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Five on it: Reclaiming power is a journey, FKA twigs’ time is now

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Following an interview and a new documentary this week, Kayleigh discusses FKA twigs, survivors in the entertainment industry and the power in talking. Plus, her Five on it round-up, featuring new releases from MICHELLE, Arlo Parks and more.

29 Jan 2021

It’s important to begin this week’s Five on it with a content warning for physical and mental abuse, sexual assault and racism; if you are personally affected by such issues, do skip on down to the tracks – there are some stunners in there! 

There are a lot of eyes on the music industry this week, and rightly so. On Wednesday, BBC Three shared Music’s Dirty Secrets: Women Fight Back, a new documentary on BBC iPlayer investigating the culture of sexual assault against women in the music industry and the complacency – and often complicity – when dealing with its perpetrators. Women of all backgrounds working in all genres and sub-sectors are interviewed about their experiences: it is clearly not an isolated issue, and one only made more concerning by the fact the topic gets cyclically raised time and again without palpable change.

In near-serendipitous coincidence, singer FKA twigs’ interview with Louis Theroux on his Grounded podcast caused headlines and online shock with her accounts of relationship abuse by former-partner, actor Shia LaBeouf, whom she issued a lawsuit against in December 2020. Asking to revisit their initial chat following the revelations, twigs recounts the controlling nature of the relationship, from her not being “allowed to look men in the eye” to the psychological pressure of meeting undivulged quotas for affection and regimentally being awoken to LaBoeuf’s accusations between 3am and 7am. She recalls the moment she rang a women’s helpline and was shaken by the assistant’s response, describing it as a “massive wake-up call”. 

FKA twigs’ raw discussion and willingness to be vulnerable and honest about her experience is testament to her intent of using her platform to raise awareness of how abusive relationships can manifest in ways less obvious than others; much of her abuse was slow and subliminal in nature and compromised her own perspective of who she was – a sentiment echoed by the barrage of racism she faced by Robert Pattinson stans whilst engaged to the actor between 2015 and 2017. Their incessant comparisons of her to a monkey “had a massive dysmorphic affect on [twigs] from six months to a year”. She reiterates that she is now fine. 

twigs’ story – and that of the women of the BBC documentary – shows that, no matter how much a person knows their mind and identity, they can always be a victim of abuse from unanticipated places. The power is in the talking, the sharing, the shaming and holding accountable; it is courageous to take hard experiences and twist them into a pillar of strength, if not for yourself then for others. 

FKA twigs is not just surviving, she is thriving.

FKA twigs, Headie One, Fred Again… – ‘Don’t Judge Me’

Following on from above, it is only apt to include this beaut. As striking as it is emotive, the track comments on what it means to be Black and British in 2021, with its visuals harking to police arrest and combatting invisible oppressors. Directed by Emmanuel Adjei and featuring poet and Black Lives Matter activist Solomon O.b, writer Reni Eddo-Lodge, model and activist Munroe Bergdorf – to name a few – it is a poignant and powerful collaboration.


New York City group MICHELLE have been gaining traction with their catchy pop-meets-R&B, and new single ‘FYO’ takes their affable sound and gives room for its members to celebrate their diversity and individual realities. Recounting the four lead singers’ experiences of growing up in the U.S as mixed race people, they’ve said that the track talks of “belonging to different worlds but feeling rejected by both”.

Cartel Madras, Dom Dias – ‘Drift’

I can’t cope with Cartel Madras and can’t believe I’ve only just encountered them! Comprised of sisters Contra and Eboshi, the India-born Canada-bred duo make sure to hold attention with their rapid-fire delivery, big bass notes and Asian-influence with their self-coined “goonda rap”. ‘Drift’ is a great place to start.

Arlo Parks – ‘Hope’

Rejoice, for the wonderful Arlo Parks has finally dropped her debut album today! The latest single from Collapsed in Sunbeams, ‘Hope’ is a dreamy yet breezy ode to the love found in relationships and your wider community and speaks to why you are never as alone as you think you are. 

IMAINA – ‘Glass Box (Violence)’

Another stunning video to grace the list this week, Belgian-Bolivian artist IMAINA confronts the Madonna-whore complex whilst musing on the concept of an idealised love. For fans of Sevdaliza or Kelli Ali, the mystical melancholy takes an abrupt twist once the trip-hop kicks in.

You can listen to gal-dem’s Five on it playlist on Spotify.

In the UK, call the national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247 or visit Women’s Aid. In the US, the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found via