FKA twigs is the project of English singer/songwriter/producer/choreographer Twigs, aka Tahliah Barnett. On her early EPs, her ethereal electronic R&B evoked the heyday of Tricky and Massive Attack as well as the sparse 2010s aesthetic of the xx. On later works, such as her Mercury Prize-nominated 2014 debut album, LP1, and the singles she released sporadically as the decade came to a close, Barnett favored a lush, ambitious approach that combined all of her talents to their fullest.
A half-Jamaican native of Gloucestershire, Barnett spent her teens surrounded by farmland as she studied ballet and sang on tracks recorded at a studio in a Jamaican youth club. By the time she was 16, Twigs — whose nickname comes from how loudly she can crack her bones — began writing songs in earnest; though she moved to London to pursue a career as a dancer at 17, and appeared in videos for songs by Jessie J, Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue, and Taio Cruz, among others, she soon realized she really wanted to be a professional musician. Along with working as a bartender, Twigs spent as much time in the studio as possible and ultimately self-released her self-titled EP in 2012 via Bandcamp.
After changing her moniker to FKA twigs at the request of another artist named Twigs, she returned with EP2, a striking set of songs featuring production from Kanye West collaborator Arca. Later that year, FKA twigs was nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2014 prize (which Sam Smith ultimately won). EP2 was released in the U.S. in May 2014. A few months later, the more lavish-sounding single "Two Weeks" announced the arrival of FKA twigs' simply named debut album, LP1. Alongside collaborations with Arca, Dev Hynes, Sampha, and Paul Epworth, the album also featured more production work by Barnett herself. LP1 was released in August 2014 to widespread critical acclaim, including a Mercury Prize nomination.
Her next projects incorporated her background in filmmaking and choreography: that October, she released the short film #throughglass, a promotional piece for Google Glass that she directed and which featured versions of her songs "Video Girl" and "Glass & Patron." In February 2015, she debuted Congregata, an interpretive dance performance inspired by and set to songs from LP1. That July, she held a week-long residency at Manchester International Festival called Soundtrack 7, during which she premiered the song "Good to Love." In August, FKA twigs returned with the M3LL155X ("Melissa") EP, which featured collaborations with producer Boots, as well as the full-length version of "Glass & Patron." In February 2016, Barnett released "Good to Love" as a single and music video. In July of that year, her performance at the Lastochka Festival in Moscow featured three more new songs. She appeared on A$AP Rocky's 2018 album Testing before releasing the single "Cellophane" in April 2019. ~ Heather Phares