FKA Twigs - “Two Weeks” (2014)
The “FKA” in FKA Twigs’ name stands for “Formerly Known As,” a legal term of art often found in entertainment industry contracts; she took it on when she was still known as “Twigs” to fend off a legal challenge from another artist also known as Twigs. She became the term that would be used in the legal settlement, recognizing that her identity is constituted through a system of laws rather than her pure intentionality. The name of her forthcoming debut album is LP1, and this, too, is a legal term of art: in music industry contracts, “LP1” is used to refer to the first album made under the contract (and LP2 the second, etc.) since the titles of these future albums are not known yet.
As a former entertainment law paralegal, I find this charming, but it also resonates with her music. “Two Weeks” is an intensely physical song, not dancing around the point but coming right to it: “Feel your body closing, I can rip it open,” she sings. That sort of very specific language about sex is in sharp contrast to the dry abstractions of “FKA” and “LP1.” Legalese takes the horrors of human experience (death, violence, divorce) and expresses them in terms as entirely removed from emotion as possible: plaintiffs, executors, guardianship. The court deliberates on whether a man will be poisoned by the state for stabbing three people to death: is he guilty of first-degree murder.
Pop does this too. Pop songs are about (or are taken to be about) these intensely personal aspects of human experience, both physical and emotional—desire, attraction, sex, love, loss—things we experience only in the specific. But these songs, and our relationships with them, are embedded in a system that’s necessarily impersonal, that cannot afford to do anything but generalize the individual experience of listening to this work of art to as many people as possible. The song that means the world to you was deliberately engineered to be as appealing as possible, even if that meant subsuming the artist’s vision, was mass-produced and distributed and marketed without any regard for your feelings. The song my father-in-law chose for his dance with my wife at our wedding was used as Edward and Bella’s first dance at their wedding in Twilight. That doesn’t make our use of it any less emotional, but it’s a distinction that’s less jarring when it’s recognized and granted. Placing your identity as a singer within a legal term while singing “pull out the insides and give me two weeks” drives this home.
How To Be a Music Journalist
- Acquire music.
- Acquire opinion.
- Acquire site that wants to publish said opinions.
- Acquire more music, free of charge and almost three months before any of your mere mortal friends get to hear it.
- Feel smug.
- Panic as soon as you get a deadline.
- Try to make the sentence “this is good/bad and you should/should not listen to it” into a 5 paragraph persuasion essay.
- Cry because you have writer’s block
- wonder if rock writing is really “dead”.
- procrastinate. read Lester Bangs reviews and think about being as famous as him.
- wonder if you’re being too nice to bands and/or if you should start chugging cough syrup.
- attempt scathing review of actually good band/ eyeball bottle of NyQuil.
- feel awful and wonder if the cough syrup helped writer’s block
- sit down fifteen minutes before your deadline and write the review, free of cough syrup.
Watching a band die
This weekend, I trekked down to San Diego to see my friends in Such A Mess open for Hit The Lights at the Epicentre. It was the Skip School, Start Fights tour with Hit The Lights playing through their most successful album that was released about 6 years ago. I was incredibly excited to see them, since SSSF was one of the first albums I listened to back then, and integral in introducing me to the pop punk genre.
Unfortunately, upon arriving at the show, I soon realized how much has changed since that album was first released. When the band first announced the 3-date tour in tiny venues, I was absolutely sure they would sell out quickly and was eager to see them in such small rooms. Instead of the packed, sweaty show full of nostalgic, diehard fans that I imagined, I instead witnessed a three-quarters empty Epicentre with maybe two rows of fans singing along in the front and a couple kids two-stepping in the pit. Another ring of people stuck to the borders of the room, watching afar with their arms crossed.
It was unbelievably painful to watch a band I’ve loved since middle school play their smash record to a smattering of lukewarm fans. I’m still confused as to why that outer ring of people chose to buy tickets to this show just to stand there and stare unemotionally. I remember seeing Hit The Lights open for All Time Low my freshmen year of college, playing to a packed crowd that seemed really into the music. Afterwards I encouraged Nick to play more west coast shows, but he gave a half-hearted response, already hinting at their weak fanbase on the west. His words came to life that night in San Diego.
Witnessing a show like that where Hit The Lights was pretty much reduced to a local band was like watching the band die right in front of me. It sucked because I know this run of shows must be extremely disheartening for the band and would discourage them from playing more west coast shows. I’m also scared that if the next record falls flat as well, the band may be nearing its end, which would be such a shame because they write some of the catchiest pop punk melodies and Nick is one of my favorite frontmen in terms of stage presence.
I think signing with Pure Noise Records, a west coast label and strong up-and-comer in the pop punk scene, was a fantastic career move, but both the band and the label have a lot of work to do to rekindle the magic from before.
this is vv good
How I feel whenever I’m in Nevada + Arizona + New Mexico in the summer.
it’s a dry heat