Yesterday, FKA twigs released her highly anticipated third EP along with a 16-minute film soundtracked by four of the five new songs. Though many expected the project to be titled EP3 (following the naming of her previous releases—EP1, EP2, and LP1), twigs instead chose to call it M3LL155X (pronounced “Melissa”), a name that refers to her own “personal female energy” and is her most forward, cohesive release to date. It arrives only a week after the one-year anniversary of her debut album.
twigs examines this female energy within the M3LL155X film as its main character. First, twigs is born (from the mouth of Michèle Lamy, no less), then she gets pregnant, then she gives birth, and then she vogues. The pregnancy, birthings, and voguing are symbolic, as twigs described during an interview with Complex for our June/July cover story. M3LL155X is a much greater metaphor for learning to accept and understand oneself.
“You can get pregnant with pain and birth creativity,” she said. “You can birth being yourself—that’s something I’ve learned through vogue. Being humble and staying committed to being the person you want to be despite criticism, prejudice, and everything you’ve been through. Just being you.”
Whether singing about how vogue also helped her embrace her femininity (“Figure 8”), the intricacies of submitting to someone else (“I’m Your Doll”), or initiating IRL interaction and rejecting obsessive celebrity fan culture (“Glass & Patron”), twigs ties it all together with M3LL155X, which she produced with Tic Zogson, Cy An, and Boots. On this EP, her voice is clearer and louder than ever before, partly thanks to encouragement from Boots, who also embedded visceral, real-world field recordings into the songs, like water dripping from a toilet and coins falling out of a jar.
The EP shows that twigs has come a long way from LP1, which began with her repeatedly singing a line of Sir Thomas Wyatt poetry, “I love another, and thus I hate myself.” Read on to learn about the self-realization of M3LL155X in twigs’ own words, shared during our cover interview, and buy the EP here.
“The first song is ‘Figure 8,’ and that’s because in vogue, everything is a ‘figure 8.’ So if you go around your face, you’ll do figures of 8. One of the first lines of the rap is, ‘Figures of 8 around your face,’ and it’s about, for me, learning to love yourself. If you’re drawing figures of 8 around your face in voguing, you’re saying, ‘LOOK at my face, LOOK at my face, LOOK at my face. Look at how powerful I am, look at how beautiful I am, look at how confident I am.’ Voguing has helped me grow into the best young lady that I can be at this time, and through these boys, I’ve learned how to embrace parts of my femininity that I wasn’t in touch with before.
[In the video], that’s Michèle Lamy. She’s amazing. I don’t know how old she is, but she is how she is, and she’s so beautiful. I hate talking about things from the female perspective all the time, but just as a female, I think it’s really amazing to meet a woman who is so incredibly raw and 100 percent herself; she’s just a strong, older, wise, incredibly beautiful, sexy, stunning woman. For me, it makes me think, ‘Oh god, I can be like that then. When I’m older, I can be like that.’
“Then to be able to put it in a pop music video, because usually when there are older women in pop music videos, they’re, like, playing bingo. But that’s not the reality of how it has to be. She has her own jewelry label, she’s married to Rick Owens, she travels the world, she parties, she’s intelligent, she’s wise. I want to be like that. And she’s wearing all her own stuff, it wasn’t styling. I was like, ‘Just come and be yourself.’ She was so professional. I think her call time was 6:45 a.m. or something ridiculous like that. She was there, she had her make-up on, and she was smoking a cigarette outside with all her jewelry on—just being generally quite fabulous.”
“i’m your doll”
“‘I’m your Doll’ is a song I wrote when I was 18 years old. About a year or two ago, it came up on shuffle, and I was like, ‘What is this?’ It sounded like an electronic pop song—super catchy with weird electric guitar sounds—not at all like what I’ve developed into as an artist. What struck me most was the content of the song. I was just singing, ‘Love me rough/I’m your doll/Dress me up/I’m your doll,’ but it wasn’t with a certain irony that I would now understand as a 27-year-old woman. It scared me a lot, because by then, I’d probably had one boyfriend, and I was probably very sexually inexperienced. I didn’t understand who I was, or what I liked. I realized that I’d been brainwashed and preconditioned to write a pop song and write it from that point of view. I found it almost horrifying that I’d even written it, because it’s so the opposite of who I am now as an artist. It’s completely submissive in a way that I don’t even understand or connect myself to anymore.
"I slowed down the song, and it’s almost like a horror for me. I’M YOUR DOLL. It’s the way things could have been. It’s an aspect of my femininity that I don’t feel in touch with anymore, because I would never say that to a man now. I would never portray that to anyone now. It’s really interesting to go back, and say it, and live it with ‘I’m Your Doll,’ because I’m not anyone’s doll. It’s going back and getting into the mindset that I was in when I was 18, when I didn’t have a clue about what I was talking about. I didn’t have a clue about relationships, I didn’t have a clue about my body, I didn’t have a clue about how I thought or what I wanted to say. I was just writing something sad, and lonely, and vacuous, and hopeless, and it’s a part of me that I can only enter into when I’m in a really sad place of not valuing myself.
“My friend said to me the other day, ‘I didn’t have a lot of respect for myself then.’ I think it’s fine to feel like, ‘I’m your doll, dress me up, I’m your doll, love me rough, I’m your doll’ if it’s coming from the right place. It’s about the intention behind it. If there’s no intention behind it, I think it’s very vacuous, and you don’t understand what you’re saying or the position you’re putting yourself in.”
“‘In Time’ is the first song I wrote after my first EP with Tic. It’s about getting to know somebody in a relationship better, wanting and aching for them to be the person you need them to be to make yourself feel better. Like, ‘I know I can help this person, if I can just help this person do this, they’ll do this for me, and then I’ll be the best version of myself, and they’ll be the best version of themselves.’ In time we’ll do this, in time we’ll do that. But ultimately, only you can make yourself feel that way.
“I started reading this book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, but I didn’t finish it, because I would have been destroyed if it didn’t end the way I wanted it to end. It talks about the idea of the ‘Wild Woman,’ and how, as women, we are so in touch with the Earth, but because we’re like this all the time [pretends to be typing on phone], we don’t realize how incredible we are and how in touch with the world we are. A woman’s cycle is 28 days, which is the same cycle as the moon, and there’s a connection between the whole of the ocean, and every droplet of water is basically connected to the moon. That’s how powerful we are. So if our cycle is in touch with the moon, and the moon controls the tides, and we give birth, imagine how powerful that is.
“We don’t realize it because we’re too busy worrying about how we look and what our waist-to-butt ratio is. I’m guilty of it too, we all are, but imagine if we actually just thought about what incredible creatures we are, and the true bond between a man and a woman—what an amazing partnership that is. Now it’s just like crude porn and all these terrible things that have completely screwed up the true, wonderful partnership between a man and a woman and the fact that you can make babies. It’s amazing. That’s why I wanted to make this EP with these visuals. My water’s breaking on the dance floor! For me, the concept is bringing it back to my body. I don’t really know what I’m talking about because I’ve never had a baby, but it’s just exploring that idea. Having this fake baby bump [in the video] and still being able to be really powerful. To be in this fake condition and still be fierce, and look good, and have my girls with me. For me, the best moment of the whole video is when my water’s breaking, and me and my girls are like, ‘We’ve got this!’ Like we’ve got this, we’ve got this covered, don’t worry. [Laughs.] I feel like people don’t realize that I have a sense of humor about things. I’m very goofy, and I’ve enjoyed being able to incorporate some of that into my work, but still have a really serious message behind it. I think I’ve really enjoyed making this EP because of that.”
“glass & patron”
“‘Glass & Patron’ is my conclusion that, for now, all you can really be is yourself, and all you can really do is step outside yourself and realize that there’s a bigger picture. One of the lyrics in ‘Glass & Patron’ is ‘We wait all week to hear gods talk when you’ve got a front row seat to the stars.’ It’s about stepping away from the things that we rely on so much within society. It’s a reference to people not really talking to each other anymore, with everything being so much on the Internet. It’s us and our busy little thumbs all day, typing into nothing. ‘Do you have a lighter?’ is about how we don’t smoke as much in public situations, but when I was a teenager, getting into pubs and clubs underage, that’s what you’d do. If you liked someone, you’d be like, ‘Oh, have you got a light?’ It’s more about initiating actual one-on-one conversation, instead of everything being so weird and disconnected.
“We wait all week for some empty celebrity to tweet or say something when we’ve got a front row seat to the stars, we can get outside, we can actually be living our lives. That’s free. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s about getting out of this weird Internet thing you get sucked into, where how many likes you get forms how good your day is. Like the line, ‘Away from being told who I am’—it’s the perception of yourself online, and how people perceive you to be versus the person who you actually are. For me, they’re two worlds apart.
“M3LL155X is a really clear vision to me. It’s a lot to do with more openly female energy and things that affect that balance. That’s why I wanted to be pregnant in ‘Glass & Patron.’ People are always obsessed with big boobs or a big ass. You know, some people who do videos, their butt is the main thing in it. A baby bump is just a different type of body modification that a woman goes through, aside from having thick thighs or a big butt. That’s something so many women go through. It’s something amazing in the female body that a man can’t do. Women can grow something inside themselves. Whenever I see a pregnant woman, I always think she’s so beautiful and so sexy. I would argue anyone into the ground who says a woman’s not beautiful or sexy when she’s pregnant. It’s a miracle. How can you say that anything else is better than that? So I just wanted to experience that prematurely.”
“Then there’s ‘Mothercreep,’ which is the apology to your mother. “[It’s about] the time when you realize that when you were 15, you didn’t know everything. The time when you start to understand where the alpha female in your life was coming from. As a young adult, everybody looks back, even if they don’t get along with their parents, or they’re not in contact with their parents, or they even love their parents. There’s a time when you have this epiphany, like, ‘OK, I can see where this person was coming from. I can see what this person intended.’
“Even perhaps through becoming a mother, you understand. My mum would always say to me, ‘When you have your first child, you’ll understand.’ I’m not there yet, but now that I’m a bit older, I can understand why things were the way they were, why things had to be done in that way. For me, ‘Mothercreep’ is about giving in and understanding—through becoming the alpha female in my household now—how the other alpha female in my life did things.
“‘Mothercreep’ is also about me wanting to be a better daughter, like now when I’m working so much, and I’m not there. It’s about me saying, not just to my mum, but to anyone who’s in my life, to keep on creeping. I’ll be back. When I’m back, I’ll be back, but for now, you’re just going to have to creep on.”