ABOVE: SKY FERREIRA. IMAGE COURTESY OF HEDI SLIMANE
If you asked a science fiction writer in 1970 to imagine what a pop starlet in 2012 would look like, they might have drawn someone a little like Sky Ferreira. The 20-year-old singer and songwriter's career trajectory has been an unusual one—helped in no small part, we're sure, by her childhood friendship with Michael Jackson and her party-hardy days a few years ago, a stage in her life about which she's surprisingly open. Last month, Ferreira released her second EP, Ghost, to a heap of buzz accompanying its first single, the moody electro jam "Everything is Embarrassing." The first full-length in her three-year career, As If!, is due out in January.
Since Ferreira is currently touring the East Coast—on a very tight schedule—we had around 10 minutes to catch up with her.
NED HEPBURN: How are you?
SKY FERREIRA: I'm good.
HEPBURN: You sound pretty tired. Sounds like you have a pretty hectic schedule going on at the moment.
FERREIRA: I am. I just got to New York yesterday and had to go to Boston at 6 am this morning.
HEPBURN: I listened to your EP. It's doing a couple of different things at once. You're putting a lot of genres on the same release.
FERREIRA: There wasn't really a reason to do it, I just felt like doing it. All those songs are parts of me. I feel like the overall tone is similar. I like writing different types of music. I don't like being stuck into one thing. With things like Spotify and iTunes and all that stuff, I feel people are more... scattered. So you're not, you know, changing a CD—it takes literally a millisecond to change one song on your computer to the next.
HEPBURN: Do you think albums are more a thing of the past?
FERREIRA: Yeah. I don't think they're exactly a thing of the past... maybe I'm just scattered in general. Or maybe I just haven't discovered my thing yet, my complete voice. Maybe I have. Who knows. [laughs]
HEPBURN: I know that a lot of what you do, your outreach, anyway, has to do with social media. Given how different your sound can be from song to song, do you find that social media helps you or hinders you?
FERREIRA: I think a bit of both. If the right people catch onto it, then that's great, but if not, it gets lost in the noise. If there's one thing I've learned its this: Don't put shit out if you're not sure about it, because it's on the Internet. For. Ev. Er. I've learned that over time. A lot of social media saved my ass, [laughs] so I'm totally for it. I also think there's a lot of unnecessary bullshit on the Internet. You can drown in it.
HEPBURN: How do you discern between the good and the bad on the Internet?
FERREIRA: Because of social media a lot of people think they can be, like, a rapper or a singer or a musician because they can put something on YouTube and it might become a thing because there's—like—YouTube phenomenons and whatnot, you know? It's not like they dedicated years to it or anything. It's annoying. That's just me. I dunno.
HEPBURN: I'm not disagreeing with you, but why do you consider that annoying?
FERREIRA: It's like the difference between journalism and bloggers. Trolling people on the Internet isn't fucking journalism.
HEPBURN: I always thought it was odd when people would say "I'm a journalist at Buzzfeed" or what have you. Maybe six people there are legitimate journalists. The rest are making lists or blogging normally, or, like you said, trolling.
HEPBURN: I read a quote where you said how much you hated school and just wanted to get signed; you were basically angling for a major label release since you were 16. I know that there was a time in New York where you were a little wayward, partying with, like, Jared Leto and Terry Richardson. Looking back on that, and looking at where you are now—what's it like having your dream come true?
HEPBURN: I realize that question is super fucking cheesy.
FERREIRA: No no no, dreams do come true. They definitely do come true. It just takes a while, I guess. Sometimes it doesn't, but for me it did, anyway. And that whole socialite deal... I'm not a socialite, but, you know, that whole... that whole thing was not supposed to happen [laughs]. I mean, I can't complain. It's definitely helped me. I have a lot to prove because of it, but I guess a lot of it is based on luck, too. And I mean hard work, too. But definitely luck. Because you never know what's going to be considered a hit, or what people are going to like. Or, whatever.
[Ferreira's manager gives a two-minute warning]
HEPBURN: Okay. I'll keep it quick, then. Is there anything you want to say to the bloggers out there?
FERREIRA: Well, for one thing, I'm not some sort of puppet. Like, there isn't a team of people telling me what to do.
HEPBURN: Except for the lady who just told you what to do.
FERREIRA: There's people trying to tell me what to do, but I'm not like some marketing scam.
HEPBURN: Like Lana Del Rey, for example?
FERREIRA: I mean, I don't really know anything about her. [laughs] Like, you know what I mean? People are like, "Oh, Sky tried to do pop music and failed," and it's like, I was 15. I'm still making pop music. It's just different. Some of the stuff is so unnecessary. Just because you have a blog doesn't mean that you should, like, lie for no reason. Some of its a bit, like, sexist. It's written in a very backhanded and condescending tone, and some of it really grosses me out.
SKY FERREIRA'S GHOST IS OUT NOW. FERREIRA WILL PLAY THE EARLY SHOW AT MERCURY LOUNGE TONIGHT. FOR MORE ON THE ARTIST, VISIT HER TUMBLR.