Dua Lipa’s New Rules For 2019 – Rolling Stone
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Dua Lipa’s New Rules for 2019

London pop phenom Dua Lipa looks back on her breakout year, Grammy nominations and gives an update on her high-stakes second album

Rolling Stone | Dua LipaPhoto by Bryan Derballa

Bryan Derballa for Rolling Stone

What are Dua Lipa’s new rules for 2019? There’s just one: “Working really hard to get my new album out. Those are the only rules that I’m gonna be living by. I’m just going to be in the studio making sure that I come back with some fun stuff for everyone.”

That sounds about right. The London pop phenom blew up with hits like “New Rules” and “IDGAF,” full of disco glitz and tough talk about her post-break-up regimen for taking control and leaving that ex behind. (The punch line: “If you’re under him, you ain’t getting over him.”) She’s nominated for two Grammys – Best New Artist and Best Dance Recording, for “Electricity.” It’s been a dazzling rise to the top. But as she says, “I’ve learned that just by being honest and speaking my truth, I guess it hits home with some people – just like it does with me.”

Success has been a trip for the 23-year-old star—but not a surprise. Dua Lipa has never exactly been short on brash confidence. She grew up in London, the daughter of Albanian refugees from the war in Kosovo. (Her name means “love” in Albanian.) Her dad, a rock star back home, raised her on David Bowie and Radiohead, while she thrilled to the radio pop of Pink and Nelly Furtado. But at the age of 11, when her family moved back to the Kosovo capital of Pristina, she discovered rap. “All people listened to in Kosovo was hip-hop. So after listening to pop and British rock while I was growing up, my first concert was Method Man and Redman, because they were the only people that came to Pristina.” Hip-hop is key to her own music. “My album – I guess it’s a pop album, but it’s so diverse, because it comes from so many different and inspirations. So hip-hop has played a big role in that. I just want to be able to play with different sounds and different feelings at the same time.”

At 15, she began posting her YouTube performances, singing Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera ballads. She spent years making her debut album—paradoxically, “New Rules” was the one song she didn’t have a hand in writing. But she claims it in her voice. “It’s the kind of rules that you always think about and the kind of stuff you tell your friends. It’s kind of what Drake does – he says all the things that you think. And you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, why didn’t I say it? And why didn’t I think to put it in a song?’” It broke her in the U.S., after she’d scored hits back home. “It goes to show how long things can take in this industry. We all think people bond with music very quickly, given streaming services, and people constantly want music all the time—but it also shows how long a song can take its course and live its life. ‘New Rules’ was the rocket fuel in my album that gave me the push I needed globally, to allow people to really hear my album and hear my songs. And it’s been a whirlwind.”

She’s spent the past year feverishly writing for her second album, as well as touring hard around the world. (The first taste: “Swan Song,” her theme for the Robert Rodriguez action film Alita: Battle Angel.) But she’s still tuned in to new music. “I love Rosalia – I think she’s amazing. She’s such a visionary, that’s been able to take her culture and mix it in with current electronic music and create something entirely unique. I’m a fan of Camilla Cabello and Cardi B. And I thought Bohemian Rhapsody was brilliant – Rami Malek played it wonderfully.”

The Grammys are a special thrill, given the history involved. “So many of my favorite female artists – all these strong women that I’ve looked up to – it’s amazing to be part of that … It’s something that I’m really proud of, to see how many women are nominated for the Best New Artist award at the Grammys. I think it’s really exciting to just be a part of it – it feels like a revolutionary time in music to see so many women be given that opportunity.”

As for Dua’s musical mood swings, don’t expect success to mellow her. “That carries on in the second album,” she admits. “It’s me trying to cover all the ground, all of my feelings. Some days are happy and all you want to do is write a song about that. And other days…you know. Things don’t go how you want them do – but it’s such great inspiration for music. So there’s always that silver lining. I guess I’m quite good at hitting all the low notes – I’m still figuring out how to reach the higher ones.”

 

 

 

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