Sky Ferreira really can do it all, being a model, singer, actress and songwriter.
She started singing at age 15 and was signed to a major label by age 17. Her song "Everything is Embarrassing" was named one of the best of 2012 by Spin Magazine and Pitchfork Media, among others. This year, at age 21, she appeared in Eli Roth's movie The Green Inferno and released the album Night Time, My Time.
She recently opened for Vampire Weekend and is slated to perform with Miley Cyrus in 2014.
Windy City Times talked with the multifaceted artist backstage before a recent Chicago show to get to know the petite girl behind the big voice.
Windy City Times: Hi, Sky. It is freezing outside and you have fans waiting in the cold for you.
Sky Ferreira: I know; it's pretty crazy.
WCT: First off, is your name Native American?
Sky Ferreira: Yes, at least the "Sky." I am assuming so. Ferreira is Portuguese.
WCT: How many languages do you speak?
Sky Ferreira: I only speak English. I used to speak Portuguese. I still kind of understand it because my parents spoke it around me when I was younger. It is like when you grow up around English and speak because of everyone else.
WCT: Have you been to Brazil?
Sky Ferreira: I have been there once.
WCT: I was listening to your album Night Time, My Time. Can you talk about my favorite track, "Love in Stereo?"
Sky Ferreira: "Love in Stereo" was one of the first songs I recorded for the album. It was funny because it was the last one I added. I wanted to put one more song and "Love in Stereo" seemed to fit somehow.
WCT: Is the album very '80s-influenced?
Sky Ferreira: I guess so. It wound up sounding like it so, subconsciously, yes. I didn't mean for it to be.
WCT: Who are your favorite '80s musicians?
Sky Ferreira: I have always liked Blondie and Tears For Fears. I think I was listening to more '70s bands when I was making this album. The hooks are definitely '80s-ish.
WCT: How does it feel to have the whole album out, finally?
Sky Ferreira: It is more starting to sink in because it seemed to take forever. I was wondering if would ever happen. When it did I was wondering why I didn't feel different. I woke up and felt the same.
WCT: After watching the video for "You Are Not the One" I am still not sure what it's about. Is it finding a soulmate or falling in love with the wrong person?
Sky Ferreira: A bit of both. [Laughs]
WCT: It has a scary finish at the end.
Sky Ferreira: Yeah, it is kind of funny to put a twist at the end of the video instead of putting some girl just chasing after a guy. It turns out that she's just crazy!
WCT: Did you have a lot of say in the treatment of the video?
Sky Ferreira: Oh, yeah. We had the video planned for awhile.
WCT: You started singing when you were very young. What advice would you give to an artist like Lorde?
Sky Ferreira: Lorde seems to have a good head on her shoulders. You have to do what you want but obviously listen to people because it is still a job. If your gut is telling you no then you probably shouldn't do it.
WCT: After growing up with Michael Jackson, you must have amazing stories about him.
Sky Ferreira: Yes, he was a big influence on my life.
WCT: Did he make you want to perform?
Sky Ferreira: I always kind of did but he helped me own it.
WCT: With belting out these songs, it must be tough to perform them live.
Sky Ferreira: It can be hard but when I have a vocal strain it is really hard. I am taking December off to get my voice back.
WCT: This is your last show for awhile, then?
Sky Ferreira: I am doing David Letterman and an in-store thing on Monday but that is it.
WCT: I wonder if David will ask to talk to you after the set.
Sky Ferreira: [Chuckles] Maybe.
WCT: You performed in Chicago at the Pitchfork Festival this past summer. How do you feel that went?
Sky Ferreira: I was surprised at the outcome because there were so many kids there. I was expecting more more cynical people and stereotypes. I was in a weird headspace, too. I was thinking about things. I wasn't on drugs or anything when I was crying. I was having a meltdown and very emotional. I was emotionally rundown at that moment.
WCT: Well, you have to take care of yourself. So next year you open for Miley Cyrus. That is huge.
Sky Ferreira: Yeah, it is pretty big.
WCT: How do you expect it will go?
Sky Ferreira: I am very excited and she is really cool. I have never toured with girls before and it is an all girl tour. There are moments on my own tour where it is such a guy thing.
WCT: You are surrounded by guys around here!
Sky Ferreira: My whole band are guys. They are sitting around eating pork butt!
WCT: Are you vegetarian?
Sky Ferreira: I kind of am but I am not. I don't really have a label. People take that stuff very seriously. I don't really eat dairy or meat very often if ever. I listen to what my body really wants.
WCT: Are you a big animal lover?
Sky Ferreira: I am, but I wear leather so I don't like to be too preachy about it because I am not in a position to preach.
WCT: I know you tweet to Miley. Do you feel a bond with her for starting out so young?
Sky Ferreira: Her thing is way different than mine, obviously, but I understand what she goes through. People have been picking on her lately and making her a subject to write about. It is common thing with us being told what to do that we sell more or wear more of this when that is not really the case.
WCT: I would think she is just a normal girl.
Sky Ferreira: She is very much in control of what she does whether people like it or not that is the thing about her. To say there is a group of people telling her what to do is not correct.
WCT: I noticed you are very active on Twitter.
Sky Ferreira: Well, I started on social media. I was signed off of MySpace so I feel that it is important to maintain that. It is how I keep a connection with my fans.
WCT: You say some smart things on there, such as not talking about other artists.
Sky Ferreira: I am not trying to seem like I am above anyone. There is an artist that has been talking about me in interviews and I find that annoying. I didn't even say anything about them in an interview but it got twisted around and they made something out of it. The person probably thought I was saying something about them but it wasn't that bad. The fact is everyone does it all the time. I just don't see the point in doing that.
You are going to see these people for a long time in the future, at festivals and different things. When you are out at the same time you are playing music around the same group of people. We are all doing the same thing differently so I don't really see the issue. I don't see how that solves anything, either.
WCT: Don't worry. I am not that kind of journalist.
Sky Ferreira: Totally, but around other artists we are just trying to all do the same thing. What is the point of dragging someone else down?
WCT: You are originally from LA but live in New York now?
Sky Ferreira: I have lived in New York for five years. I go to LA a lot so I split my time between both. I have not had the chance to miss LA. I go to New York to be inspired but I go to LA to finish the songs.
WCT: While you are in Chicago you should perform at a gay bar.
Sky Ferreira: I used to do it all the time.
WCT: Like Splash in New York?
Sky Ferreira: I played at Splash when I was a teenager.
WCT: When you weren't even old enough to get in?
Sky Ferreira: No; I was 18. When I went to New York I used to only go to gay bars because my friends always went.
WCT: What's in the future for Sky?
Sky Ferreira: I have already started writing music so at least an EP or something. I still have to release this record everywhere else. I am trying to release extra songs for that because the thing is it has already leaked. My label doesn't seem to understand how that works. Their jobs would be easier if they did. That is what people do. It is important to have new content on top of it all.
WCT: Would you like to do more dance music?
Sky Ferreira: That is the thing. I go between both. I test everything. Now I don't have pressure so I can just have fun!
Visit skyferreira.tumblr.com for more on Ferreira.