Four MOBO nominations, three number one singles, two MTV EMA nods and one chart topping album, all in the space of a year. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Rita Ora…
By Jennifer Lynn
“It feels like it’s not real,” says Rita Ora, when we catch up with her on a whirlwind US promo tour. “It’s really flattering to know that everyone’s taken to me so well.” A modest statement for the 21-year- old, who dominated the charts this year with three consecutive number one singles, firstly featuring on DJ Fresh’s Hot Right Now, then taking the reins with her own summer anthems R.I.P. and How We Do (Party).
Having set her bar insanely high, surely the Kosovo-born singer must be feeling the pressure as she releases her latest single Shine Ya Light on November 4th? “I do,” admits Rita. “But at the same time some people might have bought the album, and it’s on there, so I don’t really mind as much.”
Returning to her home country for the first time in three years to film the accompanying video, Rita received a superstar welcome when she landed back in Kosovo. “When I got to the airport there was a VIP area and everyone was like, ‘Can we take a picture with you?’” she says. “Then when I came out there were loads of photographers and press, tons of fans, it was crazy. I don’t think a lot of singers go to Kosovo, and obviously I’m from there, so they’re just really happy to see how far I’ve come.”
And her homecoming was by no means coincidental. “Shine Ya Light is all about feeling free and happy, being proud of who you are, where you’re from and what made you the person that you are,” she explains. “That’s why I wanted to go back to Kosovo and do my video there; I felt like it fit the song.”
Her debut album ORA reads like a who’s who of today’s music industry, featuring collaborations with Tinie Tempah, will.i.am and J. Cole, as well as writing and producing credits for Drake, Diplo and Chase & Status. With an upcoming support slot on Usher’s 2013 UK tour, could he be next on Rita’s hit list? “That’s actually a really good idea!” she laughs. “I’ve been a really big fan of Usher since I was young; that tour’s had to be postponed because he’s doing The Voice in America, but hopefully we’ll get it rescheduled soon. He’s got an amazing voice.
“Musically I think I’ve got to work with near enough the dream team of people. I enjoy writing with Sia as well, she wrote Radioactive on the album, and I’d love to work with Beyonce one day, but obviously that would have to be a few albums down the line!”
A duet with Queen Bey is something many artists dream of, but perhaps Rita has a better shot than most, considering she’s signed to Roc Nation- the record label owned by Mr Beyonce himself, Jay-Z. “Beyonce is so sweet,” says Rita genuinely, without even a hint of sucking up. “I tend to only see her if we’re at the same concerts and stuff, but she’s really nice and so kind.”
It seems that concerts are where Rita does most of her celebrity socialising, as she explains how those Rob Kardashian relationship rumours came to light. “I met Rob’s sisters at a Jay-Z and Kanye Watch The Throne concert and, working in LA, there’s lots of people hanging out in certain circles because you can’t really go clubbing till that late,” she begins. “When I first got signed I was under twenty-one [the legal drinking age in America], so people just hang around together, and we had similar friends. I think he’s just easy for girls to get on with because he has so many sisters- he knows how to be a good friend.”
Rita laughs coyly when I suggest Rob is her biggest fan- judging from his Twitter page it isn’t hard to see why they’re at the centre of much speculation. Despite denials from both camps, Rob tweeted Rita back in May after R.I.P. charted at number one, saying, “You did it. I love you and you’re my wife. That’s my baby!” Since then we’ve had pictures of their names tattooed on each other’s knuckles (albeit in temporary ink) and, as Scotcampus went to print, Mr Kardashian had posted what many believe to be confirmation of his and Rita’s relationship: a picture of the pair kissing. Hmm…
It’s not just Rita’s love life which has been at the centre of a media storm; her rumoured rivalry with fellow Roc Nation star Rihanna has been making headlines, from their similar sartorial choices, to alleged beef over Rita stepping out with Rihanna’s ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. “I think it’s the easy comparison to make,” says Rita. “We’re both involved with Jay-Z, and I’m just new, so straightaway people associate me with someone like Rihanna. If you listen to my album and a lot of my acoustic stuff, our voices are completely different, and that will show more as my career progresses. But I mean it’s a great comparison, she’s extremely successful, and I’m glad that it’s somebody that amazing.”
Well on her way to reaching Rihanna’s level of success, Rita has been nominated for four MOBO awards and two MTV EMAs at this year’s Europe Music Awards. “It’s really amazing,” she says. “I have to travel around all the time, so when I get an award it kind marks what I’ve been doing, it separates it, otherwise it just feels like one big blur!”
As well as discovering the outcome of her nominations, Rita will be performing at the EMAs, which take place in Frankfurt on November 11th. “I’m opening the show and the hall is massive, so I’m a bit nervous,” she says. “I might just not wear my contact lenses so I can’t see anyone, but then I’ll probably fall over!”
After a whirlwind year Rita is taking a little time out to celebrate an occasion of a different sort. “It’s my birthday on November 26th,” she says. “I get four days off to celebrate, so I’m going to get a little cottage in the countryside and invite all my friends round for a party. Then I’ve got a few weeks in the studio over Christmas and New Year, but I think I’m going to play a little mini concert in Dubai for New Year’s. Fireworks and all the works!” Sounds like a plan to us, Rita.
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Shine Ya Light is released on November 4th and Rita’s debut album ORA is out now!