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Rita Ora Talks Breaking Into the American Market, Her Next Album, and Industry Pressure

Rita Ora
Damon Baker

In anticipation of her American debut, the U.K. pop sensation opened up about googling herself.

You might be surprised to hear this, but Ora has never released an album in the United States. Yet it seems like she's everywhere. From "Black Widow" with Iggy Azalea to her collaboration with Adidas, to singing at the 2015 Oscars, she's made a huge impact considering she's never released an album stateside. Well that's gonna change. Her upcoming LP, due out in 2016, will be the first she's ever put out in America.

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"It's been seven years," Ora tells Refinery 29. "And it has been a bit of a battle. With the first record, we didn't expand to the United States. Label-wise, they said, it wasn't the right time. I was only 19 or 20, and I was so excited to be making music and performing live. I didn't know better. But now I do. I told them, 'Look, I just want to release my album everywhere.' Everybody thinks that they know best. But I won the battle."

The Kosovo-born singer pulled out all the stops for her sophomore record. She's recruited the likes of Dev Hynes, Ed Sheeran, Diplo, Naughty Boys, Sigma, and "these amazing kids from the U.K. called TMS." She says there's something for everyone on the album, but it's very much a turn for her. "It has a darker, more sexual tone to it," she says. "And I guess it's more blunt."

Considering her influences that seems like a logical progression. "I take initiative from artists like Madonna and Blondie and Freddie Mercury, but I used to really love punk growing up: Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies. I have this massive collection of punk T-shirts, and everyone is jealous of them."

Ora also spoke candidly about the pressure of being in the spotlight. "I used to be obsessed with it," she says about making the tabloids. "I would Google my name and blah, blah, blah. But see, even talking about it now makes it a topic of conversation. The gossip side doesn't affect what I do. The personal stuff of actually, like, being in a relationship is what affects me. I don't expect anybody to understand my relationships, because they're not in my position in that moment, in that relationship."

She also says that keeping up her social media game is another source of stress.

"Social media is like a tumbleweed," she says. "It just kind of keeps rolling. And if you don't do anything, people will just, like, almost forget about you."

It doesn't seem likely we'll forget about Rita Ora any time soon.

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