Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1083

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Dua Lipa: Modelled on success

Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa Dua Lipa Dua Lipa Dua Lipa

“Everything's been really exciting. It's been a massive whirlwind, the whole experience. I've learned so much about the way I like to write and I've learned so much about myself. It's just been a really great couple of years, creating this album” as Dua Lipa begins speaking about her self-titled debut album. With the release of her top 10 single “New Love” in 2015, Lipa went from a promising talent to one of the UK's hottest up-and-coming stars. Like many other millennials dreaming of a career in music, the 21-year-old London-born pop songstress began by posting covers online. With a deep, soulful tone, songwriting ability and super-models looks, Lipa ultimately inked a deal with Warner Music. Further chart success came with the release of singles “Hotter Than Hell” and “Let Me Blow Your Mind (Mwah)”. But it was her collaborations with Sean Paul and DJ Martin Garrix that would earn her accolades, including an Ebba Award and a prestigious spot on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. As this artist adjusts to life in the spotlight, she chats to B&S about her upcoming studio album, and how she's handling her success. “The album is essentially a pop album” Lipa continues. It's a very personal album, it's a lot about heartbreak and love and loss which is kind of where I'm at the moment…I'm just excited for everyone to hear it”.

With a crew of super producers at her disposal like Steven 'KOZ' Kozmeniuk and Jon Levine, famed for their work with Kendrick Lamar and Nelly Furtado respectively, Lipa says the recording and writing process was beyond her wildest dreams. (Making the album has been) “everything I expected and more, it's just been incredible. I've really, really, just had THE best time.”

Born to Kosovar-Albanian parents, Lipa moved to Kosovo at age 11 but would return to London to live with friends by age 15. Restaurant and hostessing jobs meant that Lipa became independent and self-sufficient early in life. The experience, Lipa says, helped prepare her for the challenges of the music industry. “That definitely helped me with being independent and confident. It really helped because it influenced my writing. When I was living on my own I really focused my attention on just wanting to do music. I just pushed and pushed, when you're living alone, you realise no one's going to tidy up after you, you just have to get up and do everything yourself. That's when I realised no one's going to go out there and get my dreams for me, I'm going to have to go out and work really hard to get them. It was those years of my life that were really telling, that's what pushed me to do this as a career”.

That kind of maturity and insight are also apparent when discussing the pressure of her workload and hectic touring schedule “You know what, there are times when I find it overwhelming but I'm really learning to be present and take it all in, take it in my stride…to go easy and just enjoy the ride. There's so many things coming up, everything's going to be super busy and hectic but it's really important to just be present and enjoy every moment”.

With her star on the rise, Lipa is now being approached by fans. On adapting to the gradual loss of anonymity she says “it never used to happen and it's only now that it's kind of escalated to another level where (I) do get recognised occasionally” Lipa humbly admits. “It throws me off a bit because I'm like ‘are they talking to me?’ (laughs). But I embrace it of course. It's nice to be recognised for my music. It's really lovely”.

On playing live Lipa declares “Absolutely! I get nervous before every show but if there wasn't that adrenaline and excitement I'd probably stop doing this. I think that's something that really drives me and I love it. Playing live is really fun, getting the chance to experience different crowds in different countries and cities is really magical. I love that process so much”. With her album tour beginning in October, there are sure be many more magical experiences on the horizon. “I'm so looking forward (to the album tour). I've been waiting such a long time to get these songs out from the album and now to get to perform them is really exciting”.

While she first captured the attention of industry pundits with her YouTube performances, Lipa is not without her own musical connections. Her dad, Dukagkin Lipa, is a major star in his homeland of Kosovo. Lipa goes on to explain how her family and friends have reacted to her achievements. “They've all been so supportive. I guess we're all kind of learning together and experiencing these things for the first time together. It's just been really exciting and I feel very lucky to be so supported. When they have the opportunity, they come and travel with me. It's been really magical”.

“I remember finding out and I absolutely screamed, 'Oh my god, my song's going to be on the radio for the first time!' Sharing with a smile. “I knew it was going to be on (BBC) Radio 1, Annie Mac was going to premiere my song “Be The One” for the first time. I was in the studio and I said “I'm not going to get the tube in case I miss it” so I got a cab and asked (the driver) to turn on the radio. When I got home the song still hadn't played, so I ran into the living room and put the radio on. The second I did that, Annie was introducing my song and basically, I crumbled to the floor. It was amazing, such a great feeling.”

On her recent collaborations with other artists, Lipa explains how she initially hooked up with Sean Paul to record the track “No Lie” saying “The Sean Paul one was written by two of my friends Andrew (Jackson) and Emily (Warren) alongside Sean. I heard the track and I loved it but I didn't really think anything of it. Then Emily messaged me saying ‘would you like to try and cut it? Sean would like to try a new artist’. And I said ‘absolutely, I'd love to try it’. Sean loved it and we had a song together without even meeting each other! Then with Martin (Garrix on “Scared To Be Lonely”), he reached out and he wanted me on the track.” Lipa’s list of dream collaborations could also make for some very interesting future duets. She continues “Oh, I'd love to work with Nelly Furtado or Pink. I would also love to work with Frank Ocean or Kendrick Lamar.

Although she's become known for dance-floor fillers, Lipa’s album also features some heartfelt ballads which showcase her more sensitive side along with her full vocal range. “It's just another side of all the music that I love and that inspires me”. Adding, “I feel like once the album comes out like I said, it's a pop album but it touches on different genres. I feel like it will give people a chance to get to know me and who I am as an artist. That's really important to me”.

“It's crazy!” Mentioning her experience of the American talk show circuit. “With something like Jimmy Fallon, obviously it's something that we can watch on telly in the UK when I was younger, but you just know how much of a big deal it is in America. You always watch the Jimmy Fallon shows on YouTube whenever you have an actress that you really like or if there's another artist on there that you want to watch their performance and it's such a big deal. There's so many people in America that watch it so to know that, getting up there to perform a song and getting to experience that moment is so surreal. Obviously, my goal is to get my music out to as many people as possible and knowing that so many people will hear it is insane”.

Unlike many artists who release their debut studio album, Lipa has already got numerous music videos under her belt. From the urban block-party atmosphere of “Let Me Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” to the sultry sophistication of “Thinking 'Bout You”, Dua says the video making process is one that she enjoys. “The whole process of making videos is about bringing another dimension to the music and you want it to try to mirror what you're trying to say in the song in a certain way, but it's so exciting and really enjoy it. I really love working with friends. It's great, it's another side to the job that I love”.

Already lauded by fashion bibles Vogue and Allure for her finely honed style, Lipa's mix of 90's grunge and 21st-century boho chic has made her something of a fashion icon in the making. Lipa, however, is clear that her primary focus is always her music “Maybe (I'd consider fashion and makeup lines) I'm really just music oriented. I feel like if you have good songs nothing else matters. All the other stuff is really fun, designing clothing and making perfume and make-up but for now, my only purpose and what I'm trying to do is just create good music”.

Dua Lipa's self titled album is out now on Warner Bros
Words Karen Lawler

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