For five years now, Rita Ora has been one of the biggest pop stars in the U.K., where she has been able to chart hit after hit after hit. But here in the U.S., she's still waiting to score her first big smash. The singer/actress/model is essentially a household name by this point due to the number of high-profile projects she's been able to participate in, and now, she's focused on her music once again. 2018 looks like it might be the year she finally breaks through and charts a banger.
The pop singer recently spoke with Fuse about new electronic-infused singles like "Your Song" and "Anywhere," her upcoming album, and what she couldn't stop listening to this past year.
FUSE: I had no idea just how great your next single was going to be before you unleashed “Anywhere.”
Rita Ora: Thank you so much! That means the world to me. I love “Anywhere.” I'm very happy you said that. It hits the radio waves next year mid-January, so be sure to let everybody know!
How did you select it? You must have had a number of songs to choose from for this album and then when choosing a single.
Yes I did. I was able to grow up to be honest with you. When I first recorded it, I was like, “Eh, this is cool.” Then I started listening to it, and I was like, “This is actually a jam!” I didn't initially even have that drop in the part where I'm not really singing any words. That never existed, and then Alesso was messing around with it and came up with that drop. That took it to another level.
You are now two singles into what I'm assuming will be your next full-length album. Do you know when we will actually receive that?
The plan is March, and then we go on tour in May. Then I come over to the states after my European tour.
Between now and March, are you planning on another single?
Yes! Actually, I am. I have a single that is actually not on my record but is also coming out in January, and I have another song that is on my record coming out at the same time. So it's gonna be like Ora overdose.
We're alright with that. Is the one that's not on your record a collaboration with somebody, or just a gift for fans?
I can't actually say too much, but you're going to find out very, very, very soon
By the time we get the full-length...which, by the way, does that have a name?
Yes, but that isn't... It's going to be announced at the top of the year.
“I've definitely become more confident with what I've been through and coming out on the other side”
By the time we get that, it will have been six years since your debut. What has changed for you as an artist in that time?
A lot. I've changed as a human, to be honest with you. I'm 27 now, so I've definitely grown up more as an artist, as a singer, as a musician, as a writer, as an entertainer. I've definitely become more confident with what I've been through and coming out on the other side and being able to make the music I wanted to make. The fight I had to put up to do that was pretty intense. I'm really blessed to be able to put out music I love.
Both “Anywhere” and “Your Song” are a lot more electronic than your earlier stuff. Have you been listening to more EDM?
Yeah I have. I was inspired by that contrast of light and melodic melody over an EDM beat. I have found that really endearing and the “Lonely Together” song with Avicii was written on the guitar and the beat followed. “Anywhere” was written on the guitar and the beat followed. I feel like this format works for me, and I'm really happy to be in the groove.
Do those songs give us a good idea of what the album sounds like?
For sure! But this album is... For me, it's not just a new record, it's about starting fresh and starting new and moving forward. It has a lot of drops and a lot of major productions, for sure, but it also has a lot of songwriting, which I really hope people love when they hear it.
How are you planning on bringing these songs, which are already such big hits in Europe, over to the U.S., where people just might be hearing them for the first time?
By bringing my band and touring and doing live shows and just having fun with it! Singing for you guys.
Anything else coming soon?
I'm super excited about the album, but also there's the The Open Mic Project [a collaborative initiative with Absolut to turn stories of acceptance into an anthem for change] that gets released during GRAMMY week. The song is inspired by all the submissions and all the words of acceptance that people have shared. That song comes out in GRAMMY week. It's called “Proud,” and it's awesome.
It already has a name and it hasn't even been written yet?
It's not that it hasn't been written. I've been reading submissions for a few months and I've started to gather a lot of concepts and I’ve started writing this song. There is a structure of the record. Now what we'll have to do is record it.
So, “Anywhere” is one of my favorite songs of the year. Can I ask your top five songs of this year?
Yeah, for sure. Sam Smith’s “Too Good at Goodbyes,” Post Malone’s “Rockstar,” Miley Cyrus’ “Malibu,” Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow,” and “Anywhere,” Rita Ora.
That's a good one! What about albums? What were you listening to this year?
There was a few really, good albums. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., is one of the best albums of the year. I'm so in love with his music. Sam Smith’s is, again, for me, a really great record.
Now, watch a throwback Fuse interview where Rita discusses the stories behind the tattoos that adorn her body: