Malaysian singer Yuna on what it means to be a Malaysian today
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Yuna Zarai

SINGER/SONGWRITER

The Kedahan singer/songwriter started off her music career like most aspiring musicians around the world: penning down her own songs when she was but 14, and performing them at 19 after learning how to play the guitar, as well as uploading them on MySpace, where she gained a fierce following. Her career catapulted to stardom when she was discovered in the US by the Indie-Pop record label and management company, who flew out to Malaysia to convince her to sign with Fader Label. The rest, as they say, is history. From her humble Decorate days in 2010, Yuna this year enjoyed her very first RIAA certification when her collaborative hit with Usher ‘Crush’ logged a gold certified sales of 500,000 copies, alongside the release of her fourth studio album Rouge, released just a couple of months back.

 

Which projects would you say that you have done in the past that you are personally proud of, and which even the people back in Malaysia can be proud of?

Pretty much all that I have done thus far! From releasing three studio albums in the US, to working with Pharrell Williams on first album, and working on the soundtrack of Oliver Stone’s film Savages; to the music single ‘Crush’ with Usher, which peaked at number three, and ‘Best Love’, which peaked at number two on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart.

Most of all though, I’d have to say ‘Crush’ with Usher was the project for me, personally. When I wrote ‘Crush’, I had no idea Usher would be interested to be on it – I had to keep it a secret for the longest time when the collaboration was confirmed! I’m really proud of that song; it’s a feel-good song, and the fact that I also get to work with one of my most favourite artistes ever – it’s the best thing ever.

As a Malaysian residing overseas, how does the “New Malaysia” affect you as a Malaysian, and in your career?

I go everywhere now, and I can’t speak enough about it. I’m very proud of my country, and this new standard in democracy we have achieved. I do hope people from all around the world will be inspired by this. Living abroad, you do see things differently, and you also hear what people have to say about your country. You become more learned about your own country, and you appreciate your country in a different way. As an artist, I’m excited to contribute something, (not that I wasn’t before), but it definitely feels very different and very real to me now.

What are your personal hopes and dreams for “New Malaysia” in the future?

I hope Malaysians will continue to strive to be the best versions of themselves, and that we don’t take this new era for granted. “New Malaysia” is not just something you say, but something that comes within, and starts from a “new” you as well: recycle, drive responsibly, make sure your neighbourhood is clean, hold the door for someone, pick up after yourself, respect others, greet people with a simple ‘hello’ and a smile, help someone in need, learn something new every day… small gestures or efforts that go a long way, you know. We are truly special individuals, and we need to bring out the best in one another.