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SKY FERREIRA: Night Time, My Time

SKY FERREIRA: Night Time, My Time

Sky Ferreira’s Debut Album (SFDA) is a rare thing in the early 21st Century. Not because it’s been breathlessly hyped and endlessly anticipated – the world is full of talented young self-promoters with Internet connections and legions of online followers. What makes Night Time, My Time so unique – and refreshing – is the precise manner in which it delivers, under potentially crushing expectations.

Fans and critics have been unanimous in their praise. “(It’s) not only here,” wrote Pitchfork, “it’s one of the most pleasingly conventional and cohesive pieces of pop-rock to come along this year,” “as raw, untamed, and arresting as the artist herself (Entertainment Weekly),” the album “places her squarely at the center of contemporary female pop (New York Times).” Stereogum declared the LP “one of the best albums of 2013,” presumably to beat the year-end rush.

The long story behind SFDA began in notoriously grungy Venice Beach, CA, where Sky Tonia Ferreira was born (on July 8, 1992) and raised by her maternal grandmother – who happened to tour as a hairstylist for Michael Jackson. And he happened to hear a twelve-year-old Ferreira singing (especially serendipitous, as the child had previously been too shy to even speak for two years). The King of Pop encouraged her to sing gospel and to study opera.

Work on SFDA kicked off in professional earnest within a few years, after Ferreira signed with the UK’s Parlophone Records – home of the Beatles, Radiohead, and Coldplay. At seventeen, Sky began collaborating with a list of white-hot pop songwriters and producers: Bloodshy & Avant (Britney Spears), Greg Kurstin (P!nk),  and Linda Perry (Gwen Stafani). Ferreira released singles and videos for “One” and “Obsession.” Five of those songs were compiled on the EP As If! – which dropped on March 22, 2011, via Parlophone in the UK and Capitol Records in the US.

Meanwhile, the modeling career Ferreira had fallen into took off. She signed with IMG (Kate Moss, Kate Upton, Giselle). She became the face of cK1, Forever 21, and Redken. She worked with photographers including Hedi Slimane, Mert & Markus, and Terry Richardson. She appeared in the pages of Vogue, W and Interview.

The writing process resumed, with a more mature Ferreira feeling out a grown-up sound, with a new list of acclaimed collaborators, including Shirley Manson (Garbage), Jon Brion (Fiona Apple), Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Blake Mills (Apple), and Ariel Rechtshaid (Vampire Weekend).

In October 2012, Capitol released her second EP, Ghost. It featured singles and videos for the ‘90s-radio throwback “Red Lips” and the haunting ballad “Sad Dreams.” The mid-tempo dance jam “Everything Is Embarrassing” – written by Ferreira with Hynes and Rechtshaid – generated by far the biggest buzz. The Grant Singer-directed video eclipsed a million-and-a-half YouTube views. Ferriera performed the song, backed by the Roots, on the Jimmy Fallon Show. And the year-end issues of Spin and New York named the track among the Songs of 2012.

Eager to capture the momentum, Ferreira later enlisted Rechtshaid and his protégé, Justin Raisen to finish the LP. The trio had already created some of the singer’s live killers, including “24 Hours,” “Ain’t Your Right,” and “You’re Not The One.” They thrived under the scrutiny, and the intense pressure of finally delivering a finished LP. Within a week, they’d finished writing and tracking six brand new songs. SFDA would share a title with the final track they completed: Night Time, My Time.

After four-plus years of work on several dozen tracks, with scores of collaborators, Sky Ferreira’s Debut Album suddenly surfaced in full. SFDA would have a single producer (Rechtshaid), a co-producer (Raisen), and a unified sound that circumstances would have prohibited during any other period of the artist’s career, working any other way.

But Night Time, My Time is entirely Ferreira’s. It’s bound to please fans of Madonna, Cat Power, Robyn, Britney Spears, Courtney Love – owing a debt to all of them, without cribbing slavishly from any. Ferreira’s ultimate role as the catalyst of SFDA’s frenetic completion (and on-time delivery) provided her with the leverage to fight for (and receive) an Executive Producer credit. Such acknowledgment of command is virtually unprecedented for a debut LP, on a major label, by an artist of any age – or any gender.

Sky Ferreira has survived – the online hype, the snowballing expectations, the ch-ch-ch-changes that occur to all of us from ages seventeen to twenty-one. By those standards Night Time, My Time is a minor miracle – its release a momentous accomplishment. Its reception as “both an impressive artistic statement and a fitting declaration of independence” (Atlantic Weekly) makes it truly one-of-a-kind.

Night Time, My Time is available now.

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