Rita Ora doesn’t do things by halves. Her career launched at the age of 16 when she sang with Craig David on Awkward, and now, at the age of only 25, she’s already had small parts in two Hollywood movies (Fifty Shades of Grey and Southpaw), is a judge on UK talent show The X Factor, is a semi-permanent fixture on the cover of glossy fashion magazines worldwide and has worked with huge brands including Rimmel, Adidas, Coca Cola and Samsung. She’s collaborated with acts including Ed Sheeran, Will.i.am, Charli XCX, Iggy Azalea and Calvin Harris.
She’s already preparing to appear in the two sequels to Fifty Shades of Grey and – as if all that wasn’t enough – her second album, as yet unnamed, is due to be released early this year off the back of her duet (Body On Me) with Chris Brown. And somehow she still has time to be constantly photographed having fun with her squad of celeb pals. The hashtag #lifegoals has never been so appropriate. We chat to the performer to find out exactly how she keeps her head on her shoulders.
So, life is busy for you at the moment. You’ve an upcoming album coming out, you’ve been in two Hollywood movies…When do you rest? And how do you keep focus on the music when you have so much going on?
“Music runs through my blood so it’s easy to keep it the focus. I am constantly writing, recording, touring and singing. It’s great to also be able to work in films and fashion, designing collections with Rimmel and Adidas. I am a businesswoman, too, and I create various opportunities for myself utilising my various passions. I love being able to do lots of different things. No day is the same and, to be honest, I don’t get to sleep too much.”
There must be something unglamorous about your glitzy life. What do you think would surprise people the most about your day-to-day goings on?
“Well every day is completely different, but I still pop into the store in jogging bottoms to buy milk and bread.”
It seems you’ve always had a plan for yourself – your singing career had begun by the age of 16. Has there been a time where something didn’t go according to plan?
“I had a rocky start with a few record deals before I found the right one. Aside from that, the music business is always a roller coaster, one that I’m enjoying a great ride on and will hopefully continue to do so.”
Your second album and your first worldwide release [not yet titled] comes out this year. Is there anything you can tell us about it?
“The album is coming soon and I’m really excited for everyone to hear it. It’s been such a great experience writing with various producers and incredible collaborators.”
Some people might be surprised to learn that your sister is your manager. Do you find it easy to keep your personal and business relationships separate?
“My sister works for my management company, she’s part of the team. I’m from Kosovo and we’re very loyal to our family. We’re very close, I love knowing she is across my business.”
You appeared in Fifty Shades of Grey and Southpaw – is it easy making the shift to Hollywood and what’s in store in the future?
“The hardest part was actually managing to make the schedules work. But I’m definitely in the [Fifty Shades] sequel and have a bigger role next time, as Mia is a bigger part of the latter books.”
Can you tell us your plans in 2016? What can we expect?
“I hope to tour the world with my new album. I just finished a US tour promoting Body On Me and it was ace, so hopefully I can tour globally next year. I’ll continue to promote my music, do some film work and do more with Adidas and Rimmel. I may have to give up sleep forever.”
RedFestDXB. Dhs400 (day ticket). Dhs700 (weekend ticket). February 11-12. Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City, www.redfestdxb.com.
The singer performed in Dubai on New Year’s Eve in 2012 and spent a week holidaying, during which time she jumped from a plane at Skydive Dubai and lapped up the sun at Aquaventure. The star tweeted, “Gota leave my mark before
I leave this island byeee.”
The electronic music producer and DJ was spotted snapping selfies at Dubai airport with Channing Tatum last year, tweeting “#welcometo jetlag #Dubai”
The American R&B singer performed at Cavalli Club last December and is a regular on the club scene in the city. He tweeted “Dubai. I love you, thank you for showing so much love.”
Thursday February 11
Electronic music producer and DJ Steve Aoki is back in Dubai having played to fans at Eden Beach Club in February last year (a gig which earned him a Time Out Dubai Nightlife Award for Best International DJ Set). The 37-year-old will play material from his two-part album Neon Future as well as popular tracks such as Delirium and Rage the Night Away. Renowned for his cake-throwing, we reckon it’s best to stand a few rows back (unless you fancy a Victoria sponge in your face).
See the man behind the hit track Dessert take to the stage.
This British boyband might be more suited to your daughter, niece or kid sister considering their tender age, but that doesn’t mean you can‛t enjoy their music, too. Wake Up is pretty catchy (a song for the Thursday work drive home), while Somebody to You featuring Demi Lovato has a Lumineers vibe to it. Go on, get down with the kids.
When we were 16 years old, our biggest achievement was getting highly commended at our local talent show (not even runner-up), so young Egyptian singer Nathalie Saba has done pretty well for herself. Not only is she signed to Sony Music Middle East, she‛s also headlining RedFest. Don’t miss the performance of her debut single Snow. Selena Gomez watch out.
Friday February 12
US girl band Fifth Harmony have only been on the scene since 2012, but have already made a big impact. After forming on the American version of The X-Factor, the girls have been making waves on the charts, none more so than with their hit Worth It, featuring Kid Ink.
R&B singer Trey Songz is known for hits Na Na, Slow Motion and About You.
Since rising to fame in 2009 on American Idol, Lambert has sold more than 2.5 million singles worldwide.
Making her RedFestDXB debut is Eva Simmons, the voice behind 2015’s smash-hit Policeman. Simmons has been performing most of her life, but it wasn’t until she wrote and featured on AfroJack’s breakthrough single Take Over Control that she really found her voice. “That was the moment where everything shifted”, she says. Expect big things from the singer, and we don't just mean her hair.
Bursting onto the world stage as the creative half of the electronic pop-rock duo LMFAO, Redfoo has sold more than 30 million singles and is known for hits such as Party Rock Anthem. Get ready to shuffle.
BBC1’s legendary DJ MistaJam will close the festival with a multi-genre set.