Dua Lipa by Katy Perry

Dua Lipa by Katy Perry

Rising musical sensation Dua Lipa discusses her rapid ascent to fame, striving for her personal best, and keeping sane in the process.



Rising musical sensation Dua Lipa discusses her rapid ascent to fame, striving for her personal best, and keeping sane in the process.

Photography: Inez & Vinoodh

Styling: George Cortina

Text: Katy Perry

This article appears in the pages of V113 The Music Issue on newsstands May 3. Pre-order your copy at shop.vmagazinedigital.com.

Over a billion: that’s how many times the video for Dua Lipa’s single “New Rules,” from her self-titled debut album, has been viewed on YouTube, making her the youngest female artist to ever reach that milestone. It’s an amazing feat, one that—coupled with her other megahits like “IDGAF” and “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)”—could put her next in line for the Queen of Pop throne. Making it in music has always been the only game plan for the 22-year-old Londoner—it was this or bust, no backup. And it worked: music megastardom and pop-culture domination are obviously in her cards, and few people understand that experience quite like fellow chart-topper Katy Perry. Here Lipa chats with the industry mainstay about everything from pre-show superstitions to celebrity in the age of social media to that one time she crashed Katy’s stage as a teenager. LISA MISCHIANTI

DUA LIPA Hi, babe!

KATY PERRY Are you alright?

DL I’m good, how are you?

KP I’m happy, thank you. Your name is so beautiful, interesting, and unique. What does it mean?

DL My parents are Albanian, from Kosovo, and Dua means love.

KP That’s so beautiful. What would you have been if not a singer?

DL Probably nothing. When I was figuring out what I wanted to do, I couldn’t go to university because I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I was like, I’m just gonna take a year out and try to do music, put some covers online, and meet people. I knew if I gave myself a plan B, or a study to go into at uni, then I’d always have something to fall back on. I’d always be like, if this doesn’t work out, then I can always do that. I’d never get what I wanted.

KP Right. You’d always know there would be somewhere to fall; it’s better to have nowhere to fall. Well, you can go to school at any time in your life, and it seems like it’s working out for you, kid. So, you’re on tour now in New Zealand: do you have any pre-show rituals?

DL I’m really superstitious. First I’ll warm up, drink lots of tea, hang out with my band. If people in the room have anything in their cups, they aren’t allowed to cheers. Not just before a show, but ever. Before a show in Stockholm, my band thought it’d be funny to cheers with water before our show. I was so mad at them, and we went onstage and literally everything went wrong. Everything. Before my Brit Awards performance, I was so worried that I was gonna jinx my performance by being so nervous—so I wore my knickers inside out, under my outfit.

KP What?! Wow, I’m going to adopt that superstition and just wear my underwear inside out for the rest of my life. Okay, what’s your sign?

DL I’m a Leo. I don’t know much about my sign, but I know that we’re confident and quite stubborn.

KP Is this true for you?

DL To some extent. I also can let my guard down: I’m quite sensitive sometimes with people I’m really close to. But with my career and where I want to take it, I can be tough because I know what I want quite a lot. I like to be listened to.

KP Yes, you like to be respected, darling. Sometimes it’s hard for people to manage the idea that you’re incredibly intelligent, as well as being drop-dead gorgeous. There’s real navigation in the beginning of your career, as far as trusting your intuition, figuring out who you can trust and what their motives are towards you. How would you define yourself spiritually?

DL More often than not, I feel quite grounded. I’m very close to the people I work with, and they’re honest with me. But sometimes, life gets really confusing, especially when people you don’t know at all have such opinions on your personal life. I’m in a weird part of my career where it’s such a learning curve. It’s a crazy transition, and it’s happening so fast. I’m coming to grips with that. In personal relationships, you’re already going through shit on your own; doing that in front of the public makes it a lot harder. With work, because everything’s so crazy and busy, I feel like I should have a bit more time to rehearse, but I also want to be able to do everything at once. I want to be able to seize the moment, but do it all really well. I feel conflicted.

KP I think you’re learning, and it’s beautiful that your intention is to want to do everything to the best of your ability. People will see that. Even if it’s not perfect every single time, they’ll see that your heart is in it. They’ll trust that you’re not just trying to take advantage of anyone’s eyes and ears, that you really want to contribute something beautiful artistically. I still find myself, even 10 years later, constantly with the same feeling. There are not enough hours in the world to rehearse, to do this; especially when I’m putting out a record. It’s a blessing and it’s a curse, but everything in life has a positive and a negative. When you just embrace that, you’re not so hard on yourself. I see you as a real talent. Last year, I think two stars really started to shine bright: you and Cardi B. People are just getting to know and trust you; it’s going to take a little bit more time. I think you’re almost there, where you can start to answer “no” every once in a while.

DL Right—thank you.

KP So, you’ve told me that you came to my show [years ago] and I pulled you up onstage with a medley of other people [Lipa laughs]. I was on the “California Dreams” tour, which was me at my most candy-fied, and I was pulling people up to dance with me during the cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” What really went on? Tell me everything!

DL I think I was 15 and a friend of mine surprised me [with tickets] for a birthday gift. I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it, I wanna go to the front!” We queued for quite a while at the Hammersmith Apollo. There were super-fans in gingerbread costumes with blue wigs and I was so pissed I didn’t have a wig.

KP [Laughs.] I’m sending you one.

DL Fuck yes. Anyway, we get into the venue and everything’s so magical. You were doing your cover and you were like, “Who’s gonna come up with me?” and no one even pointed at me, so I was like, fuck this, I’m going up there [Perry squeals]. I was so excited. One of your dancers helped me up. I had to squeeze through a couple girls, climb the barrier, then your dancer pulled me up and I started dancing onstage. You were wearing this glittery blue rhinestone bodysuit and I just wanted to touch the suit.

KP Did you touch it?!

DL I did, and then I joined in on the hug with everyone.

KP You were always meant to be onstage! Are you friendly with any other people in the industry?

DL I did a [BBC] Radio 1 Live Lounge of my song “IDGAF,” and I hadn’t actually met Zara Larsson before, but I just messaged her—we’d been friends on social media—and was like, “Hey, do you want to come down and sing this song with me?” Then I asked Charli XCX and MØ and Alma, and I was like, “Why don’t you guys come down and sing this song with me?” It’s nice to come together with other girls in the industry. It’s interesting to see people just hanging out. For so many years, the media has kind of pitted girls against each other. From so early on, I’ve dealt with some people not being nice, or not being too happy about my success. That sometimes comes with the territory. But it’s important to also be happy for people. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. It is what it is.

KP You just light a candle for them and pray for them.

DL Yes, exactly. You just have to be the bigger person. But more often than not, I’ve really had such nice luck meeting people. Everybody has been so lovely.

KP Whose career trajectory would you like to emulate?

DL I think P!nk has been able to go with the times, and stay true to herself. And everything you’ve done has been so inspiring to me, since I was really young. The most important thing is staying true to who you are musically, but growing in a really healthy way. Fans get upset if their favorite artist changes genres, but it can just be about growing with who they are as a person.

KP I agree with you wholeheartedly. When you get onto the scene, you know you’re going to have to open yourself up, but you don’t actually realize how difficult it can be to have the whole world commenting on how you should look, how you should move, what you should sound like, what you should do better. I don’t really read the comments. I used to scroll down and I’d see a lot of really great things, and you see that one [negative] thing, which just blows out all the good things.

DL I find myself there quite often. I’ve tried to stop reading the comments. Why is it that the one bad one sticks in your mind? It’s so weird.

KP It’s a learning process. I remember when I was where you are, I went through times of having Google alerts on and off. People around me keep me aware if things are bubbling or burning, if I need to look at something. But you can’t control everything. If you’re educating yourself and putting your best foot forward, you’re doing the best you can. Lately, people are more open to the idea that artists are not perfect; they’re fallible and human, just like everyone else. But we still get put on quite an intense pedestal. Also, as females, we just have to do the job 10 times better and in heels. Where would you like to see pop music go in the next three to five years?

DL It’s interesting; there really isn’t a [pop] genre. Everything is becoming weirder and so sonically different. People are creating their own sounds and genres. There’s a lot to be inspired by. Also, music is becoming a lot more political. That’s a big thing in rap and hip-hop; it’s interesting how it’s crossed over to “pop” artists. And so many unexpected collaborations are happening. It’s very exciting.

KP So, [your “New Rules”] music video hit one billion views. That’s such an incredible feat.

DL For “New Rules,” I had no idea where I wanted it to go. Some directors were sending ideas but there was nothing that I liked. In the meantime, I saw a picture of [an old] Gianni Versace campaign with Naomi Campbell on the back of [Kristen McMenamy]. I loved the colors, how it was shot, and the message of girls looking after each other. Initially, “New Rules” felt like such a sad song, even though it’s upbeat. It was nice to change it into a routine with friends if you’re going through a breakup or any sort of trouble.

KP What does the roof of your dreams look like?

DL I don’t ever want to feel accomplished, because there should always be something else to look forward to. I always want to be nervous and scared of my dreams, but at the same time, I want to be confident enough to go and get them.

KP I think that’s the recipe for success. Never get comfortable.

DRESS GUCCI, NECKLACE MOSCHINO
Credits: Makeup Aaron De Mey (Art Partner)  Hair Ward (The Wall Group) Manicure Gina Viviano (Artists by Timothy Priano) using dior vernis Executive producer Stephanie bargas (vlm productions) Production coordinator Eva Harte (vlm productions) studio Producer Tucker Birbilis (VLM Productions) Digital technician Brian Anderson (VLM studio) Lighting technician Jodokus Driessen (VLM studio) Photo assistant Joe Hume  Tailor Martin Keehn Stylist assistants Steven La Fuente, Julie Brigati Makeup assistant Tayler Treadwell Hair assistants Brian Casey, Billy Schaedler

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