Posted August 7, 2016 by Jeff in Tunes

Dua Lipa Just Wants To Be Honest

Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa

Pop singer Dua Lipa has spent her summer traveling the globe. A festival fav, she’s performed at Glastonbury, Wireless Festival and Lollapalooza. Lipa, who was born in London to Albanian parents, made her live debut in the U.S. earlier this year at SXSW and subsequently played shows in both New York and Los Angeles. In November the former model will play 11 shows as supporting act on Troye Sivan’s Suburbia Tour. Lipa’s latest single, “Hotter Than Hell” features a mix of organic instrumentation and electronic beats—but don’t call it EDM. We spoke to her backstage at Lollapalooza.

Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born and raised in London but my parents are from Kosovo. That’s where my name is from so Dua is my real name. I moved back to Kosovo at the age of 11. My father was working there. I went to school there for a couple of years and then at 15 I moved back to London to live on my own and pursue music. I promised my parents to stay in school so I could do it.

What got you interested in music?
My father was a musician. He was the lead singer in Oda, a rock band in Kosovo. I’ve grown up around music and been inspired by it. It’s been a big part of my life. I feel like I’ve known from a very early age what I wanted to do. It was always a school dream. When asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would always say I wanted to be a singer, not really knowing it was a possible career choice. I didn’t think a career as a singer was a real thing so to get to do it has been a dream come true.

Did you receive any formal training?
I went to theater school part-time every Saturday. It was a lot of that. I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. I made some of my closest friends there. It was great being around people who wanted to what I wanted to do.

Did London provide more opportunity?
I felt that if I needed to do something on a bigger scale, I needed to go. Only now that social media is a big thing can a song go viral from wherever you are. It’s a recent thing. When I tried to find a manager in Kosovo, it really wasn’t possible. I started doing YouTube videos in London where I thought there was more of a possibility of being found.

The covers you did for the videos — would you consider those acts your influences?
Some of them were just current songs that I enjoyed singing at the time. My main influences while growing up were really diverse. My dad listened to Sting and David Bowie and I listened to Stereophonics and Nelly Furtado and Pink. Those were my favorites. They had a badass vibe with no boundaries and always told the truth. That’s what I aspired to be. I just wanted to be honest.

At some point you signed a record deal.
I signed with Warner Bros. in the UK first. The album comes out in February of 2017. I’ve been putting out singles and I want people to know there’s an album coming out. I want it to impactful. I only get one chance to make a good first impression.

What’s the story behind “New Love”?
I wrote that song in New York with Andrew Wyatt and Emile Haynie. It was the first time I went to New York. I was having writer’s block in London and the second I landed in New York, I suddenly felt inspired. The whole thing behind it is that it’s about the music industry and how they use you and how you need to make yourself special or different to catch people’s eye. That’s what the song is about. It’s about that love/hate relationship with the music industry. All my songs have this kind of dark element to them. People who listen to them can relate to them, I think. In the end, I want people to know that we go through the same things. That’s a running theme throughout the album. We’re all just people.

Have you had to make adjustments since singing a deal?
Not all. No one has tried to change me. I feel like I knew what I wanted to do before I signed the deal. I’ve been very fortunate. I have a great time. I’m working with people who want to push me.

What made you want to cover “Be the One”?
It’s the only song on my album that I didn’t write. My friend Lucy wrote it. I love the song. After I covered it, it became my own. I didn’t want to take a song that someone else had written without putting myself out there as a writer first. I wanted to put the original songs out there first.

Did you really run through a forest for the “Last Dance” video?
I did. We shot that in a Redwood forest in Northern California. I wrote the song right after writing “New Love.” I was feeling homesick and I was tired. I was having a crappy day. The video is performance video. When I hear the song, it instantly takes me to the woods and has this feeling of being lost.

“Hotter Than Hell” has a lot of electronic instrumentation on it. Have you embraced EDM?
I don’t think it’s EDM. When I first wrote that song it was only piano and kick drum. As we worked on it, we added to it. The video depicts the underbelly of London. I feel like the song and video go well together. It’s what I had envisioned in my head. In a way it’s about lost youth.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m doing festivals at the moment and then hope to release a few more songs and write more songs for the album. I have a European tour in October and then I go on tour with Troye Sivan in November. It’s exciting. I’m really looking forward to it.

2016 Dua Lipa Troye Sivan Support Dates

November 3

November 4

November 5

November 7

November 8

November 10

November 12

November 14

November 15

November 17

November 18

Cleveland, OH – Lakewood Civic Auditorium

Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE

Columbus, OH – Express Live Pavilion

Detroit, MI – Filmore

Toronto, ON – Sound Academy

Montreal, QC – Metropolis

Boston, MA – Agganis Arena

New York, NY – Terminal 5

New York, NY – Terminal 5

Washington, DC – EagleBank Arena

Atlanta, GA – Tabernacle


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].