How to be Soft and Powerful: What FKA Twigs Showed Me

Words by: Nicole Lovett

The first FKA Twigs song I heard was “Two Weeks.” The music production was of the likes I’d never heard before, and Twigs’ voice seemed other-worldly. Since the sound was foreign to me, I had a hard time grasping what the lyrics were, but I was intrigued to know. When I finally sat down to read them, I was shocked by the sexual nature. The chorus reads:

Higher than a motherfucker, dreaming of you as my lover

(mouth open, you’re high)

Flying like a streamer thinking of new ways to do each other

(mouth open, you’re high)

Pull out the incisor, give me two weeks, you won’t recognize her

Mouth open, you’re high

Initially, listening to Twigs’ voice and the soft, yet somehow explosive production–I thought the sound was interesting, maybe hypnotizing, but not provocative. By watching FKA Twigs, my ideas of sexiness and power have changed. Sexiness can be subtle–power can translate into being a creative force.

Over time, as I’ve become a bigger fan of Twigs, I realized that her music is best heard if you submerge yourself completely in it. The production of her sound, her voice, and lyrics are intricately layered in a way that can be easily missed. It’s a sound that deserves to be listened closely to in order to be appreciated.

The first time I heard FKA Twigs talk, I was surprised by how soft her voice was. I assumed her voice would be deeper than the softness I was met with. Since I’d watched so many videos of her wielding her powerful voice and dance moves, I thought the tone of her voice would come across the same.

I realize now that I was still attributing softness to weakness–even though her voice was light, I still found myself deeply inspired by the sheer drive in her work. When it comes down to it, how soft a person may seem or sound does not speak to their strength or character.

In an interview with Rookie in 2014, I learned how Twigs grew up mixed race in a small English village. I learned how she wanted to be a dancer, and how that translated to singing. Today, FKA Twigs can dance, sing, produce her music, and directs most of her music videos videos.

Two of my favorite quotes from the Rookie interview with Twigs is near the end:

“I am very petite, and my build is very athletic, from dancing and running. In the ’90s, you had to be this size zero to be considered beautiful, then in 2010 it was like ‘real women have curves,’ but I wasn’t like that, so I basically rebelled by wearing only Uniqlo menswear or, if I was going out, a suit jacket from a charity shop.”

“Last week, I bumped into a very famous music artist. She started talking to me about her nails and her hair extensions, and how getting this stuff done makes her feel like a woman, and she has to have so much money to get this stuff done because she’s a woman and that’s what being a woman is. I thought to myself, That’s very interesting, because what makes me a woman is when I know I’ve produced a song myself—when I’ve found an artist to work with, given him a beat to work on and told him what I wanted, and he’s given it back to me and it’s what I’d envisioned as a producer.”

FKA Twigs is a small person, with a soft voice, and a cute face. As some people might think to describe her only as such, it’s not all that she is. She is a strong, creative force. She has learned to be confident with her appearance. She appears soft, but she can also bring an audience to its knees with her performances and music.

As someone who is small with a soft voice, I have often felt like these attributes made me somehow weaker–that these features were made to make me feel smaller. Watching FKA Twigs, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be ashamed of the smallness of my body, or the lightness of my voice. I am powerful, and they make me powerful still.

Nicole Lovett is a writer from Oakland, CA. She is the editor in chief of marginsmagazine.com. You can find her on Instagram @thebosseditor and on Twitter @mynameislovett

2 Comments
  • Tudz

    Reply

    Great article ♥ Encapsulates all my sentiments regarding FKA Twigs, love her

  • Angel

    Reply

    I absolutely adore her, I just love how so many of us black girls are embracing the softer side of ourselves and letting our quirky flag fly. Proud of all my sisters who is going defying the black girl stereotype and showing the world we are much more than what society claimed we are.

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