She might not be at this moment, but she’s there. Where the funniest, most self-deprecating and lonely Internet souls find themselves, Ferreira is right there with them. Before artists like Frank Ocean or Taylor Swift joined the blogger-friendly site, Ferreira was there with all the late-night weirdos, with all the unpopular misfits. She was on it, doing her own thing, before it was cool.
That seems to be the trend of Ferreira’s rise to critical and popular success. She’s always been tapped into her own world before letting us into it. She’s made her mistakes, some publicly, some not. She’s battled with her record label on everything from putting out music to eye make-up. Her debut album, Night Time, My Time, was delayed for five years, stuck in the ether of re-writes and record company strangleholds. She’s attempted to do it her way the whole time, but has been at the mercy of contracts and “life coaches” for some time now.
With the release of her album following two standout EPs, she’s finally taking control of her own career.
At the very young age of 14, Ferreira started to write songs and produce her own bedroom tunes. It’s always been pop but with an edge and sincerity. She’s crossed over genres with both Ghost — her breakout EP — and one-off tracks that have floated around the US and UK Billboard charts, but pop is her go-to.
Using MySpace as her first medium, the California native gained the attention of several record companies and was signed to a deal in 2009 “right off the bat,” she said in an interview with BlackBook. That’s when the trouble with grown-ups began. Strangers in suits began to run her career early on, 50-year-old men were telling her how to be a teenage girl and the music sat on the consoles of studios unheard as her fan base — especially on social media — began to grow.
Then the arrest happened. LSD for her, heroin for him. Drug charges for her and her boyfriend, Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV, sent her orange jumpsuit-included mug shot viral online and the bad girl reputation was in full swing. Her mom found out about it on CNN, friends back home gave her the cold shoulder, the media ate it up. Then something funny happened. Pitchfork gave her album one of the best reviews of the year and the music was able to speak for itself.
The album is an electropop joyride that hits high and positive in right ways and goes deep into dark corners of her head. There’s confusion in the songwriting as well as light. Admittance about a sexual abuse she went through and dealing with certain chapters of her childhood life. Some haunted, some hopeful.
“I think I literally just snapped and hit rock bottom,” she told The Guardian about talking to someone about the sexual abuse. “I didn’t understand it when I was younger, and then it happened again when I was older and that’s when I decided to move to New York.”
Later in that same interview, she goes on to talk about the gratitude she had for people connecting to her debut album. It was a long time coming, but the delayed period seemed to have made for a fuller, more realized collection. It’s an album about maturity and discovery. She dealt with the trauma and is now able to go through it with her fans on the other side of the studio walls.
“Because not everyone’s happy,” she told The Guardian. “Most people aren’t in love, and even when they are they’re miserable a lot of the time.”
After the success of Night Time, My Time, phone calls came in asking her to guest on songs, to go on tours. Record execs loosened up and began to trust her more. But all the while, Ferreira stayed confident and kept to herself. Just like always.
With her music success, she still acts and models to pay the studio bills. It gives her the opportunity to be more creatively free in her music career. She’s working now on being more of a singular artist and is happy to move on from her first album to hopefully many more.
As far as touring, Ferreira joined Miley Cyrus on her Bangerz World Tour after meeting the fellow “controversial” artist on Twitter. Cyrus invited her to the album release party for Bangerz and the two hit it off.
“It was nice to be around someone who wasn’t competitive — girls can be so competitive — or worried about how to act,” she told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “She didn’t care about who I was, someone who wasn’t judging me for once.”
Performing tonight at Foellinger, Ferreira is now making the rounds on her own. She’s her own headlining act and still doing it her way.
Sky Ferreira performs tonight, Thursday, October 23rd at Foellinger Auditorium as a part of Star Course’s show series. She’s joined by local Single Player, and show starts at 8 p.m.