Sky Ferreira Hold's Her Own For Pitchfork

Sky Ferreira lets it all out in a open mouth interview with Pitchfork magazine talking, drugs, body image, sex and growing up in the lime light of it all.

Reaching 21 years of age is considered a rite of passage for most young people, but for Sky Ferreira, who did so just three months ago, the milestone is little more than a marker of where she's been so far. "I've literally been doing this half my life, since I was a preteen," she exclaims, referring to her well-documented origin story as a major-label casualty-turned-major-label outsider (while still being on a major label). We've just sat down at Brooklyn eatery Cubana Social, and Ferreira is extremely amiable, prone to exaggerated facial expressions and gesticulation; she's in constant motion throughout our conversation. Coming off of a busy day that included a photo shoot in Manhattan, she's decked in a backwards leather cap and oversized buffalo plaid flannel—a baggy slacker in fishnets.

"I was told it was never going to happen because I couldn't meet their standards—but their standards are just terrible," Ferreira sighs, talking about the many industry types she's tangled with since uploading her songs to Myspace at 14. "I didn't have anyone looking out for me, just people that wanted jobs at labels." She says she's made around 400 songs with myriad producers during her time as a Capitol Records artist, most of them left on the cutting room floor. "That was the entire fight: I wasn't going to be what they wanted me to be because I couldn't do what they wanted me to do."

Accordingly, Ferreira half-jokingly describes her debut album, Night Time, My Time, as five years in the making. But the truth is a bit more complicated. The record was largely written and recorded just last month, save for the glistening highlights "24 Hours" and first single "You're Not the One", which date back about a year and a half. "I was in a different headspace when I wrote those songs," she explains. "I had been dating someone for three years, since I was 17, and that person guarded me from everything. I never went out or did anything at all—I modelled, I wrote songs, and then I went home and watched TV. I didn't have a chance to discover myself. I wasn't really living." The shininess of those two songs stand in stark contrast with the rest of Night Time, a grime-flecked pop record that's more uniform and confident than last year's grab-baggy Ghost EP. Lyrically, the record zeroes in on themes of regret, co-dependency, abuse, and self-reflection. "A lot happened within the last year and a half," Ferreira says, declining to go into specifics.

"I had a lot of anger in me." That mercurial sense of being—somewhere between angst and anguish, between feeling like a victim of your own circumstances and owning your flaws—is reflected in the record's slyly iridescent textures created by Ferreira and her creative collaborators Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Little Boots) and Ariel Rechtshaid (Vampire Weekend, Haim). After the trio decided on the album's tone, Ferreira and Raisen "slammed out" the record over several weeks.

Night Time's quick-and-dirty genesis extends to its controversial cover art, which features a topless Ferreira standing in a shower with a drowned look on her face, a beaded streak of condensation separating her from the camera's leering lens. The photo was shot by controversy-baiting French director Gaspar Nóe, who Ferreira met at a party in L.A. earlier this year. "There was a point where I was in Paris every two weeks for about six months, so we'd always meet up and gossip," she says. The unnerving portrait was shot at Paris' Hotel Amour, where Nóe and his girlfriend were staying at the time. And, according to Ferreira, the nudity was a result of practicality rather than salaciousness. "Initially, we thought, 'I'll stand in the shower because the green wall looks cool,'" she explains. "And then it was like, 'Why is she dressed in the shower? This looks fucking weird.'"

The album cover drew mixed responses, especially from Capitol. "They sent photos of me from two years ago and were like, 'Can you use this as the album cover?'" she says. But the singer held her ground: "It's hard enough to be a woman making music at all, but I'm not going to start covering myself up just to seem more credible—I'm going to embrace my sexuality because I have every right to."

Even with the hubbub surrounding the cover, Ferreira's recent arrest for drug possession with boyfriend and DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith has proven far greater a distraction leading up to the album's release. "People think it's just another publicity thing, but the timing couldn't have been worse," Ferreira sighs. "I've been working so long towards putting this record out, but the arrest overshadows it. No one pays attention to any of my achievements, but the moment my mug shot ends up on the internet, people actually paid attention." In the weeks following the arrest and the subsequent fallout, Ferreira found an unexpected shoulder to lean on: Cat Power's Chan Marshall, who met the singer this past summer at a music festival. "She reached out to me the night I got arrested, and I told her what happened. It was nice having some support from someone who obviously I really admire—a woman, too. I don't really have someone to look up to in that sense." "People take anything I do the wrong way— I tend to bring out the love/hate thing with a lot of people."

Pitchfork: Self-deprecation seems to be a theme that runs throug your music.

Sky Ferreira: It's a personal issue of mine, for sure. This record is really honest. In some ways, I was trying to make it universally relatable, but it's obviously about myself. I felt like it needed to be personal—otherwise, it would've sounded like every other pop record.

I wouldn't say I'm a negative person, but I certainly read into things pretty hard. I'm self-destructive in some ways, so with each thing that happens to me, I observe and try to fix my flaws. I'll be like, "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with my life? Let me obsess over it!" I'll be really upset about it. That's why I have to make my music sound airy.

Pitchfork: "Omanko" is one of the more dissonant songs on the album. How did that one come about? SF: Justin and I were messing around, and we were like, "We like Suicide, let's do a Suicide song for fun." Then we were like, "Wait, it's actually kind of good." So we put it on the record.

Pitchfork: That song takes its title from Japanese slang for female genitalia—are you worried about people thinking that you're just going for shock value? SF: Oh, I'm sure. People take anything I do the wrong way. [laughs] I tend to bring out the love/hate thing with a lot of people. It's fine. For some reason, a lot of these people who have been following me for so long feel like they know me and own me. Because I'm in public or on the internet, they feel like they have some ownership over me, so they're allowed to do and think whatever they want towards me—and I certainly don't help the situation. I could see how some things I do annoy people. But people don't really know me as a person, so I try not to take it too personally.

Pitchfork: Do you feel like you receive more scrutiny as a woman making music than you would if you were a man? SF: In some sense. If a guy said the things I say, it would be considered a lot more credible: "He's being a rockstar." For me, they're like, "Oh, she's having a meltdown, it's a publicity stunt." Everything I do is an "image thing"—every band has an image, that's not new. It's been that way for 100 years.

Pitchfork: Some have suggested that you shedding your pop-friendly sound for darker, more consciously "indie" sounds was a calculated move.

SF: It's frustrating. I was 14 when I started to make music and I didn't know what I was doing. People change, though. I was learning, and I had to go through a lot. I'm not trying to make people feel bad for me or anything, but it was a process, and I don't regret any of it. The thing is, I could understand people thinking that about me if I tried to brush my past to the corner, but I'm the first one to be like, "Yeah, I made those songs." And they're not bad for what they were—maybe they were bad, but I made them.

I've literally had to go through all my awkward stages in public. I was doing interviews at 16 and I didn't know what I was talking about. I was just joking around. People still bring up things to me that I said five years ago. People want you to stay a certain way because they like you better that way. Then some people don't like that version, so they say, "You're a fake." You're either too ugly or too pretty. Too fat or too skinny. You're on drugs or you're too prude. If you're friendly, you're fake. If you are mean, you're a bitch. I just realized that you can't satisfy everyone. Courtesy of

Extra| Sky Ferreira Talks to Fuses John Norris

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