Gen V: Sky Ferreira

Gen V: Sky Ferreira

Gen V: Sky Ferreira

One of this generation's most talked about musicians is back and better than ever, as she discusses the music industry and taking control of her sound again.

One of this generation's most talked about musicians is back and better than ever, as she discusses the music industry and taking control of her sound again.

Photography: Richard Burbridge

Styling: Nicola Formichetti

Styling: Davey Sutton

Text: Kevin Ponce

Although it’s been a long time coming, make no mistake–this is not a comeback for Sky Ferreira. From dropping her first EP As If!, to the release of her smash single “Everything Is Embarrassing” and her debut album Night Time, My Time, there hasn’t been a playlist or a Pinterest board that hasn’t included Sky. “The fact that people are still listening to [the first album] after so long says something of substance. Whether people in the business want to acknowledge it–I don't really care. I don't make music for record label executives.” says Ferreira. Having once defined the sound of the early 2010s, an inspiring time in pop culture where every facet was supercharged by the creativity birthed by the new generation, Sky’s impact remains as strong as ever–even after nearly a decade. “[When I started], I was 21–then you take away eight years of my life, and in that sense, you might as well be taking out 50,” she says. “I feel like there's more to lose than ever before.” Even after exciting listeners with the surprise release of her single “Don’t Forget”, off the upcoming second album, Masochism, fans can still expect to see the same old Sky, both in and out of the studio. “I just want control over my music and my career again. Where I have some say in when people can hear [the music]. I haven't been allowed to [have a say] this whole time, and a lot of [those years] was about coming to terms with that. I think I did that through this music.” 

Sky wears dress Valentino

When I think of pink, I just think of certain time periods–it reminds me of the eighties. There’s something quite mystical and dreamy about it.Sky Ferreira

Below, discover an extended Q+A with Sky Ferreira!

V Magazine: Do you remember one of your first shoots for V? I believe you were dressed up in an homage to Madonna.

Sky Ferreira: That was so fun! Madonna's been a hero my entire life. I would be crazy to act like, 'oh yeah, I like Madonna....' No—I'm obsessed with Madonna! *laughs* She's been a huge influence on me, and she's influenced pretty much every girl in a way, even if they don't know it in pop music.

V: But apart from this shoot, you have been in our pages quite often!

SF: I've had quite a few and they have always been a lot of fun. I love doing V. I love everyone at V. My first shoot was when I just turned 17. Stephen Gan is responsible for my whole modeling chapter if you think about it! *laughs*

V: Then came your last cover story for us when you were with the girls, Grimes and Charli XCX. You were actually interviewed by Elton John, which is amazing. I apologize that I couldn't be Elton John today for you, but it's fine.

SF: *laughs* It's okay. At the time, I was working with him, and he was managing me.

V: Wait what?!

SF: Yeah! I was being managed by Elton John right before "Everything is Embarrassing". I'm still shocked by it.  It definitely helped to have Elton [by my side] because everyone in my label was scared of him. *laughs*

V: Going into your art now, do you always sort of have a heavy hand in the way you put out your work into the world?

SF: Yeah, definitely. This time, it was different for me and it's funny cause now, I'm stuck kind of doing that even at the end. I'll usually have all the references, the idea, and the execution of it, but a lot of the time I end up having to be involved in the production part of it too, just to make sure that everything's happening smoothly because I don't really have an army of people behind me to do that. This time, I wasn't and it got a little weird for that reason. Visually, ["Don't Forget"] looks amazing and it's a good video. I'm just trying to make sure it's not just right, but that it has to be really good because it's my first video in I don't even know how many years. *laughs* I'm a very visual artist, at least [that's] how I do things usually. I think as an artist when people can see what I have in mind visually, I feel more understood. [Even] when I write music, it's a visual thing. I do usually see the video as I'm writing it, you know? Even though it wasn't exactly what I saw because I could afford to do that. I try to take things that I'm inspired by and interpret them. I take the influences I have and take elements that might not make sense, [yet] somehow they make sense by the end of it.

V: Why is now the best time to get everything out there? Did you just find that safe space, along with the time and energy, to allow yourself to create? Walk me through your mind frame a bit, over the last few years.

SF: I literally had [Masochism] in my mind since 2014. It's gone through a lot of different phases of what it should be but I'm not glad that it took this long, because I didn't want it to sleep this long. I wasn't allowed to release anything, to be straightforward. I was basically shelved without anyone outwardly saying it, but they were doing it. I wasn't allowed to really do anything and it didn't really make sense. It wasn't like I was doing nothing for those eight years, you know? Luckily, I got to collaborate with a lot of people–I was always working on music, doing film stuff, and also touring. [When I started], I was 21–then you take away eight years of my life, and in that sense, you might as well be taking out like 50. It feels like I'm 50 years old or something, and it's deranged that it's like that. [Although], I feel like most people actually do their best work when they're not 20 years old. I did feel robbed of opportunity in a lot of ways that I made for myself, that people kind of blocked out. And a lot of [those years] was about coming to terms with that. I think I did that through this music and I could justify it, you know? [Don’t Forget] is actually sort of about that. If I did this sooner, there were a lot of things I wouldn't have known or experienced either, even people I met and worked with, maybe that wouldn't have happened. It gave me freedom [but yet], I had no freedom ironically because a lot of the time I was suffering through it. I felt trapped and I wasn't really allowed to do anything. I wasn't allowed to work with a lot of people, the circumstances were always crazy. The thing is though, something came out of that, but also it made me weirdly end up circling back musically to what I already do.

V: Do you feel like you've grown creatively since you first made your debut up until now?

SF: I do think I've grown musically, as a producer and writer. I'm really proud that I have a sound that I can identify with. I don't make the same type of music genre, I never did. Even with Ghost or Night Time, My Time, there are a few elements that make it cohesive because I believe in making cohesive albums, but there are a lot of songs that are different.

Sky wears all clothing and accessories CELINE HOMME by Hedi Slimane // On hair Maui Moisture Nourish & Moisture Coconut Milk Curl Foam Mousse / On eyes Dior Beauty Mono Couleur Couture in #098 Black Bow / On lips Dior Beauty Rouge Dior Lipstick in #343 Panarea

V: I can definitely see that. Do you ever feel like there's pressure to sort of keep your songs the same way it has been prior, and have to keep a unison of sound in your body of work? Do you ever let it get to you when making something new?

SF: People are going be disappointed if you don't make something that doesn't sound like your other stuff and people are gonna be disappointed if you do. But also ‘Don’t Forget' sounds like me, and now people are getting confused thinking it sounds like [something] off my last record. I don't know what single song in my last record that sounds like this.

V: Ahh, that's just the public! 

SF: You can't win 'em all, and I’ve learned that very early on along the way. I think it's helped me stay in my lane. I'm definitely a head-first approach [kind of artist] because that's the only way I can really get stuff done. Even though I'm very thoughtful about what I do and it takes longer, I'm very detailed. I'm very much an all-or-nothing person. I'm just glad that it's all starting to come out. I just want control over my music and my career again. Where I have some say in when people can hear [the music]. I haven't been allowed to [have a say] this whole time, [even though] I've been talking about it for years. You know, you hear about the stuff that's wrong with this industry, and you think of artists like Jojo, who was fucked over for years, and Tinashe and Cassie. Everyone likes to pull out the ruler of success and why an artist can do [something] because there’s some logic behind it, as if there's some structured business model, but it's obvious they don't have this business model figured out yet. I feel like there's more to lose than ever before and I have a lot more to prove. It's like, oh, 'why don't you have millions of streams?' Well, I'm not given the same [tools] to be able to do that like most people, quite frankly. I don't make my music for the sake of streams. It's not hard to come up with something that's easy to digest, not that my songs are very complicated. I don't consider myself to be a very polarizing person, but I do seem to get some kind of love, hate reaction from a lot of people–that's how it's always been. A bit of chaos always kind of follows me around even when I'm literally by myself.

V: *laughs* why do you think that is that way?

SF: It's not like I'm purposely doing it, but I have noticed that I find myself being an easy pawn for people to do some weird shit. There are very necessary details that people conveniently leave out as a lot of people [have] chosen narratives for me about how things happen. I've bit my tongue for a long time on a lot of things, [but] people just continuously roll with it, it's odd.

V: With the gap in between studio albums, do you ever feel like you have to give your fans something classically Sky like your first album?

SF: The people that have supported my music and listened to it throughout the years, I do feel obligated to give them something good. But at the same time, I'm not going to follow the trends of whatever sounds everyone else likes, you know? I do think for the type of sound I have, I'm quite proud of myself that I sound like me, and I have that. I feel like that's what most people are searching for–searching to find something that [feels like] themselves, and [finding] consistency in their work, without even knowing it.

V: I definitely think you finding your sound so early on is a success, in anyone's definition of that word, and there's no doubt in my mind it will continue.

SF: It's weird when people started calling me a cult thing. I've noticed lately [people saying] ‘you're kind of like a cult figure or something.’ and I'm like, ‘what? I'm not even 30! *laughs* but, I want to be very successful. I want to do this for the rest of my life and never be at the mercy of people ever again, especially after the nine years I’ve had. I’m not saying I'm aiming to get a number one or something, but I just want the freedom to do whatever I want to do musically and be able to present it the way I want.

Credits: PHOTOGRAPHY RICHARD BURBRIDGE / FASHION DIRECTION NICOLA FORMICHETTI / STYLED BY DAVEY SUTTON / ASSISTED BY HUNTER CLEM / HAIR (IRIS, KID, MALIKA) NIKKI NELMS (JESS MOLONEY MGMT) FOR MAUI MOISTURE / HAIR (SHYGIRL, SKY) NIKKI NELMS (JESS MOLONEY MGMT) FOR RED BY KISS / HAIR (CHARLI, EARTHEATER, RINA) NIKKI NELMS (JESS MOLONEY MGMT) FOR GOODY HAIR / HAIR (EVAN) ASHLEY STEWART / MAKEUP RAISA FLOWERS (EDMA) / MANICURE (IRIS, SHYGIRL, EVAN, SKY) LEANNE WOODLEY / MANICURE (CHARLI, KID, MALIKA, RINA, EARTHEATER ) JIN SOON CHOI (HOME AGENCY) / DIGITAL TECHNICIAN NICK BARR / PHOTO ASSISTANTS PETER SISKOS, JESSE ALLAN /  STYLIST ASSISTANT EMMA V. OLECK / MAKEUP ASSISTANT EUNICE KRISTEN / HAIR ASSISTANTS ASHLEY STEWART, TRISHA JOHNSON

UP NEXT

Gen V: Charli XCX
The singer-songwriter is pulling a fast one on her fans with her rollercoaster ride of a year, and shows no signs of slowing down