DREAM STREET: FKA twigs brings her hypnotic sound stateside
"It's a simpler life - very pretty, very quiet," says Tahliah Barnett of her childhood in Gloucestershire, known for its rolling hills and castle ruins. "It's magical, but I never quite fit in." Under the monikor FKA twigs, the 26-year-old Brit is still standing out, with eerie melodies and breathtaking videos that have made her one of music's most intriguing new figures.
Her nickname dates from an early start in ballet. "When I danced, my bones cracked. Somebody named me Twigs because I was always snapping like one," she says with a laugh. After moving to London, she switched to music and in 2012 put out an EP that earned her comparisons to Aaliyah. It was the release of her critically acclaimed EP 2, though, that revealed her a category-shattering force. Coproduced by Arca, it combines the seemingly disparate sounds of nineties R&B and ambient electronica. Tracks like "Papi Pacify" and "Ultraviolet" explore female desire, while videos like "Water Me" in which she sheds over sized tears in an homage to Alice in Wonderland, suggest she is less interested in entertaining than being a provocateur. "I don't care about looking beautiful. Make me look weird; exaggerate me," Barnett says.
She's now putting the finishing touches on her highly anticipated debut album, but in her downtime enjoys taking a dance class or listening to the likes of Edith Piaf and Antony and the Johnsons. Even with a nomination for the BBC's Sound of 2014 prize, she retains a small town humility. "People talk about compromising their artistry, but I just believe in the compromise of being a decent person."
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