FKA twigs: ‘I like to tell the truth all of the time’
She’s gotten some stick for her lyrical candour and a very ‘digital’ video, but for rising ‘R&Björk’ star FKA twigs, it’s the music that matters
The new album was a process, “as a person, not as an artist”, of overcoming her own vulnerabilities; of proving to herself that she could do something bold and brave. “And that I could relay a vision of what I wanted into something real. All of that was done very much on my own, despite there being people trying to sway me, or to inflict their thoughts and opinions on me. All this stuff – what was right, what I should do, what was wrong – was delivered by people who thought they knew me, but no one knows you as well as yourself.”
The singer pauses for breath, apparently reining in her annoyance. “And that meant I had to stop listening to people who had slight problems with the way a song sounded, the way the lyrics scanned, the way a video looked. Coming up against these things, resisting them, over the past 18 months was, I think, the time when I finally became an adult.”
One must be careful not to read too much between the lines and into the pauses here, but we’re guessing that twigs is referring to the aforementioned two videos, Hide and Papi Pacify. Each video is highly stylised yet beautifully simple: Hide (co-directed by twigs and stylist Grace Ladoja) largely lingers on a woman’s crotch covered by a red Anthurium flower, the priapic stamen of which is continually caressed by a hand. Papi Pacify (co-directed by twigs and Tom Beard) artfully pivots around the faces of a man and a woman in what appears to be a Fifty Shades of Grey scenario as executed by Robert Mapplethorpe. There’s a laugh from twigs at this one.
“Yes, well . . . ”. Another laugh, quieter this time. “Let’s face it, no boyfriend wants to see their girlfriend in a video with a big, handsome black dude feeding his fingers into her mouth, do they? But that concept is my expression, and boyfriends have to deal with that, don’t they?”
twigs explains how that particular video caused what she politely describes as ructions between her and her (then) boyfriend. “He said, why did I have to do the video that way? That it was disgusting, that there was nothing beautiful about it. I told him that was how I wanted to express myself, that it was how I felt, that the concept was what I wanted it to be, and that it had to be the way it was. It’s all about being true to myself, I remember telling him. He said I was just a silly pop star.”
We can almost hear her hackles rise down the phone line. “Yes, well, hmmm. Those kinds of people want you to be successful but only on their terms, never on mine. Bye, bye, chill out, bye, bye, mister.”