Dua Lipa: 'Chris Martin made me feel really calm'
Last time we spoke to Dua Lipa, we called her "a pop star in waiting". But we didn't expect the wait would be so long.
The pop star had the misfortune of launching her career just as streaming tightened its grip on the charts. Soon, it became obvious that people would rather listen to Ed Sheeran's Galway Girl 245 million times (fact!) than type a new artist's name into the search bar.
The tide finally turned in February, when the 21-year-old scored no less than three singles in the top 15 - two of which were features (with Sean Paul and Martin Garrix), while her own track, Be The One, climbed inside the top 10.
In the same week, she won best new artist at the NME Awards.
During her long, slow rise, Dua kept writing, shuffling tracks on and off her album "so it still feels really fresh," she says.
Among the last minute additions were duets with R&B star Miguel and Coldplay's Chris Martin - with the end result that Dua's debut has all the confidence and authority of most artists' second or third album. And, with six hit singles spread across the 17-track deluxe edition, the quality rarely dips.
"I've been counting down the days 'til it comes out," she says. "It comes in waves where I get really nervous then I'm really excited. And then nervous and then excited and then really excited.
"Basically, I'm excited."
With the release just days away, Dua talks about the relationships that inspired the record; hooking up with Chris Martin; and why Katy Perry might be a robot.
It's been interesting to watch this album come together over the last nine months. Pop artists don't usually get to road-test their music, but you've played these songs all over Europe. Did that influence the tracklisting?
Yeah, it was actually just research for me. I'd get to see how fans would react to new songs and it was really fun.
On the flipside, I've seen fans complain their favourite songs aren't on the album.
That's the downside. Some of those tracks got really, really good live and the fans loved them, but I never really got round to finishing them off because I was always writing new songs and expressing where I was in different points in my life
How did you end up working with Chris Martin?
I was in a meeting and someone asked, "Who would you love to work with?" and I said, "I'd love to write a song with Chris Martin."
One of the ladies in the room said, "Oh, I've been working with him for a while - I'll happily send him some of your music." So I picked a few songs but I didn't really know what to expect. It was a leap of faith.
Then I got an email saying, "Chris would love to meet you. Why don't you come to his studio in Malibu?" I was really nervous and really excited at the same time. I didn't know how to act.
Did he shake your hand, or go straight in for a hug?
I think it was a shaking hands sort of introduction. But I felt really, really at ease and really calm.
We sat down and had a chat, and I started playing him tracks from the album. He would really listen really attentively, and write down the title of every song. Eventually he said, "Great, why don't we try and get another song for your album?" And then and there, he just got up on the piano, and we set up some mics and started making up melodies.
It came together really organically and quickly. I think it's a really beautiful song
I like the way his vocals are subtly woven around yours. A lot of people would have been tempted to give him a solo verse and put "FEATURING CHRIS MARTIN" on the album cover.
Yeah, it's like we sing together. I'm just really, really proud of it.
I feel very lucky to have an artist that I really admire on my first album.
Why do you think co-writing has become so prevalent in pop music?
When I started writing, I had lots of ideas and I knew how to get my thoughts out [but] I didn't know how to build a proper song. Having someone help me make sense of that was how it all started.
And now I've made such good friends with the people I work with, I just go back and tell them about my life and we're like, "Okay, let's start writing!"
And then a million people hear it in a song!
A lot of the album is about heartbreak. Does sadness inspire you more than happiness?
I find sadness way more inspiring. It's the stuff that lingers the longest.
I guess that's where I'm at in my life. Relationships are tough but without a little bit of heartbreak, I don't think I'd be able to write good songs.
IDGAF describes a boyfriend who was caught cheating on you. Is that a true story?
Yes and no. Bits of it are very true.
It's about this person that, a long time after you've broken up, comes back to say "hi" and you think to yourself, "What gives him the right to call me now and see how I'm doing? Does he not realise the damage he's done?"
What inspired the song New Rules?
It's about keeping your distance from someone who's bad for you. I'm setting some rules down so [that I] won't go back to that person.
Can you clarify the rules?
One: Don't pick up the phone, you know he's only calling 'cause he's drunk and alone.
Two: Don't let him in, you'll have to kick him out again.
Three: Don't be his friend, you're only going to wake up in his bed in the morning.
And if you're under him, you ain't over him!
Amazing. If this whole pop thing fails, you've got a second career as an agony aunt.
Do you know what? It's good advice for a teen magazine.
Judging by your Instagram, you're seeing a great reaction in Europe.
It's been amazing. I feel like the shows keep topping one another.
Have you ever had a stage invasion?
I've created monsters! When I play Blow Your Mind, I get all the fans to come up on stage with me. We've created this routine where we shake our bums, and then we turn back to the crowd and go "mwah!"
At my very last show in 2016, in Holland, I wasn't ready to invite anyone up - but the second the song started, all of them jumped on. I was swarmed by a million fans. They nearly floored me!
Is it true that you once crashed another pop star's show?
I invaded Katy Perry's stage at the Hammersmith Apollo, when she was doing the Teenage Dream tour!
She was singing I Wanna Dance With Somebody and she was like, "OK, who wants to get on stage with me?' and I made sure I got up. I climbed over everyone, over the barrier, up on the stage and dived around.
She was wearing this beautiful rhinestone bodysuit which was absolutely amazing. So I went up to touch it and it was rock solid.
Are you telling me Katy Perry is a robot?
She might be a robot. Yeah, maybe.
You're not denying it!
That's the closest I've ever come to her so, sure, why not?
Dua Lipa's self-titled debut album is released on Friday, 2 June by Warner Bros.