Provocative Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira has now become the face of Illicit, Jimmy Choo’s new perfume. Rebellious and provocative, she’s about to release a second album with a telling title: Masochism. Numéro met up with her.
At the tender age of just 23, Sky Ferreira is not only well known for her music but also for her free spirit. And if the talented young singer songwriter acknowledges her fragilities, she’s turned them into a strength. She has now become the face of Illicit, Jimmy Choo’s new perfume. Rebellious and provocative, she’s about to release a second album with a telling title: Masochism.
“Illicit” is a word that perfectly suits Sky Ferreira. But rest assured, when Numéro met her in her suite at London’s Mondrian Hotel, the wildest girl in the indie rock scene had no new shenanigans to report. The September 2013 accusations of drug possession (with her boyfriend Zachary Cole Smith of the group DIIV) are now far behind her, as are all her adventures with her friends Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus (who she supported for the first half of her 2014 tour). If there’s a whiff of the illicit about the 23-year-old Californian, it’s the Jimmy Choo perfume of the same name for which she is now the official face, and for which she projects a grown-up and sophisticated new image in the ad campaign shot by Steven Klein. “It was time to reveal a different facet of my personality,” explains Ferreira. “Less adolescent, more of a woman. It’s also these partnerships that pay for my artistic freedom and allow me to take the time I need to make my second album.” The Venice Beach native already kept her record label waiting four years for her first album, whose release didn’t go as smoothly as it might have…
While in interview Ferreira tends to curl up and hide behind her long hair (which changes colour from week to week according to her mood – peroxide blonde, black, blue), her smoky gaze shrinking away from her interlocutor, she is also very candid and pragmatic and, like many of her generation, gives an unfiltered version of herself (if you discount the Instagram selfie filters this generation constantly uses). “At a very young age I learned that the only person I could count on to get what I wanted was myself,” she begins. And indeed, at just 15, Ferreira got in touch with the Swedish producers Bloodshy & Avant (Britney Spears, Madonna, Kylie Minogue) who were instantly charmed. She signed up with a big record label, Parlophone. She was immediately noticed by fashion designers like Hedi Slimane or Marc Jacobs, who featured her in one his 2013 runway shows. Her first album hadn’t even come out and already she was an it-girl on the cover of all the magazines, not to mention a celebrity tabloid victim. “You don’t know what you’re doing when you’re 15,” she admits. “I thought everything would be alright when the album came out. That I would finally be judged by my work.That was naïve. Too many people needed the rumours to continue – the marketing people to sell the album, the media to attract readers.”
For Ferreira lived out her teenage wildness live on the web in front of the whole world. And her music is a giant public catharsis for her existential problems. The title of her first album, Night Time, My Time, is a reference to words spoken in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks by the character Laura Palmer – a girl who was raped and killed by her father - and Ferreira has never hidden the fact that she was the victim of sexual abuse. Downfall and self abandonment have always been among people's most violent fascinations. “Being honest and vulnerable is for me the most heroic thing,” she explains. “Obviously, when you’re a female artist who exposes her rawness, people treat you as though you’re crazy and automatically think that you’re weak. But of course if it’s a man they think it’s moving. Whatever the circumstances, I believe you have to have failed to appreciate victory.” Hearing this, it doesn’t come as much of surprise to learn that the title of her next album (that some expected this year, but should probably be out in 2016) is Masochism. “I always believed you had to be worthy of love and happiness, that you had to have been unhappy to be happy, and that things had no meaning unless they were born in pain. The album’s title is a way for me to tackle that, and to try to move on… Even if I still look for problems.”
Ferreira laughs a lot, above all at herself, and is aware of the vacuity of what she can say sometimes, which proves how lucid and rational she is, a far cry from the completely fucked-up young Californians in Bret Easton Ellis’s The Informers, with whom people might at first be tempted to compare her. “Because I really don’t come from what you could call a conventional family,” she likes to underline. “My parents were too young and my grandmother stepped in. I learned very quickly to be independent. And that was the ‘difference’ that people didn’t like both at school and later… I always refused to fit into the box or to submit to rules. I think that all human beings deserve better than to follow a pre-set schema.” And Ferreira’s music certainly has nothing of the pre-set about it, with a highly eclectic mix of influences from dirty rock to electro. For her forthcoming album she promises a more aggressive, electronic sound. “David Lynch remains an essential influence,” she explains. “I took one of his classes when I was young. What’s more I’ve got far more technical knowhow in film than in music. When I compose I see my music, I don’t hear it.” And we shouldn’t forget one other essential influence. As a child, Ferreira often accompanied her hairdresser grandmother when she went to see one of her more illustrious clients – none other than Michael Jackson. She owes him a lot too.
Interview by Thibaut Wychowanok