First appeared on IGGY: January 10, 2011
Independent singer-songwriter Yunalis Zarai, best known as just Yuna, is conquering Malaysia with her acoustic guitar and winning folk pop tunes. She enchants listeners with the gentle warble in her voice, a bit of Feist’s soul and subtlety, and Mirah’s warmth. She also has her countrywoman Zee Avi’s flair for old-timey pop songcraft.
Her rapidly evolving sound can be incredibly stripped-down and intimate, as it is on the title track to her 2010 debut full-length Decorate, or it can have a sophisticated ’60s pop feel. Yuna started out humbly, by putting her songs up online. Such is her raw talent that a few tracks uploaded to a Myspace profile were all it took for her to launch a music career. Since those early days in 2006 she has assembled a band and an army of enchanted fans. In a measure of her growing success, “Decorate” is even available in Malaysian 7-Elevens. Guess 7-Elevens are cooler there.
Singing in English and Malaysian, the quiet power of her songs is reaching far beyond Malaysia. Yep, she has all the qualities required for pop stardom — and that includes the skills to work the business side of things: she studied law, started her own record label and co-owns the clothing boutique IAMJETFUEL.
This complex, funny, charming young woman (she once described her music as “a cross between Mary Poppins and Coldplay”) also has a drop-dead glamorous side. Muslim fashion blogs love her for the creative ways that she wears a tudung, the traditional Malaysian headscarf. (Check out her elegant and modest styles on Lookbook.)
Photo by MTV IGGY/Nick Gascoine