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Everything You Need To Know About The World Premiere Of FKA twigs’ ‘Soundtrack 7’

Music
Photo courtesy of FKA twigs/Tumblr

Flesh, sweat, feeling, muscle

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."

Photo courtesy of FKA twigs/Tumblr

All of the collaborators for Soundtrack 7 are close friends of twigs. Having known most of them for years, she completely trusted them as they worked together to execute this vision. 

"It’s just about a group of people that have devoted so many hours to training in dance and training in feeling," she says. "It’s difficult to talk about the process because when you get people who have talent and that like each other all in a room, if you know what you want, it just comes together quite easily, I think."

Every song that twigs makes expresses a specific feeling, so she wanted to convey that in a way that was relatable to everyone. "What I Wanna" is about being in a situation where you don’t want to do something, but you feel pressured into it—"you're trying to get away to see the light, but feeling like something’s dragging you back." Though she represented this idea in the form of a man trying to leave a gang on stage, it's a common feeling that twigs knows everyone has experienced on more than one occasion.

"We’ve all sort of felt that, at the end, where everyone’s just searching for that intimacy and frivolous with their feelings. One time, dancing with this person, and the next time dancing with that and touching yourself, and you’re touching other people, but it’s really to validate yourself," says twigs. "That’s a feeling that I’ve felt, and you can apply that to anything. That can be being physically reckless or emotionally reckless. I just wanted to create each piece with something that felt very personal to me, but through a story that everybody could relate to."

Since there's nothing but a stage in each frame, the setting for each section is minimal. "Ultraviolet" uses the most effects with a row of projected images. "Numbers" is twigs' dark, twisted version of Fosse. "Mothercreep" captures the feeling of loss that only a mother knows when her children decide to leave home. FKA twigs credits so many aspects of her creative process now to moments from her childhood, like coloring with crayons on textured surfaces and chasing imaginary spider webs.

"I feel like, still, I’m doing it now in my work," she says. "It’s just working with different textures and different colors and seeing what happens if you layer one thing onto another thing. I guess in terms of being well-studied, I’m not."

Photo courtesy of FKA twigs/Tumblr

Prior to this project, twigs said that she has always valued supporting herself. Early on, she would save all of her money to put back into her art so that it could reach the level of quality that it has today. But despite having reached her goals, she has always felt conflicted about some of the burdens of the creative professional life. 

"As an artist, I just don’t want to inflict that on anyone. I want everyone always to feel really free, always be themselves, always be able to showcase what they have trained in," she says. "I want everyone to be able to just be their own personality when they’re onstage."

Twigs also explained her concern for cultural appropriation within the subcultures of dance, though she never hesitates to give credit where it is due, and promotes the work of the original creators, not the imitators.

"For me, that’s not studying, for me that’s life. You get interested in something, and you show your appreciation by going to the [Vogue] Knights. I feel like maybe sometimes throughout history, artists who have a platform can sort of take a lot, and they don’t realize that it hurts," she says. "If there’s a culture that’s grown out of pain and out of love and out of passion, there’s a certain fragility to that."

Twigs is almost hyper-aware of the harm that more publicized artists do to these communities when they decide to borrow pieces of their culture. In fact, she's extremely self-conscious about her place in the mix which is why she has the utmost respect for the legends who are committed to these cultures.

"They’ve devoted their whole life to their passion for a community. Not for money, not for glamour, not for fame, but just to support their community," she adds. "That doesn’t just apply to ballroom culture. That applies to so many different forms of art where people just do things just for the love. That’s more where I’m from in terms of a dancer or art. I just want to support or create a community."

Photo courtesy of FKA twigs/Tumblr

After the premiere, a woman in the audience thanked twigs for featuring Kaner Flex in the production. As the mother of a son with autism, she said that his inclusion was a huge inspiration for similar children and adults. Instead of accepting the praise, twigs allowed Flex to come down and speak for himself. He said:

I just feel like with my autism, I don’t find it as a disability; I find it as an advantage. With me, my autism, it’s just me, and it’s a part of me, and I parade it, and I’m proud of it. It makes me who I am, and I’m not scared. I’m sure of the man who I am. I know that I’m good 100 percent from within, and I’m proud to let that out into the universe and into the world. And no disease, it’s all titles. It’s about your mindset and what you really want in life... Never stop what you love and what you’re doing in life.

Twigs said that Soundtrack 7 is like a warning shot for something bigger on the way. If this short film is any indication, we can't wait to see what's next. 

Watch behind-the-scenes footage of Soundtrack 7 here.

Photo by Rachel Dennis

Finally

"What do girls even do together?" This question, or some iteration of it, is frequently posed to me once someone finds out I'm bisexual or hears me mention my girlfriend, or if I make any reference to being interested in girls. I would be annoyed by it, but I have empathy because I know how hard this kind of information can be to find. In fact, the details of how two people with vaginas have sex isn't very widespread information. And, I know that I didn't really have all that much information about girl-on-girl sex before, well, actually having it myself. It's precisely this kind of situation that queer sex educator Stevie Boebi is trying to fix.

Boebi has gained a big following for her informational YouTube videos about how to use a strap-on, how to scissor, how to fist someone, how to choose a vibrator for yourself; any question you could have, she will get you an answer. She doesn't shy away from topics that people wouldn't be quick to ask someone about IRL, either, like BDSM. And she covers the kind of things that are definitely not what we're taught in sex education classes—likely not even in the most progressive curriculums. A study from GLSEN notes that only 4 percent of teens reported learning anything positive about queer sex in their sex ed classes, and points out that in some states, it's actually prohibited to mention queerness at all.

Particularly when it comes to sex with two vaginas, the lack of available public education leads to a general lack of understanding of how we have sex, which then leads to a lack of understanding in the queer community, too. "I just think that lesbian sex is so oversexualized, and we're the least educated," said Boebi when I asked her recently why it's so important for her to spread knowledge about queer sex in particular.

Boebi said that she started out on YouTube making videos about technology, but after she came out as a lesbian, her audience flipped from mostly male to mostly female, though she would prefer a less rudimentary gender breakdown ("the algorithm only deals in binaries, sorry," she quipped).

Ultimately, her sexuality led her to change her content entirely, because she wanted to educate people who couldn't find answers to their questions anywhere else—even on the internet.

"I started getting a lot of what I called 'stupid questions' from very confused teenage girls saying, like, 'How do I do it? Can I get AIDs from fingering someone?'" Boebi told me. They were questions that probably should have had easily Google-able answers, but, when Boebi looked for lesbian sex education content to send to fans who were asking her, she came up empty-handed. "I couldn't find anything. I think I found, like, two articles on Autostraddle, and that was it," she said. "And then I was like, Well, shit! If no one else is going to do it, then I guess I will."

Boebi's audience is mainly comprised of 13- to 24-year-olds, so she keeps in mind that she's helping people who may not be experienced, or even out yet. She uses her own experiences to inform her work sometimes, but also researches extensively and talks to people she knows who "have fancy Ph.Ds in sexology and shit," who can answer her questions or point her to resources she should be referencing.

Boebi's charm is in her relatability; even if she's talking about things we've been conditioned to feel shame around, she does it in such an open and honest way that all that shame disappears—as it should. She does this by perfectly meshing professional talk with jokes and sarcasm, and even uses characters based on star signs. She knows the importance of taking on taboo topics, because there are so many people who won't otherwise find answers to their questions. "I don't actually struggle in my everyday life asking people if they've ever been anally fisted before," Boebi joked with me. "I'll take that burden."

And keeping her tone light and humorous is of the utmost importance to her. "When people are laughing, they're comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable," Boebi said. "And I want people to know that I'm comfortable talking about sex, and they can be, too." It helps also, Boebi told me, that her audience is separated by a screen, and she's not "in a room with a 12-year-old talking about my labia."

Beyond instructional sex videos, Boebi also deals with other rarely discussed facets of sexuality and physicality. Boebi is polyamorous, and talks openly about it, confronting the stereotypes and the misinformation about the identity head-on. And, she was also recently diagnosed with Ehler's Danlos Syndrome after going years without a diagnosis, and she aims to start working more with disabled queer sex educators to make her work more inclusive of people with disabilities. Though she pointed out to me that her work was already encompassing of disabilities, she "hasn't been a part of the disability activist community for very long," and so she has a lot to learn.

And, though Boebi's happy that she has the platform she does, she wants a more inclusive array of sex educators to join the scene. "My voice is my voice, and it's unique to me, but I think there should be way more," she noted. "Especially people [with intersectional identities]. That would make me so happy if we could diversify sex educators."

And, though Boebi says there's no "ideal way" to educate people about sex, she's definitely on a better track than the public education system, and she makes clear that there's nothing shameful about sexuality—in fact, it's just a part of being human, and a really fun one, at that.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

This photo makes me so happy

It can't be understated how big of a phenomenon the Spice Girls were during the late '90s. Their impact was felt from the bustling streets of London to the dry desert land of Scottsdale, Arizona. The latter place is where a young Emily Jean Stone was so immersed in fandom that she asked her second-grade teacher to call her Emma, after Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Emily is the Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone. What's even better, she's still a huge Spice Girls fan.

Stone went to the Spice Girls reunion tour at the Wembley Stadium in London and finally met the woman who inspired the name the actress is now known by. Bunton shared a photo of the two of them outside of the venue on her Instagram. She captioned the photo: "When Emma met Emma."And even added the hashtag #2become1. I can't figure out if I want to cry from sentimentality or serious envy.

As for Stone, she once cried when Mel "Scary Spice" B. sent her a video message so I can only imagine what this moment felt like for her. Let this be a reminder that even Oscar winners can be stans.

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Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video) www.youtube.com

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This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.

BREAKING: JON SNOW FINALLY APOLOGIZED FOR SEASON 8 youtu.be

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Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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