Who would you bring if you were nominated?
Lipa: My parents.
Mai: My mum.
Post Malone: I’d probably bring my cat. Apilli Roller. She’s the bomb. I’d roll up with her fluffy tail. People would probably love that.
If you’re nominated and don’t win, how will you feel?
Post Malone: If you want to be the best at what you do, you’re going to keep working at it until you feel like you’ve hit your potential. It’s like any craft. If I’m a fucking woodcarver, there might be a woodcarver who’s better than me, but you know what? I’m going to stay and carve wood until I’m the fucking best. Play the Leonardo DiCaprio game.
And if you do win, would that victory represent something bigger than yourself?
Mai: If the award was genre-based, the scope is narrower. But for something like best new artist or song of the year, there are layers. It’s not just you, it’s you on behalf of your genre, on behalf of black women, on behalf of your generation. Yeah, I’d be super proud of that.
Lipa: I’m so grateful to have my dual nationality, to be representing London and Pristina [the capital of Kosovo]. I lived in Kosovo for four years before I moved to London, and when I released my first song, all the views came from Kosovo. All of them. If you win, it’s only right to look at the younger women watching and make sure they know that you can come from a place like Kosovo and do whatever you put your mind to.
Post, do you feel like you’re representing hip-hop?
Post Malone: I think we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift. For so long, this has been this and that has been that, you know? I think that’s changing. I like fucking everything. I like grindcore, heavy metal, country music, hip-hop music, funk music. I like R&B music. I’ve met so many people that are like, “Oh, I like everything except country,” or except metal, or except emo rap. What does that really mean? Why generalize?
Is that why you keep branching out in your sound?
Post Malone: Yes. I’m trying to. Let’s get strange. Let’s go to the fringe. People will be like, “Honestly, this guy’s fucking crazy.” You want to experiment while not alienating your fans. And there are steps you can take that they’ll take with you. On Stoney, I did “Feeling Whitney.” And on beerbongs & bentleys, I did “Stay.” Those are songs with no drums, no nothing, just me and a guitar. And people sing that shit! That means one second they’ll be wacky and zany, and the next second they’ll be sitting down and singing along with me and a guitar.
How does it feel to be growing up or self-actualizing as artists while also becoming famous? Do you feel like you’re doing it on your own terms?
Lipa: One hundred percent. It’s funny. I didn't initially want to get signed. I just wanted to write and figure out who I was, what my style of music was. Then, once I had that and people started to hear my music, then I knew I needed a team of people around me who knew what I wanted and believed in. Some people get caught up in the moment and say, “This person has a big hit -- why don’t you guys collaborate? It’ll get you on the radio!” And that was the one thing I just never wanted to do without having my own success first.
Mai: You never want your name to be underneath someone else’s for the rest of your career. Yeah, featuring on someone else’s big song could get you on the radio -- that’s a cheat code, and that’s the quick way -- but that’s not the way that you want to do it. People are investing in you, not you in the light of someone else.
Lipa: I remember turning down some collaborations that definitely would have gotten me on the radio and that wound up doing really well, but I didn't want to do it until I had my own voice. If I do something just because someone says it’ll get me on the radio, I have to sing that for the rest of my life, and that is fucking terrible. Those first songs define you. That’s why it’s so important to start on your own terms.
Post Malone: There’s a lot of shit right now that feels forced into certain lanes of music. And there are a lot of people that will do songs with someone because they’re doing well right now. But for me, collaborations have to come naturally. It’s important to me to vibe with someone as a person before we do a song. Because if we don’t have that, it’s just not going to be natural.
At this point in your careers, you’re probably getting a lot of input from other people -- people who have been doing this longer than you or who want to steer you. How do you know if a song feels right to you?
Post Malone: It’s a gut test.
Mai: Yeah, a gut feeling. If something is brought to me and I’m not sure about it, I know straight away.
Lipa: If it doesn't feel right, move on to something else. No matter how many people try and tell you there’s time pressure or whatever, there’s no fucking time pressure. Those are their deadlines, not yours.