It’s been a little over nine months since Sky Ferreira released her “Ghost” EP, which included the magnificent breakout single “Everything is Embarrassing,” and fans of the 21-year-old California native are hungry for more personal indie-pop tunes. Before taking the stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago on Sunday afternoon (July 21), Ferreira chatted with Billboard about why her long-awaited debut album — which, it was revealed last week in a GQ interview, will be released in 2014 — has taken so long to reach fans.
“It wasn’t delayed or anything,” Ferreira, who was first signed to a record deal at the age of 17, tells Billboard about her debut LP. “The mixes were getting rushed, and it wasn’t as good as it could be. I feel like I’ve waited so long that I need to be satisfied with it, and the quality of it needs to be up there… I am not a fan of things being delayed, but I thought this one actually was for the best.”
Ferreira says that “I almost feel like I have the second-album pressure for my first album,” but is embracing that pressure after years of toiling away in what she lovingly refers to as “record label hell.” After releasing a handful of singles in 2010 and subsequently seeing her album shelved, her “Ghost” EP was released last October on Capitol Records to critical acclaim. “Everything is Embarrassing,” which was concocted with producer/songwriters Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid, has sold 19,000 downloads to date according to Nielsen SoundScan, and was among the best-reviewed pop singles of 2012 (it landed at No. 9 on our own list).
To tide fans over before next year’s album release, Ferreira will release a new EP in September, and says that “there’s gonna be a video and stuff for that.” In the meantime, the singer is still honing her live show, which is centered around the “Ghost” EP as well as new material like “24 Hours,” which was presented as a breathless pop-rock anthem at Pitchfork Fest on Sunday.
“With me, performing isn’t secondary, but I would say it doesn’t come as naturally as writing or singing,” Ferreira admits. “I get really anxious about performing, to be honest. I have really bad stage fright. It’s only happened in the past few years, as I got older, for some reason.”
Part of Ferreira’s problem are the memories of performing during her teenage years: she recalls popping up on European television shows, being asked to sing to a backing track, and not having any idea how to beguile an audience. “There would be things written about me that I could not handle,” she says. “That kind of traumatized me when it comes to playing live. I’m putting myself out there, so it’s a very vulnerable thing for me.” Hours after speaking to Billboard, Ferreira proceeded to break down in tears during her performance of the ballad “Ghost” at Pitchfork Fest, earning wild applause for that aforementioned vulnerability.
Ferreira says on multiple occasions that she’s still “figuring everything out,” but that she’s immensely appreciative of the attention that the “Ghost” EP and its lead single have given her. “It’s nice to see some momentum finally happening after five years. It was constantly, ‘Oh, she’s about to go,’ and it stops. It’s nice to have [my career] going towards something — I don’t know what, but something.”