Rita Ora arrives for our interview bearing gifts. Appearing beneath blonde locks and wearing bright red lipstick and a tight dress, the 21-year-old might already have a number one single “Hot Right Now” (with DJ Fresh) and a direct line to her label boss Jay-Z, but she’s also generous with her cupcakes. She excitedly offers us a delicate chocolate creation covered with an obscene amount of icing while taking a red velvet one for herself. “You wouldn’t mind if I just dug in, would you?” Although she was signed by Jay-Z to Roc Nation three years ago, this year Ora is finally enjoying her moment in the spotlight: releasing “R.I.P” written by Drake and featuring Tinie Tempah, touring with Coldplay and finally unveiling her debut album. Between mouthfuls of icing and enthusing about her single (“I love the message behind it. “R.I.P to the girl you used to see, her days are over”. It’s like something you’d say in a conversation.”), she tells GQ.com about working for Hova, her advice on getting tattoos and her love of Bruce Springsteen.
GQ: What’s Jay-Z like as a boss?
Rita Ora: He’s a great mentor, a great boss and so is his wife. There’s not a lot of people on Roc Nation so the few that are genuinely get time spent on their project. It’s like a family, well especially now with Blue Ivy – although she just chills: eats, sleeps, wakes up, eats, sleeps. Jay-Z taught me a lot about patience as an artist. I was itching. When I was 18 I thought it was all going to happen so quickly – I just thought next week I’d be on Oprah!
What’s the most important item on your rider?
Throat Coat Tea and a steamer. A steamer is like an inhaler so you can inhale this oil, or frankincense of eucalyptus. Before I go onstage I spend half an hour taking in that steam and it saves my life! A little bit of whiskey, too.
What advice would you give someone getting a tattoo?
Know what you want to get, because even if you try and take it off with a laser it’s not 100% going to come off.
You signed to Roc Nation at 18 and you’re now releasing your debut album at 21. Have the last three years been your equivalent of going to university?
Roc Nation is like my uni. I had a flat in Brooklyn and it was definitely like being at uni but because I did it in the States I was underage. I couldn’t even go anywhere to party! When I came back to London I could drink, so we had our fair share of parties here.
What music do you love that would surprise people?
I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen and Duran Duran fan. But No Doubt are one of my favourite bands of all time. When I first saw Gwen Stefani wearing red lipstick I thought it was the prettiest thing I ever saw.
Have you ever cheated death?
I was doing yo-yos on stage and I almost fell off. I was scared of embarrassing myself more than death, so I guess I really cheated embarrassment.
What’s your key style advice for men?
The worst thing is when a guy just looks awkward. It’s not attractive. A guy has a certain power anyway just by being a different sex, so all you have to do is just be comfortable.
You’re supporting Coldplay at their stadium shows this summer. How did that happen?
I’m so glad that’s out now because I’ve known for a minute and I’ve wanted to tell everyone! They heard my tracks and then “Hot Right Now” went to number one. I’ve met them a few times over the last few years so they asked me to be on the tour. I’m over the moon – they play huge arenas and I can’t wait to finally do it!
Originally published by British GQ.