well as Twigs herself. Even in the short span of time between these releases Twigs’ growth as a musician is clear. EP2 is mature, the minimalist beats are commanding and purposeful, and a youthful seduction comes through in her sparse, teasing verse. The lyrics ooze sensuality, but unlike other pop songs, they rarely cater to the male fantasy. That, plus Twigs’ waist-grazing braids and high-pitched soprano moans are reminiscent of an early Janet Jackson à la “Would You Mind“.
Twigs’ success has once again proven that an unlikely approach is necessary to gain notice in our evolving music industry . The singer is hardly active on social media and allegedly still works as a bartender to afford her consuming studio schedule, yet her withdrawn, pensive mystique only contributes to her appeal and makes her cult following that much more impressive.
Earlier this week, FKA Twigs debuted an as-yet Untitled song and music video with R&B duo Inc., which will be released as part of a collaborative FKA Twigs x Inc. project that includes a 7” and a zine. The video features the starkly contrasting visuals we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Twigs, who directed the video with Nick Walker.
FKA Twigs has yet to release a full-length album or announce a tour, but there are rumors she’ll be at this year’s Fader Fort at SXSW in March.
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