DLipa, among others, is crying when she addresses her fans via Instagram livestream a few days ago. “Stay at home!”, She demands, “you think you are young and that the virus cannot harm you. But I know a lot of young people who have been infected and who are struggling with the virus. ”Then the British singer becomes concrete and gives one name: Andrew Watts. The 29-year-old co-author of her hits like “Don’t Start Now” and “Break My Heart” had been tested positive for the corona virus. “Check out his social media account and read how scary it is,” she says emphatically. As a star who has made millions of people dance in stadiums, clubs and beaches worldwide, she calls for a shutdown from her London apartment. “Don’t be so small-minded, it affects us all, we have to take better care of each other.” Under the impression of the crisis, she reinterpreted the lines of her hit “Don’t Start Now” and posted it as a code of conduct: “Don’t show up, Don ‘t come out, walk away, you know how. “
It was otherwise a turbulent week for the 24-year-old British woman with Kosovan roots. After you new album “Future Nostalgia” was leaked, she moved the release scheduled for early April to this week. And because of the corona pandemic, the concerts booked from May have been postponed to next year. Another bad news: in Kosovo, the birthplace of her parents and her second home, the Prime Minister is in office after only seven weeks Vote of no confidence been overthrown. The official reason: a rift within the coalition over how to deal with the Corona crisis.
We interviewed Dua Lipa via Skype before the crisis broke out. It looked different from all the stylish portrait photos of the lifestyle magazines – casual, refreshingly normal. She was polite too. When the interviewer sneezed loudly during her answer, she interrupted and wished for what everyone wanted at the moment: “health”.
WORLD: In the title song of your new album you sing: “You are trying desperately to find out who I am, I know that you are not familiar with alpha women, you want the recipe, but you cannot deal with my sound”.
Dua Lipa: (laughs) I see you read very carefully.
WORLD: Did you have any negative experience from the years of your meteoric rise?
Lipa: I like to put statements in my songs that make me stronger and more confident. And I know that if other young women hear these songs, it will also strengthen them. It’s all about this. Of course I would like to see myself in this role – as an alpha woman who knows exactly how to assert herself. There are many alpha women in music that have inspired me – Debbie Harry, Pink or Nelly Furtado.
WORLD: In this respect you are already a role model at 24. In October 2019 you attended the Cambridge University made a speech on gender justice held. How did that happen?
Lipa: The university had invited me. First time a year ago, but at that time I was on tour. I really wanted to do that. In October it finally worked. And then I told what it was like to work as a woman in the music industry.
WORLD: How is it?
Lipa: According to current statistics, it is the case with music producers that there is only one woman for every 47 men. That needs to change. We need more women in the music business – more producers, sound engineers and more women in management so that young artists feel more comfortable in the environment.
WORLD: When you started out, you put cover versions online, so they got the attention of producers and a record deal. What were your experiences
Lipa: I would have liked to feel more feminine energy around me at the beginning of my career. At first, I had to learn not to be afraid to express my own views until I was the only woman in a room full of men. These were learning curves that would have been different had more women been in charge in this environment. That’s what I talked about in Cambridge in a ten-minute speech combining different statistics with my own experience.
WORLD: You post such messages on Instagram, as well as political statements, for example calling to support Labor in the past UK election.
Lipa: Yes. And I do my social media work myself.
WORLD: Her parents are Kosovar Albanians, who fled to the region in the mid-1990s to London, where you were born later. After Brexit, it becomes more difficult for asylum seekers and refugees. Have you played through for yourself what this would have meant for your family if you had decided to take this step today?
Lipa: That is staggering. The fact that I’m talking to you here about my music has a starting point: my parents were able to escape to London at the time. It breaks my heart to think that many young people in similar emergencies will no longer have this opportunity in the future. We have to fight for multiculturalism, keep it alive. Xenophobia is currently very present, not only in Europe, but also in America. That is a problem that we have to address. After Brexit, I felt like we were five steps back.
WORLD: In 2006 your parents returned to Pristina for professional reasons. You went to school there for four years before returning to London in 2015 without your parents and living with friends. How did this back and forth shape you?
Lipa: There was a lot of change in my life. I often had to adapt to the circumstances. But that didn’t scare me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to Pristina with my parents. I was excited, I was eleven at the time. But after living there for four years, I realized that I had to live in a place where everything happened at once. So I had to go back to London.
WORLD: At 15. Alone. Wasn’t that a problem for your parents?
Lipa: It was just this very big wish in me, I wanted to live my musical dream in London. My father was a musician himself. He finally understood that. But all of these experiences in my youth were very important to me. When I came into a classroom, I was often the new girl, the other girl. In London as well as in Pristina. When I went to school in London, I first felt like an outsider because I had to constantly explain my first name.
WORLD: Since you can be seen on the front pages of international magazines, at least your fans have known that Dua is Albanian for “love”.
Lipa: (laughs) Yes, but nobody knew that at the time. I had to constantly correct the others in pronouncing my name. I still had a wonderful childhood and great friends in London. But because of my name, I always felt like the other. And when I moved to Kosovo at the age of eleven, I first thought: It will be easy here, after all everyone knows how my name is spoken and what it means. We had also spoken Albanian in our family in London at home. I thought: Everything will be fine now.
WORLD: But it wasn’t great then?
Lipa: In Kosovo I was this child from London for my classmates. And my Albanian wasn’t enough to keep up with the school subjects, I had to catch up a lot. Was difficult. Only in my last year in Kosovo did I get good grades in all subjects, and I spoke Albanian fluently, had many friends there. And then – yes then I’m back to London. I went back to school there – and then I was the girl from Kosovo (laughs). I always had to find out where I came from, where my place is.
WORLD: Where is your place today
Lipa: I am thankful that I come from two locations in equal parts. This is me. That helped me to become self-confident and independent.
WORLD: In 2018 and 2019 you organized festivals in Pristina, which performed bands from Kosovo as well as yourself and stars like Miley Cyrus. Do you want to establish a Glastonbury in the Balkans?
Lipa: I do my best, I can dream, right? (laughs) The proceeds from the festivals go to my Sunny Hill Foundation, which is named after a district in Pristina in which my father grew up. With the foundation we support NGOs and charities that are important for community and cultural life in Kosovo. We are planning a third festival this summer. I want to bring as many international artists to Kosovo as possible to change the country’s perception. For most, Kosovo is still a country with which they associate war. I especially want to support the youth in the country.
WORLD: The UN had one from 2000 to 2001 Transitional Mayor used in Pristina, the German Siegfried Brenke. He had the idea of establishing a mixed university with English as the main language in the city of Mitrovica, which is divided between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians, in order to offer young people in the conflict zone a perspective – which was not possible due to the political trench warfare.
Lipa: Wow, that was shortly after the Kosovo war. My big dream is to finance an art and innovation center with my foundation in Pristina. We have already found a building and the renovation work has started. My plan is to open it this year. Children and young people should be able to use the rooms and opportunities for free – create podcasts or radio programs, take part in studio sessions. We want to get people off the streets by helping them learn how to do something creative, something that also helps them make money with the knowledge they have acquired. I want to give something back to Kosovo because it has given me a lot.
WORLD: The website of the German Federal Foreign Office states: “Only if the relations between Kosovo and Serbia have been finally clarified will the accession of both countries to the EU be possible in the future.” So far, this has not been the case. Do you still believe in Kosovo’s EU membership?
Lipa: Absolutely. There are still many hurdles to overcome on the way there. There is still a lot of work to do to resolve the negative tensions in neighboring countries from the war. But I pray that one day Kosovo will be part of the EU.
WORLD: Until then, are you not just a pop star, but somehow an unofficial ambassador for your country?
Lipa: I try to help my country to make it better and to move forward.
Dua Lipa was born in London on August 22, 1995. Her parents come from Pristina in Kosovo. In 2017 her debut album “Dua Lipa” was released. Songs like “New Rules” and “One Kiss” became number one hits. She received two Grammys. Her new album “Future Nostalgia” has now been released. Their Germany concerts planned for May were postponed to the end of January 2021 due to the corona pandemic.