Photo Credit - Record Label with permission to Entercom Buffalo LLC

KISS THE SUMMER HELLO ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - DUA LIPA

April 2, 2018

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Her strong presence onstage (indicated by her European Festival Award for Best Newcomer of the Year) immediately separates her from so many emerging pop acts. But with 3.5 million in global sales, it’s her singles that have rapidly established her as a rising star—"Be the One" reached the Top Ten in a dozen European territories, "Hotter Than Hell" hit the Top Twenty in the UK, and “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” climbed into Billboard’s Top 25 in the US. All of this, mind you, before putting out her first album. Now, with the release of Dua Lipa, she reveals the full range of her ambitions—not just the dance-floor fire of her singles, but also a more introspective side. “I’ve been describing it as ‘dark pop’ because people have only heard the pop moments, but there are some really dark, singer-songwriter parts that I’m excited about,” she says.

Encouraged by a teacher who would make her perform Alicia Keys and Toni Braxton hits in school, Lipa began to think about singing—which had always been her “playground dream”—more seriously, and convinced her parents to let her move back to London when she was 15. Living with friends, she made it through high school, but failed her first year of A Levels as partying took priority over attendance. Too ashamed to tell her friends (“I felt so bad, I just wanted to cover it up”), Lipa applied the same tenacity that has propelled her career ever since: She found an intensive one-year study program, got straight As, and was accepted into four universities. Though she wanted to prove that she could meet these academic challenges, her commitment to her music and her vision never wavered.  

“I always told myself never to have a plan B - I feel like that's also one of the reasons I'm doing what I'm doing now, because I have never thought about doing anything else.” Lipa was working in a restaurant, recording covers and posting them on social media, trying to find a way into the music business, when she was noticed on the street by a modeling agency. “Some of my friends were doing it,” she says. “But I was never put up for any good jobs, just random salons and whatever. And they said ‘If you want to do this properly, you need to lose a lot of weight.’ I tried to do it at first, but it made me very unhappy and caused me a lot of issues, a lot of body confidence problems. Modeling sounds so glamorous, but it really wasn’t a successful thing for me.”

"Every woman should have the privilege to love their body and feel sexy just the way they are,” she continues. “Being able to spread that message and to support all my girls who need to be told they’re fucking hot and that they don’t need to change for anyone inspires me and makes me feel I am exactly where I need to be.” One thing the agency did accomplish, though, was securing Lipa an audition for a commercial for The X Factor—and when her voice appeared in the ad, she eventually drew the attention of a management team working with Lana Del Rey. She signed a deal that allowed her to quit the restaurant and go from working on demos in her spare moments to focusing on recording.

This kind of hands-on involvement carries over to Lipa’s relationship with her fans, including close communication on social media and collaborations with her followers on merchandise design. A small group of dedicated Twitter followers rapidly grew into a community too big to keep up with as much as she would like. “We talk about all kinds of things on Twitter, though it’s getting harder now to reply to everything,” she says. “They can tell my moods from my tweets—they ask if I’m feeling OK.” The songs on Dua Lipa announce the arrival of a new force in pop—irresistible on the dance floor, thoughtful under closer inspection, constantly discovering creative possibilities. “I’ve grown a lot as a writer,” Lipa says. “It used to take me a really long time to write a song, but now it’s easier to be more open and say what I’m thinking without having to filter or hide from the people I’m in the room with. Just learning who I am and being able to tell a story.”