While not unbothered by The issues of today,
I choose to remain (In certain ways) uninvolved. I have passions, And problems With the way things go, The way things have been For so many years. But I do not respect The attitude for change That bears no action in, Or beyond it.
It all baffles me.
The ability to change,
To make peace
Where peace has been abandoned,
Is difficult even for those
Who are in those suffering streets. I speak my mind, But keep some thoughts quiet, For I share the human trait Of being fearful of failure, Of being wrong in the face of Others’ opinions.
I desire change,
But can I make it?
What can I do for you to hear it…
The things I want from life…
The things I want for others in their lives?
Am I uninvolved by my own volition,
Or am I, too, bound by history,
Doomed to be alone,
And, from salvation,
So, my life is in a transitory phase. As many of you know, I began writing my first novel Black Cat on a White Porch in August of this year. Around the same time, I founded the company Chormeri Books with my close friend Chikodili Agwuna and soon brought on our graphic designer and artist, Hannah Korangkool. I’ve had a lot on my plate with creating and writing a book, to supervising and participating in editing, design workshops, all while working part-time, and barely finding time to sleep or catch up on How To Get Away With Murder. I’m still on episode five of season one.
Anyway, to add to the excitement of the release of Black Cat on a White Porch, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by a lifestyle and overall wonderful site called The Review from Saturday. It was started by two sisters and the one I spoke to, named Elle, was so kind, understanding, and excited to help me take this huge step. So here it is: my first interview. Please click the link below.
I am very picky when it comes to music, and even more so with music that isn’t connected with the Billboard Top 40. I am a music searcher, going on websites like 8tracks or playing hours on hours of Google Music’s selective playlists. It takes me a little while to warm up to musical artists, especially because I do not just listen to their music. I try to listen and comprehend. The writer in me hears a song and I envision the story being told. Many times in my life, I have heard songs on the radio and been unable to find a story. Some artists, however, have the ability to live up to their title, and create complete works out of singles, extended plays, and full records.
FKA twigs is a musical storyteller. She was first introduced to me on YouTube by none other than my curiosity. I was listening to some experimental indie pop record and in the section dedicated to “Related Videos” sat an alluring image of a crowned woman. The title above read “Two Weeks” and in a click I was introduced to FKA twigs. (I would like to point out that she is a genius for originally naming herself ‘twigs’ and then decided to change her stage name, keeping ‘twigs’ and adding, “FKA” [formerly known as] to the front.)
“Two Weeks” was a trip. While I sat there, staring into the eyes of this interesting singer, I was drawn, as well, to the song itself. The line that truly stuck out to me is, “Pull out the incisor / give me two weeks you won’t recognize her.” This line serves as the chorus of the track and it is whimsical, yet pained. This is the quality of FKA twigs’ first set of releases, namely her debut LP, LP1.
LP1 was an album that I listened to in snippets and it wasn’t until I sat with the lyric booklet that I fully understand the purpose of FKA twigs’ debut. LP1 is a story of a failed, forgotten love. The album opens with FKA twigs almost chanting, “I love another, and thus I hate myself.” The trick that is played on the listener, however, is one that manipulates the words and the voice with which they are sung into a shift of tone and meaning. The opening track, titled “Preface” is airy, yet controlled. Haunting, but deadpan. The airy vocals lilt upward, while the lyrics are telling a story of personal, unpitied failure. “I love another, and thus I hate myself,” are the only words sung in the nearly two-minute long track.
The remainder of LP1 is a dark tale of love in transition. While I studied the album I learned much about the sentimentality of the human heart and the effect of positive, loving memories on a self-inflicted heartbreak. The album’s other tracks, including “Pendulum” and “Kicks” preserve loving memories and emotions while twisting them to appear unhealthy and ever-so-slightly insane.
FKA twigs, it seems, is ready to let go of love for the time being and focus on the carnal manifestations of emotion in sex. Her latest extended play (her third overall), M3L155X is a complex work and is, altogether, fresh and invigorating for all those who have watched FKA twigs go between innovative art performances and the unfortunate set of tabloid headlines. For those who are not yet acquainted, M3LL155X is still just as refreshing.
M3L155X – apparently known as the “Melissa EP” – is some of the best music I have heard in a long time. Right now, my other favorite song is Lana Del Rey’s “High By The Beach” and I am in love with the style of music that pushes limitations sonically and culturally. Del Rey’s latest track is a story of love and privacy (a la Paparazzi), riddled with unsurety and drug use. It talks of being in love and also loving one’s own heart, mind, and desires. It is the exact opposite of Lady Gaga’s song “Dope” from Artpop. It is unlike any song I’ve heard before, and the latest release from FKA twigs pushes similar boundaries in my expectations of the sort of music that is popular in this year of 2015.
M3L155X opens with a song entitled, “Figure 8” which is, on the surface, FKA twigs’ experience with the dance style of Voguing. Voguing, it turns out, is more than Madonna’s head-framing, and is rather a set of movements that require complete synchronicity of the body. Below is a video of FKA twigs performing and exhibiting her skill in Voguing.
“Figure 8” is an exploration into one’s place in the world of fame. “Let me live through your vice / mass appeal / I feel in ten breaths it’s a miracle if we’re still alive / Can you touch it? Is it real?” The use of the phrases, “Mass appeal” and “Can you touch it? Is it real?” exemplify the reality of viral media. FKA twigs is known for her innovative style and her shocking music videos, so for her, somewhere, there is a divide between being relevant and staying true to her own nature.
However, FKA twigs is also exemplifying her courage and confidence. This is also the quality of the other four tracks on M3LL155X. “Figure 8” however, is FKA twigs’ way of explaining her position on fame to the world. On the one hand, FKA twigs is expressing herself through dance, doing what she loves and exploring her physical and mental flexibility. On the other hand, it seems, FKA twigs’ is at the will of the media. The gossip, the tabloid Journalism – the vices of media. Since her initial rise to recognition (not simply at the side of Robert Pattinson) FKA twigs, whose name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett, has been criticized for her forms of artistic expression, from her music to her looks. You might recall even her racial background being put into question by fans of the media-boosted love drama between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Apparently, FKA twigs is the Yoko Ono to the … Never mind. Even the most idiotic of people can say that Twilight and The Beatles should never be compared.
“Figure 8” is the introduction to “I’m Your Doll,” the second track on the album, and one of the most haunting. Some might interpret “I’m Your Doll” as an expression of sexuality, which it is. FKA twigs is also teasing the media, singing, “Wind me up, I’m your Doll,” in a way that reflects how the media believes celebrities want to be transparent and ask to be used by those who care to command them.
FKA twigs has been called racist slurs in public and this news has been broadcast to the world. Her art has been criticized for being too racy and too experimental. Her sound is different, something that people have noticed in ways positive and not. Her lyrics are complex. Even I have to do some research. Yet she has continued to walk in front of the cameras, sunglasses bared, walking arm-in-arm with Robert.
“I’m Your Doll” bleeds into the next track, “In Time.” I adore this song. It is a tricky one, but it is always enjoyable and rhythmically and harmonically beautiful. “In Time” is a study of a relationship. The relationship, however, has not yet unfolded. The narrator of the song – perhaps FKA, perhaps not – is singing of a love that is analyzed for its “insynchronicities”. “I will be lonely,” she wafts, “and you won’t be silent.” It, to me, now sounds as if FKA twigs is reflecting on a relationship while still deep within it. Perhaps I was wrong to think it hadn’t happened yet, but the narrator – FKA twigs, or not – is having some regret.
My opinion on the content is different from mine on the sound of “In Time.” It was getting dark for a minute. I had listened to the album several times already until I began to feel upset by its contents. “In Time” opens with a lilting, muted piano, humming over air. It is a love song but one about heartbreak. It is dark, but it is because it is honest. If it does take place before the relationships began, then it is a song about fear, rather than regret.
“Glass and Patron” is a song that I had to sit with. It is the most complex on the album and I had to watch the video to fully understand the meaning. The video for “Glass and Patron” is an intimate look at the iconically timid sexuality that is a part of FKA twigs’ expression. She is dancing throughout the video, nearly always making contact with the viewer. It is a seduction, but there are moments in which FKA twigs looks almost like an innocent doll, her doe eyes peering at us in adoring attention. The song itself is a play-by-play of the activities of the dance, which in the video are not ever entirely the same. “I can’t wait to make your body my own,” she tells us, her lust for the subject being blindfolded.
Following this song of seduction and divided consciousness of sexuality in the media and society, is “Mothercreep.” It is my favorite song on the album – right next to “In Time” – because it is so gorgeous that it rivals even the best of Bjork’s latest work. It is dark and emotional, a tug and pull between childhood affection, and resentment for a life lived in darkness. The opening synth that plays through the first minute of the song is some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time. You expect the synth to be complimented by raging, toothy synths, but instead is broken by echoed strings. “Mothercreep” is almost a call for help. It is the last track on the record and it serves as a drawback to FKA twigs childhood. It is unclear if the media knows anything about FKA twigs personal relationship with her mother, but if not, this is information for them. And FKA twigs knows that. She is personal, herself, with the media. M3LL155X is an up-close-and-personal interview with FKA twigs on her opinions on fame, love, the media’s impressions of sex, and the truth of her relationship with her mother. That, or the “Mother” figure is the representation of FKA twigs’ past life as someone not trailed after by paparazzi and racists.
M3LL155X is a treat I am happy to say I didn’t see coming. I am adoring of FKA twigs and her constant entertainment and study session into the mind of an artist at large. Pop has become bland and the tables seemed to have been turning to indie music, but then it just became boy bands and tweeny treats. FKA twigs is one of my favorite musical artists because she is so intensely innovative in detail and design and this is reflected in her music and her videos.
Thank you for reading and I hope, with this review and analysis, that you will buy or streamM3LL155X as soon as you find the time.
Bonus: Watch FKA twigs’ most recent video release, the video collection of songs from M3LL155X.