dua’ing it real good

At the age of 14, the London-based Kosovar singer-songwriter Dua Lipa started posting covers of her favourite role models on YouTube: Nelly Furtado and alt-rocker P!NK. Seven years and over a million instagram followers later, she’s charted top ten in 11 European countries. 

“I think I was born with the desire to make music. I waited until my fifteenth year to fulfil the dream,” the 21-year-old singer-songwriter Dua Lipa cackles down the phone. “I was living with my parents in Kosovo and made the decision to move to London. I just felt… ready.” With a warm and friendly voice, the singer/songwriter’s track Hotter Than Hell dropped last summer and instantly became an international hit. Her next track No Lie featured Dancehall protagonist Sean Paul. 

Dua Lipa has been touring around the world for two years now. She stopped in Paris a few weeks back and took the time, between two interviews and shootings, to wander in the streets of French capital: “I just enjoyed walking in Paris… And doing all the touristic stuffs: I kinda love that!” she says. “But it feels good to be home, here in London.” For a girl who has spent more time on tour and under the spotlight (she has been embraced by the fashion world where she frequently models) than at home, Dua Lipa feels strangely down to earth. She is the sort of pop-star who doesn't want to claim to be untouchable and who preserves a certain intimacy with her audience. “I want people to be touched by my songs, and honesty is the key. I always wanted to stay true to myself. A lot of my songs were born while I was sitting at the piano.”  Dua may have the attitude of a self-made warrior, she has her moments of down too: “My music is the reflection of who I am and I’ve come to a point where I find strength in honesty. You can be upset, homesick, in love – those feelings make you stronger. And they inspire my new songs.” From melancholia to happiness, disillusion to glory, day-to-day feelings pass through her long-awaited new album: "It is a sum of all my emotions,” she says proudly, before adding: “All the process, from recording to production, has been really personal. I made sure each song came from me and revealed a part of my life.” 

As the title of the album, Dua Lipa, hints, this new opus isn't just another pop masterpiece: it is an insight of Dua's intimate life where she uses her weaknesses to compose bangers and embraces vulnerability without any restraint. In her opening track Genesis, she sings about her need and lust for love with a resonant voice: ”I need your love / And I’m dying for the rush”. In No Goodbyes, she mourns the end of a relationship. In Homesick, which closes the album, Dua Lipa reveals the emptiness that seizes her, away from the heat of her native town, through an emotional piano ballad in featuring with the most talented tear-jerker Chris Martin. A song that perfectly fits the way Dua describes her musical style: "Dark pop, a pop for our times,” she admits. Hailing from a musical family – her dad is the Kosovar singer Dukagjin Lipa, she grew up listening to a broad mix of music: hip hop, pop, rock. “I’ve never answered to a particular style,” she says, “I love listening to all kinds of music. I grew up with the voice of Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Radiohead but at the same time, I would go to Busta Rhymes and Snoop Dogg’s gigs!"

I would say to young girls: keep fighting, no matter how hard it is. Whatever people tell you, just stay true to your self. Be bold.

Drawing inspiration from opposite universes and as a big fan of Kendrick Lamar and J Cole, Dua Lipa could be considered as the archetype of her generation, the one that pushes genres boundaries, finds creative engine in collaboration (Miguel, the young Californian producer, appears on the lyrical but sensual track Lost in Your Light) and finds beauty in darkness or melancholia:  “Love can hurts sometimes, but writing about it can make you feel better.” Her music is a catharsis, a way for her to confront the day after without fear. Dua Lipa shows no anxiety about her future, she embraces it: "What’s next, now? It’s on my mind all the time. I’m always thinking about the next step: my second, my third and my fourth album!” She has the strength of a girl who fought hard for her dreams and the persistence of a warrior, two qualities that still are necessary when you want to get into the music industry: “As a woman and artist, I feel we still have to fight harder than men. So I would say to young girls: keep fighting, no matter how hard it is. Whatever people tell you, just stay true to your self. Be bold.” Lesson learned. 

Dua Lipa will be on stage at le YOYO in Paris on October 17.

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