Growing up in Cheltenham, Tahliah Barnett was always different from the rest of the kids at school. While others would be listening to Take That and The Spice Girls, Barnett spent much of her time alone, falling in love with Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye and Ella Fitzgerald.
FKA twigs – Good To Love
Under the guidance of her mother, a creatively-minded salsa teacher, Barnett embraced performance-based arts from a young age. At the age of 17 she moved to London, where she continued to master ballet, hip-hop, krump and contemporary styles of dance while working on an agile vocal style that’s now drawing comparisons to Aaliyah and Kate Bush in equal measure.
FKA twigs – Water Me
The fuse was lit in 2012, when FKA twigs began her ongoing series of thought-provoking music videos with the sexually upfront, gender-mutating visuals for her song Hide. The following year twigs recorded her outstanding sophomore EP with the Venezuela-born experimental producer Arca, who’d just found himself under the spotlight after being enlisted as a production consultant for Yeezus. By this stage, FKA twigs was widely declared the Next Big Thing.
For those who’ve been hooked on FKA twigs since she first emerged online in 2012, her disarmingly friendly and self- deprecating personality could seem at odds with the mysterious, otherworldly seductress she transforms into as a performer.
Up until this point, much of the hype has been sustained with a meticulously crafted promo strategy and a subsequent air of mythology. When her first videos were doing the rounds, it initially seemed unclear whether Twigs (the FKA came later following legal complications with another act) was a solo artist or a full band, an absence of biographical info online and her reluctance to do interviews then further fed the curiosity about the big-eyed, eccentrically beautiful girl on the now-iconic cover of i-D magazine. For a lot of fans, their first glimpse of her live performance was watching the gorgeously- filmed footage of her singing Hide amongst Mayan ruins near Tulum, Mexico while befuddled locals look on with amazement.
FKA twigs – Hide
After years spent labouring at the desk, twigs certainly seems to have developed a studio geek’s passion for equipment. She spends a good ten minutes enthusing about the settings of her Tempest drum machine and her techniques of embedding percussive noises with musical scales at a pace that becomes hard to keep up with. She also speaks affectionately about her bandmates Tic – who introduced her to the aforementioned Tempest – and Cyan, who she claims has always been willing to answer her panicky 3am phone calls about whatever Ableton-related malfunction has been keeping her awake.
FKA twigs #throughglass