Yuna: The Malaysian singer-songwriter is taking the world by storm

PHOTOS: Raul Romo
STYLING: Aquiles Carmona at Celestine Agency
MAKEUP: Carissa Ferreri at The Wall Group
WORDS: Jasmine Perrier

This feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.15, available now

Malaysian singer-songwriter Yunalis Zarai —known as Yuna— dared to leave her home country to pursue her music career. And she has come a long way since her move to Los Angeles ten years ago. Today she takes on the world. Last December 8th in Paris, she could count on the unfailing support from her French fans who came to acclaim her at La Bellevilloise. I caught up with Yuna over the phone a couple of weeks before her Europe tour, the day after her birthday. Down-to-earth and easy to talk to, she reveals her birthday plans could be summarized as follows: hanging out with her friend and organizing her closets. ‘‘It’s my favorite thing to do,’’ she laughs. 2019 has for sure been an intense year for the 33-year-old artist, who released earlier this summer her fourth album ROUGE which introduces strong messages for her audience and surprising guest stars.

If you fail now, don’t quit. just keep on going, Always be positive

Before finding the spotlight on the world stage, Yuna attended law school in Malaysia. ‘‘My parents would always prioritize education, making sure that I go into something that is more academic instead of arts.’’ Even though there was nothing creative about law school, she mentions she enjoyed it and was really happy. It was towards the end of her degree that she got more into the music world whenever she had free time, making sure she was done with her law assignments early. ‘‘That was when I met up with some really cool musicians and I went to live shows. I really enjoyed that and I started writing my own music. Then my friends invited me to perform.’’

After graduating from law school, Yuna kept doing music, playing for fun and for free. Ultimately, her raw talent found its audience and guided her career path. ‘‘It was really funny because I didn’t expect it to go very well,’’ she recalls. ‘‘And then all the sudden, my song blew up, it was on the radio, I got invited to TV stations, and I got paid to play music,’’ she says, before adding, ‘‘That was when I decided to make this into a job and keep on making music. It was really nice to be able to do that for a living, because I’ve always been a very musical kid. I’m really lucky that I got to choose music.’’ According to Yuna, moving to Los Angeles was a necessary choice to grow as an artist, because pursuing her English music career was her main goal at the time. ‘‘I loved making music in Malaysia, but everything was in one place. I wasn’t able to do more things,’’ she confides. We could say it was fate that Yuna caught the attention of Indie-Pop, a management company based in Los Angeles that found her on MySpace. ‘‘They were looking for singer-songwriters to work with. I immediately took up the offer. It was the start of my American music career.’’

CHECK OUT OUR FULL STORY WITH YUNA IN OUR ISSUE NO.15

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