Chad Smith on his contribution to Dua Lipa’s Break My Heart

 Chad Smith performing live in London, 2023
Chad Smith performing live in London, 2023

Everyone knows Chad Smith for his work in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, where together with bassist Flea he’s formed one-half of the most famous rhythm section in rock for the last 30 years. More recently, Chad has been stretching out with session appearances with some heavy hitters including Joe Satriani, Ozzy Osbourne, Iggy Pop and…Dua Lipa.

Chad recently sat down with Drumeo to discuss his involvement in the studio version of the UK pop artist’s song, Break My Heart, the chorus of which famously features an interpolation of INXS’s Need You Tonight.

His role came about via the song’s producer, Andrew Watt, who the Chili Pepper worked with on Ozzy Osbourne and Iggy Pop’s respective albums. Chad tells Drumeo, “My friend Andrew Watt is quite the producer extraordinaire, and he was working with Dua Lipa. I came down and they were just finishing up the session, they’d just kind of written everything, pretty much. Andrew was like ‘I’m so glad you’re here! we were just talking about how this song needs live drums!’. I’m like, ‘Here we go! Great!”

Chad goes on to talk about his approach to the song — a straightforward, tight disco groove —explaining that there was already a programmed beat on the track, and that he kept it four-to-the-floor. “In a situation where you’re the artist’s ‘band’, if it’s a singer, you’re just trying to do whatever they need or want to help make it feel good. There’s no…I’m not trying to get my thing in there at all.

“I want to just play, and be the drummer in their band for that two weeks or whatever it is while you’re making that record. This was just literally putting drums over a pretty finished track. There was some drum machine on it already, but they just wanted that kind of disco-funk thing. So I did some of that, and it ended up working. While he was there, Chad took the opportunity to play through the song - doing so with razor-sharp precision against the quantised finish version.

Break My Heart featured on Dua Lipa’s second album, 2020’s Future Nostalgia, and was released as a single the same year. Despite peaking at a moderate number six on the UK charts and number 13 on the US Billboard chart, the song has since gone on to amass over one billion streams on Spotify, and the official video has been played over half a billion times on YouTube. Not bad for a chance encounter with a mate!