PETALING JAYA: In 2011, local singer Yuna moved to the United States to further her music career. More than a decade may have passed, but the Kedah-born performer still holds her Malaysian roots close to her heart.
Some people prefer not to talk much about their origins, mostly to fit in – Yuna, however, wears her heritage as a badge of pride.
“It’s everything to me. The essence in me is Malaysian. Even though I live in Los Angeles, whenever I walk into a recording room, it’s ‘a Malaysian walks in’. I just immediately talk about food, my country, my culture. I’m like a walking billboard for ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ everywhere I go,” Yuna told FMT Lifestyle with a laugh.
First appearing on the local music scene with her self-titled EP in 2008, Yuna’s catchy yet heartfelt pop tunes have earned her legions of fans both in Malaysia and overseas.
Now with four international studio albums, three Malaysian albums, and 43 music videos under her belt, this singer-songwriter has proven she is a force to be reckoned with in the global music landscape.
The 36-year-old will return to Malaysia next month for a concert, “Yunaverse”, which takes place at the Mega Star Arena on Oct 22. This is a homecoming of sorts for Yuna, whose last show here was in 2015.
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity to see all my fans, and to perform all my new and old songs. I’m just looking forward to having fun with everyone,” she said.
The spirited songstress was recently back in Kuala Lumpur for a few days, and took some time to chat with FMT Lifestyle on Zoom.
Yuna was warm and personable, often laughing as she candidly shared her thoughts on her home country, including what she was going to do when she returns in October.
“I’m looking forward to eating all the food! We’re planning to hit our favourite spots, and eat our favourite dishes again. I love spicy food so much.
“But my husband (director Adam Sinclair) and I like to plan our meals, we don’t want our systems to get shocked by too much sambal belacan or chilli!”
One of her favourite little quirks about being Malaysian? Our unique sense of timing.
“I’m so Malaysian in that way! In LA, too, going to work, I’ll be like, 2pm, I’ll be there. And everybody knows I’ll be there at 2.30. It’s like a well-known fact, Yuna is on Malaysian time,” she quipped.
Another thing she loves about being Malaysian is our reputation for kindness and hospitality: Malaysians, she said, have a knack for being able to speak to anyone, no matter how different they are, and make them feel at ease.
Yuna believes the country has great potential to go far; and while there will always be differences between its different cultures, the key is in finding a way to coexist in harmony.
“In Malaysia, love overpowers whatever negative vibes we have. Because of everything we share. I’ve travelled around the world and met a lot of people, but I can safely say that Malaysians are really special. We’re honestly really cool people.”
In conjunction with Malaysia Day, Yuna hopes to see more Malaysians thrive internationally. It would also be nice, she mused, if cities like KL could serve as a hub for musicians from all over.
“To all my fans and FMT Lifestyle readers, Happy Malaysia Day! I love you guys, I love us. Whenever I go anywhere, I always think about home and the people here. Whenever I make music, whatever I do, it’s always Malaysia all the way for me,” Yuna added.
“I hope all of us will remain happy and healthy, and continue living a beautiful life here. I hope we all succeed: if you have a dream, go for it! The world is ready for Malaysian talent: this is our time to shine.”
‘Yunaverse’ takes place on Oct 22. For tickets and more information, click here.