21-year-old Rita Ora is a firm believer in timing. And after a steady stream of marquee guest appearances that put her name at the top of many UK charts in 2011, she’s already punctuated 2012 by signing to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation. Her timing for a breakout couldn’t be more perfect, as immediately following the signing announcement, she premiered her new single “Party & Bullsh*t” on New York’s Z100. HYPETRAK recently had a chance to chat with Rita about her multicultural roots, and career hopes with her new label.
You were born in Kosovo, raised in the UK, and are signed to an U.S. label. Could you share some details behind your multicultural background?
I am from a little city called Pristina, which is the capital of Kosovo. Both my parents are from there. I moved to London when I was one and I have not left ever since, apart from going holidays. When I moved here, I obviously did not realize the struggle parents had to go through at first. They had to learn a new language, find jobs to support the family. It sure was not easy growing up, but it was very loving and caring as me and my family are really close. I speak Kosovan fluently since we communicated in that language at home. It helps me with my music because it makes me strive for the better and make it out of the council estate. I did not want my family to live out there anymore. Even though I haven’t done anything yet, it drives me, motivates me and enhances my work ethic. There is also a lot of things to write about. If you have a perfect life, then you don’t have anything to write about.
So you have a lot of more stories to tell?
Uh-huh. You can definitely say that! (laughs)
Have your parents always been supportive of your career choice?
My mum has. As for my father, he always wanted me to follow my dream. Obviously, every parent wants their kid be happy with their life. My father, however, wanted me to take the more traditional route. My dad is a traditional Kosovo Albanian man. So is my mother, but they have different personalities. That’s why it works so well between them. My mum is more outgoing, open, loves to have fun whereas my dad prefers to follow the guidelines.
Do you translate any of your heritage in your music?
Yes. We are a very patriotic country. There are not a lot of us doing things, because we do not have too many opportunities. Our country is very small so we don’t really have chances to make it out of there. So if one of us does it, we have to hold the flag for everyone else.
Where does your musical influence come from? Is it like a best of both worlds type of thing?
Musically I was more influenced by British music. Kosovan music is also very good but it is more traditional. They have a vast variety of instruments they use. The same kind of melodic structure, same chords. It is an obvious trait that they use, so you know it is traditional Kosovo instrument. I hope I can incorporate it in my music but in reality, it is not my specialty really but I will try to infuse it as much since I am from there. You might hear bits and pieces of the language, like a word here and there. But since it is not the best of my abilities I do not want to try to do it. I will hold the flag by doing something that I know I can do very well.