Stay with me on this one, because not only is it true, but I can explain why. For those who don’t know who Sky Ferreira is (and I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that there are quite a few who don’t), she’s the twenty-year old, red lipstick wearing, bleach-blonde tousled coif-sporting, pop starlet, perhaps best known for her most recent release, a short but sweet five-track EP entitled Ghost. If you’re unfamiliar with Ferreira’s music, that’s okay; there isn’t much in her discography to examine, but she’s been around and under the radar for a few years.
Ferreira first appeared on the music scene in 2009, releasing singles online after a quiet deal with Parlophone, eventually building up to her first EP in 2011, the saccharine, but sassy morsel of digi-pop entitled As If! After a whispered album announcement, Ferreira stayed relatively quiet until Ghost last year. In the massive amount of time between releases, Sky Ferreira developed an almost cult following online. People may recognize her sly smile and now almost signature hairstyle from the CK One fragrance and Jeremy Scott for Addidas ads; or, they may recognize her from countless shoots with fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Almost every Angeleno has run into her on a night out with Mark the Cobrasnake, and more than a few New Yorkers have caught her on the street, or at some New York Fashion Week after party. Without any substantial releases to her name, she still developed quite a loyal fan base, and an online presence (via Twitter, and Tumblr) that allowed her to promote her image, not necessarily, her music.
Her accessibility captures a growing trend not only in pop-music, but a generation of artists with internet access. People who are familiar with Sky tend to know more about her personal life, her clothes, who she’s currently hanging out with, and where she might be at any given time, but not her music. They know she was at the Jeremy Scott SS 2013 runway show in New York, but don’t know she had a career before Ghost. Despite the sizable popularity of songs like “Sex Rules,” “Obsession,” and “Haters Anonymous,” the momentum behind those tracks wasn’t enough to propel her to pop-superstar status, yet her internet presence has still made her a fixture on the pop scene. In the time between As If! and Ghost, Sky has already reinvented her image and her sound, all before a substantial full-length release, that was announced several years ago. She’s doing what Madonna did several albums in, without a real album. She’s connecting with over one-hundred thousand people on a daily basis on twitter, and she has to do is tweet about The Hobbit film franchise and maybe announce a small gig she’s doing.
I had a conversation with a colleague one day last summer, where we jokingly asked, “If it’s taking this long for an album release, what does Sky Ferreira do during the day?” That conversation and the jokes that came out of it, led me to create a fan fiction twitter, loosely inspired by the wildly funny and popular @LiloFanFiction (Lindsay Lohan fan fiction, which you should all follow). Fan fiction by definition, means that everything dictated is completely false and done solely for entertainment purposes. It is a parody. It is meant to make you laugh. I could go on about how humor only works when there’s a chance the situations presented could be real, but I think that’s implicit.
Needless to say, I had a lot of material to work with: Sky Ferreira has an online presence that’s understood, and a lot of people discuss her. Sometimes they say really nice things, but a lot of people, even professional bloggers who will remain unnamed, say less than flattering things about her talent and personal affairs. So I took it from there, and even just among my circle of followers, I got a lot of praise for @SkyFanFic. People responded really well, saying that the account itself and the tweets that came from it were really funny (and for people t0 say your tweets stand out in a spectrum of awful parody sites and dumb musings is a very strong compliment).
Then things got personal. The account started to set off quite quickly, and before I knew it Sky’s people were, as I found out “keeping an eye” on mine and my friends’ contributions to the site. I ended up letting someone else take over the entire account, and it continued to grow in popularity. Before I knew it though, all of us were blocked by Sky herself on twitter, and some people I know were being called out online by industry professionals for “being heartless” and”talking sh*t.” I went to see Sky Ferreira live at Bardot in Hollywood, and was encircled by several men claiming to be her friends who threatened me with violence and told me I would “pay” for being cruel (they didn’t do anything to me, and even then, it didn’t matter; the show was over). One of her friends asked me flat out where I “got off” talking so much trash on an “innocent” up-and-coming artist. Frankly, I didn’t have a response to that, because the account was no longer my own, but I threw my hands up and said I was glad my creation left such an impact on them. Sky herself deleted her tumblr after a lengthy blog post about people hating her anonymously online (to which I quietly sang her song “Haters Anonymous” to myself). Still, @SkyFanFic remained active and continued to grow in popularity. New fans were going through the archives, retweeting months-old entries, and the praise was higher than ever.
I could go on about the drama surrounding the account itself (like how Sky’s boyfriend, aspiring director Grant Singer, called me a “little bitch,” promising to “fuck me up”) but I’d rather address what @SkyFanFic has done for Sky Ferreira herself. I know it sounds absurd, but in a weird internet way, I noticed a lot of people who follow the account regularly ended up fawning over the Ghost EP, even going so far as to find out when she was playing gigs again, and attending them (the account has done a good job of being current with what Sky announces and tweets about). In spite of itself, @SkyFanFic actively promotes Sky Ferreira.
I know it’s hard to believe Sky, if you happen to be reading this, but your fans think the fan fiction twitter that parodies your life is funny. @SkyFanFic is supposed to be funny and a lot people who love your music and have followed you since 2009 when we first heard “17,” “Obsession,” “One,” and “Haters Anonymous” (MYSELF INCLUDED, BECAUSE I OWN ALL OF YOUR MUSIC) know that the things tweeted from that account are merely fantastical situations meant to make people laugh. The “fan” in “FanFic” rightly implies that your fans, people who understand and appreciate your talent and presence in the pop-music spectrum are the ones contributing and reading the account.
As an entity, Sky Ferreira represents a shift in how we accept and connect with current artists. An entire generation of fans who have grown up with the internet as a fixture in their lives now expect artists to have the same presence. Ferreira is no exception. With artists like Ferreira, we seem to care less about whether there’s an album, a tour, or anything substantial, but care more about what she’s doing with Terry Richardson at Chateau Marmont, or what she and Best Coast are tweeting to each other. Born in 1992, Sky and her peers know that the internet is where a persona develops and lives. It’s a marketing tool, it’s how she can get thousands of people to buy her EP on iTunes by issuing a 140 character announcement.
She’s hardly Madonna, but we like her because she’s accessible: an average 20 year old girl. The internet isn’t always kind though. For every person that likes you, there are hundreds more who don’t, and that’s okay. True artists can stand behind his or her work, and understand that it’s better to polarize public opinion, than have no one talking about you at all. By that measure, both Sky Ferreira and @SkyFanFic can claim success.
For now, you can continue to follow the singer’s completely fictionalized adventures at @SkyFanFic, and don’t forget to buy the Ghost EP, with the hit single “Everything Is Embarrassing” available on iTunes now.