What inspired you to cover Nirvana?
It was something I wanted to do for fun. I was in the studio with my band mates and we were jamming and my guitarist played a line from “Come As You Are.” And I was like, “Hey! Why don’t we make a cover?”
We were all fans of Nirvana. I knew the lyrics of the song, and we were all familiar with the song, and wanted to do it a different way and have a different take on “Come As You Are.” We just recorded the song. There are mixed reviews, but I appreciate people taking the time to listen to it. It’s a romantic, softer side of the song.
What other music from the ‘90s are you into?
The Cardigans, Portishead. We were influence by that during the month of recording “Come As You Are.” We were trying to give it a different feel.
Do you think the more soulful, electro direction is something that you might explore more in the future?
Yeah, most definitely. I like to try a lot of different things. Back in Malaysia, I tried with rock and jazz. Hopefully in the future I can try something like that and give it a new and fresh feel to it.
What’s your favorite era for pop music?
The ‘90s [Laughs]. Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Portishead, Nirvana, The Cranberries, The Caridgans, and stuff like that.
What do you like most about that era?
I guess the songs were really simple and really catchy. They didn’t over do stuff – the melodies were there. You listen to it and you just feel “wow.” It’s easy to digest. Now, the music is very fabricated at times and overproduced.
What have you been listening to lately? Is there anything very current that you are excited about?
I’m really excited about Coldplay’s album. I think it’s out next week. I discovered this band called Wye Oak, and I liked their album. Wye Oak and Feist’s new album. I like Foster the People. If you listen to the whole album, I kind of wish I wrote that kind of album. I’m kind of jealous.
How did recording with Pharell come about?
My managers thought it would be a cool idea to get Pharell and I to work together. I think Pharell listened to some of my tracks and I guess he liked what I sounded like, and said he wanted to produce my whole album.
We didn’t have much time, but we managed to come up with a couple of songs that are really good. It was more of a collaboration, I think. It was really cool working with Pharell. I’ve been a huge fan of Pharell and N.E.R.D. It was kind of surreal.
What was it like working with him?
Being in class with a professor [Laughs]. Because, you know, I feel like I am a student again. He is like a cool professor. The kind of professor you talk about with your friends. He is an interesting character [Laughs]. He works really hard. He’s really nice and chill and really funny. Out of all the songs we worked on, two of them will be on the new album.
Who would you most like to collaborate with if you could collaborate with anyone?
I would love to collaborate with, this might sound cliché, but my favorite band is Coldplay, so Chris. I’d love to work with Damon Albarn. He’s an interesting character, as well.
How have the international audiences been responding to your songs live?
It’s been amazing and cool. At first, it was scary because I didn’t know what they were thinking and I didn’t know what to expect. I was touring with Raphael Saadiq in Atlanta, Virginia, Philly, so it was a lot of fun and surprising how people came over to buy my CDs and talk to me. It was nice to know that fans of Raphael Saadiq liked my set. A fan came up to me and was quoting “Decorate.” She said, “You really said it all. That’s beautiful. I’m going through the same thing right now. Thank you so much.”
Have you had a chance to check out many of the other Best New Band artists in the competition?
Not really, but I came across Skrillex, I heard it before. It was kind of cool to be on the same list as Skrillex! Wow! He will probably win it. I am really curious about the guy and girl duo, Angus and Julia Stone. Out of all the finalists, I would find out more about them.
Who do you think will win the Best New Band Competition?
I have a feeling the Korean group, 2NE1 is going to win it. They have a huge fan base, it’s crazy. Even in Malaysia! I still get tweets from people saying,” Oh, I’m going to vote for Yuna, but I am also going to vote for 2NE1.” KPop is really huge in Malaysia.
Who is your biggest fashion inspiration?
Ah, man, there’s a lot! Let’s see, growing up, I’ve always liked Gwen Stefani. She’s been a fashion icon to me. I like Rachel Zoe. I think she has an amazing sense of style.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
I love Alexander Wang. I like YSL. I’m blanking out, and I go to fashion blogs everyday! [Laughs]. I love Alexander Wang. I think he’s amazing. He can turn something minimal and simple into something that’s nice.
What’s the biggest style advice that you can give to people?
I guess, keeping stuff simple. It shouldn’t be over-the-top. I am not a fan of people trying to get attention from wearing too much. I really like simplicity and people who just wear a printed top and a bright colored, tapered pant. It’s loud, but not too much.
Would you even consider designing clothes?
Yeah! I would love to design clothes! I just don’t have the time! [Laughs]. Hopefully in the future, I would love to do something with fashion.
How is IAMJETFUEL doing now?
My cousin takes care of IAMJETFUEL. We are hiring more people. It’s growing. We had a rough couple of years, with the sales and everything, but it is all coming together. We started bringing in more exciting clothes and I brought out a scarves line. I was really happy with the product. It was a success and a lot of orders overseas as well. Hopefully, it will grow into something bigger.
How did you start the store?
I started the store three years ago as an online shop blog. I decided to buy a shop lot on a busy street, and that’s how it started.
What’s the biggest honor you have received in your own country so far?
My first year, I got nominated for AIM, which is the Malaysian Grammys. I won the song of the year in 2009. It was so crazy because it was my first year and I got nominated. It was nice to know that people appreciate what I do.