It’s a long way from Libya to Sweden but that is the journey wannabe pop star Bahjat has been on.
“I went from being a Mediterranean boy, warm temperatures, to -30C.”
For Bahjat, Sweden is a “pop wonderland”.
“I’ve always been such a big fan of the Swedish pop sound.”
How did this happen? Nearly a decade ago, the 25-year-old’s family was forced to flee Libya when the war broke out, moving to a new home in Malta.
It was a challenging situation but Bahjat’s fierce determination and drive has seen him prove the doubters wrong, evolving into an independent artist who last year had some of the most-streamed songs in the Arabic world, writing hits including Halba and Istanbul.
Quote Message: Being where I’m from and all the circumstances that were around me there were a lot of people who thought it was impossible to achieve anything but I had such a strong vision and I really saw, and I still see, the future so vividly.”
His move to Sweden was thanks to the hours he spent on Facebook.
Quote Message: I spent a lot of time in my bedroom writing and recording – but I also spent as much time adding a lot of random Swedish producers on Facebook!
Quote Message: You come across a few things that everyone shares and one of these things was that Max Martin – the famous Swedish mega-producer who has worked with the likes of Britney Spears and Taylor Swift – visited a music academy up in the north of Sweden.
Quote Message: And then a few months later they accepted me. I actually got to meet Max Martin, the person who has created my teenage and childhood soundtracks, and he was such a humble guy, gave great advice.
Quote Message: From spending that much time in the academy, I felt that Sweden was the place I wanted to be to keep on developing my craft.”
A permanent move to Stockholm, the Swedish capital, is the plan, although coronavirus means it is on hold temporarily.
But Libya has certainly not been forgotten by a young man who considers himself a “global citizen” and sings in both Arabic and English.
Quote Message: I think stepping out and looking at it from far away made me realise how rich and deep the culture of our country is and how much potential it has.