When we catch up with Dua Lipa (yes, that’s her real name), she’s tucked up in bed on vocal rest, hoping to have her cords intact for the Swiss Music Awards this week. “I really need this!” she stresses.
Born and raised in London to Kosovar-Albanian parents, the 20-year-old rising pop star’s musician father initially sparked her interest in sonic creation. “Since I was very little I was very influenced by him and the music he sang and listened to with my mother,” she explains. The Sylvia Young Theatre alumnus (who was cruelly told she couldn’t sing by a choir teacher in primary school) moved to war-torn Kosovo aged 13, only to return after persuading her parents she wanted to focus on a singing career. After years waiting tables, Dua’s time has finally come.
She admits having a soft spot for pop artists who “had their own twist,” including Canadian pop magpie Nelly Furtado and Pink: “I always wanted to be just like them.” While some may find ‘pop’ a dirty word, Dua is keen to embrace it. “I feel like people are really coming to terms with it, and shamelessly loving every bit of it!” She’s a huge hip-hop fan, too – with Kendrick, J Cole and Tupac all getting spun on the regular.
But when you share a manager with Lana Del Rey and also possess bee-stung lips, the comparisons tend to come in thick and fast. It’s not something that bothers Dua, though. “When you’re new you’re bound to get compared to someone. And it’s never a bad thing to be compared to her! As time passes and I put out more music people will see how different we are,” she shrugs.
Displaying a serious penchant for cover versions, Dua’s tackled Jamie xx’s ‘Good Times’, Alessia Cara’s ‘Here’ and Chance The Rapper’s ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’ with her trademark darkened pop and honey- dipped vocals.
It’s unlikely that she’ll be taking anything in her stride just yet. “When I went down to Radio 1 for the release of my single [‘Last Dance’] this week I was jumping up and down like a little child. It's amazing!” she gushes. Who knows how she’ll cope when she drops her debut album later this year.
WHAT: Dream-pop with smoky, heart-on- sleeve vocals
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Be The One’, ‘New Love’, ‘Last Dance’
FACT: Aged 14 she was the shortest in her class so her mum took her to basketball every week, thinking it’d help boost her growth. She quit because she got bored of it and had a growth spurt at 16. “I’m now 5ft 8”,” she laughs.
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Words: Felicity Martin
Photography: Samuel Bradley
Styling: Justin Hamilton