With the release of her self titled album in late April, Yuna Zarai has emerged as a truly unique artist. Having released a self titled EP in 2008, and her album, ‘Decorate’, in 2010, Yuna was already a star in her native Malaysia before being discovered online and subsequently signed to Fader Label. This multifaceted Malaysian singer/songwriter/guitarist/entrepreneur is quite the import.
There seems to be an unlimited array of idiosyncrasies that have been elegantly composed making Yuna such an interesting artist. Although now being marketed to the west, the sparkle of individuality and cultural heritage that made her a success in Malaysia remain evident. Ever true to her muslim background, you will struggle to find Yuna without a hijab. This modesty is audible in her music. She sings with integrity about life, love and aspirations. She utters her tender expressions with a smooth melodic voice that could effortlessly sit on any genre.
Beyond her majestic musical abilities, Yuna is also quite the entrepreneur. She co-owns IAMJETFUEL, a boutique of colourful fashion, the style of which is also visible in her image which she describes as quirky and cute.
Without taking away from Yuna’s immense talent of course the big talking point is the contribution of production from Pharrell Williams on her album. The Neptunes’ producer contributed the songs ‘Bad Idea’, ‘See You Go’ and the lead single ‘Live Your Life’, all of which are laden with his signatures, not only musically but vocally and lyrically, suggesting they may have been co-written.
Despite the big name producer on her album, Yuna is possibly not truly appreciated until heard solo, accompanied only by her acoustic guitar. It is here where the visual elements of her style and the flavours of her music really combine. The juxtaposition of a colourful vocalist in a hijab gracefully strumming to a western audience is a statement in itself.
Needless to say, Yuna is an immense talent. Having won a slew of awards in her native country and having been nominated as one of MTV Iggy’s Best New Bands in the World, the appreciation and recognition of this unique artist can only continue to grow.