When Yuna Zarai walked into the room, it’s type of inconceivable to not stare. A stunner from trendy hijab-covered head to stiletto-clad toe, the Malaysian songstress responded to compliments with a gracious “thank you” and a candy smile, and one couldn’t assist however be smitten.
Yuna had simply flown in from Los Angeles, the place she’s at present based mostly, the day earlier than she was set to carry out on the lately concluded Wanderland Music & Arts Festival in Alabang.
“It’s going to be my seventh year (in LA). It’s been a long time. Oh, my god, I’m old!” The 30-year-old advised Super with a giggle.
Despite having achieved fame and success in Malaysia virtually a decade in the past, Yuna admitted that it was her first time touring Asia. “It’s definitely very refreshing because it’s somewhat familiar but so different,” she mentioned of her first Manila go to. “Even today, I went to the mall for a little bit, just to see the mall. In the van, I was checking out the roads in Manila and you have like, really cute buses with gold and really old-looking, classic, long…”
As she struggled for phrases, somebody confirmed her a image of a jeepney, and her face lit up in recognition. “What do you call that? Jeepney? Even that to me is something new. I told my guitar player, who has never been here as well, ‘Look at that!’ It’s insane and you have a lot!”
In her teenagers, Yuna began writing her personal songs, taught herself easy methods to play guitar and did small acoustic gigs in Malaysia. She additionally joined singing tilts. “When I first started out with music, I was 17 or 18 and I was singing a lot of R&B. I was a part of an R&B group,” she mentioned.
In 2008, Yuna launched her self-titled EP with the provider single “Deeper Conversation,” which bagged a number of Malaysian music awards. After Myspace helped propel her to business stardom, she inked a document deal and moved to the United States. There, she grew to become associates with R&B producers and artists like The Internet, Future and Jhené Aiko, who’s additionally lent her vocals on Yuna’s single “Used To Love You.”
Her eponymous US debut album with the uplifting Pharrell Williams-produced observe “Live Your Life” was well-received and shortly hit the Billboard charts. The clean smash single “Lullabies” and a haunting jazz-funk rendition of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” additionally grew to become fan favorites.
Working with Pharrell
“I learned a lot from them, especially with Pharrell. On my first album, he did not do hip-hop or anything like that; he really created a sound where he thought ‘Yuna would sound nice on this,’” she mentioned. “It was a really cool practice; it was as if I was going through a crash course. We ended up having three or four songs in my album together.”
Yuna’s newest providing, “Chapters,” positioned excessive on Billboard’s 2016 Critics’ Picks for Best R&B Album. Her sensual duet single with Usher, “Crush,” has racked up greater than 25 million YouTube views as of this writing.
“I just had that song ‘Crush’ and I thought, ‘Oh wow, this would sound really great if Usher would be singing on this.’ And I didn’t want anybody else—I met him a year before that, and I remember him being so nice!” Yuna gushed. “I don’t like to work with people that I felt I had to beg. With Usher, he was so open. He was like, ‘Send me a song, and I’m down to work on it with you.’”
After practically a decade of constructing music throughout continents, Yuna stays very appreciative of all of the publicity she’s had, whether or not by way of streaming media apps or good old style radio airplay.
“In the US, the first single that I’ve ever had was playing on American radio. It really jumpstarted my career to a different level and I’ve been doing this for a while,” Yuna mentioned.
To date, she has round 1.5 million month-to-month listeners on Spotify. “I’m really happy that I have a really good relationship with all the streaming apps, with Spotify in particular. They’re super supportive—‘Oh, Yuna has a new song, let’s put her song on the playlists,’ you know? That helps a lot in terms of popularity and sales of the song.”
Speaking of, who’s on her playlist? “Sometimes I go through the new releases and the new artists, but I tend to like the artists that I know,” she mentioned, citing The Internet, Frank Ocean, Solange and the ultra-mysterious H.E.R. as staples.
At Wanderland, Yuna not solely turned heads, but additionally gained the hearts of followers outdated and new together with her soulful grooves, candy but sultry vocals and onstage charisma. If there had been a “Crush ng Bayan” award that night time, it might go to her, arms down.
Afterwards, she took to Twitter to precise her disbelief on the constructive reception she obtained: “Manila!! My first time here & I had no idea i could get a crowd like that.. have me back again plz! Mahal kita!! See you next time <3”
Well, seems to be like the sensation is mutual.