It seems like English singer Dua Lipa came out of nowhere and took the world by storm with her monster hit New Rules overnight. But there’s more to Lipa’s meteoric rise to fame than meets the eye.
The 22-year-old pop sensation, who is scheduled to perform in KL Live at Life Centre in Kuala Lumpur tonight, has been dabbling in music since she was a kid. She enrolled in performing arts school, Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, until she was 13.
Later, Lipa started posting covers of songs by Jessie J and Joss Stone on YouTube. In 2015, Lipa landed a recording deal with Warner and began working on her self-titled debut album. The album was released in June 2017.
Buoyed by a string of successful singles Be The One, Blow Your Mind (Mwah), IDGAF and New Rules, the album has sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide. She was also 2017’s most-streamed female musician on Spotify in Britain, beating music heavyweights like Adele, Beyonce and Taylor Swift.
Get to know Lipa better with these 10 interesting facts about her.
1 Lipa was once told she couldn’t sing. “When I was in primary school I was told I couldn’t sing because I couldn’t reach the high notes. That put me down a bit – but when my parents took me to Sylvia Young and I was told I could sing, it helped my confidence,” she told BBC.
2 Lipa’s parents are Albanians from Kosovo. Due to the war in Kosovo in the 1990s, they left the country’s capital Pristina for London, where Lipa was born and raised. The family moved back to Kosovo when she was 13.
In an interview with The Line Of Best Fit website, the singer talked about learning the affects of the war while living in Kosovo: “We’ve been very lucky. It didn’t affect my family as much but going to school with people who were very, very badly affected by the war, who lost a lot of family members, or their homes, you really get an insight into the situation.
“To find out how it affected some of my really good friends now is really sad and really awful and horrible – war’s just a really dark thing.”
3 Two years later, at 15, Lipa moved to London alone to pursue music. To convince her parents, she told them she needed to pursue her secondary education in London to gain acceptance at a good British university later.
The singer made the most out of her time in the British capital, and eventually caught the attention of Ben Mawson, Lana Del Rey’s manager. She landed a recording deal soon after.
4 Lipa’s first name, Dua, means “love” in Albanian. “Now I’m proud of it. Now I am. But when I was growing up all I wanted was to be called Hannah, Sarah, Ella … anything normal,” she opened up to The Guardian about hating her name initially.
“Because with Dua you had to explain: I’m from Kosovo,” she added. This in turn dredges up the topic of the war in Kosovo and draws sympathetic responses from people.
5 Lipa’s father, Dukagjin Lipa, was a marketing manager who had a side gig as a lead vocalist in a Kosovar rock band, Oda. “They did it for fun but then they had a really big song called Beso Ne Diell, which means ‘believe in the sun’. I did a show in Kosovo two summers ago and me and my band decided to surprise my dad and sing it,” she shared with Rolling Stone.
6 Lipa posted a birthday message to her father on Instagram in March, which read: “Happy Birthday babi, I wish I was home to give you a big hug and kiss.” Some Malaysians took issue to the use of “babi”, which means pig in Bahasa Malaysia, and responded with harsh comments. The singer later removed the word from her post.
She reflected on the incident with L’Officiel: “It was actually quite mean on their behalf, because obviously I’m not talking in Malay. I speak another language as well, and the language that I speak with my parents is my heritage. I would like that to be respected.”
7 Lipa rules with New Rules. At 22, Lipa is the youngest solo female artiste to reach one billion YouTube views for her New Rules music video. Also, the song has been streamed nearly 800 million times on Spotify. (A thousand of those streams may or may not have been contributed by this writer).
8 Lipa co-wrote all the songs in her self-titled debut release except Be The One and New Rules.
“For a female artiste, it takes a lot more to be taken seriously if you’re not at a piano or with a guitar, you know? For a male artiste, people instantly assume they write their own music, but for women, they assume it’s all manufactured,” she talked about sexism in the music industry in a GQ interview.
9 Lipa modelled on the side before her music career took off. She remembers being told by her agency to lose weight.
“It really messed up my body confidence because I was so young,” she shared with The New York Times. The experience inspired her to write, Blow Your Mind (Mwah). Through the song, she wanted “to show everybody to learn to love yourself every day a little bit more”.
10 130. That’s the number of songs Lipa worked on for her debut album. “Recorded and written? About 130 songs over a year and a half, but only about 25 we were really excited about, and 12 on the album,” she revealed to BBC.