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
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 BillboardHot 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.
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.
By LUCAS VILLA