“The thing is I don’t know when to shut my mouth. That’s the problem.”
Sky Ferreira is an ‘it’ girl.
Immortalized by the industry’s top photographers (Rankin, for instance, took the snapshot above), suited and styled by the most desirable modern couturiers, and produced by arguably the biggiest names in the music industry, the 18-year-old Los Angeles native has certainly made a name for herself far before ever…well, making a name for herself. Yet.
After sending out a MySpace message to Swedish power pop producers Bloodshy & Avant back in 2006 begging for a collaboration and armed with nothing but a few raw demos, the singer was stunned when she received an answer back inviting her to come record with the duo. Suddenly she was off to Stockholm, and so began her formal endeavor into the industry.
With her first single already making waves in the UK–the infectious, stuttering electro-pop smash, “One”–as well as an upcoming Ryan Tedder-produced single due out in the US later this summer (“Obsession”), Ferreira is now heading full steam toward her long-awaited debut record, currently slated for release in January. (Click here to hear a 30-second sample of the song now!)
I got the chance to speak to the rising starlet last week during her promotional spin around Londontown. Barring an impromptu (albeit hilarious) cameo by PopJustice and more than a few Britney related questions on my end, Ferreira had lots to say about her music, the industry, and the culture of leaks (of the musical variety). Oh yes, and I asked how she gets her hair so nice.
Oh, hi! Sky?!
Hi! How are you today?
I’m good. How are you?
I’m good. How is London treating you?
Well, my name’s Brad. I’m the editor of a pop blog in the states called MuuMuse. I have to let you know that I’m actually recording this on my iPad, so it’s kind of like a wave of the future right now [laughs]. You’ve always been a buzz artist–kind of just below the radar for the past couple of years. I was wondering what it was that really brought you from demos on MySpace to working with pretty much every producer in the industry?
Oh, I–I don’t even know! Greg Kurstin, Paul Epworth, Bloodshy and Avant–they pretty much jumped on board before any of the labels.
Is it true that it was because you sent a message right to Bloodshy?
Very bold! That’s amazing!
Yeah. That all happened and then, I don’t know, it just started happening and I spoke to the producers and we got along really well.
Now you have your first single in the UK called “One,” which is amazing. As far as the music is concerned, how does “One” compare to the sound of your album right now?
My album? Well, I don’t want to say all over the place. It’s pretty consistent. “One” is similar, but each song is something way different, which is how a record should be. It should never be all the same songs–it can have a similar sound, but just not the same songs, you know? “One” is by Bloodshy and Avant. They pretty much did more than half of my record. They executive produced it.
Oh, wow! How was it working with them?
We worked really well together, I think. We go back so long now–now almost four years.
Did you work in the U.S. on it? Did you fly over?
I worked in Sweden.
Oh, wow! Just like Britney.[Laughs] Yeah.
On a similar note: I don’t want to turn this into a Britney-fest, but did any of the songs you’re working on actually come from Britney’s sessions, like from Blackout?
No. I’ve written for Britney, but none of the songs I’ve ever done were Britney songs. There was one song I almost sang on that was a Britney song, but it wasn’t a Bloodshy and Avant. It was a song called “Follow My Fingers.”
Was that written by Nicole Morier? That’s happening?
Yeah, it was written by Nicole. No, it didn’t end up happening. I didn’t end up getting it because I usually end up writing my own stuff with other writers, and not songs that are already done. But yeah, that was the only Britney song I’ve ever heard of that was hers once. I’ve written for her, but that’s as far as it goes. None of my songs were actually for her, you know?
Right, you just submitted them?
Yeah. Nothing that’s on my record was ever written for her. Everything that’s on my record was written for my record.
You said your record’s very eclectic because it has different producers and sounds. You also have a single in the U.S. coming up with Ryan Tedder called “Obsession.” I think Ryan’s kind of known for his really big ballads with people like Beyonce, Leona Lewis, and Kelly Clarkson, but I know this is an uptempo song. Can you tell us anything about it?
It’s very poppy, and it has like a Gary Glitter chant in the intro. I would say it’s glam rock-based, but… [Laughs] It’s not glam rock-based, because Gary Glitter is glam rock, but it’s very bold.
How would you say it compares to “One”? Is it entirely different in terms of style?
Um… [Starts laughing]. Sorry! I just looked at my phone and looked at Twitter and PopJustice goes, “I just did a very shit phone interview with Sky Ferreira!”
[Gasps!] Are you serious?!
Yeah! Well, I was just saying I don’t want to be–I want to be successful and I want to be a pop star, but I don’t want to be famous, if that makes sense. I don’t want to be a tabloid person.
Okay. Did you fight with him about it?
Oh no. Actually, I was just half-fighting with him earlier on Twitter about the Spice Girls and Girls Aloud.
Really? Well, I just fucked up that website–oh! [Laughs]
No. I’m sorry!
It’s okay! I’m putting him on blast and it hasn’t even been ten minutes! [Laughs]
Maybe he’s kidding. You know that’s his sense of humor.
I’m sure it’s fine. Do you know when “Obsession” is coming out?
“Obsession” should be out end of August, I think. Or early September.
Is the album still coming out on January 11th?
January 1st. I think it’s the first, but I don’t know–I might have it confused. It just looks like a day that goes one one one one one one.
Well, you have to keep that. I think that’s the most genius idea ever. You definitely have to release on a day of all ones.
I wanted to ask, we’re kind of in a culture where illegal downloading is considered the norm. There’s things like iLeaks.com and forums. What do you think about that and how that may affect the career and the music you make and work hard on?
That’s the thing. I also kind of got in a weird conversation about this with him [PopJustice]. He said it’s not the random people that you mind having the songs, it’s the money. But I was like, that’s not it. I worked very long on this–anyways.
I just feel like people that are my fans…you can listen to the song and stream it, but I don’t know. The leaked downloads and stuff? I know people think that’s helping–well, it’s not people that’s helping. It’s usually people you know and have this problem with you. That’s what happened with Ke$ha, right? The person who leaked her pictures or whatever.
Anyways, that’s all I have! This career I do–it’s one of the only ways I make money and I just–it frustrates me. I mean I understand that people want the songs, and that’s cool, but don’t you think you want the finished product instead of some demo? I understand people having it, but it’s like, if you’re such a big fan then why are you doing that? And then I see people selling stuff on eBay and selling the demos to people…
Yep. That happened last night, actually. Two Britney demos leaked.
Yeah, I don’t know. It’s so weird. I don’t know. I don’ want people angry with me, but it’s like–I’m trying my best to support it, but I don’t at the same time. I don’t mind getting free music, but the stuff that’s on my record, I do mind! [Laughs]
But nonetheless, you’ve managed to avoid leaks at a huge level, considering the amount of people you’ve worked with compared to artists like Ke$ha. You have really had a huge seal on your music. Why do you think that is?
I was really careful about who I gave my songs to, except like twice, and that’s why I know who has them because I never give my songs to too many people ever. I think there’s only two people who have my songs and I know who they are. That’s why I get frustrated because I know who those people are. The thing is there’s nothing you can do because they deny it too, so it’s really frustrating. But I’ve been really careful about that.
It’s hard to say because at the same time it increases your exposure and it gets you new fans.
Yeah. That’s the hard thing about it. At the same time, it’s extremely upsetting.
I think they’re building a new business model around streaming and things like that instead of downloads, because the leaks are definitely affecting…
But everyone finds a way to get stuff. It’s just weird because these people who are your fans will also be the people who re-post your blackmail photos. You know what I’m talking about, right?
I do. Absolutely! It is an interesting culture. People want a piece of you, I guess.
But without your fans you’re nothing, so it’s a really thin line to cross. So it’s like, do I say anything? Then I’m like, “Fuck that. I’m going to say something!” I’m terrible. The thing is I don’t know when to shut my mouth. That’s the problem. I’m the worst about that.
Have you done anything unfortunate lately? Have you said anything bad?
No, I never say anything bad, but I’m sarcastic a lot. The thing is I don’t actually diss people. I point out things that they do. I would flat out say something to you, but I wonlt say “Oh, I hate this person” because there is no one I actually hate.
I’m always like “This person, I don’t agree what they do and this thing and that thing, but I really do like their song,” but I never really talk shit about people. If someone asks me a question, why am I going to pretend? Would you rather me be a liar?
You’re speaking your mind. That’s what you think.
That’s the problem. I don’t know.
I have a few questions from fans and readers that submitted them! I’ll warn you, they get random, but it’s all out of love I guess.
Cool. That’s fine! I hope I don’t come across as a bitch or something. I totally appreciate my fans!
No, no. It’s totally fine. They’re silly more than anything. Let’s see: What song would you love to cover?
“Life On Mars” (David Bowie) without ruining it. I love covering songs though, obviously. I cover a lot of stuff. “Stand Back” (Stevie Nicks) and “Animal” (Miike Snow). I just really like covering songs and having a different take on it, and I like singing. [Laughs]
I think you put a really different spin on each song that you cover. Okay, what music did you grow up listening to?
Um…Britney Spears! [Laughs] Elton John. The thing is I like the whole Top 40 stuff, but I also like The Misfits, Marc Bolan, David Bowie and April March–I like all different genres. It’s not a problem, but it’s hard for people to understand sometimes why I do certain music, because I want to be able to do all different types of music.
If you listen to Britney…I’ll just say, I’m the number one Britney fan. I said that. What are you favorite Britney songs?
“Born to Make You Happy” was my first official–“Sometimes” too, when I was like six or seven. “Born To Make You Happy” was my first favorite. I liked the music video for “Sometimes” when I was little. I like “Lucky,” “Overprotected,” “Boys,” and the whole Blackout album. The whole Blackout album was so good. It’s still one of my favorite albums.
Amazing. That’s actually another one of the questions. What are your favorite albums of all time?
The thing is I like more songs than I like albums, so I’d pick greatest hits for everyone. [Laughs]
I love songs, so maybe I should answer the question that way. “Life On Mars” and “h! You Pretty Things” by David Bowie. And “The Man Who Sold The World.” “Cosmic Dancer” by T-Rex. The whole Blackout album. “As Tears Go By” by The Rolling Stones. “Bang Bang” by Nancy Sinatra. Early Madonna is my favorite. And Vanity 6, “Nasty Girl.”
I’m guessing you heard “Sex Rules.” Did you?
Oh, yes. Yep. I listened to it literally all day yesterday.
Yeah, that’s based off of Vanity 6.
Oh, that’s perfect! I always complain that we need an artist that brings Vanity 6 back. It’s that vibe. Playful, sexy, but really danceable. Is it going to be on the album?
Yeah, that’s one of my favorites. It’s definitely going to be on the album. That was like the first demo.
I was going to say that was probably like an early demo, and that it hasn’t been mastered or anything.
What products do you use for your hair?
Uhh..That’s so weird. [Laughs] I use Mane n’ Tails conditioner. I swear on my life.
You do have very nice hair. Finally, where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself with a lot more records and different music projects. Happy and successful.
Aw, good! I really appreciate you talking to me. Very excited for the album. I wish you loads of success!
Have fun in London. I’ll talk to you soon!
Thanks! Nice speaking to you!
Many thanks to RJ Kozain for providing the transcription of this interview.
For more on Sky Ferreira, click here to visit her official website or her Twitter.
And If you haven’t already, please check out Sam Lansky’s guest Muuse, “Fame Fatale: The Rise of Sky Ferreira” right here.