FKA Twigs makes the kind of music that feels like it's coming from inside you. Her first ever EP (EP1, released in 2012), reaches deep into the body like a salve on heartbroken organs. Ache still feels as though it's reverberating in our subconscious each time we hear her melodic Cheltenham accent play over the radio. These days, though, following the release of CAPRISONGS last year, her sound leans more towards regeneration than deep catharsis.
Not to say that everything Twigs puts out doesn't feel cathartic in at least one way, but in its essence, CAPRISONGS is regeneratively cathartic. It's moving your body in the club cathartic; getting ready with your friends cathartic; reminding yourself that healing is around the corner, cathartic. Your heart is mending, your faith in yourself is regenerating just like your cells that once felt destroyed by feeling. It is bound up with confidence, excerpts of the singer giggling and talking with friends overlays tracks, as well as some of her most heavy-hitting collaborations to date. Over a year since its release, and it serves as a reminder that Twigs' musical trajectory will remain in this direction for the moment, solidified by the release of a new track that serves as the backing for her latest campaign with Calvin Klein for their Spring 23 collection, building on the brand's Calvins or nothing concept.
"That song is called Strip Tease and it’s a song that I made with Dylan Brady. It’s one of those beautiful moments where, within a couple of hours, you have an idea and the words are pouring out and the first vocal that you do sounds really incredible." Twigs tells RUSSH.
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The song features in her campaign video, which sees Twigs in Calvin Klein underwear, moving her body to the track of breathy vocals. This practice, of movement and of sound, is what tethers Twigs – who once worked as a dancer with other artists before pursuing her own music – to her work.
"When I was young, people used to ask me the same question and I always used to say no because I couldn't see the correlation, but now I can really see after developing as a music artist how in each niche area of what I do there’s a different athletic form of movement that informs the music."
Now, the two are intrinsically linked. Each output from Twigs feels like a holistic helping of mind, body, and soul, offering herself up authentically and with abandon – a quality which has seemingly always drawn people to the multidisciplinary artist. You can read it in her words below. Even through a screen, her honesty and confidence in this candour is endlessly endearing, and the kind of energy Calvin Klein captured with their latest campaign, lensed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott.
The campaign features existing ambassadors and friends of the brand, JENNIE, Kendall Jenner and FKA twigs, as well as Michael B. Jordan and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in their debut campaigns for Calvin Klein.
Below, we speak with Twigs on what confidence feels like, the regenerative practice of her work, and connecting to sensuality through pole dancing.
Calvin Klein’s Spring 2023 campaign is all about confidence. Can you tell me what confidence feels like to you?
For me, confidence feels like knowing that I am doing everything that I need to do every single day to make me stand up tall, have good posture, speak clearly and be my true self. I’ve definitely realised by practicing more and more every single day, and more and more every single year, that it’s the things that I do every day for myself that build my self-esteem, and build my confidence to be the person that I want to be. That’s for me the wonderful thing about growing up and getting older, is that I just know myself more and I feel that I like who I am. That’s because of all the small practices that I put in every single day.
CAPRISONGS really feels like a reclamation of confidence and sensuality, was this intentional when creating the record?
I think that I wanted to keep going and I think sometimes (and you can say anything in hindsight) but for me, I think during that time of lockdown and of COVID and going through so much, I just had to fake it. That same fake it til you make it. CAPRISONGS did give me that boost that I needed to carry on, to stay confident, and as an artist to feel a connection between myself and the world through my art. During times of intense lockdown and change within the world, it did feel difficult, but I’m lucky enough to have my art to throw all of my feelings into that. It just was a real achievement for me to make that and to get it out.
Tell us about the unreleased track that serves as the backing for the Calvin Klein campaign video, how did this come about?
That song is called Strip Tease and it’s a song that I made with Dylan Brady. It’s one of those beautiful moments where within a couple of hours you have an idea and the words are pouring out and the first vocal that you do sounds really incredible. Dylan and I, we’d been friends for a while. We actually started talking a couple of years ago on the phone, but it had been the first that we’d met in real life and worked together. It just flowed and it just goes to show that building those creative relationships over time, it builds trust. It means that when you eventually meet with that person in an artistic setting, it really can just flow. There’s definitely a lot more exciting music to come and I can’t wait to share that in the not-too-distant future.
How has pole and your dancing practice in general helped to connect you to your body and sensuality?
I think that pole and my dancing practice make me feel strong and I am lucky enough to have a body that wants to be strong. I’ve always been very athletic. I’ve always had a very long and lean frame despite not being very tall. I’m long and I’m lean and my limbs and my body want to gain muscle. My body enjoys it. It wants to be limber, it wants to stretch, it wants to lift myself. To combine all of that with the art of dance and express emotion in it, I know that this is my vessel's choice in this life to move and to include music. It’s just a huge part of my practice and it informs who I am and how I feel. I keep on returning to it all of my life. It’s something that I’ve always returned to.
Do you feel this connection has permeated your music?
Yes, the music that I dance to and the pace in which my body wants to move, I think, undoubtedly does come back around and inform my musical practice. I think when I was young people used to ask me the same question and I always used to say no because I couldn't see the correlation, but now I can really see after developing as a music artist how in each niche area of what I do there’s a different athletic form of movement that informs the music, which is amazing. I love being in that place of being so connected to my body and so connected with sound and rhythm. It’s my happy place.
What are you excited about at the moment?
I might really regret saying this (laughs), but I’m excited to have The Crow come out, the film I’m in. The bit that is maybe controversial, I’m really excited to go and talk about it with people and to go and do press tours about it (laughs). It is funny because I feel like most people wouldn’t like that, but I’ve just never done that before so it’s really exciting to me to be able to go and talk about working with Rupert Sanders, and working with Bill and all of the incredible people on the film, and to be able to talk about what an incredible experience it was and how different it was from what I usually do. I’m really eager to learn and to see what that experience is like because I learned so much on set acting that I’m excited to finish the process and have the world see what we’ve all worked on because it was a really magical experience.
Your music and art often feels so regenerative. How much of your process is rooted in catharsis?
When I’m in a good place, all of it is rooted in catharsis. I really love what I do. It’s the thing that I know how to do best. I know how to move my body, I know how to get out a feeling and I couldn’t imagine having the things that I have inside me being stuck there. I would deeply encourage anyone if you’re feeling anything to get it out: write a page of words, scribble something on a piece of paper, dance around your room, move your body, shake your legs. Get it out in a way that feels creative, because we’re humans and we’re here to create. I do believe that we’re here to create and we’re here to express. That’s what makes us different from animals. We’re spiritual beings and we are so sensitive. Humans are so, so sensitive in our anger and in our sadness and in our elation and in our passion. We’re sensitive beings and that needs to come out. When you can harness that in the arts, I think the world would be a much happier and more peaceful place if everyone could just hone in on that practice and do even just 20 minutes of it a day. I truly believe that.
Have there been any challenges in creating music that often feels quite personal?
At the moment I have a brace and it’s quite hard to record my vocals (laughs) so I’m looking forward to getting that off in a few months so that I can finish recording all of my vocals. My brace feels like quite a personal challenge for me and my music making at the moment.
What’s next in the FKA Twigs universe?
Oh there’s a whole universe coming, don’t you worry. I’m so excited to share with the world what I’ve been creating because I’ve been deep in my process and it’s been incredible. I’m working with some really magical, kind, talented people. I love sharing what I do with all of you so I’m excited.