The soulful dark pop star plays by her own rules. Dua Lipa is only 22-years-old but you would never guess it from a conversation. Her voice is raspy and mature, and she exudes a certain confidence and wisdom in her words that far surpasses her age.
Not only does the British singer of Albanian descent know what she wants as an artist, but she’s not afraid to vocalize it and do things her way. With her catchy songs, unique style, and strong vocals, Dua’s on the fast climb to becoming the defining pop voice of this generation.
Dua first started exploring her passion for music in her London hometown via YouTube video covers at 15-years-old. But in just a few short years that passion transformed into commercial success. Today Dua Lipa is the most streamed female artist, with her single “New Rules” being streamed over 1 billion times. The single has also scored her a spot on Billboard’s top ten chart. Her self-titled album landed her the lead at the Brit Award’s with five nominations, surpassing Ed Sheeran. At the award show, she nabbed the British Female Solo Artist title and was voted British Breakthrough artist. She’s also performed on SNL, Ellen, and Jimmy Kimmel, and did I mention that this was all at the beginning of 2018? There’s no denying that Dua is one to watch this year and for many years to come. She has the perfect recipe for success: immense talent, a captivating presence and a strong work ethic that has seen her touring since 2016.
Despite the accolades that Dua has achieved, her humility and authenticity keep her from getting too caught up in it. For Dua, success means constantly growing, creating and becoming better and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Dua is currently working on her second album, which she describes as soulful, and we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
HOLR: When did you first become interested in a career in music?
Dua Lipa: I was surrounded by music from a very young age so it was always something that interested me. My father was a musician and music was always played around the house so it just always kind of had a big impact on me.
H: What were some of your musical influences when you were growing up?
DL: From pop artists like Nelly Furtado, Pink and Destiny’s Child to British Rock and all the different artists that my family listened to. It was really whatever was being played at home.
H: You’ve described your style as dark pop. Why?
DL: Well, I was calling it dark pop for quite a while because I felt like all the songs were very pop but the music behind it was a little bit darker. And I wanted it to be something that would make you dance, but at the same time make you cry. So that was kind of the basis for it. I guess as time went on, I kind of thought that what I do is pop music but it’s diverse, and touches on lots of different genres, so it’s kind of hard for me to just put it in one bracket.
H: You’ve mentioned that you grew up listening to a lot of strong female pop artists. How do you hope to use your voice to empower girls and women?
DL: I would like to be a role model and set a good example. I think the best thing in order for us to move forward is for girls to stick together and to fight for equality and support one another. We need to work together to fight for the future. And if I can make music that kind of aids this movement or even make a soundtrack that resonates with this period of change then I’m going to try and do my part.
H: How is the industry changing right now for female singers?
DL: I think there are lots of female artists that are coming up on the scene. I don’t know if it’s so much of a change or if there are just a lot more women breaking through. Everyone is so brilliant and so talented that it’s the time for everybody to come out and be heard. A lot of female pop artists are coming out and working on their new projects and I guess it has given me a bit of leeway to break through as a new artist and as a female artist. So I don’t think it’s changing, I think there are just more of us.
H: How do you stay true to yourself in an industry like this?
DL: I think I’ve always been quite certain in the kind of music I want to make, what I want to wear, what my videos are going to look like. For me to stay true to myself, I just have to do the things that make me proud — things that I know will make me happy — and I feel like that’s the most important thing. I just know that the second that I do something that I don’t necessarily want to, it will definitely be something that I would regret.
H: When did you first start writing songs?
DL: I think I wrote my first song when I was about five. I wrote it with my dad at home as a joke because it was a song I wrote for my mum. I would go around the house and I’d be like, “when I grow up, can I have your dress?” “and when I grow up can I have your shoes?” That was kind of my first little try at it and my dad still sings it to me as a joke. I only really started to take music seriously at the age of 15. When I was like “okay this is what I actually want to do.” And I started getting myself into sessions and I think it was at that time that I properly sat down and wrote songs at around 15 or 16-years-old.
H: What’s the writing process like for you?
DL: I think it’s changed a bit over time. Especially now with what I’ve been working on. But I always start with the things that have happened in my life. So those are the things that inspire me the most. I always feel like I have a lot to talk about. Especially when I’m kind of going through something and I write them all down. Then I go into the studio and make up melodies and put the words that I’ve just written to the melody. I make the melody fit around the words.
H: How did New Rules happen?
DL: New Rules was written by some friends of mine, Caroline Ailin, Emily Warren and Ian Kirkpatrick. They worked on the song together and then sent it to me. I was so in love with it right away. I could really relate to it, but to them it was like a really, really sad song. Yet when I heard it, I instantly knew what I wanted to do with it and I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like. I had this image that I found on the Internet of an 80’s campaign with Naomi Campbell on the shoulders or the back of another model. I liked the colours and the clothes; everything looked really beautiful, but it was really the message behind it that inspired me. It felt very empowered, and that’s where I also got the flamingo idea. Then I was working with a director called Henry Scholfield, who previously did the video for New Rules called Lost in Your Light and he worked really well with choreography, so I thought he would be perfect for it, to recreate the idea and all the synchronization. I wanted all of these things to come together to show another person’s story. To show friends helping each other. And to stay away from something that’s toxic, not necessarily just an ex but something that no longer makes you happy.
H: You’ve been touring since 2016. How has that been for you?
DL: It’s been crazy. But I feel like I’ve grown a lot. And every night getting up on stage and learning more about myself and learning how to deal with the audience. Learning how to not be afraid and just get up and dance – not be shy. I feel like I’m learning every day. Especially while I’m on tour.
H: Do you have any preshow rituals?
DL: My band and I listen to Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, Roar, Dark Horse and then we listen to Kendrick (Lamar) and we all sing along to every single one of the words and then we go on stage.
H: You recently started writing your second album in Jamaica?
DL: Yeah, I went to Jamaica for two weeks and just wrote every single day. It was just brilliant actually; it worked out very well, and we got some brilliant songs. I’m really over the moon about this second album. It’s really shaping up. It’s still pop but it’s also a lot more soulful – and it’s just very honest.
H: Do you know when that might be coming out?
DL: I actually don’t know yet. I’m not really in any rush. Only because I just released a new single and I’ll be releasing one more while touring. I’ll be touring until July.
H: You’ve had a lot of success recently, one of them being booked for SNL. How did you find out about that?
DL: I got a text from my manager and I just couldn’t believe it. It’s just insane and so surreal. I don’t know, it’s crazy. I’m just so excited. It’s such a recognized show and to be a part of it and quite early in my career, I’m so thankful for it. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. The nerves never really die down. But I think it’s going to be fun.
H: How do you feel about being nominated for the British Awards?
DL: It’s such a big celebration of British Music and to be nominated not once, but five times, it’s just mind-blowing. I just keep pinching myself.
H: How are you dealing with some of the pressures associated with fame?
DL: I think people being interested in my personal life is not something I will ever get used to. I also think, for example, dealing with a breakup is hard enough but dealing with it in the public eye is probably even harder. Well, from my own experience, it is. But also when people have no idea what’s going on and they message you and all you can think is that they have no clue. But, whatever, what can you do? I really don’t think I’ll ever get used to people commenting on my private life, so I’m just taking it step by step. It’s a lot of just removing myself from social media and taking breaks from it here and there. That’s been quite helpful. I’ll delete the app for a few days then download it again, then delete it again.
H: How do you define success?
DL: I’m not quite sure how to answer that question because I think there will always be the next milestone I’ll be trying to reach. But I think, you have to outgrow yourself every day. Just learn from all of your experiences and just try to grow and become better and be more in touch with yourself. Learn what’s best for you.
Favourite song right now: Oh gosh, I don’t know. When I’m writing my own stuff I try not to listen to other music so that it doesn’t influence me. But I’m really liking the song Unravel Me by Sabrina Claudio.
Favourite artist: Pink
Favourite song to dance to: Bodak Yellow by Cardi B
Favourite movie: Kill Bill
Favourite Netflix show: Black Mirror
Favourite city to visit: New York
Favourite meal: Fish and Chips
To keep up with Due Lipa’s latest albums and tour dates, visit the website at www.dualipa.com
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