Sky Ferreira: The Mane Attraction

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Published March 21, 2011

 

PHOTOS BY THEO WENNER

“It was her hair that got me,” says photo agent Jen Brill, upon discovering the pop singer whose debut EP, As If, sees release tomorrow. The hair—a Cousin It tangle of curls outsized for her miniature frame—and look has also garnered the attention of Franceisco Costa, and she’s recently featured in no less than a CK1 campaign, shot by Steven Meisel.

Brill heard about Ferreira from her friends in downtown rock-pop band The Virgins; she’d covered and remixed their song, and given it an impressive and ambitious turn-around. And while the 18-year-old LA transplant to the East Village has quickly established herself as a mainstay in New York, she’s kept her sugar-coated, even Europop-inflected sensibility, first evidenced on her UK-chart-topping single, “One.” “She’s totally different… She’s a little pop star,” says Brill.

Here’s a condensed version of the friends’ recent conversation, in which they discuss New York in the eyes of a teenage girl, and compliments from André Leon Talley:

JEN BRILL: You grew up in Los Angeles. Why did you leave for New York?

SKY FERREIRA: I wanted to try something different. Most people my age go off to college; I thought I’d try out New York.

BRILL: How old were you when you started making music?

FERREIRA: I’ve always made music—pretty much since I was born.

BRILL: You were writing songs in diapers?

FERREIRA: Okay, not that young… but for as long as I can remember. I started making music professionally when I was 14.  I did songs on that program GarageBand, and then I’d put demos up on MySpace with my friends…

BRILL: The first time I heard one of your songs was on your MySpace page. Nick [Ackermann, of the Virgins] played me a cover or remix that you did of one of his band’s songs.  Was that two years ago?

FERREIRA: About three years ago! The Virgins are signed to Atlantic, which at the time was trying to sign me [Ferreira went with EMI]. They asked me to do a remix for this band that they thought I would really like called The Virgins. I’d already heard of them, so I said, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” It was fun; we made the song more dance-y and electro. It was a pretty big remix at the time. It was number one on that web site Hype Machine, which tells you what songs are the most blogged and downloaded.

BRILL: What was the first song that you remember identifying with?

FERREIRA: I remember this so clearly… I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV before school, but somehow I managed to, when I was five or six and Fiona Apple’s video for “Criminal” came on.  She was so odd and dark, and I immediately felt some kind of connection with her. She was also the first person I admired for their looks. I like her to this day.

BRILL: You’ve lived here for almost a year now.  What can you report?

FERREIRA: Well, I live by myself for the first time, and I don’t have a curfew!

BRILL: But you’re so good, you wouldn’t need one anyway.

FERREIRA: [laughs] I don’t really have the time or energy to be bad…

BRILL: It can be hard to move to New York. How did you get settled in?

FERREIRA: It sounds kinda lame to say, but somehow since I’ve been here, the fashion community has really embraced me, which has been helpful with getting my music out.

 

BRILL: Yeah, you just did that big fancy campaign with Steven Meisel—CK1! How was that?

FERREIRA: It was such an honor to work with Calvin Klein and Steven. He’s my all-time favorite photographer. I think he’s everyone’s favorite photographer.

BRILL: Do you go to fashion shows?

FERREIRA: I went to Calvin Klein this season. I sat next to André Leon Talley, and he told me that I was “fierce.”

BRILL: [laughs] That’s amazing. If you look up the word “fierce” in the OED, there’s a picture of André in a chinchilla cape. Who are your favorite designers?

FERREIRA: Obviously Calvin Klein. I really like Christopher Kane, Proenza Schouler. I love anything from Opening Ceremony and I love Chanel.

BRILL: We both like to wear those super tall clogs.

FERREIRA: They are my favorite but my feet flip out of them, so I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of my Converse, too.