Last night, FKA twigs held the world premiere for her 52-minute feature, Soundtrack 7, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The "abstract autobiographical" performance piece was produced during a 2015 residency at the Manchester International Festival, during which twigs and her collaborators spent a week creating conceptual art for seven different numbers paired with music from EP 2, LP 1, and M3LL155X. Each part is woven together by the narration of "I Find No Peace" by Thomas Wyatt, a poem which deeply resonates with her.
"I just realized, that’s what I’ve been doing—you love another, and thus you hate yourself. You give so much to someone and they don’t give you back what you want, and then you feel jealous, and then you feel hurt, and then you feel twisted, and then you hate yourself because you think, ‘I’m not this person,'" she says. "A mother loves a child, and then the child does something wrong, and then the mother hates herself and feels like it’s her fault for not doing it properly. I feel like I started applying it to so many different aspects of life, and I realized that maybe so many of us actually do that."
While we are used to watching twigs perform in highly produced music videos, it's incredible to see what she is capable of doing on a stage without the typical performance props. It felt like we were bearing witness to twigs in her most elemental form. As an artist compelled to speak her truth, she essentially created Soundtrack 7, a body of work that has been five years in the making, for that purpose.
"For me, when something’s a truthful emotion, it doesn’t even matter what it’s about. Everyone can feel it," she says. "There are so many things that come into telling the truth for me. You’ve got to, first of all, remove your ego—because not everything’s pretty—and then you have to be really open and trust yourself. And you’ve got to be able to respect people around you to help you."
Spectators that attended the rehearsals were given a rare opportunity to see twigs in action. She was involved in every aspect of the performance, from dancing and directing to camera panning and setting up the lighting.
"I wanted to create something that felt really stripped back. Over the past two or three years, I’ve sort of been living by the mantra that you can’t copy talent and you can’t copy training, so that’s something I wanted to portray in this," she says. "It’s not heavily costumed, it’s not about the makeup, it’s not about anything like that."