GOOD NEWS ALERT: Rita Ora’s third studio album is underway. It’s been two years since the star dropped her sophomore record, Phoenix, which provided us pop stans with infectious anthems such as Your Song, Anywhere and Let You Love Me; the latter of which became her record-breaking 13th top ten hit in the UK – the most for any British female artist. The UK is currently experiencing Lockdown: The Sequel, so Rita has been utilising her time to make the most “raw” and “genuine” album of her career.
“It’s coming along really strong. I’ve ended up making really cool music with some really amazing people and experimenting with some amazing songs,” Rita tells GAY TIMES. “I think these songs will take people out of themselves. There’s a raw factor to it, which I’ve never really touched on before. It’s an exciting time, musically, for people to see who can speak the truth in these moments and who can’t, because I also feel that the public’s perception has now really shifted into what’s important in life.”
As well as creating her new album, Rita has shot scenes for the highly-anticipated second season of The Masked Singer UK, and collaborated with EE on their incredible new 5G campaign. We spoke with the star earlier this week to discuss all of above and how lockdown has helped her evolve as an “artist” and as a “woman”.
Here we go Rita, lockdown number two…
Oh my god, I can’t be fucked to work out. I’m trying my hardest to keep my mojo going. But you know, you just gotta keep yourself busy, I guess. It’s nice to have things to do and still be working. Some people aren’t even working. So, I’m very grateful for that.
What does lockdown look like for a pop star?
What is that like? Oh my god. I’m really grateful to have this time to focus on making new music and discovering myself and making a project. I think, as an evolution of an artist, it’s super important to get in yourself and figure out who you are, who you’re becoming, what type of woman you’re becoming etc. Usually you don’t have the ability to do that when life is normal. I’ve been on the go, I would say ten years straight. Having that moment to stop was really special.
Your last album Phoenix was pop perfection. How is your third coming along?
Thank you! It’s coming along really strong. I’ve ended up making really cool music with some really amazing people and experimenting with some amazing songs. I think these songs will take people out of themselves. There’s a raw factor to it, which I’ve never really touched on before. It’s an exciting time, musically, for people to see who can speak the truth in these moments and who can’t, because I also feel that the public’s perception has now really shifted into what’s important in life, due to us being confronted with such crazy real life scenarios. I think everyone’s had a massive wake up call. Musically, people listening are now gonna smell out who’s not being genuine. So, it was an exciting time for me to really write and make something genuine. We’ll see what people think of them. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve also done something really exciting with a person…
I can’t say just yet! It’s a project that I never really get to do usually because I just focus on my albums. So, I’m doing a side project and then doing my album. I’m really looking forward to what people are going to think of it as well as the whole visual behind it. I’m creating a world, which never really happens anymore. Being able to just have the time to really focus on visuals is going to be super, super exciting.
You said RO3 will be more “raw” than your previous material. What can we expect from the sound?
Well, I’m a party girl, right? I do love to have a good time, and I’m very proud of that. I’m a very well behaved party girl, if that makes sense. I know when to party and when not to party. I definitely love working as well. But when I do my music, I want people to have fun with it. I would want my friends to put it on when they’re drunk because they like the song, not because they’re my friends, you know? Sometimes, that’s how I test music. I put my music out and think, ‘Would I want to listen to this when I’m drunk?’ and the answer is usually yes. I think that for me was a big part of my evolution as an artist, and coming into my own, doing big shows, being very open about what I do and what made me want to be a pop star in the first place. Seeing my fans sing back to me and opening up that door of connection with my crew, friends and fans, and having that ability to just party together, that was the start of this whole thing.
With Phoenix, you made history as the first British female artist to score 13 top ten singles in the UK, which is major. Do you feel pressure to replicate that success with your new album or are you just focused on the art?
I love the fact that you have the ability to make history, in the sense of doing things that you wouldn’t usually think that you would achieve. These marks are so cool, because it just shows that what we do is working and people like it. For me, it doesn’t put pressure, it just makes me more confident in what I’ve achieved, and more secure, in all honesty, to just keep putting out music. I think once you start putting pressure on yourself, you start losing the fun of it all. At the end of the day, it’s just fun. I never take it for granted.
When you debuted in 2012, did you ever think that you’d be judging an octopus and a unicorn for the BBC?
No! Never, in a million years. I wanted to do the show because it wasn’t a generic competition. It was well-respected artists that are big in their own fields. So for me, it felt like just a bit of fun for a few weeks, and not as serious as making or breaking someone’s career. I just looked at it like, ‘This could be a crazy experience,’ and Jonathan Ross is a great friend of mine. We always have great banter and such a good time, so I was like, ‘Fuck it, let’s do it.’ It’s not that deep. It’s a game show at the end of the day. It’s basically like not having any sleep for days on end, then going out and hallucinating. That’s what it feels like.
What can you tell me about the second season of The Masked Singer?
It’s full of amazing talent, I have to be honest. I was really shocked about who they got, what kills me is that some of them are my friends! Not being able to guess them right, I was like, ‘I am so sorry, guys! But, you did a really good job of disguising yourself.’ I feel like they disguised themselves so beyond. I was fooled. It was so difficult!
You’ve partnered with EE on their new 5G campaign – why was this important for you to do?
It came in a time where I thought technology is, for me right now, more important than ever, especially when it comes to staying connected to my fans. They also had this amazing opportunity to shoot something that is super tech vibes with the AR, which is something I’ve never done before. Having the ability to like become a little AR avatar, I was like, ‘Wow, this is cool.’ So, I joined it and it was a really great experience.
Rita Ora delivered her first AR performance live over 5G in EE’s latest campaign to celebrate the launch of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro on EE, the UK’s no.1 5G network.