Look back at FKA twigs‘ discography and you’ll find endless moments of divine power; the 34-year-old has somehow fused current R&B trends with nods to the inspiring, astral future of music. Given that Tahliah Debrett Barnett truly spearheaded new, computerised alt-R&B, it’s only right that real recognises real: she will pick up the prestigious Godlike Genius award at the BandLab NME Awards 2022 next Wednesday (March 2) at London’s O2 Academy Brixton.
Previous winners include worldwide musical heroes such as Blondie, Liam Gallagher and Ozzy Osbourne; her name will be etched into history alongside them. In last week’s Big Read cover interview, she told us: “I guess what it means is that you’ve made a lot of creative things and people like them… It’s a massive title and I’m really flattered by it.” And since she’s so Godlike, why not relive 10 of FKA twigs’ most divine moments?
When she moved to south London to pursue her dancing dream
At only 17, this Gloucestershire-born star moved down to the capital to chase down her dreams of being the dancer she always wanted to be. It’s well-documented that twigs made her fantasies come true by enrolling in the BRIT School; upon leaving, she danced in well-known music videos such as Tottenham legend Wretch 32’s debut single ‘Traktor’ and fellow BRIT School alum Jessie J’s number one hit ‘Price Tag’, mostly dancing for mega-director Emil Nava. It was a brave and pivotal moment in her life.
When she was nominated for a Mercury Prize for ‘LP1’
FKA twigs promised greatness from the start of her career: take her debut album ‘LP1’, which NME described as “rendering [R&B] in thrilling hyper-real hues”. ‘LP1’ tapped into the digitised sound that allowed twigs’ futuristic infatuations to flourish. With a sound that was so ahead of its time, her record was naturally nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize. Achieving such heights so early on shows that her alternative ideals have never waivered, and just eight years later, twigs can earn ceremonial achievements – such as the Godlike Genius Award – that only true hall-of-famers get.
When she made a music video and shook the internet
Combining her fashionista skills with her clear artistic eye, FKA twigs has delivered some of the most internet-shaking music videos ever. From the days of her debut EP in 2012 – fittingly titled ‘EP1’ – to her most recent music videos such as ‘jealousy’ from this year’s stellar mixtape ‘Caprisongs’ – she has been delivering knockout, cinematic music videos for a decade now. To solidify this, in 2019, ‘Sad Day’ – from her masterful second album ‘Magdalene’ – won a UK Music Video Award for the Best Cinematography. twigs will surely shake the internet again.
When she stood up for the masses by talking about her past relationships
After her first public breakup with Twilight star Robert Patterson, twigs faced horrendous racial abuse from his fans. Instead of cowering away forever, she came to terms with everything and told the world, via Louis Theroux’s Grounded podcast, what she had endured. Similarly, she talked on that podcast about alleged abuse she had suffered at the hands of another boyfriend, Shia LaBeouf (which he denied). By standing up for herself, twigs stood up for the masses.
When she brought awareness for women’s health issues
In 2017, the outspoken twigs also addressed her problematic fibroids problems, revealing that she’d had benign uterine tumours removed. This is Godlike is because women’s health is quite a taboo topic for many – especially reproductive health, with women either objectified or stereotypically pinned down caregivers and mothers. But FKA twigs showed that it’s OK to own the reality of your body, keep up with your health and still kill it as the most innovative leading lady around.
When her room in Veuve Clicquot’s Widow Series took us deeper into her artistic mind
— Wallpaper* (@wallpapermag) November 29, 2016
In 2016, teaming up with art agency Streeters for an immersive London performance across three stories for champagne brand Veuve Clicquot, FKA twigs curated a spiritual maze of rooms based on the 12 astrological signs. With different designers working on their interpretations of the signs, the rooms were provocative, bolshy and made a mark through FKA twigs’ debut art curation job. Already loved for her avant-garde music, she perfectly translated her musical atmosphere into a visually memorable exhibition.
When she got Baltimore to dance
Given that twigs is such an accomplished dancer, it makes sense that, when she was in such a culturally diverse city as Baltimore, she put on a massive dance class. She spontaneously put out a tweet in 2016 to announce her impromptu masterclass; 400 excited fans turned up to Lithuanian Hall for twigs’ class, erupting into vogueing matches and all. Speaking to WeTransfer Studios WePresent, twigs said that seeing the crowd “start whiling out and going crazy, doing backflips, dancing together” represented “soul” and “vitality”. Bringing people together through her first love, twigs reminded us just why shared art and creativity are empowering.
When she put the fashion Gods to shame
If FKA twigs is walking a carpet, you know that she’ll be the best dressed in the room – hands-down. With her edgy takes on modern and classic silhouettes, she makes timeless outfits that feel zeitgeist-y of the moment and year. Some great red carpet looks include FKA twigs’ fuzzy oversized bucket hat paired with a checkered pantsuit at the 2020 NME Awards, her glitzy gold number at The King’s Man world movie premiere in London and her black cut-out dress at 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. Also: we can take a moment to appreciate the now-iconic i-D cover of a fresh-faced twigs – the first time the world got to see her fashionista side in toe. No matter when and where you see twigs, you know she’ll deliver.
When she performed ‘Cellophane’ at the NME Awards 2020
If you were one of the lucky few to stand in the pit while ethereal rays of light pierced your eyes during twigs’ performance at the last NME Awards, you’ll know how utterly enthralling twigs’ voice sounded as it bounced off of the walls of the O2 Brixton Academy. We all stopped and watched in silence FKA twigs’ spellbinding acoustic rendition of ‘Magdalene’’s lead track. She lifted every soul in the room: it felt like the gates to Heaven could open right there and then.
When she proves that alternative girls can win
twigs makes an amazing Godlike Genius this year. With her otherworldly mind working overtime for all of her musical creations, this triple threat is more than deserving, especially as the first-ever Black British woman and youngest solo recipient of the gong. twigs has etched a new, louder way of being a woman, especially when it comes to Black femininity. There are so many times when wackier, less socially ‘normal’ girls miss out on the big prizes just because the rest of the world cannot understand the masterfulness in their craft. After years of bringing everyone into her world, and not conforming to the one around her, she has shown us quirky girls that we can win too.