The last time we talked about Dua Lipa, we described her as hope for London pop thanks to her sonically adventurous and self-described “dark pop” – a genre identified by Dua’s smoky vocals on top of beats that are tinged with tropical house, synth-pop, dance, and electro-house. It’s a self-made label but it’s essentially Dua, a Kosovo native who moved to London at a young age to pursue music.
Despite her current rebranding as a superstar after being picked up by Warner Music, Dua began her humble journey by uploading covers on YouTube at the tender age of 14 where she sang songs by Christina Aguilera, Joss Stone, and more. While she is undeniably influenced by a lot of pop bangers, another side of her also enjoys the slick rhymes of Method Man and Redman. To get to know more about Dua Lipa’s rise to fame and everything surrounding this growing artiste, JUICE spent a few minutes on the phone with Dua where we talked about style, her “pinch me” moment, and that one artiste she’d like to work with.
“[New Rules] reminded me a lot of me and my girls, that’s what I wanted to convey.”
The music video for ‘New Rules’ is so well received that people are creating their own versions of it. How did you come up with the iconic choreography and “walking on water” idea?
I wanted the girls to just kind of… I don’t know, I just wanted that friendship, cause it reminded me a lot of me and my girls, that’s what I wanted to convey. That’s what me and my friends are like, that’s the kind of sleepovers we would have whenever we would need someone there when someone would upset us. We would look after each other and that was really the meaning behind it. But the choreography, I guess it started from my idea of having all the girls around the bed and kinda doing things that I enjoy because I’ve worked with Henry (Scholfield) before and I know the way that he loves to work. That’s kinda what I wanted from it, but the walking on water was Henry’s idea. It was the perfect way to describe or realise the middle eight.
Social media is how you mainly connect with fans, I also heard that it’s where you found your manager. How did that actually happen?
Oh, it was just a friend that I made online and it was just one person to the other, not necessarily direct on social media but I met a friend, then a producer of mine introduced me to a lawyer who introduced me to my manager.
Your thank you note included a shoutout to your humble beginnings. Bring us back to the time when you were in your flat, writing songs you’d never know would make it out there.
Well, I guess it was always a massive dream of mine to be able to get up and do this. It’s, y’know, kinda being able to look back at the time when I was dreaming about it when I moved to London from Kosovo – when I was super young – to kind of where I am now, it’s been a massive journey. I feel like I have a lot of that time living on my own that helped me build my confidence, which helped me become who I am today.
You’ve always been a pop girl, though I know you’re also influenced by a bit of hip hop. Name someone you’d like to work with.
I wanna work with J Cole. I think he’s an incredible songwriter, and a storyteller, and his work inspire me greatly.
You also had your hesitations when it comes to ‘Be the One’ because it wasn’t a song you wrote. How did you get over that and just accepted the song for what it is?
I think it’s being able to see a good song and being able to relate it to your life y’know? Making it so important that it doesn’t feel like my own song and then when I get into the mood, you’re able to kinda change it and sing it the way I’d like to sing it, making it my song.
You have an amazing sense of style and I realise that you wear something different for every performance.
Oh, thank you! And yeah, I never wear the same things twice.
“I love having that choice in being able to try out something different and remembering that show when I wore that outfit.”
Is this done on purpose?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I love dressing up, I love playing with different outfits and different ideas. I love having that choice in being able to try out something different and remembering that show when I wore that outfit. It kinda makes everything very special and I love that.
You co-founded a charity called the Sunny Hill Foundation for the youths in Pristina and even performed to raise funds. What do you hope to see out of this?
Well, I’m from Kosovo and as a country, Kosovo has supported me very early on in my career. I wanted to give something back to the community that has really, really looked after me and cared for me and that’s really important.
“There have been so many defining moments where I’ve been like, ‘Fuck yeah, this is my life.’”
What do you think was the defining moment throughout your career?
When it was coming close to the day I was releasing my album, like this is actually happening. There have been lots of milestones that have happened along the way, performing in certain venues in London that I’ve only ever dreamt of performing in. There have been so many defining moments where I’ve been like, “Fuck yeah, this is my life.”
“Patience is just so important, and taking a little bit of extra time to perfect something is the best thing you can do for yourself.”
This self-titled debut album has been pushed back many times. Though I know you’re very grateful for the long process, what were some of the things you could’ve done differently if you could?
I have to say I have no regrets. I’m really glad I did it (pushing the album back), because I’m really happy with where the album is now and how far it can come. If I hadn’t taken that break, then it probably wouldn’t be where I wanted it to be, so I’m actually really happy about taking some time and patience, it really is everything. I even got a tattoo on my hand that says ‘patience’ (laughs). It’s just so important, and taking a little bit of extra time to perfect something is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Catch Dua Lipa live on the Blue Stage on Day 1 (12 August ’17) of Good Vibes Festival ’17.