Young, talented, unflinchingly upfront, Sky Ferreira has never been a pop starlet to mince her words, even if she’s had to admit a few youthful indiscretions. But now, as she gears up to release her EP As If! she’s keen to set a few things straight.
Even amongst the glitterati of New York where the toast of the town changes from night-to-night if not hour-to-hour, the current buzz surrounding Sky Ferreira is incessant. The LA-born bombshell moved to the Big Apple last year and has been taking the city by storm with her flamboyant Latin-American looks, her never-ending energy and a burgeoning music career that is already receiving masses of attention even though her debut album is yet to be released.
She’s become a mainstay of CK One’s recent ad campaigns, appeared in Uffie’s video for ‘Pop The Glock’, played a cameo role in Matthew Porterfield’s drama Putty Hill singing (‘I Will Always Love You’) and somewhat less elegantly, starred in Justice’s tour documentary A Cross The World.
“Ugh, they made me look like their fucking groupie,” she snaps of that now-infamous scene where she’s filmed drunkenly belting out the French duo’s hit ‘We Are Your Friends’ a cappella on a dressing room floor. Aside from these on-film appearances, Ferreira also boasts a bulging portfolio of magazine articles, blog posts and Lolita-chic fashion shoots that would make professional models twice her age envious.
As she meets Wonderland in the lobby of the trendy Bowery Hotel in downtown Manhattan, it’s not hard to see Ferreira’s appeal. Even in a varsity t-shirt, spring jacket and boots, her striking looks stick out a mile even in the dimly lit bar area. Such effortless style and beauty has undoubtedly opened numerous doors for her, but Ferreira shows an open disdain for her reputation as an arch-scenester, a socialite with inflated film-star aspirations or worse still, a debauched band-aid. The reality is apparently far more mundane.
“The bizarre thing is that I really don’t go out all that often – I stick to the same five people most of the time,” she explains gesticulating wildly to underline her point. “It’s just when I do go out, there’s always someone there to take a picture and then it just looks like you’re partying when in reality, I was probably just stopping by to see a friend. I’m not a needy person. I like to spend a lot of time by myself.”
She wrote her first songs when she was just an infant (“at least, I thought they were songs” she laughs) but like most kids, the teenage years were when Ferreira’s real tastes began to blossom. Using Myspace as her platform, Ferriera then started to upload her own music and began an almost unnervingly persistent campaign of contacting producers and songwriters in the hope of pestering them until they would agree to work with her.
“I am the sort of person that will push and push until I get what I want,” she sniggers and to her credit, it’s an approach that paid off. Almost immediately, Swedish duo Bloodshy & Avant (who were responsible for Britney Spears’ career-defining ‘Toxic‘, and have also written and produced for Jennifer Lopez, Kelis, Kylie Minogue and Miike Snow) saw the potential that the 15-year-old Ferreira had and agreed to a collaboration that would eventually produce her debut single ‘One‘. Not satisfied with that score, she also enlisted the likes of Greg Kurstin, Colin Munroe, Nicole Morier and even Linda Perry to work on an album’s worth of songs before finally signing to EMI in 2009.
Another reason that Ferreira has felt the wrath of the blogosphere is her forthright approach to sexuality. Aside from being an obvious object of desire for the world’s seedier population, she’s spoken honestly about her attraction to older men – on As If! track ‘108’ she teases: “My secret lover is 108 / I know it sounds insane / it’s really OK”. She also caused an uproar when a picture of her posing with a bottle of vodka between her legs found its way on to Katy Perry’s Twitter feed. The lead track from As If! EP, ‘Sex Rules’ only furthers that overtly sexualized image that Ferreira has built up but again, it’s something that she regards with incredulousness rather than regret.
“I’m not a raging slut! I’ve actually only been with one person in my whole life who’s been my boyfriend for two years. But being sexually active at that age is more normal than a lot of people want to believe. To me, ‘Sex Rules’ is funny and playful. That was my intention at least, especially with those lines about using ‘your God given tools.’ I wrote it with Billy Steinberg who wrote ‘Like A Virgin’ and ‘I Touch Myself’, so he has this lineage of racy songs. I couldn’t ignore his history. It would be like getting the world’s best guitarist to guest on your album and asking him to play the trumpet!”
As the interview slowly winds down to a close, we can’t help but notice that Ferreira’s attention is already being drawn to another area of the Bowery’s plush bar area and that she’s keen to move on. The world, it would seem, waits for no woman, especially one with as much enterprise and determination as her.
But before disappearing, she makes it clear once and for all that for the most part, the tabloid version of Sky Ferreira is a myth that needs to be vanquished. And she has the tools to do it too. “The only way to really get past all the things people say about me or the ideas that they have is the music. If it’s good enough and it can’t be denied then things will change. There’s no other way to prove it. My music has always been my priority… and it always will be.”
Photography: Matt Irwin
Fashion: Lester Garcia
Words: Hardeep Phull
This article first appeared in Wonderland Issue 26, April/May 2011