THE FIRST THING I WANT TO KNOW is where Sky Ferreira’s been all night. She’s wearing a vintage tweed jacket and short skirt, her masses of tangled, dirty blonde hair spilling down to her waist, the half-sneer of a malcontent on her cherub-like face. “I’ve been rehearsing ten hours a day since I’ve been here,” she says of her stay in New York, but I still suspect she’s been up to no good. I’m just skeptical because I’ve seen the Cass Bird-directed video for her lead single, “17,” in which she ditches school, races off on the back of a motorcycle, gets into a club with a fake ID and rolls around in a black lace bra with an older boy.
So I wonder, is this L.A.-bred soon-to-be pop star much like that in real life? “I’m not like some train wreck who parties every night and gets wasted out of my mind,” she says, slumping in her chair and rolling her eyes. “I get my work done.” But she’s careful not to distance herself too much from the dangerous mix of precociousness and promiscuity the song deals with. She’s no Miley Cyrus, she’ll have you know. “My friends were a lot older,” she says vaguely, “so I went through things faster.”
She’s also tearing through the music industry faster (and earlier) than most, but not without all the attendant snags. A talented singer since she was a toddler, Ferreira was raised by her grandmother in Culver City, took opera lessons and sung in a gospel choir before she began posting her own demos on MySpace at 15. NYC fashion band the Virgins did a remix of one of her songs, and as she began working with well-known producers like Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen) and Paul Epworth (Kate Nash), word spread to record labels and a bidding war began.
EMI will release her debut full-length by the end of the year, but you get the sense, at least from Ferreira’s Twitter feed, that she’s not always completely happy about that. (Sample tweet: “Apparently I have to do tacky ‘radio friendly’ songs to make it. I think I’ll pass on ‘making it’ then. #wack.) Videos, too, are a point of complaint, vented on Twitter thusly: “fuck this. im using a @flipcamera for every video for now on. who needs ‘treatments’ and ‘red cameras’ newayz?” That tweet was in response to an opportunity to shoot a video with the exalted British photographer Rankin, who directed the clip for “One,” her new single. “I’m just over it,” Ferreira explains. “I’m being forced to do a song I don’t like, and then I have to make a video in one day when everyone else gets two."
Haters are also a real drag for Ferreira these days, and she assures me they are many. “I get a lot of shit for being so young and doing what I do,” she says. “People think I’m not good enough or whatever.” Meanwhile, she has gained early acceptance among a growing coterie of prominent artists, stylists and media players.
She gets to hang out at clubs most girls her age don’t even know exist. In L.A., she frequents the Roosevelt Hotel and the Standard, and she does admit she’s recently been to NYC celeb haunt Kenmare, where she spotted Björk in a bathrobe and slippers. Aha! So she has been partying. “Actually,” she says. “I got tired after like an hour.”