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Dua Lipa Talks 'Club Future Nostalgia,' Working With Madonna And How She's Navigating The Music Industry In The COVID-19 Era

Dua Lipa

Photo: Hugo Comte

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Dua Lipa Talks 'Club Future Nostalgia,' Working With Madonna And How She's Navigating The Music Industry In The COVID-19 Era

The GRAMMY-winning pop superstar tells GRAMMY.com about the creative process behind her newly released remix album, the project's high-profile collaborations and the challenges of releasing music during the coronavirus age

GRAMMYs/Aug 30, 2020 - 04:33 am

Club Future Nostalgia is open for business. As clubs and bar spaces around the world remained closed during the COVID-19 era, British pop superstar Dua Lipa has created a virtual club experience with Club Future Nostalgia, her newly released remix album she developed and curated alongside Chicago DJ/producer The Blessed Madonna while in quarantine.

Released Friday (Aug. 28), Club Future Nostalgia remixes all the tracks off her latest album, Future Nostalgia, which Lipa dropped in late March just as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread widely around the world. The remix album, which features contributions from fellow Brits like Mark Ronson, Joe Goddard, Paul Woolford and Jacques Lu Cont as well as American and international electronic DJs/producers like Jayda G, Masters At Work, Yaeji and others, reimagines Future Nostalgia into a nearly hour-long set that spans '80s soul and '90s house music to today's Lipa-led disco-pop revival. 

Other artists featured on the album include the Queen Of Pop, Madonna, and hip-hop icon Missy Elliott, who both guest on The Blessed Madonna's funky "Levitating" remix, as well as Gwen Stefani and K-pop princesses BLACKPINK.

The album's unique creative setting was central to the creation of Club Future Nostalgia, Lipa says. 

"It was the perfect opportunity to create something like this," Lipa tells GRAMMY.com by phone. "I had what felt like all the time in the world, and everyone's at home. It doesn't really happen so often that you get the opportunity to collaborate with all these incredible producers and artists. I think it was of-the-moment that I was able to snap everyone up, especially The Blessed Madonna, who would've been on tour by [that] time. This album really came to be because of the current climate."

Five years ago this month, Lipa launched her career with the release of her debut single, "New Love." It would take more singles to build some buzz and nearly two years for her 2017 self-titled debut album to see the light of day. After a slow-burn success, she wowed the world with her 2017 breakthrough hit, "New Rules." Never limiting her musical horizons, she next delved into dance music via collaborations with Calvin Harris ("One Kiss") and Silk City ("Electricity"), Mark Ronson and Diplo's supergroup duo. The latter garnered her a GRAMMY win for Best Dance Recording in 2019. That same night, she also took home the coveted Best New Artist GRAMMY.

With the breakout success of Future Nostalgia further solidifying Lipa's name in the music industry, she's reached a point in her career where she can do as she pleases. She now has a Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart-topper under her belt with "Un Día (One Day)," a collaboration with J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Tainy. The sky's the limit for Lipa, but what she wants most is for her fans to find joy in Club Future Nostalgia

Dua Lipa chatted with GRAMMY.com about the creative process behind Club Future Nostalgia, the album's high-profile remixes and collaborations and the challenges of releasing music in the age of COVID-19.

How did you manage to get Madonna on the "Levitating" remix?

It was very much a manifestation thing. I was thinking out loud. I was just talking with my manager and I was like, "You know who would sound really good on this? Madonna." And he said, "You know, we could try. We could send it to her and see if she likes it." She responded and she was so down. I was over the moon. I couldn't believe that she wanted to do this record with me. I'm such a fan. It was really exciting.

How did Gwen Stefani get involved with the "Physical" remix?

Oh my God! She is my queen. She's just amazing. When I got to interview her for "Jimmy Kimmel [Live!]," she was such a ball of light and energy. It was one of those things that just happened by chance. We had the "Hollaback Girl" sample on the remix album and we were contacting her and her team to get it cleared. I was like, "While we're at it, we should just ask her if she wants to be on the record." She was so down. She loved the "Physical" remix that Mark Ronson did. She was totally up for jumping on it. When I was waiting for her vocal to come in, I was jumping around like a 5-year-old. I was so excited.

"Physical" sounds like it was made for Gwen. She sounds great on it.

Yeah, she snapped! [Laughs.]

What was the experience like to work with BLACKPINK on "Kiss And Make Up"?

On the original version, it was really cool and fun. I had written "Kiss And Make Up" probably a year and a bit before it came out. It didn't quite fit with my album at the time, and I wanted to put it out, but I wanted it to be really special. 

I did a show in Seoul. [BLACKPINK's] Jennie and Lisa came to the show to hang out. We had an absolute blast. Immediately after hanging out with them, I was like, "I have a crazy idea. I have this song and I would love for you guys to be on it." They were so up for it and they went in the studio and translated the lyrics. It worked out so perfectly. It's one of my favorite collaborations that I've done.

The album comes with an extensive animated visualizer. Where did the idea for that come from?

Being in quarantine and lockdown, I had to think outside the box. While I was preparing the "Hallucinate" video, which I ended up doing an animation for with the animator Lisha Tan, who is amazing; it was so exciting to do that with her. I thought, "What a perfect time to try to get as many incredible and fun animators to bring their own world with every song." That's what we did with the remix album, where every producer and DJ threw their flavor and take on it. I thought it was the perfect pairing to create an animated visual video. 

Again, during this time, when would I ever be able to have the opportunity to work with so many incredible animators and artists? It's been an amazing thing to see so many people come together to create this record. A lot of time, effort and love has been put into it. It's been a fun way to reimagine the album.

There's a disco-pop revival happening in music right now. Future Nostalgia is one of the albums leading the way. Why did you decide to take that direction?

Thank you. That's such a compliment for me, especially from my first album moving into my next. I wanted to do something that felt fresh and new, something that touched on a memory, something that always rings so true to me, especially in my childhood. To be able to recreate that in a modern way was an absolute dream for me. I'm so happy that I stood by and honed in on that sound that I love. It makes me feel so good. I'm really proud of this record because I feel like I found my [footing] as an artist and as a songwriter. I really wrote things that I absolutely love. It's definitely a milestone for me in my career.

Future Nostalgia was also one of the first major albums to be released at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. What was that experience like?

At times, especially a couple days before, it was scary. It was a time of uncertainty that I was like, "I don't even know if people need my music right now." I was scared that maybe it won't get received well or that it would come across as tone-deaf because there was so much suffering. 

In the preparation to put it out, I remembered that I created this record to get away from any pressures or anxieties from the outside world. The album made me feel happy and want to dance. That persuaded me, like maybe this would at least get people's minds off what's going on and make them want to dance and feel happy. 

I'm grateful for the way people responded and the messages and videos I was sent. All the love that was pouring in—I was so happy. It still makes me so excited when people are like, "Thank you, because it was like the soundtrack to all our workouts and motivated us to stay fit during this quarantine." [Laughs.]


What was the experience like to work with J Balvin, Bad Bunny and Tainy on "Un Día (One Day)"?

It was really fun. They have such great energies, such lovely boys. What I love to do with the collaborations I do is always something that people don't expect me to do, something that's a little bit outside of my comfort zone. I love to experiment. I love to surprise people and learn so much from my peers. It was such a great experience. I love the song. 

I feel like it's another one that when I listen to it, it immediately transports me somewhere really sunny and warm. I feel like I'm by the beach when I listen to it. It was exciting for me to write to a track that I wouldn't naturally do for my own project. I think that's the magic of music and collaborations at this time. Everything is so genre-bending.

It's been five years since you released your debut single, "New Love." What have you learned about yourself in that time?

I think from five years ago, I really did stick to everything I believed in the beginning. And that was sticking to my vision, talking about my stories and being open and standing by things that I believe in and never backing down and believing in my art. That's something that I told myself five years ago that I stuck by. I always want to grow and learn so much. I really stuck to those words so much, so I feel like it helped me and guided me so much during this process.

You won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist in 2019. How did you feel when that happened?

Oh my God! I literally think I blacked out in that moment because I had to go back and listen to my speech afterwards. I was so nervous that all I did was "umm" and "ahh" because I just couldn't believe it. Like my whole world just exploded right in front of my eyes. It was the most insane thing to have ever happened. To be recognized by my peers and to have the opportunity to be up there was absolutely incredible and surreal. It definitely pushed me to be better and do better and work harder and really stick by what I believe in. I'm really grateful. I wanted to prove that I deserved it. 

You have always used your platform to support the LGBTQ+ community. Do you have a message for your LGBTQ+ fans?

Absolutely. I always believed that everyone deserves to live their truth. Tomorrow isn't promised, so we have to be as loud as we can and be proud. There's so much love and support, and I'm right here for you. I'm here every step of the way, and I love you. Thank you for everything that the LGBTQ+ community has done for me. I couldn't have done it without them.

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

Rotimi

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Taylor Swift

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images

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Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium

GRAMMYs/Sep 18, 2019 - 02:38 am

Taylor Swift  will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.

The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1

"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!" 

Lover was released Aug. 23 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Her sold-out tour for her previous album, 2017's Reputation, was the highest grossing U.S. tour ever, breaking her own record.

Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17.