Rita Ora on Dubai, RedfestDXB, Adidas and everything after
Rita Ora is a whirlwind. Ever since the British pop star first entered the public consciousness in 2012 with her debut album Ora – home to hits RIP and How We Do (Party) – the 25 year old’s career has expanded to include everything from fashion and television to film.
Her visit to the UAE is a testament to her work ethic. As well as headlining the opening night of the RedFestDXB festival on Thursday, February 11, at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Ora also popped into the Adidas store in The Dubai Mall to launch her Asian-inspired collection for the brand.
These developments come at an uncertain time in Ora’s career. She recently made industry headlines after launching a lawsuit against her current record label, the Jay Z-founded Roc Nation, in order to be released from her contract. Despite the legal manoeuvrings, Ora is adamant her delayed second album will hit shelves in 2016.
Your visits to the UAE have included performances in clubs as well as music festivals. What do you prefer?
I really don’t like doing the clubs. For me, the club experience is about having fun and getting crazy. So if I am performing in the club, I can’t be that way. I am concentrated and professional but as soon as the work is done I go out and have fun.
Your performance tonight marks your second appearance at RedfestDXB, after headlining the inaugural edition in 2014. What can fans expect this time around?
It will be different because back then I was little and pure. Now I am coming back with a bang. My band and my dancers are here with me and we are just going to have a good time. We have a better slot this time around as well, we are playing in the evening and we went up the bill. In a way, I feel that we have finally made it by coming back here.
Since that time, you have been super busy working across fashion, film and television. Was that always part of the career plan?
Honestly, my plan was just simply to make music and have an album out. Then these opportunities came my way and they are very interesting, from the movies to the fashion line. If any one got offered these opportunities you really wouldn’t turn them down. At the same time, I have been very selective about what I do. You know, I look up at people that made a business out of what they have done – someone like Jennifer Lopez is a prime example who does a few things at once – and I don’t see nothing wrong with that. It’s very admirable, actually.
Your recent collection for Adidas has major Japanese influences. How did that come together?
I dropped about 12 projects with Adidas and this one is based on my recent trip to Asia while I was on tour. I was obsessed with the Geisha culture during that time and it was the inspiration behind it. I am always inspired about what I see when I am travelling and generally fashion has always been a very big part of my life. So if someone asks me to design something I will be working very hard on it.
You also starred as Christian Grey’s sister Mia in last year’s film adaptation of the book 50 Shades of Grey. How was that experience and can you tell us a bit about the next instalment?
It has been an incredible experience. I guess what I can say for now is that we are shooting the next part in an April and I am excited to be part of all three movies. Working on a film is a different vibe. Instead of working in a studio and being free and sing what you want, it is more the opposite in that you are instead following a script. But I love doing it, it’s a good readjustment. I want to do more movies and more albums.
There is also news floating around that there is a battle going on between The Voice UK and The X Factor UK over signing you up on the judging panel. Have you made a decision to ditch The X Factor and return to The Voice?
It’s funny because I just found out about all of this today. I don’t don’t know what is going on but I like it – I hope they keep fighting over me, I don’t mind that at all. I have not made a decision about this because I have been focusing on recording my new album so much that I haven’t even started discussions over anything. I didn’t leave X Factor, it’s just that the show is finished and we haven’t spoken about the next thing yet.
Talking about the new album, you dropped two promo singles Poison and the Chris Brown collaboration Body On Me last year. How is the general recording going?
It has been a really exciting experience. I feel very free in the studio and I have gone through this transitional period in my life where I now feel that I am excited about the future.
Is it disconcerting to record the album amid the legal battle you have going on right now with your label Roc Nation?
I really don’t want to talk about that. I am recording the album the way I always do. The studio is a separate world. It is a place that is sacred, humble, fragile and innocent. In the studio nobody can come in my space.
You recorded Ora in relative obscurity. Since then you have grown up in public and have been subject to all the tabloid issues that celebrities deal with. Are you still recording the new album in the same manner you did your debut?
I didn’t change the way I work. On my first album I was younger but I still had the same drive. All I wanted to do was sing and go on the road and perform and I didn’t care how it all happened. Now other things have changed, there is a different dynamic and more people know my name than before but I always try to stay focused.
The songs you released so far from the new album are far more moodier than the party vibes you are associated with. Is that something we should expect once the album drops?
This is definitely a more emotional record. I have just been through a lot and the music is tempered by emotions. There are angry, sad and happy songs in there. It is a roller-coaster of emotion.
What’s your goals for the year?
I would be really happy if I have my album out and go on tour.
The album has been delayed so far. Are you sure the album will be out this year?
Oh, 100 per cent – if that’s the last thing I’ll do.
• Rita Ora goes on stage on Thursday, February 11, at 10.40pm at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre as part of RedfestDxb. The festival runs February 11 and February 12. Doors open at 6pm and tickets begin from Dh400. Visit
Updated: February 11, 2016 04:00 AM