FKA Twigs wouldn’t strike you as an R&B diva at a first glance; or any of the glances for that matter. The truth is, she isn’t just an R&B singer, but a musical powerhouse whose range lies far beyond one particular genre.
Tahliah Debrett Barnett, better known as FKA Twigs is a singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. Most people might know her as Robert Pattinson’s ex-fiance which, in my opinion, wouldn’t be fair. Because Twigs is so much more than just the current Batman’s ex.
Let’s take a look at the story of an improbable R&B star, i.e., FKA Twigs.
Early Life of FKA Twigs.
Born and raised in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Twigs grew up with her mother and stepfather. Her biological father is Jamaican, whom she met only after she was 18. And her mother is of English and Spanish descent.
Twigs’ mother was a gymnast and a dancer who encouraged her to take opera and ballet lessons when in school.
She attended a private Catholic school, St. Edward’s in Cheltenham where she was involved in several school productions. She moved to South London and BRIT School in hopes to pursue a career in dancing. But her path changed as she started making music along with dancing. Twigs transferred to Croydon College and started studying fine arts.
The Career of FKA Twigs.
Initially, FKA Twigs entered the entertainment industry as a dancer. To be honest, her dance career is also something to boast about. She was a backup dancer in music videos of who’s who of the industry. From Kylie Minogue, Jessie J, and Taio Cruz to Ed Sheeran, Wretch 32, and Plan B, she’s appeared in multiple music videos.
Apart from music videos, Twigs also appears in a BBC Comedy sketch “Beyonce At Shops,” where she’s a backup dancer at a grocery store.
She’s also worked as a hostess in a gentleman’s club and occasionally sang at The Box, a cabaret nightclub in Soho, London.
Twigs eventually turned to music from dancing as she started working with several local producers in London. Her growing interest in music was what led to her transferring when in college. Thus, at the age of 18, in a quest to find her “sound,” Twigs wrote, “I’m Your Doll”.
FKA Twigs first emerged into the music scene as Twigs. She even put out her first EP, EP1 under the same name on Bandcamp. She gave herself the stage name due to the way her joints cracked while dancing.
However, since there already is a band with the name The Twigs, she had to change her name. So, she added the initialism FKA to her name. People often debate that FKA stands for “Formerly Known As,” however, Twigs denied it several times saying “it’s just capital letters”.
In December 2012, FKA released her debut EP, EP1 independently and posted music videos of the songs on her YouTube channel.
The following year, Twigs released her second EP, EP2 through an independent record label, Young Turks. To date, she’s still signed to Young Turks.
FKA Twigs released her critically acclaimed debut studio album, LP1 in August 2014. She was praised by music critics as well as other artists and fans for the kind of music she was putting out. Her genre-bending sound separated her from the rest.
Critically Acclaimed Albums.
The same year, record producer Boots stated that he’s working on Twigs’ third EP. In August 2015, she released her third EP, Melissa as “M3LL155X,” named after Twigs’ “personal female energy.
Her second album, Magdalene, in November 2019 which received widespread critical success. With songs like “Cellophane,” “Sad Day,” and “Home With You,” it established Twigs as a force to reckon with. Her musicality wasn’t something that was common and her music videos show it clearly.
Direction and Production.
Along with singing, FKA Twigs is heavily involved in other creative aspects of her songs. She writes her own songs and produces most of them by herself.
Twigs also direct her music videos, which are extremely artistic, herself. She’s directed all the videos from her EP “M3LL155X,” and most of the videos from “Magdalene”.
In 2014, Academy Films, a London-based production company signed Twigs as a part of their A+ roster. She’s directed several videos for the company as well as other artists and companies. Apart from that, she has also directed a short dance film Soundtrack 7. And she starred in the film Honey Boy starring Shia LaBeouf.
Musical Influences and Style.
FKA Twigs sometimes describes her music as “subconsciously political”. Critics define her music as genre-bending as it draws inspiration from various types of music.
Her style is a blend of choral music, R&B, electronica, avant-pop, art-pop, Avant-grade, and trip-hop.
Twigs names artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Marvin Gaye as her influences. Her music also draws inspiration from artists like Massive Attack, Björk, Janet Jackson, Tricky, etc.
FKA Twigs was involved in a few high profile relationships in the past. The most notable ones are her romance with actors Robert Pattinson and Shia LaBeouf.
Pattinson and Twigs began dating in 2014 and also got engaged. But, their relationship ended in 2017. Recently, Twigs opened up about the racist bullying she faced from fans while dating the actor.
Twigs and LaBeouf met on the set of Honey Boy. The two began dating from mid-2018 to 2019. in 2020, she filed a lawsuit against the actor, accusing him of sexual assault, battery, and infliction of emotional distress.
Currently, Twigs is working on her third studio album and recently released a new single “Don’t Judge Me,” with a music video.
Also Read: Olivia Rodrigo: The Story of An Overnight Pop Star