In conversation with pop’s inescapable new star.
With her much too catchy Be The One, 20-year-old stunner Dua Lipa was inescapable in the past half year. Offering sensual, YouTube-friendly dark pop with hip-hop influences, the London-based artist recently dropped the video for Hotter than Hell, the fiery sequel to her first hit single, garnering three millions (!) views in three weeks. Ahead of a busy festival season and the release of her debut album, Glamcult caught up with Dua in Amsterdam.
You grew up as the child of a musician. Did your father inspire what you do today?
My dad was a lead singer in a rock band. He was always listening to artists like David Bowie and Radiohead, so I grew up by listening to that kind of stuff. I loved it, but later on, around the age of six, I discovered Nelly Furtado and P!nk. That was a wild change to me. I really felt like: “omg, I want to be like them.” So I kept listening to their albums and memorized all their songs.
What exactly did you like about them?
I really liked their bad bitch attitude. It made me want to identify myself with them, but also with their lyrics, as everything they write is so true! For me that was the reason to start studying their work. It’s also why I like to sing raps rather than just sing songs. When you rap you tell your story. When I sing a rap I’m telling it with a flow and a feeling.
You previously mentioned it’s a great time to be a pop star. Why do you think so?
People think pop music is bubblegum. But today’s pop artists are everywhere and there are so many; there are so many different versions of pop. I’m mainly hip-hop-influenced, so I think my music could be seen as different from other pop music.
So there’s a mix of hip-hop and pop, but what distinguishes Dua Lipa?
Aside from being hip hop-influenced, my music could be described as dark pop. It’s got that pop course but my lyrics have a different flow, roughness and truth to them.
New Love is about self-belief, perseverance and fighting for what you want. Especially in the context of the music industry, how do you position yourself as an artist?
Things are on the rise and everybody is supportive and positive. It’s good to see those artists who are new and upcoming don’t give a fuck and just do what they really like the most. Especially when you’re working on something for over a year, you want people’s reaction to be good. I’m feeling really comfortable about it because the people I work with are really enthusiastic as well. But it’s also scary… I’m quite new to the music industry and still have a lot to prove.
Tell us about your sense of style.
I adore the ‘90s and vintage style. Nicole Nodland [Lana Del Rey, Mark Ronson, Prince] shot my New Love and Be the One clips. I love the colourful effects in combination with her signature; it really shows who I am.
What can we expect from your first album?
It’s a very honest moment and everything you’ll hear is something that I or the people around me have experienced. I want to be able to make my songs as honestly as possible.
Dua Lipa kicks off her international festival tour at Glastonbury this June, followed by stops at Lowlands Festival and Secret Garden Party, among others.
By Maarten Heuver
Images courtesy of Warner Music