Dua Lipa reveals her deep Aussie connection
The light bulb moment hit Dua Lipa as she stepped out of the studio.
With the freshly minted pop jam Break My Heart she had just finished with a crew of poptastic collaborators still looping around in her brain, part of its guitar hook suddenly sounded very familiar.
"It was one of those funny things where you write something and you think it's so cool and then you leave the studio and suddenly think 'F …! You didn't come up with this first," she says, laughing.
The hook was close enough to Need You Tonight, the INXS smash which went to No. 1 in the US in 1987, eight years before Lipa was born.
The accidental meeting of music minds across the decades perfectly matched the aesthetic of her second album Future Nostalgia, her new take on classic pop eras.
Instead of relegating the track to the never-to-be-heard bin, her team negotiated with those who look after the publishing rights of Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farriss to give them a songwriting credit on it.
"So obviously we contacted their team and came to an agreement to sample the track which is really cool. That's really bringing the future and the nostalgia together," Lipa says.
"I feel like a lot of young people don't necessarily pick up on it - when I played it to some of my friends they didn't get the reference. But I think some people would even though it's not exactly the same."
Lipa has been riding high in the pop charts since 2015 with a succession of girl power anthems, the excitement and anxiety of a new relationship, the most recent perhaps inspired by her singer beau Anwar Hadid, and good-riddance to bad ex-boyfriends bangers.
"Yeah, even the heartbreak songs are fun. They're kind of a celebration of vulnerability and a celebration of that sadness and heartache," she says of those tracks on her new record.
"Dance crying has always been my forte. It wouldn't be me if the record didn't have that. Sometimes at festivals when I'm around all my friends and someone you love is playing, I'll dance cry.
"When the Bee Gees came on at Glastonbury I was definitely in tears while I was dancing. The fact Barry Gibb got up there and was singing all of those high notes triggered me."
'It would be epic for ONJ to hear it'
Raised between Kosovo and London, where she relocated at age 15 to pursue her music ambitions, Lipa has commanded the global charts and generated billions of streams with hit after hit for the past five years - Be The One, Hotter Than Hell, New Rules and IDGAF - and collaborated with like-minded electronic hitmakers including Martin Garrix on Scared To Be Lonely, One Kiss with Calvin Harris and Silk City (Mark Ronson and Diplo's side project) on Electric.
The 24-year-old pop powerhouse knew exactly what sound she wanted for her second album and introduced her postmodern take on disco with the first single Don't Start Now, which has already clocked more than 500 million streams on Spotify alone and soundtracked more than four million TikTok dance videos.
The second single Physical ushered in the new year, another pop song with an Australian connection across the pop decades which didn't initially reveal itself to the young artist.
Lipa admits Australian national treasure Olivia Newton-John didn't spring to mind during the writing sessions with some of her favourite collaborators including Sarah Hudson, Clarence Coffee Jr and Jason Evigan. But she does now.
"I was in the studio with Jason and Sarah and Coffee who I write with a lot and we were in the mood to write something fun and crazy," she says.
"Obviously when we wrote those words 'let's get physical', we realised it was the perfect Olivia Newton-John reference. It would be epic for her to hear it. One of the cool things about music is how it can inspire you to learn about other music, where inspiration comes from."
Fun is the word the singer, songwriter, fashion muse, feminist and philanthropist returns to time and time again as we discuss Future Nostalgia ahead of her celebrated performance at the Mardi Gras Party in Sydney last month.
It is a record designed to make you dance like no one is watching around the loungeroom or scream along to in the car. The melodies and hooks and vibe channel the considerable influence of her parents' record collection during her childhood including Prince and Blondie and Jamiroquai alongside her own adolescent idols such as Pink and Nelly Furtado.
"I love the way those songs (from my childhood) resonate and the memories they hold with them," she says.
The entrenched inequality of young girls
But a less loved memory of childhood provoked the album's closing track Boys Will be Boys. Lipa wanted to address the entrenched inequality of young girls being schooled on how to protect themselves from the harassment or violence of men. She wants the song to kickstart conversations among her millions of young female fans with their parents, siblings, schools and peer groups about how to shift behaviour which disrespects women.
"Me walking home with keys in my hands was something I did when I was younger and it was darker in winter and there would be boys around the estates catcalling," she recalls.
"And I didn't like to be chased (by them). All of that would make me nervous. So that's what I would do with the keys, like f … ing Wolverine walking down the street, in case anything was to happen
"Thank god, nothing happened but it was always the first thing that would come to mind. 'How am I going to protect myself?' Or the fact that we cover ourselves up a little bit more so we don't have unwanted attention.
"But why do we always have to change the way we are or how we want to dress or what we want to do; we have to continue to be cautious and vigilant about looking after our drinks and don't stay out too late, stick with your friends, protect one another.
"Hopefully at some point we will see some kind of equality in terms of us not having to live in fear. For me, it's important to talk about so we know we are all going through the same thing and we are heard, we are listened to."
Future Nostalgia is out tomorrow.
Originally published as Dua Lipa reveals her deep Aussie connection