FKA Twigs performing in Sydney, February 2015
|Birth name||Tahliah Debrett Barnett|
16 January 1988 |
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
I was never the pretty girl at school. I'm tiny and mixed-race. I grew up in a white area. I was always the loner.
I was always the poor kid, even though I very much tried to pretend to be the other way. Always well presented. Always really active in the school, doing fashion shows, plays, involved in every single aspect of the school. Overcompensating, I think, for the fact that I knew I wouldn't be going on the ski trip every January.
I think we live in a culture where it is really difficult to get privacy because everything is so accessible. It's very difficult to maintain your comfortable life with a sort of mystique.
Obviously I know if you're putting yourself out there, saying, 'Hey! Listen to my music!,' with pictures of yourself in the magazines, then people are going to judge you. 'I hate her music. I hate her hair. I hate her production. I hate her videos.' Fine: don't care. That's the great thing about art: it's not for everyone.
I've never been into the typical R&B voice, with runs and bluesy sounding words. That doesn't suit me.
I'm appealing to people who want something different, but the world, on the whole, doesn't really embrace different things. Not on the whole.
It's really easy to project this whole ideology of what being an artiste is, and I'm just not down with intellectualizing it. I just think, if you feel like doing something, then do it.
I want people to see what's inside my head rather than just looking at me.
I feel confident that the work I've put in will make people see me as a music artist before anything else.
Being a gal, people can be a bit patronizing. 'Oh, look at you using the computer.' They would never say that to a boy. And I don't let them do it to me.
I'm an artist, and I'm a bit weird, and I'm probably a bit eccentric.
I definitely keep myself to myself; I don't really go out. If my friends want to see me, they know to come around to my house.
You have to recognize at some point that even though you have the passion and creative level to be able to do something, you might have to do a lot of prep. Sometimes you just can't do it as quickly as you want to do it.
I love my music, so I want to produce, write, and serve my music. I've had to learn about EQ frequencies and programming and space and clutter and how to be a better piano or bass player – everything.
Fashion's important to me, but beauty fades. All that stuff is fun while it lasts, but anything can happen tomorrow. You've got to have so much more about you than the way you look or your clothes.
Racism is unacceptable in the real world, and it's unacceptable online.
I always felt like Tahliah's a very grown-up name to have. It's a pretty name when you're young, and then I think when I became a young lady, it felt kind of like a lot to grow into for some reason. I don't know. It sounds kind of regal. I never really liked it. I always felt like I couldn't live up to it.
When I first put out music, people didn't know what I looked like. They called it a new type of something; they couldn't put a genre on it – it was where indie and urban kind of meet in the middle. I thought that was quite exciting.
What makes me happy is having a really nice day out with my mum, or getting better at something I've been working hard at.
When I was younger, I had conversations with friends about wanting to create something different. Every young musician probably thinks that. But it's difficult to do, because there are only so many words, notes, melodies, songs. But as soon as I stopped thinking and started feeling, it worked. I didn't realize it till I was done.
Being beautiful isn't everything… Sometimes it's interesting to show how you feel on the inside on the outside, just through expressing yourself.
When I first released music, and no one knew what I looked like, I would read comments like: 'I've never heard anything like this before; it's not in a genre.' And then my picture came out six months later: now she's an R&B singer.
If you're an artist, you have to use everything to your advantage, even the pain.
I once said to a boy, 'You're a really good kisser,' and he said, 'You're only as good as the person you're kissing.' I think it's the same with the music.
In school, I had a tough time fitting in, and dancing was my way of being in my own element. As a teenager, I became a bit disillusioned with it. Even with competitions, I'd win, but still there would be tears.
I've soaked up so much through dancing, but I also have to be still. I want to be silent and read, to shut up and take time to respect the vision someone put into a book.
I moved to London to go to dance school when I was about 17, but then I realized that I didn't want to be a dancer anymore, so I dropped out after five or six weeks. All I wanted to do was sing and make music.
I don't know if I'm a tortured soul, but I was born heartbroken. I remember feeling it when I was so young. I was like, 'Mum, it hurts.'
Textures apply to everything I do. Even within my music, I like smooth things, and then hard and fluffy things, all giving them their place to shine.
I really enjoy the fun of putting something out and people liking it or hating it or talking about it, but vacuous attention, it feels disgusting. It's like a hangover.
I'm not going to become a costume version or caricature of myself; I like to morph.
It's weird: for someone who mostly really exists online, I'm actually not very interested in the Internet at all.
Vulnerability is the strongest state to be in. How boring would it be if we were constantly dominant or constantly submissive?
I'm a country girl. The more big cities I go to, the more fashionistas and designers I meet who want to dress me, the more I have all these kind of superficial but amazing experiences, the more I just realize that I'm from Gloucestershire.
Sometimes I feel 15; other times, I feel fully grown and mature and handling all my business. It can waver from day to day, hour to hour.
A few years ago, I found out that there's a lot of Gypsy blood on my mother's side. I'm wild in that way – I've been brought up to do my own thing.
Half of my life, I've had people staring at me because they think I'm funny-looking and ugly. The other half of my life, I've had people staring at me because they think I'm fascinating. Everything neutralises. It's more of a statement on society and how weird it is.
Twigs has been my nickname for years, and I guess a lot of people close to me called me Twigs, like, as a nickname. Before I even did dancing properly or anything, like, substantially creative, I was still Twigs.
I write exactly what I think. If it's a raw subject, I write lots of things and then pull out all the fluff words.
I don't know any Beatles songs. My dad never listened to Elvis or Sting or Bowie. Any band name that's on a t-shirt, I probably won't know their music, like AC/DC or whatever. I don't know what that is. As a kid, I would sing along to artists like Tania Maria.
I'm not thirsty. I'm not a pop star. I don't want to reign over all forever… I don't want to be famous! It makes me feel sick, the thought of being a famous person. It's just not me.
I'm a strange person – I don't really get rewards out of how many hits I have on YouTube. I love it, and I'm grateful, and it's important to me. But does it equal peace within me? No, it doesn't.
I'm in so many videos. There was a period of about two years where I danced for everyone: Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Taio Cruz. It got to the point where my fees were double the other girls', and I wouldn't even have to audition. They'd call my agent directly and say, 'We want twigs to come in.'
I love things that are harsh and things that are too loud. And I love lulling people into a false sense of security. That's life.
I spent my whole teenage life trying to get to London and go to dance school, but when I got there, I couldn't wait to get to the clubs on weekends. I knew I wanted to make music.