Less than a year after the release of her self-titled debut album, Dua Lipa is still processing the magnitude of her success. Named the world’s most streamed artist last year and the only female musician to have been nominated for five Brit Awards (she won two), the 22-year-old singer has taken the music industry by storm with her sultry vocal style, and anthems of female empowerment.
Nevertheless, while supporting Bruno Mars on tour this year, she was still amazed by the crowd’s enthusiastic response. “When you’re supporting someone, sometimes there’s less pressure,” she says. “[But] in Australia and New Zealand, it was crazy because for the first time people were singing my songs. You never expect that as a support act. It goes from no pressure, to ‘People have actually come to see me too!’ It’s an amazing but daunting feeling.”
Young Post met the singer hours before she performed in Hong Kong for the first time this month, as part of a five-date Asian tour. Despite only having one full day in the city, Lipa made the most of her time here, sharing shots from her visit to the Big Buddha on Instagram.
“It’s really exciting to come to a completely different place and explore – it’s my favourite part of my job,” she says, adding: “Touring is actually quite tricky for your well-being. You’re away from home and your friends, and eating very varied food at very different times. Sometimes it’s quite hard on your body, but I love seeing fans all over the world and trying all those foods!”
As well as her Hong Kong debut, Lipa was also celebrating the release of her latest single, One Kiss, a collaboration with Calvin Harris. Laden with hooks, the crisply produced track, which blends a 90s house music sound with horn-like synths, is an almost certain summer hit. The video is equally retro – featuring Lipa and a troupe of dancers parading through colourful green screen effects and tropical settings, while Harris makes an appearance as a waiter.
“It was really good working with Calvin … he was so easy-going,” Lipa beams. “I’d been putting it out there in interviews: people would ask me who I wanted to work with and I’d say ‘Calvin Harris’.”
But making music with an artist she had admired for so long proved initially daunting.
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“Any time I work with someone I admire, I get really scared. I wonder whether they’re going to like my ideas and what I write … I’m constantly learning not to be afraid of my own thoughts – even in my own writing process when I’m in the room with co-writers. But I’ve learned it’s about just saying what’s on my mind because there’s no wrong answer.”
Born in London in 1995, Lipa and her siblings were relocated to their parents’ home country Kosovo in 2008. With limited opportunities in the small eastern European nation for a child whose heart was set on showbiz, Lipa persuaded her parents to send her to a theatre school back in London. This determination and independence at a young age stood her in good stead for finding her way in the music industry as an adult.
“I was very confident and self-assured,” she says. “I knew what I wanted to do, I [just] never knew how I was going to do it. It was a lot about learning to persist, stand my ground and really fight for what I believed in. And that really helped me in my career.
“I’ve never been made to do something I didn’t want to do. Everything I’ve done, I’ve been really passionate about.”
Strong and sisterly, Lipa’s music has struck a chord with its honesty, and refreshing, no-nonsense take on relationships, with many of her lyrics drawing upon personal experience.
“There are repercussions from being honest,” she says. “A lot of my private life is in my music, which later down the line, allows for a lot of judgement and opinions … I’m learning to balance all that, and that I want what I put in my music to be the most that people know about my personal life.”
Despite the mere mention of the Brit Awards still making her giddy, Lipa’s rule is to never rest on her laurels. “I never like to feel accomplished, because I always think there’s something else to do. I don’t want to come to a point where it’s like, ‘What now?’”
She continues: “Years from now, I’d love to headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, [and tour] the world, seeing more places I’ve never been to before.”
Given her success so far with dropping hints in interviews, we’re counting the days until her wish comes true.
Edited by Karly Cox