Tobias Rahim Wants to Take Danish-Language Pop Global

One Saturday night, 6-foot-7 Kurdish-Danish pop singer Tobias Rahim strutted across the sprawling stage of Copenhagen’s Royal Arena in a gold cowboy outfit with tassels.

He was on his wayStormmand‘ (‘Big Man’) is a romantic duet with another Danish star, Andreas Odbjerg. Rahim, however, seemed to have little need to perform. He only pointed the mic at his 16,000-capacity crowd.

Soon, when the group began chanting “girls want your body,” the crowd (some wearing cowboy hats, like Rahim) made their adoration even more pronounced. The quirky 33-year-old, who shot nudes for her previous project, quickly moved on to her next hit.

In recent years, American music fans have become accustomed to listening to pop music in languages ​​other than English.K-pop groups and Spanish-language artists such as Bad Bunny have hit Billboard’s Hot 100 charts, and French-language singers have They have performed at major US festivals.

A staccato language spoken by only about 6 million people and containing the letters Æ, Ø, and Å in its alphabet, Danish is unlikely to be the next lingua franca of choice for pop. But in an interview the day after the show, Rahim said there was no reason why Danish-language pop wouldn’t be popular.

Outside the country, Denmark has long been famous for its gastronomy and raucous TV dramas. Rahim said the pop scene has equal talent. “The energy field here is really strong,” he said. Rahim has heard criticism that Danish is an ugly language, but he said he disagrees.

Some Danish musicians, including newcomer Lucas Graham and artsy singer Mo, have long made music in English and cultivated audiences abroad. Simon Lund, music editor of Politiken, a major Danish newspaper, said in an interview that the country is still producing. great english songbut also saw a boom in Danish pop, an act showcasing catchy melodies.

Among them, Rahim was a phenomenon, according to Lund. Last year, a track from his second album ‘Narsjælenkaster op’ (‘When the Soul Spit Out’) topped the Danish Singles Chart for nearly 40 weeks. “Når Mænd GræderLund added that “When Men Cry,” a song about how men should be emotional, sparked a national debate about the nature of masculinity.

For Christmas, Rahim released a book of poetry that included a nude photo of him holding a rose in his mouth. The book has sold out in stores, and now the singer “can’t be ignored” in Denmark, Lund said.

Rahim, who grew up half Kurdish and half Danish in the coastal city of Aarhus, said he never felt like he fully belonged and often felt “half”. He added that nude photos of him show that he is a proud mixed race “Neo-Scandinavian”.

Throughout his career, Rahim has tried to find success outside Denmark.

In 2009, shortly after leaving school, he moved to Cali, Colombia, where he befriended a rapper and reggaeton musician who lived in one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods. He said he left after making music and witnessing a neighbor being shot.

In Denmark he reggaeton The duo Camilo & Grande had the urge to move again in 2018, this time to Accra, Ghana. He performed as an Afro-pop artist under the name Toby TabuIn Ghana, Rahim strives to behave like other local musicians, bright tunes Played on the radio, ran support slots for big local names, and slept on the couch while he tried to break through.

Despite these high-profile trips, his career is still on track for his 2022 album, When, written with producer Alt Eriksen and filled with ’80s-influenced pop songs and personal songwriting. the Soul Vomits” and only in Denmark began in earnest. Rahim said he feared being vulnerable with his music for fear that producers would tell him to stick with “sexy reggaeton,” but at the height of the coronavirus pandemic , he was forced to overcome such doubts. Soon he was working on a track about his Kurdish heritage and his father’s emotional distance.

So far, even in a country as small as Denmark, becoming a pop phenomenon has been a mixed experience. I’m trying to kill you,” he said.

In the fall, while rehearsing for a performance at a major Danish music award, he had a panic attack. He stepped away from the show and public life and returned with an arena tour this spring. He says he feels better now, and in the last few weeks he has released two tracks, “Toget” (“train“) and “orange,” about the challenges of the year and a more hopeful future.

In a 90-minute interview, Rahim said he didn’t believe in having a master plan when it came to breaking through outside Denmark, but would simply go “wherever the river takes me”. . He then points to an arm tattoo of a fish swimming in a stream, with the word “river” written in Danish on it, showing how important the idea is to him.

“I love the world and feel a strong urge to interact with it, but I also love making music here.”

At a recent arena show, Rahim decided — at least for now — to bring the world to Denmark. At the show’s climax, he announced that he was about to perform.Kurder I København(“Copenhagen Kurds”), a tropical pop song about immigration, ending with a Middle Eastern party tune complete with Kurdish chants and traditional instruments.

He invited several guest singers and musicians onto the stage, one of whom waved a Kurdish flag and told the crowd how proud he was to be a Kurdish man, holding his little finger in his hand. He said he wanted it to start bobbing up and down like dancing.Kurdish wedding.

Rahim beamed off the stage as the crowd followed his instructions. At that moment he seemed really at home.

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