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fka twigs announces new album, 'magdalene'; discusses her health and inspirations in 'i-d' interview

fka twigs is the cover star for the latest issue of i-d magazine ("the post truth truth issue", no. 357, autumn 2019). in the issue, twigs discusses her upcoming album, magdalene.



  • [the video inspiration for "cellophane" while recovering from her surgery] twigs had had an idea for a music video…one which required her to become an incredibly skilled pole dancer. “when i first started doing pole dancing it was horrific, i was a hot mess,” she says. “i felt like a slug rolling around on the floor trying to hold on. but after you learn one trick, it becomes quite addictive.” the results of her rigorous training are showcased in the stunning video for "cellophane", which came out in april of this year. directed by andrew thomas huang, it shows twigs take to the pole in an ornate golden two piece before a weird insect creature wearing her face flies down and sends her spiralling into a dark, muddy abyss. “it’s more than I ever could’ve dreamed for,” she says.

  • [on "cellophane"] lyrically it’s heartbreaking. ‘didn’t i do it for you? why don’t i do it for you?’ twigs sings. “'cellophane' is particularly desperate,” she explains of the song’s emotional centre, “but there’s a camp wink and a hint of irony to it too. i don’t know whether anyone else will get that, though.” the joke is on whoever made her feel that way. and although when she wrote it she was very much in that headspace, well, she’s learned how to pole dance since then. “it’s funny that, as women, we’re asking those questions without realising how epic and iconic we are. those feelings I had are the result of some socially brainwashed upbringing that i’m not even aware of, but actually, in the core of myself, i know that i’m fine. it’s like a duality.”

  • [on the album title] “i used to laugh to myself about how, as a woman, your story is often attached to the narrative of a man, no matter what you’re doing or how great your work is, sometimes it’s as though you have to be attached to a man to be validated. i’d felt like that at times. and then i started to read about mary magdalene and how amazing she was; how she was likely to have been jesus’s best friend, his confidante. she was a herbalist and a healer, but, you know, her story is written out of the bible and she was ‘a prostitute’. i found a lot of power in the story of mary magdalene; a lot of dignity, a lot of grace, a lot of inspiration.”

  • work began on magdalene, which she produced predominantly with nicolas jaar, alongside other contributors, three years ago. it came to fruition between london, new york and los angeles, where she indulged in a period of solitude, taking to wearing long medieval dresses and wandering around by herself. “i was in a sad place, mentally, and i didn’t want to come out of it. i don’t have many friends there, and wasn’t communicating with my friends or family here. i just went and locked myself off.”

  • [the emotional core of the album] the record is about every lover that i've ever had, and every lover that i’m going to have,” she says. musically, she describes it as “just when you think it’s really fragile and about to fall apart, there’s an absolute defiance and strength in a way that my work’s never had before...it’s really fragile. i made it at a time when i was in recovery – physically and emotionally – and i think that comes through.”


    • album opener "1000 eyes" sets the tone for the record; a choral a capella bringing about the threat of change, the end of a relationship. "it’s gonna be cold with all those eyes," her distressed falsetto preempts over and over. a static bass builds up into a drone, while the vocal grows as disjointed as twigs felt at the time of writing. “i thought,” she says, breaking down the song, “that if i was anything less than perfect i was going to be completely torn apart publicly.” this is heartbreaking, considering that despite spending the past seven years in the public eye, and navigating two high-profile relationships, it seems to observers that twigs has managed to retain an impressive amount of privacy. shunning interviews and avoiding press opportunities in lieu of walking her rescue dog, solo, or practicing in a dance studio somewhere, mystique seems to surround the musician.

    • "holy terrain", featuring future, will undoubtedly receive the most attention. a dark, sexy, witchy trap tune, it’s a new direction for twigs. after getting hold of future’s number, she casually dropped him a text. “i wasn’t sure whether he would even know who i am. i was like, ‘hi, it’s twigs. let me know if you wanna talk about music or anything.’ he texted back right away and i was like…” twigs throws her phone onto the sofa beside her suddenly. “‘oh my god, he’s just messaged me back!’ he’s such a sweetheart. i sent him the album and i called him up and was like, ‘listen, future… this is what my album’s about. it’s a really empowering, sensitive record, with a lot of feminine energy, and this song is probably the most fun track on it, but i still need lyrical content.’ and he said, ‘okay, i’ve got it’. and his verse is beautiful,” she says. “he’s just talking about his downfalls as a man; how he’s sorry and asking for healing. i love sad future. i love when he gets emo, when he expresses himself. it’s just so beautiful when he opens up.”

    • "sad day" is like if opus iii’s 1992 dance hit "it’s a fine day" ran into kate bush on a hillside. “i find it neurotic,” twigs says of the vocal hook. “it’s all on the same note, it’s creepy. it’s asking, in the monotony of your life, would you take a chance on someone for something bigger? would you take a risk on love and possibly being hurt again?”

    • there are more glitchy kate bush vibes on "mary magdalene", which opens with a warped piano solo and moves onto reflections on female power.

    • one of her favourites to perform, "home with you", touches on demanding attention; "it’s about relationships. people are just quite needy, aren’t they?” she says. “it’s so fun and beautiful to sing. those big strings at the end – it’s like flying with your voice!”

    • "mirrored heart" is a tear-soaked piano ballad, full of pain and conflict. “oh, it’s so sad, isn’t it?” twigs asks. “usually i’m a mess when i sing it. i cry every time. It’s actually really nice crying on stage. i always know it’s coming.”

    • then there's "daybed", which feels reflective, accepting and calm. “when i wrote it,” twigs says, “i knew that the whole of my life was about to fall apart. everything that i knew, all my stability and everything i was attached to…everything was about to fucking go.” a pretty horrific moment, then? “but it’s not an angry song. it’s like, wow, this is life. it’s gonna happen. i’m gonna lose everything and have to build it back up again.” the lyric "possessive is my daybed", she says, is about when you’re lying on your sofa lost in thought, and you just can’t move. “have you ever had that?” she asks. “everything in the room becomes really abstract. like when you say a word over and over again and it starts to lose its meaning. like that, but with your room or your house or just…everything. you just start to see things in a different order. everything has a place and a harmony and all you can do is let it happen, let it wash over you.” for someone who is usually very on top of things, very deliberate, it must be a huge deal to feel out of control like that? “yes and no…i think there is a control in the acceptance that you’re not in control. as soon as you can accept that, all of a sudden you’re not struggling anymore and you feel at peace. you feel calm.” her eventual recovery shines through here; the light at the end of the tunnel.


    • with the album on the verge of release, does she still feel some kind of affinity with its namesake? “not in a ‘this is my alter-ego’ kind of way. it’s not a concept album,” she says with a laugh. “it’s not. she just helped me get somewhere. she helped me think differently. it’s done now. i can let it go.” a couple of weeks ago, twigs made a pilgrimage to glastonbury, where the saint michael leyline meets the beautiful ruins of a religious building above the mary magdalene chapel. “i went and i meditated on it,” she says. “she didn’t inspire the whole album, but she inspired a train of thought which helped me finish it. we went up to the top of a hill during the eclipse and everyone was screaming at the moon. it was really amazing that i was able to say ‘thank you and goodnight’, you know?”

    Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 3.58.02 PM.png
    Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 5.49.05 PM.png

    • in the issue, twigs discusses her first i-d magazine cover, the surgery to remove her tumors, choroegraphing and dancing in spike jonze's 2018 apple homepod commercial, her creative choices for the magdalene tour, and her inspirations.

    • read the full interview at the source



    sources 1 | 2

    ontd, are you ready for magdalene?
    Tags: black celebrities, european celebrities, fka twigs, interview, magazine covers and articles, music / musician, music / musician (alternative and indie), music / musician (electronic), music / musician (other), music / musician (pop), music / musician (producers), music / musician (rap and hip-hop)
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