Dua Lipa is the perfect name for a pop princess. Translating to ‘love’ in Albanian, and regarded as a profound act of worship in many cultures, Dua is almost the epitome of the music that she crafts. Honest, vibrant and reaching an incredible depth. Songs that make you fall in love with yourself and with others, too.
“It’s the coolest thing in the world…” the 21 year old breathes with an almost sense of disbelief, talking with gratitude about her new reign. Reeling off her jam-packed travel schedule; her energy is infectious, fizzling down the phone-line. And this is during a brief stint at home, apparently “taking a breather”.
Capturing the jetsetter lifestyle in her music, Dua Lipa’s tracks take off with thumpy R&B rhythms, and accelerate with juicy, club-ready choruses. “Starting on a high, bringing it down somewhere in the middle, and always leaving everybody dancing at the end…”; these tracks follow the rhythm of life.
If the stigma against pop were bubblegum, Dua Lipa is blowing it up just to burst it.
“Pop is evidently changing, and artists have been given this leeway for creativity, to take their version of pop and make it cooler and change it up,” the songstress says. “That has sparked a lot of creativity in what pop music is now, and why it’s changing.”
Owning a bad-girl mentality on the sizzling ‘Hotter Than Hell’, the track is a tempting seductress. Tinged with darkness, it’s as dangerous as it is tempting; “Can you feel the warmth yeah / As my kiss goes down you like some sweet alcohol.” Adding a dose of playfulness to her feistiness, Blow Your Mind (Mwah), both soars and struts with sureness. A raised glass to self-confidence.
“The reason that pop music is no longer embarrassing is because everything that’s popular is essentially pop music. There’s a lot more freedom in what artists want to do and what they want to say.
“It’s more authentic.”
Having moved back to the city alone when she was fifteen, Dua’s fierce independence is something that makes her sound her own. Believing that “there’s no such thing as a genre anymore” the music is instead based on experience.
You can hear the sounds of her musical childhood in Kosovo, and the neon lights of big city life; from the exciting thrill of millennial adolescence, to the core struggles of heartbreak and missing home.
It’s built up by the humbling support of family and friends, as she lilts, “they’ve always been living this kind of dream with me and now that it’s kind of happening, everybody’s on the same ride.”
Inviting us on the journey, Dua takes great care of those around her. Whilst we talk, she asks curious questions and makes jokes – leaving us in bursts of giggles several times. It’s like talking to a friend and you feel that connection in her songs, whether she’s a reassuring shoulder or a pick-me-up.
Wanting her lyrics “to have relevance to other people, but not necessarily in the same way that they have relevance to my life.” Dua happily hands listeners her honest story to make it their own.
There’s always familiarity; from the repetitiveness of an unhealthy routine (Room For 2), a chase to Be The One or a tale of unrequited New Love.
In turn, it feels as though there’s a dazzling duality to Dua, and it’s one that everybody can identify with. Vulnerability and fears collide with confidence and celebration. Like light and dark, they can’t exist without the other.
“As long as some of the lyrics have a personal meaning to me, that I feel a connection to, but then I also feel that I can dance or sing along to it”, that’s where the appeal lies, in wanting “people to really enjoy it, and feel something when they hear the music.”
Pulsing with urgency, Last Dance encapsulates this notion. Her statement smoke-darkened vocal rumbles against an eclectic, movement-demanding rhythm. The words ache, the sounds free – it’s bittersweet. Latest single, Thinking ‘Bout You spins the dangers of infatuation. Acoustic instrumentals cradle lyrics raw with emotion; “I’ve been working later / I’ve been drinking stronger / I’ve been smoking deeper but the memories won’t stop.”
Behind every fragility, there’s a badass.
With songs that are autobiographical, Dua admits that “It’s scary to go into a room essentially with strangers and try and open up. Especially in the beginning it was really daunting.
“But I came to a point where I was like the only way that I’m going to get a really honest, truthful song is by honest and by being truthful and not really worrying about what other people think.”
With an ever-growing entourage, she quickly realised however that by telling her story that “the reaction is that people have felt exactly the same. So there’s no reason to hide behind something.”
Dua’s story has changed over the past couple of years. She’s been thrown into a world where she hears her songs whilst in an Uber, and explores aquariums at 7am in Copenhagen, but still feels like every other 21 year old.
“A lot has changed!” you can almost hear her smile. Making the decision to push back the release of her debut album, it’s only so that it can represent now and the best that it can be. “Earlier there were a lot of songs about things that had happened earlier in my life and now I’ve had the opportunity to add songs about what’s currently happening. All the craziness that has been going on!”
Expressing a fear of upsetting her fans, she explains, “I just want to give back to all of the support that has been given to me.”
Dua Lipa isn’t a stage name, as many people have asked. Instead Dua Lipa is a woman who’s tearing up the rule book of pop, and dancing on top of it. Making music to soundtrack every part of a night out; the anticipation, the rushes of love, the heartbreaks, then the excitement for the next – all finished off with a mwah.
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Words by Tanyel Gumushan