Sky Ferreira: "I had second album pressure for my first album"


Sky Ferreira's profile exploded with the release of 'Everything Is Embarrassing' in 2012. After toiling in pop music for years, repeatedly tossed about by major label reps who simultaneously thought they knew best and had no idea what to do with her, it was the no-budget, Grant Singer-shot video which finally announced Ferreira as an artist to the world. Since then, Ferreira's ghostly synth-pop has appeared on the short but sweet Ghost EP, and the musically diverse and emotionally raw album Night Time, My Time.

Ferreira's heightened profile didn't come without additional challenges. The conventionally attractive model had to endure the typical sexist response, struggling to be taken seriously as an artist who is a) a woman, b) on a major label, and c) had been adopted by, and therefore had to contend with, the indie world. That said, if you strip away all the bullshit, what's left is one of 2013's most outstanding records, presenting Ferreira as a person of fierce independence who's nevertheless unafraid to seem afraid and unapologetically vulnerable. Night Time, My Time, like its creator, contains multitudes. We talked about tabloid headlines, Miley Cyrus, and the gladiatorial battle of being a woman in pop.

Sky, what is your motivation to make music? I know at one point it was to get outta high school.

I never really had motivation to make music. It's just something I always did. I never really had to think about it. I remember someone asking me, like, "What do you wanna be when you grew up?" and I was like "Singer" and that's what I ended up being. So I guess it's just something I always knew.

Your lyrics are often nakedly confessional and quite bluntly personal and one thing I've always wondered: is it painful to repeat and relive those things at your shows?

Yeah, I think it depends on what headspace I'm in. Sometimes it's really hard to take some of the songs, depending on the moment. I tend to get overwhelmed by the whole live experience in general.

I saw this beautiful Velvet Underground cover you did after Lou Reed died which was very emotional.

[Laughs] I think I'm still too emotional, 'cos I think that's probably the only way I can do my stuff well, by being vulnerable and emotional. But sometimes, yeah, it's a bit much for me. All the songs are obviously really personal, it's not like I'm thinking about something I made up in my head or something.

Is it frustrating to have so much of your press focused on things other than your music? A lot of the headlines seem very condescending and tabloid-y.

It's annoying but it's part of my job. It's definitely something I could do without but there's worse problems. All it is is a bunch of rumours, you know? I have a pretty high tolerance for what I'll stand for. I'll usually just ignore most of it. But if someone crosses the line then I'll say something. I've learnt to ignore it but it took me a while. It took me, like, years. I'm not necessarily over it, but I think it bothered me a lot more when the album wasn't out. Now that the album is out, I just let that speak for itself.

Now that Night Time, My Time is out and you've started to distinguish yourself as your own artist, do you feel like you've freed yourself from the industry dickheads who kept you down previously, or is it just a different kind of game now?

I think it's a bit of both, I guess. I'm kinda learning how to take everything for what it is, you know? Like, I can't force people to change. I've been open about my experience with the music industry because I think people need to know about that. Not just for my sake - 'cos at the time my album kept getting delayed and stuff - but I started when I was 16, so like if someone actually told me about that stuff I think I would've been well more prepared, but I think you also have to experience it to actually know it too. No one can really tell it to you. It's more just like a warning I guess, if someone actually wanted to do it that young, and decided to go the way I did more so than the Disney route.

It makes me think of Miley Cyrus, who came up through the whole Disney thing and is now trying to distinguish her identity away from all that.

The thing about her I like is she embraces that stuff. She's just older now and she's moved on from it. Maybe at first she was trying to break away from it but I think at this point she's broken away from it and people are still trying to hang onto it.

You're touring with Miley on the Bangerz tour. How'd that happen?

I think she just really liked the album. She contacted me and we hung out a few times, we just started talking, and she invited me on tour. She's been really supportive about the album. I remember when it came out, she tweeted about it, telling people to buy it which is kind of really helpful 'cos a lot of people listen to her. [Laughs] We just have a good relationship. We're supportive of each other. It's not really competitive, which is nice. There's no weird undertone to it, which does happen a lot with female musicians, sadly.

Sometimes it seems like female musicians are put in competition with each other, like there can only be so many women in pop at one time.

Yeah, I think it's partially to do with the fact that people make them that way, like we feel like we have to be competitive with each other. I mean it happens to males too, being called the new band that was out two days ago, you know? So there's always that, but also I think it's in human nature with females in general. I try to not do that. I try to go into it positive, but there's definitely that weird thing where if this girl fucks up this thing, that means I'm better. There's always this weird "I want what she has because I can't have it" or "She has it and I want it now." It's kind of like girls with boyfriends. I've dated guys where no girl would talk to them and then suddenly they're all talking to them when I'm dating them. It's happened to my friends too. "I want what she has," that whole thing. But it definitely has to do with the media too, constantly comparing girls and putting girl
s against each other.

How did 'My Molly' come about?

I've known Ariel [Pink] for a long time and it really was just for fun. He sent me the original 'My Molly' and I just rearranged it a bit and changed some of the words and made it related to me. Basically it was like, I'm in LA, he's in LA, let's just record it. It was fun, we hung out. Then we made a video for it. It wasn't anything really official, that's why I didn't really put my name, and Ariel didn't really put his name, 'cos it's neither of our songs, it's just a song. So we put it out for fun. Maybe we'll do more together.

This record was a long, long time coming and you've said you're ready to move onto the next thing. So, what's going on with new material?

I have a few ideas about stuff I want to do. I feel like most people don't have the pressures I had for my first album. I had second album pressure for my first album. Maybe it'll turn into something else but I'm just working on stuff for fun. That's what balances out the rest of the stuff that has to do with being an artist. The best part is making the music. That's what keeps me feeling good about all of it, so I try to fit it in as much as possible.

Cool, thanks Sky. You should come to Australia.

Yeah, I'd love to! [At this point, PR cuts in: "She'll be there end of March"] Oh, yeah! I'm coming in March, I guess. I've never been before but I'm very excited.