The past year has been an eventful one for FKA Twigs. After winning the Best New Artist GRAMMY, being named one of Music’s Most Influential Newcomers, and embarking on a world tour, the Suffolk-born singer/songwriter has been keeping a low profile. Now, as she nears the end of her summer holidays, she’s back with a brand new album, I’, due for release on September 4, 2018.
The 29-year-old has been busy the past few months writing, recording, and performing, with a string of EPs and two album releases under her belt. But it’s the latest one that may well be her biggest yet. Recorded in London with producers Phixter and Kaytranada, I’ is a synth-pop masterpiece, and it features some of her biggest hits to date.
The album’s first single, ”Tears Down The Wall,” was released back in February, and it features Nylah, an upcoming artist whose music we love. We got in touch with Twigs to find out more about the inspiration behind I’, the process of making it, and her plans for the future.
I Personal Best Yet
I’m a really big fan of Twigs’, and I think she’s done an amazing job with I’. Kaytranada’s production is flawless, and he really helps her shape the way she sounds on this album. She’s such a talented singer, and it’s been a real honor to hear her songs on the radio. They’ve definitely helped her stand out among other artists, and made her a name to be reckoned with.
I think this is Twigs’ best album to date. It’s so personal, and everything about it just feels so right. When she sings about heartache and love, it feels like she’s singing to you. She’s confided in her fans before, and now she’s found an even closer bond with us. This is an album that everyone will be talking about when it comes out.
From Breakups To BFFs
The title of Twigs’ new album, I’, doesn’t just reference her friendship with singer/songwriter Robert Pattinson. It also comes from the pair’s break-up, which Twigs documented on her 2017 album, Too Much Trouble.
The album’s lead single, ”Sugar” is a collaboration with SZA and contains a sample from Michael Jackson’s ”Rock With You.” It was written by SZA, Twigs, and Jack Fisher (who also produced the track). The song is an ode to the timeless romantic gesture of bringing a girl a box of chocolat. Twigs said of the song:
‘Sugar’ is one of the most personal songs I’ve ever made. I felt really vulnerable singing it, but I think that’s what makes it so special. I’ve always looked up to Michael Jackson as a mentor and an inspiration, so it was an honor to be able to channel something from his artistry and bring it to life on this song.
The album’s second single, ”Puzzle” features vocals from British singer/songwriter Estelle and was released last November. It’s an example of how Twigs’ songwriting has matured since her debut album, Basic Instinct, which came out in 2015. This track feels more cinematic than anything she’s worked on so far. It’s got a really cool, dreamy vibe that is impossible to explain. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
The Road To I
I’m not sure where this album title, I’, came from. Maybe it’s the combination of Kaytranada’s production and Twigs’ vivid imagery. Or perhaps it’s because, by the time you read this, it will have been a whole year since she began work on I’.
The album was recorded in the singer’s home country of England, and marks her first trip back there in a decade. She recently shared a few details about I’, including the fact that it was an extremely organic process, and that she wasn’t sure if it would ever be released.
Twigs first got the idea for I’ while on holiday in Italy last year. She was walking down the street in Portofino, and came across a photo of the city’s skyline. The sight of the sea and the beautiful scenery drew her back, and she began to wonder if she’d ever really leave. Even now, two months later and on the eve of her U.S. tour, she can’t quite believe it’s finished.
The album opens with the gorgeous piano ballad, ”Chocolate,” which Twigs dedicated to Jackson. It serves as a bridge between the heartbreaking album opener, ”Tears Down The Wall,” and the radiant optimism that characterizes the rest of I’. In the album’s booklet, she wrote:
‘Tears Down The Wall’ is the song that everyone will know and love. It’s the most immediate representation of what the album is about. It’s a call to arms to let loose and be yourself. No inhibitions, no regrets.
I think the combination of piano and strings is magnificent, and it helps establish the beautiful melancholy atmosphere of I’. Kaytranada’s expertise as a producer is evident throughout the album, which boasts a perfect ten out of ten on the popular review site, Album of the Year. Every single element, from the way the songs blend together, to the way the instrumental breaks and vocal deliveries fold in and out of one another, has been thought out with the utmost care and attention to detail. It’s an album that grows on you with every listen. And, at times, it’s difficult to pull away. You just want to sit back and let the sound wash over you.
Robert Pattinson’s Touch
Twigs has become best friends with Robert Pattinson, and it wasn’t always so. The singer/songwriter began collaborating with the British actor/writer/director after they met at a party in 2014. They later worked together on the music video for Pattinson’s song, ”Adventure!” (a duet with English band, Clean Bandit), and began an unofficial mentoring relationship. She also featured as one of the guests on his 2017 MTV Movie and Comic-Con special, Pattinson Presents: Secret Cinema. That same year, she released her third album, Hold Tight, which features contributions from Pattinson.
He wrote the album’s first single, ”Sober,” about his battle with addiction. He also directed the video, which he described as a ”journey into madness.” Speaking about their friendship, Twigs said:
It’s weird, because we kind of met at a random party and immediately started hanging out and working together. We both have this real passion for film and music, so we were able to find a space where our interests intersect. And also, because we have this common background in terms of struggle and addiction, it made it easier to connect. There’s a real honesty there.
The other collaborations on Hold Tight include appearances from Stormzy, Dua Lipa, and Tyga. The album was a commercial and critical success, and it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and went on to become her best-selling album to date. As well as creating music for films and TV shows, Twigs also has a screenplay, The Family Tree, which she wrote with Pattinson in mind for a possible feature film. They have yet to find a studio willing to back their dream project.
The Making Of I
In late 2017, Twigs uploaded a series of videos to her YouTube channel, showing the making of I. The videos (embedded above) document the singer’s return to the UK for the album’s recording sessions and feature cameos from Pattinson and Kaytranada. In the clips, you can hear samples from Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Prince’s Sign Of The Times, which are featured on the album. The clips also show Twigs in a recording booth, surrounded by pianos and strings, cutting up old samples and laying down new vocals.
The making-of videos are a unique insight into the album’s recording process, and they help establish the atmosphere and ambience of I. The clips show Twigs collaborating with Kaytranada, and also feature the producer playing piano for her while she records.