FKA Twigs Returns With A Mixtape That's Made Just For You

The wildly inventive British musician on her new music and overcoming the crisis of confidence

Singer FKA Twigs. Photo / Supplied

There’s an incredibly revealing moment on FKA Twigs’ multicoloured new mixtape Caprisongs where the award-winning musician pulls back the curtain on her extremely self-assured image.

“I want to be more confident,” she says quietly to a couple of friends. “I really do.” The first time you hear it, it’s completely disarming. Her friends react the way only true friends can. They fall about laughing while goodnaturedly ribbing her over her posh articulation. Once their laughter subsides, one verbally hugs her with the reassurance that the universe is looking out for her.

“You really think so?” she asks.

“I know so,” her friend replies.

The mixtape’s title is a clue that Twigs, a Capricorn, obviously, puts great stock in the mysteries of the universe. But of a more earthly interest is how she overcame this crisis of confidence.

“I don’t know if you ever do overcome it,” she muses. “For me, it’s like one day up, one day down. It’s a constant exploration of getting to know myself. I’m like anyone else, I have days when I feel shy or insecure. It’s just that when I’m around people that believe in me, it makes me believe in myself.”

This is just one example of the many snippets of candid conversations that are sprinkled throughout Caprisongs. Fears, hopes, worldly advice, reassuring pep-talks and positive affirmations act as intimate invitations into not just her world, but into her closest circle of friends.

“I wanted to make something that felt really personal for people that like my music,” she explains, before elaborating on why she’s called this project a mixtape, which is usually associated with either street level hip-hop culture or teenage romance, and not an album.

“I think a mixtape is the most precious gift you can give to someone,” she smiles, leaning into the romantic ideal of the form as opposed to hip-hop’s hustle.

“To make a collection of songs that you think will resonate with them or make them feel a certain way… and then to weave little messages or in-jokes in too. It’s really personal. There’s a handmade element to it. And that’s what this mixtape is. It was handmade by me and my creative friends with love for anyone who wants to listen to it.”

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You can’t say she hasn’t committed to theme, with the clunky sound of cassette decks, ambient noises and, of course, those candid conversations all acting as scrappy interludes between the stylistic polish of her consistently inventive and boundary-pushing music.

“That’s the feel of the mixtape. For me it was about entering a new headspace, creatively, and creating from a different place. A lighter, carefree place. I put it down to it being the spirit of this project.”

That spirit is something of a departure for the British musician. Her previous albums, the Mercury-nominated LP1 and its quasi-religious follow-up Magdalene, were thrilling journeys into the unknown as she meshed themes of heartache and desire with cool experimental electronica, R&B’s red hot sensuality and her own startling multi-octave voice that could swing from extremely delicate whispers to confident rap to soaring Kate Bush-style theatrics within a single song.

Caprisongs takes a different path. There’s still her genre-mashing wild experimentalism but the vibe is light, playful and plenty frisky, and filled with songs that are catchy, upbeat and more easily accessible, and party ready, than anything she’s released before.

“I think all humans are really multi-faceted so this is a side of me that I’ve not necessarily shown in massive spades,” she says. “There are hints of this side of me on LP1, but now I’ve put a magnifying glass on this side of who I am and sent it out there.

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“As an artist it’s been 10 years now since I’ve been releasing music. I want to be great and I want to keep evolving. I don’t want to keep pushing into space that I’ve been in before. I owe it to myself, and I owe it to anyone who wants to listen to me, to try new things and to try to evolve.”

She admits that living up to those artistic ideals, and even just getting started on this project, was initially a daunting prospect.

“But I’m like a sniffer dog,” she laughs. “I sniff out the vibes and follow them.”

Caprisongs is available on streaming services now.

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New Zealand Herald

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