Featuring in ck one's Lara Stone-fronted campaign, last week a mix of freshly plucked talent congregated at Shoreditch’s Village Underground for an event hosted in collaboration with MTV Push aimed at showcasing the very best of fledgling British talent. Amongst the select bunch of new artists, London-born Rita Ora shines like a bright light. Taken under the wing of Jay-Z after signing to his Roc Nation label, her debut album is due to be released later this year. Dazed caught up with Rita at the event to talk about her Kosovon roots, growing up in London, and the dazzling future ahead…
Dazed Digital: You’re signed to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation. How did you get introduced and what has it been like working with him?
Rita Ora: Working with Jay is like a dream. Working with any legend is a dream come true but with Jay he’s very involved with the few artists he signs. For me to come from London, and originally to be from Kosovo, that’s just ten times more important for me. He’s involved, his team is involved (because they’ve all been friends for so many years), so it’s not like a normal record label – it’s like a family. A great family.
DD: Who were your influences growing up? Who did you listen to?
Rita Ora: I’m in love with Gwen Stefani - her swagger, the way she dressed, her approach to everything. I loved that about her. Vocally you know the classics, the Mariah’s, the Whitney’s, Imogen Heap; those kind of women.
DD: What are you listening to at the moment?
Rita Ora: Adele’s album I’ve been killing. That album, ah. Not only is the vocal performance amazing but the songs lyrically are amazing. And the fact that she’s only 21… She’s just a huge talent.
DD: There’s a lot of emerging British talent, how does it feel to be a part of it?
Rita Ora: I never thought I’d ever be a part of it. To actually be a part of it now and have people actually waiting to hear my stuff makes me feel so important. I feel like I have to live up to people’s expectations and to work ten times harder every single time.
DD: Was singing always something you wanted to do?
Rita Ora: Oh yeah, my whole life. When I was six years old I got into a choir and from then on I was like, ‘This is fun!’. My primary school wasn’t a music school but they made me go into a music school. My choir teacher was the one who said ‘why don’t you go to theatre school?’ She was a great teacher, her name was Suzie and every time I see her I thank her. I still see her – I’ll never forget the people who’ve helped me in my life, ever.
DD: What was it like growing up in London and how has this and your Kosovon roots affected you?
Rita Ora: Growing up, my family we weren’t the richest people. We lived in an estate and still do (in Ladbrook Grove, I’ve always been a west London girl). I used to work in a sneaker shop whilst I was going to school. My mum is a doctor now but she wasn’t when she got here – she was a doctor in Kosovo but she had to do her degrees all over again. It was a process but they found their feet and they supported us very well.
DD: You’ve worked with some amazing artists already. What’s been the most overwhelming experience for you so far?
Rita Ora: Watching Jay-Z record. He’s actually a genius. To be in the same room, let alone watch him, I mean me and my sister were both gobsmacked. Watching that and Beyonce perform.
DD: What projects are you working on at the moment?
Rita Ora: I’m 100% devoted to my album – that’s my main project, this campaign and my album. Now we’ve just done this campaign I can focus on the finishing touches of my album and getting it out this year. I worked with a lot of amazing people and I can’t wait to surprise you all. You don’t understand how good this album is! I’m excited for everyone to hear it.