With a sultry voice, dark hair, and a radiant smile, DUA LIPA is the perfect contrast to the standard pop princess. Taking everything you know and love about pop and adding her own dark twists to it, the 21-year old is working her way up the charts, and she’s just getting warmed up. “I think there’s some pressure that comes with [being an upcoming artist], but the pressure makes me work really hard,” she shares. Seeing every challenge as an opportunity to shine even brighter, she isn’t fazed by the limelight, as she still sees the positive side of having all eyes and ears on her. “It’s really nice to have this kind of recognition, because it means people are listening.”
While she grew up in a household that played Stereophonics, Oasis, Radiohead, and Sting, Dua’s early exposure to a diverse selection of artists paved her path to a music career with her father, who was also a musician, being one of the first people to fuel the fire for her passion. With talent already running through her veins, it was only a matter of time until she found her own range of artists to look up to, turning to iconic musicians Pink, Nelly Furtado, Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliott for inspiration. Her family’s move to Kosovo when she was 11 only built her repertoire of influences even further, as she discovered the community’s love for hip-hop. “I was so surrounded by music, and it was always really present in my life. It’s definitely when the whole idea of doing this as a career started.”
“I think there’s some pressure that comes with [being an upcoming artist], but the pressure makes me work really hard.”
Marching to the beat of her own drum is something Dua has been used to since her early years. At age 15, with her parents’ full support, she made the daunting decision to move back to London by herself. “I was a bit nervous, but I had a really good time, and it was really exciting to get to live on my own. I felt really grown up at the time and it definitely helped me mature faster,” she shares. Starting out by posting covers on YouTube, her videos have now garnered over 100 million views, which comes to no surprise, given her deep velvety vocals, laidback personality, and edgy style. With three tracks in the UK single charts’ top 15 preceding her debut album, she’s beginning to dominate stages in different corners of the world by doing an album tour in October as well as joining Bruno Mars on the 24k Magic Tour next year. “I find inspiration from different people and different places. Things that I write about are very autobiographical. A lot of it comes from personal experience, and that’s what inspires me,” shares the singer-songwriter. With pop tracks that hint at other different genres, her self-titled debut gives the listener every side there is to her–from poignant lyrics in “Be The One” and “Genesis,” soulful vocals in “Thinking ‘Bout You,” “Room for 2,” and “No Goodbyes,” to unapologetic girl anthems in “IDGAF,” “Blow Your Mind (Mwah),” and “Hotter Than Hell.” Releasing an album so close to your heart isn’t an easy feat, but she took the challenge in stride by becoming involved in the record’s progress as well as paying attention to the little details. “I think you only have one chance at a debut album, and I want it to be the best it can be, so I think for now, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist.”
“I’m really looking forward to spending time in learning, ‘cause I learn a lot when I watch other people on stage, so it’ll be really nice to learn from one of the best.”
With a certain bad girl charm and carefree persona mixed in with her refreshing take on modern pop and visually appealing music videos, it’s not that hard to fall in love with the overall package. Now making her way even further up the ranks by working with well-known artists like Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, singer-songwriter Miguel, actor Ansel Elgort, and DJ Martin Garrix, Dua makes it a point to keep her feet firmly on the ground. Despite receiving a handful of positive reviews from publications like V Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, Complex, Time, Fader, and Wonderland, gracing the pages of Rolling Stone, SPIN, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, British GQ, NME, Elle UK, and Nylon and landing the cover of British Vogue, she doesn’t let the recognition get to her head. Instead, she focuses on the learning experience gained by working with the best of the best as well as reaching out to her fans around the globe. “I just want to keep doing what I’m doing, hopefully see a growth [in myself] and be able to do bigger concert venues, see more places that I haven’t seen before, and have the opportunity to travel the world because of my music. That’s my ultimate goal.”
“Everytime that you feel like things aren’t going your way, just keep going.”
How are you adapting to the PH weather?
I love it. It’s really nice; it’s really different from London so I really enjoy it.
In past interviews, you’ve mentioned your love for artists like Pink, Nelly Furtado, Kendrick, and Chance the Rapper. Do you have any other musical influences that people might not expect from you?
I don’t know about unexpected, but I really like this new artist called Khalid. I like Steve Lacey and Childish Gambino as well.
Which artist would you love to collaborate with, and what type of song would you record with them?
I don’t know what it would sound like yet. It really kind of depends on the day and who I’m working with, but I’d love to write a song with Sia or Pink. I’d also love to collaborate with The Weeknd and Frank Ocean.
You’ve been traveling a lot these days. What has been your favorite city to visit so far?
Everywhere has been lovely. I mean, they’re all so different, but they’re all really quite culturally awakening and it’s exciting to get to come and experience places like this. I’ve really loved Manila, I truly have. I also loved Singapore, I think it’s absolutely beautiful. I really liked Beijing as well and I’ve yet to go to Jakarta, but all of them have left such a great impression on me and I’d definitely love to come back.
You have an upcoming tour with Bruno Mars. What are you most excited about and how are you preparing for it?
Well, I’m really excited about the tour. I’ll be performing all the songs on the album. It’ll be a new production and a brand new show. The venues are getting much bigger, so that’s really exciting for me. Other than that, I’m excited for the Bruno Mars tour because having the opportunity to go on tour with such a huge artist, doing such huge venues, and sharing the stage with someone that I’m really inspired by makes me feel very lucky. I’m really looking forward to spending time in learning, ‘cause I learn a lot when I watch other people on stage, so it’ll be really nice to learn from one of the best.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
I’d tell myself that everytime that feel like things aren’t going your way, just keep going. Which was I guess what I eventually did, but I feel like I needed someone to tell me. Yeah, just keep going.
By Jill de Leon
Photographed by Miguel Alomajan
Assistant Photographer James Lopez
Styled by Lorenzo Posocco
Hair Cats Del Rosario
Makeup Francesca Brazzo
Special thanks to Warner Music Philippines