At 22, Dua Lipa stands 5 feet, 6 inches tall, somewhere between the top of the world and a place we've somehow yet to discover. It either hasn't yet hit her, or it's hitting her all at once, the kind of fame and power you need to slow down grasp fully. At the head of a lightning fast train onward and upward, Dua isn't slowing down any time soon; she finds herself crooning to a crowd of some 40,000 festival goers in Montreal, the closing act to a 3-day event. The next day, she's on a flight to Budapest.
Between cross-continent festival hopping, headlining a self-titled world tour, and general tasks of ethereal existence, Dua made the time for a quick phone interview while in transit. As her publicist dials her in to our conference call, I battle with feeling starstruck. Only a couple years older than myself, all legs, and cheekbones, and raspy British charm, Dua exudes an air of cool confidence. One that never claims to be superior, but can't help but feel like it. Despite this, every ounce of untouchable superstardom is counterweighted by indisputable humility.
The 10 minutes that followed were littered with awkward laughs and cross-Atlantic signal delays, the kind where you can't tell whether or not the joke you just told was that bad until you hear a chuckle on the other end of the line 10 seconds too late.
Keep reading to see what came of the conversation, and how the young artist is taking her new life in stride.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR BREVITY AND CLARITY.
ON FAME AND FANS
"I JUST MISSED YOU IN MONTREAL FOR THE OSHEAGA MUSIC FESTIVAL, THE LAST TIME YOU WERE IN MONTREAL, YOU PERFORMED FOR A MUCH SMALLER CROWD AT THE MTELUS, NOW PLAYING FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAS BECOME THE NORM FOR YOU. DO YOU PREFER FESTIVALS?"
"I love doing festivals. To get the opportunity to travel, so see places that I've never been to before, to get to meet people all over the world and share experiences with them, that's the most special thing to me."
"YOU'VE GROWN A MASSIVE FANBASE IN A RELATIVELY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, YOU'RE THE MOST STREAMED FEMALE ARTIST ON SPOTIFY with billions of listens. WHAT KEEPS YOU IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FANS NOW THAT THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM?"
"I'm really grateful because for my whole career, I've had so much support from my fans. I've been so lucky, that from day one, [fans] came up to me and were like, 'Your songs make me feel empowered.' It means the world to me when they tell me that my music makes them feel empowered or makes them feel a certain type of way, it's really important to me and I appreciate it and treasure it."
"HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE CRITICISM AND OUTSIDE OPINIONS THAT COME WITH FAME?"
"I think now that the fanbase is growing and a lot more people are finding out [about me], it's like you're opening yourself up to so many different opinions and I think in some ways you do have to have quite tough skin to have a lot of people saying different things about your songs or your performance or your videos or whatever it may be, but I've kind of taken criticism - good or bad - and I've turned it into something that I can always learn from and it makes me stronger so that hopefully the next time I do something, I'll grow."
"HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC STYLE? WOULD YOU CALL IT POP?"
"I've never really defined my sound.I throw in so many different genres and try and put them together. I tried to take the rawness and the truthfulness and the flow of hip-hop and the verses, but then still have like a big pop chorus. I'm still figuring it out."
"WHAT DOES YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS LOOK LIKE? DOES IT START WITH A TUNE OR AN IDEA?"
"So many of the songs start of just being like piano and a kick drum, literally nothing behind it. The production and the idea, [the songs] kind of change a lot throughout the whole process. It's nice to see them evolve."
"HOW HAS YOUR PROCESS CHANGED SINCE YOU'VE BEEN SIGNED AND STARTED WORKING WITH SOME OF THE BIGGEST PRODUCERS IN THE INDUSTRY? HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR VOICE?"
"I think for a big part when I began, I found it really easy to write in a room in on my own with just a producer and then I started working with co-writers. Sometimes I felt like, because they had done it for longer, that maybe I should allow them to [take control]. I would chip in little ideas, but I would never end up getting a good song if I wasn't the one being really honest and just talking and writing down my thoughts and taking the lead."
"WHO ARE SOME ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU? I'VE HEARD THAT YOU'RE A BIG NELLY FURTADO FAN, IS THAT TRUE?"
"I'm still obsessed with Nelly Furtado. Her first album, 'Whoa, Nelly!', which is like my absolute obsession, to 'Missundaztood' by P!nk, to then like J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky. I'm inspired by so many artists."
ON WHAT'S NEXT FOR HER
"What big projects do you have planned for the rest of this year?"
"I'm finishing up my world tour toward the end of September, so I have another couple months of that and then who knows? I've been touring with this album for 2 years now so I'm winding down and starting to close the chapter on this over the next few months and we'll see what's next!"