Crafting ethereal electronic R&B that evokes the heyday of Tricky and Massive Attack and the spare 2010s aesthetic of the xx, London's FKA twigs is the project of Twigs, aka Tahliah Barnett, a half-Jamaican native of Gloucestershire.
Surrounded by farmland during her teens, 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. Late 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. FKA twigs returned with new music that August: the M3LL155X ("Melissa") EP featured collaborations with producer Boots, as well as the full-length version of "Glass & Patron." ~ Heather Phares