Around 3 in the morning after the last Met Ball, the singer Sky Ferreira met one of her idols, Madonna.
“By ‘met,’ I mean ‘attacked,’ ” said Ferreira, 21, over iced tea at a Cuban restaurant in Brooklyn, where she lives. “I think I sat in her lap at one point.” She showed a photo of the two of them on her phone.
Ferreira’s first full-length album, “My Time, Night Time,” was released last fall by Capitol Records. The album and its first video, “You’re Not the One,” have a distinctly downtown, early ’80s, Madonna-at-Danceteria aesthetic, all slick hair and leather jackets.
But unlike her predecessor at this age, Ferreira already has a healthy sideline as a fashion model with many corporate clients. “For money,” she said. “But I do enjoy doing it.”
With her angular face and pouty lips, she has become a kind of muse to the Saint Laurent Paris designer Hedi Slimane, who featured her in pre-fall 2013 ads; she is wearing his lipstick shirt on another video, “I Blame Myself,” released recently in partnership with the website ssense.com, where fans can buy it. She has also appeared in ads for Tommy Hilfiger, CK One, Forever 21, Adidas, Myspace and H&M, and is represented by IMG Models.
She was also on tour, opening for Miley Cyrus and will perform at this weekend’s Movin’ On music festival.
Ferreira was raised in Venice Beach, Calif., and Hollywood by divorced parents and a grandmother. “I was so painfully shy that I became mute at one point,” she said. “I was like, ‘I have nothing to say anymore.’ ”
But she said that she always sang: “I was humming before I could talk. It was one of those things I knew what I was going to do.”
By 14, after she began posting demos she had written and photos to her Myspace page, she was approached by producers, including Bloodshy & Avant, who had worked with Britney Spears. Capitol Records signed her and, busy making a record and writing for other people, she dropped out of high school at 15.
“I kind of turned into an adult very quickly,” she said.
Ferreira, who plays “the bitchy friend” in Eli Roth’s coming movie “The Green Inferno,” flouted standard pop-star protocol by appearing on her album cover topless, in a shower, looking sinister. “My face at that moment was where my head space was at that day,” she said. “Not that day, but that week. I was having a very hard time.”
The nudity is something she shrugs off. “I don’t find it a big deal, personally,” she said. “I don’t think there is a rule book on being a feminist, but there are lots of people that will go back and forth about me being naked on my album cover. I read something so ridiculous: ‘She took off her top for record sales?’ You know what sells records at Wal-Mart? Girls with pretty faces, cropped and being nonoffensive. That’s what sells. Not someone who looks like they’re about to stab someone, naked in the shower.”
Despite two previous EPs, “As If!” (2011) and “Ghost” (2012), Ferreira has been on more than one occasion dismissed as just another fashionable girl of the moment. “I used to be a lot more bothered by it, because when people think of It girls, they don’t think of people with jobs,” she said. “They just think of socialites or someone who doesn’t really do anything.
“I’m not just going to events and hanging out with cool people, you know? I work every day. I’m in a van with 10 guys traveling the country.”
But she likes to reclaim her femininity while on tour, combing thrift stores for items like the vintage Chanel bomber jacket she found for $40 in Ohio, watching Lifetime movies and putting on makeup “to make myself feel like a girl again.”