Sky Ferreira on Music, Fashion and Making Out With Tarantulas

Sky Ferreira and her peers Grimes and Charli XCX -- nouveau '90s songstresses who double as muses for the world's leading designers -- don’t shy away from the glamour of the pop and fashion worlds. But they aren’t about to let themselves be subsumed by it. Sky Ferreira, for one, has a rare approachability in her songs and style. She may not know who she is -- yet. But she always stays true to herself.

From her gloom-dance pièce de résistance “Everything Is Embarrassing” to the grungy “Red Lips,” the recently turned-21-year-old singer has tried a grab bag of sounds, all rooted in pop, leading up to her forthcoming debut album. So far Ferreira’s eclectic approach has worked in her favor: It’s another one of the things that makes her so relatable. She's upfront that her sonic style is a work-in-progress-- and has been for four years, when she inked her first label deal-- and she embraces her missteps.

When she played at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, for example, she self-consciously tugged at her T-shirt as she sang from the shadows and, at one point, stopped mid-song to start over. The next day, at her Pitchfork Festival set, Ferreira broke down in tears while singing “Ghost” because she was moved by the lyrics of the song and the large crowd that had gathered to see her.

When it comes to her style, though, Ferreira is confident. She has plenty of reason to be, too: Ferreira starred in Saint Laurent’s pre-fall ‘13 look book, was the face of Forever 21’s festival collection, and has covered several magazines this year alone. (Last year, she landed onto the front of V Magazine along with her cohorts Grimes and Charli XCX.)

Despite these high-profile campaigns, Ferreira remains down to earth. Accordingly, her style is a mix of high- and low-brow; it has a grungy-gamine vibe, with Ferreira favoriting schoolish mini-skirts, combat boots, button-ups, and moto jackets -- ensembles that the average girl is much more likely to don than, say, Gaga's warped white ski goggles.

While at Pitchfork, Hive took a few moments to talk with Ferreira about her future plans, freeing herself from material things, and that time she made out with a taxidermy tarantula for Terry Richardson. Her reaction to the spidery kiss? Well, that was relatable too.

Do you see overlap between your style and music?

Yeah, I think the two go hand-in-hand. My style is myself and then my music is also myself.

How would you describe your style today?

It’s actually a dress but it was too skanky to wear by itself so I put the skirt over it. It’s pretty much what I wear in the “Everything Is Embarrassing” video. I do have very specific things I like: short skirts, black, boots.

Do you have plans to switch up your look closer to your next release?

Yeah, for certain things. But really I just wear whatever I feel comfortable in or whatever suits the song, video.

Would you say there’s much of a divide between what you wear on-stage and what you wear off-stage?

No, because I would feel way too uncomfortable. Maybe later on, but, at this point, it’s pretty much the same.

Are these pieces you’ve had for a while?

I’ve had this [dress] since I was 16. My mom would never let me wear it, that’s why I remember. It’s a short dress and it’s basically see-through. This is an American Apparel skirt. And then I pretty much always wear some type of boot.

It seems like your clothing is really accessible, which is a little surprising considering you’ve been doing high-fashion shoots.

Yeah, I like to dress up for events, but if I’m sitting in a grass field I don’t want to feel uncomfortable — but it’s kind of hot for this, which I’m just realizing now. I’ve gotten more sophisticated and taken more risks as I’ve gotten older but I’ve always pretty much dressed the same.

So I’m wondering if your new short haircut is inspired by Debbie Harry or early Courtney Love.

It was a different haircut when it first started. The more photoshoots I did, they just kept chopping away at it. Now it’s just growing in so I’m trying to make it work. It’s going through that weird awkward, mullet stage so I’m trying to maintain it. If anything, at the moment, it’s more Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner.

Is there one sentimental thing that you always travel with?

No. I used to have this ring from someone in my family but I gave it to a friend. They needed it. I wore it on the cover of the Ghost EP. It has a black jewel on it and it’s gold.

You seem unattached to material things.

I want to be able to survive without material things so I try not to get too attached to them. I wanna be successful and live comfortably, but is my goal to be filthy rich? No, not really. I do love flying first class or something if I have the opportunity to but I never want that to be my motivation to keep working.

You said recently that you only model to pay your bills—

That was kind of taken out of context. I said I do that for a job because I also do it to help pay for my music and my videos and stuff. They kind of edited that and it made me angry because I love fashion—that’s why I’m involved with it—and those are my friends and support. I was angry at how that interview turned out. It is a job for me, and I do it for money, but I also do it to fund my art.

Yeah, and I’m sure it helps you stay inspired.

That’s what I was saying in the interview. Whatever.

So you don’t have plans to withdraw from fashion when your music takes off?

No, not at all. It will probably be less because I won’t have the time and [there will be] certain things I won’t have to do.

Do you have any desire to design your own line one day?

Maybe. If I do it, I actually want to do it [myself]. Obviously I will need help, but I want to be very much involved. I wouldn’t just want someone else designing it and putting my name or face on it. My taste is really specific and people would know it’s not me.

I talked to Charli XCX about her style right after you shot the cover for V with Grimes. She said it was kind of an ordeal because all of the mice were relieving themselves on her. Do you have any horror stories from shoots?

One of those mice bit me. There have been shoots where I have to be like, “Don’t do that.” I did have a tarantula on me when Terry Richardson shot me. That wasn’t a horror story, but it was terrifying. It wasn’t live tarantula, it was a taxidermied one. I got tarantula splinters all throughout my tongue and couldn’t get them out. My mouth was on fire. I was freaking the fuck out.

I’ve also had shoots where they really chopped my hair off. But I didn’t want to be that person who was crying over their hair so I was like, “It’ll grow back.” I’ve had people dye my hair weird colors. I’ve had my eyebrows bleached and then bleached to red, so I had to walk around with blonde hair and red eyebrows. Or I’ve had to wear things that I really don’t like. When I did the shoot with Charli and Grimes there were these magnet earrings and I had to take them off because they were so heavy and something popped in my ear.

Are you more vocal now about not doing things you don’t want to?

It depends. The thing is, now people are hiring me more as an artist than a model.

Are you close with Charli XCX and Grimes?

Yeah, I talk to them over direct message or something. I’ll try to go to Charli’s shows when she’s here, but it’s hard because she lives in England. I hung out with Grimes at the Met ball. We both kind of were like, “Uh, we don’t know anyone here.” The people I knew there were designers and they were obviously busy. But that situation was so weird and it was both of our first [Met balls] and we had to go by ourselves so we kind of stuck together with that.

I saw you were also hanging out with Frank Ocean that night -- you guys took an epic picture that involved ski masks.

Yes, he fucking stole my ski mask. I never got it back. I want my ski mask back! (No, it’s fine, he can have it.)

Is he someone you’d bring in for your album?

I don’t really know him that well, but I’d never be opposed to working with Frank Ocean. He’s awesome.

How do you feel about being heralded as this new group of DIY pop artists along with Grimes and Charli?

It’s weird because I’m not part of a DIY scene, but I don’t have as many people helping me out as people would think because I’m on a major label. Actually, a lot of people don’t do what they’re supposed to do. So it’s really just me. Life would be a lot easier if I was a part of that because I do have to go through people and maneuver my way through people, but I only have myself to trust.

Grimes does all of her own artwork and produces herself, but it doesn’t make anyone less of any artist because they don’t do that. Michael Jackson didn’t do all of it himself. I’m really glad that I’m associated with a group of girls that are cool and aren’t catty. They want to do something different and they’re supportive of each other, and I think that’s really important. You don’t see it often, especially in music or film. I guess girls kind of relate to us in some way.

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