If “Don’t Start Now” is your first introduction to Dua Lipa, you should know she’s got a very interesting backstory.

She was born in London in 1995 to Albanian parents who’d escaped Kosovo, which was formerly part of Yugoslavia. In 2006, she and her parents moved back to Kosovo. That’s where Dua decided that she wanted to be a performer, but she soon realized she’d have to leave the country in order to make her dreams of being a global superstar come true.

“I loved performing, and I really rediscovered how much I love performing in front of people when I was in Kosovo and I’d get up in school concerts and I would sing and I just loved being in the limelight,” she tells ABC Audio. “I didn’t feel like I wanted to do music in Kosovo because it’s just like if you do music there, it’s very small…I felt the only way I could [get discovered] was to go back to London.”

Dua returned to London at age 15 to stay with a family friend, but the transition wasn’t easy at first. She says being mostly on her own pushed her to grow up before her time “a tiny bit.”

“I was always feeling like I was stuck in limbo,” she says. “It was always, you know, going out and meeting people and getting demos, but then still having like this folder on my laptop with a few songs, neither of which sounded the same because I was still trying to figure out my sound.”

She kept hustling and eventually, three years after moving back to London, she found her manager through Twitter. The rest is pop music history.

Dua’s sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, is out now.

By Andrea Dresdale and Andrea Tuccillo
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