We all remember what March 2020 was like. In the midst of the confusion and panic that reigned as COVID-19 started shutting down the world, Dua Lipa had to make a decision. Her second album, Future Nostalgia, was set for release in early April. The stakes were high. She had won the 2019 Grammy for best new artist following the success of her 2017 self-titled debut, which included the global smash “New Rules.” The new record—more ambitious, blending disco and ’90s dance influences with modern pop songcraft—was poised to take her to the next level of stardom. Dua Lipa Movie
But what would it mean to release Future Nostalgia at such a dark moment? Would anyone want to listen to an upbeat album? What would happen to her career if she were unable to tour?
While most artists were scrambling to delay albums, music from Future Nostalgia leaked, and Lipa decided to move the release date up a week, to March 27. And then, with tour plans indefinitely postponed, she got to work.
Unable to perform in front of a real audience, she did everything she could to remain a constant presence in her fans’ lives. She put out a steady stream of singles—then remixes and videos for each song, plus updated versions of the album. She did TV appearances from home, including as a guest host for Jimmy Kimmel Live, and assembled an elaborate livestream concert that drew an estimated five million views.
The result was that Dua Lipa became one of the biggest breakout stars of lockdown. Future Nostalgia became 2021’s second-most-streamed album on Spotify and was nominated for the album of the year Grammy. More than 90 weeks after its release, it was still making an appearance in Billboard’s Top 20. The single “Levitating” was Billboard’s No. 1 song of 2021—bought, streamed, and .ed on the radio more than any other song in the U.S.
Along the way, her presence on social media (her nearly 80 million followers on Instagram rank her among the biggest accounts in the world) made her a focus of tabloid fascination—over her alleged relationship with model Anwar Hadid (younger brother of Gigi and Bella), which dates back to 2019 and reportedly came to an end last month. Her posts also turned her into a style icon. Lipa has collaborated with Puma, and she’s part of a campaign for a Yves Saint Laurent fragrance. She was also the face of Versace’s fall/winter 2021 campaign, culminating in an appearance on the runway in Milan the following season. Dua Lipa Movie
One day before she begins full-scale rehearsals for the long-delayed Future Nostalgia tour, scheduled to start in Miami February 9 and run through November, Lipa looks striking in a long, pale pink puffy coat and bright-pink marshmallow-style boots, with wisps of hair sticking out from underneath a white knit cap. At 26, she also still looks like a kid. Although she’s thrilled to finally get back on stage, she’s especially eager to talk about her latest media venture, a newsletter and companion podcast launching next week.
Here are some things Dua Lipa revealed to WSJ. Magazine…
Lipa on launching Future Nostalgia during the pandemic:
“I always have this viewpoint that you have to be outside of your comfort zone for things to be rewarding,” Lipa said on a recent snowy morning in Manhattan. “So when the pandemic happened, and everyone was worried about whether we should release the album, I was just like, F— it, maybe it’s just what we need. While everyone’s at home, maybe this is the album we should be putting out. It was scary because you had no idea how long we were going to be in this pandemic. Everything was a big question mark. But I had a sense that we just had to do it.”
“Nothing was planned,” she says. “It was all like, Let’s try this out—why not? The idea that people were liking the album was the extra driving force for me to create new things and work harder and try to give them more experiences.” Dua Lipa Movie
Lipa on launching her newsletter, Service95:
“Since I was really young, I’ve always kept lists,” she says. “My parents found it really funny, because they would find them all over the house, but it’s something that I’ve done religiously—I try a new restaurant, I write it down. Movies I want to watch, books I want to read, places I want to see, drinks, recipes, everything. So all my friends send me messages like, ‘I’m in Mexico City; what can I do?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh, this, this, this, you have to see this.’”
Inspired by this personal-recommendation engine, the newsletter, Service95, will also focus on new musicians, artists, and designers and feature updates from around the world. “I’ve got journalists from Russia, from Hong Kong, from Nigeria,” she says. “Once we move from newsletter to website, everything will be searchable, so w.ver you are, you can find information about new music that’s happening or new things to go and see and do.”
Lipa on her new podcast, At Your Service:
The first season will have a dozen episodes, with a tentative lineup that includes writer Lisa Taddeo, British Vogue editor in chief Edward Enninful, Russell Brand and musicians like K-pop superstar CL and Elton John. Lipa sees a connection between her interest in such narratives and her work as a songwriter.
“I think it’s a lot about sharing experiences,” she says. “When I make music, a lot of the time it’s very personal experiences, but in the hopes that other people will listen and have it resonate with them. The same goes for Service95—that idea of togetherness.” Dua Lipa Movie
Ben Mawson, who has been Lipa’s manager since she was 17, on his first impressions upon signing her:
“She certainly wasn’t fully formed as an artist,” says Mawson. “She did have a very good voice, but the songs weren’t really t.. But she mentioned Madonna as a person to emulate, and I thought that was my type of ambition.”
Lipa on juggling so many full-time-job roles:
“It’s just something that’s ingrained in me,” she says. “I don’t know what it is, but I feel like at any point the rug could be pulled from under my feet if I don’t work hard enough.”
Lipa on retaining a strong connection to her Kosovar heritage:
“It’s such a big part of who I am,” she says. “Given my parents and how they came to the U.K., [the refugee situation] has always been something that’s really close to my heart.
“I read a lot of comments from people telling me that I don’t have a country, I don’t have an identity, Kosovo doesn’t exist. I lived in Kosovo, I know the lives that were lost. So for somebody to deny me my identity and my experience, it’s hard for me to stand back and not speak up about it. So that’s something that I will always do.”
Lipa (in 2016) on her teenage modeling experiences:
When I first met Lipa in 2016, she spoke with disdain about her teenage modeling experiences. “It made me very unhappy and caused me a lot of issues,” she said at the time, “a lot of body confidence problems.” Dua Lipa Movie
Lipa on how fashion has become more inclusive and diverse since her early modeling days:
Walking in the Versace show last fall gave her a new perspective. “Times have changed so much that you see beautiful models of all sizes, of all races, of different genders,” she says. “It’s amazing to have that now be the beauty spectrum when it was so limited before. Fashion is evolving so quickly, people are really being accountable and taking a stand for things that they believe in. And I love that I was a part of it now, in this time of change.”
Director Matthew Vaughn on Lipa’s movie debut for his upcoming feature film, Argylle:
“I’ve been around a lot of very famous people, and I think fame is becoming a non-commodity,” he says. “Andy Warhol was right; everyone’s becoming famous for doing nothing. And when I saw that interview, I thought, this girl’s got it.”
Vaughn will reveal only that Lipa’s character .s “a pivotal role at a pivotal moment,” adding that on set “she was very attentive, inquisitive, and focused. She zoned in and listened. If I gave her notes, she took them, understood them, and delivered.”
Lipa on finding working on Argylle a little terrifying:
“Everybody was saying ‘Oh, isn’t this so similar to making a music video?’ but it’s not at all,” she says. “In a music video, you really . to the camera, w.as in film, you have to forget the camera and get into character.”
Lipa on keeping her relationships private:
Lipa’s celebrity received an added boost, for better or worse, when she reportedly became involved with Anwar Hadid, and their every public appearance (along with plenty of private ones) was splashed across social media, with speculation regarding their apparent breakup reaching a fever pitch in December. (Through a representative, Lipa declined to comment.) She maintains that her off-stage life, despite the constant spotlight, really does remain private. For that she’s grateful. Dua Lipa Movie
“Something that I’ve realized over time is how little people actually know,” she says. “I’ve made peace with the fact that people can think what they want to think, but no one really, truly knows what’s happening behind closed doors. My circle’s really tight, my family and my friends keep me so grounded, and it gives me some kind of comfort that not everything is out t. that would take away from your life and privacy.”
Lipa on being deep into making her next album:
“I’ve done a big chunk of writing: It’s starting to take shape; I’ve got a lot of it recorded,” she says. “It has a vision. It has a name, I think—for now. It’s just been fun experimenting. I’m always going to make pop music, but it has its own unique sound, which is exciting and something that feels like a movement from Future Nostalgia. It’s still in baby form, so we’ll see as it progresses.
“In all honesty, it’s probably not what my fans want to hear, but I’m in no rush.”
Elton John, whose duet with Lipa, “Cold Heart,” went to No. 1 in the U.K. and is his first Top 10 hit in the U.S. in more than 20 years, on Lipa:
“When we collaborated, I was blown away by how professional she was,” says Elton John, “She turned up so well prepared and was a joy to sing with. Her musical chops are substantial. She has so much presence—an elegant poise and sophistication that belies her youth.”
Donatella Versace on Dua Lipa (the face of Versace’s fall/winter 2021 campaign):
“Of course, no one can deny that she is a beautiful woman,” says Donatella Versace, already known as an anointer of pop stars (J.Lo, Lady Gaga) before enlisting Lipa. “However, her voice has something so unique to it, and the way she looks you in the eye, with that mixture of wonder and confidence, made me understand that she is a true Versace woman. One who fights for her ideas, who is supportive of other women and wants to succeed.”
“Walking down a catwalk is not as simple as it looks if you are not used to it, and if everyone behind you has walked hundreds of them,” she says. “[Dua] gave me yet another glimpse into her work ethic. The way she owned that moment is just another example of her talent and, in fact, we can safely say she killed it with that wink in front of the photographers.” Dua Lipa Movie
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Photo: Daniel Jackson for Courtesy of WSJ. Magazine
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