An afternoon with Yuna – exclusive shoot and interview

At first glance, Yuna is a Malaysian singer-songwriter who’s released three studio albums internationally. But we think it’s safe to say that she’s actually more of a creative entrepreneur whose main focus is music. Yuna’s latest album, Chapters, features Usher on its lead single, but being a recording artist is just one of Yuna’s many ventures. She’s also the founder of an online clothing store called November Culture, and on top of that, Yuna’s in the process of starting a “creative agency” to help artists promote their work online. Oh, and in March, she organized and hosted a music festival in Kuala Lumpur.

Top – 2NDDAY / Jumpsuit – Sosander / Neckless – Lola&Grace

 

FAULT: What initially brought you to L.A.?

Yuna: I moved out here about six years ago. Back home, I wrote my own stuff, and I had a band, but it felt like: Aww I really want to create music, but I just cant, you know? The only way to do it is to find another place to grow.

Not to say that if I stayed in Malaysia I wouldn’t have been able to break through to international markets, but moving out here really changed the way I work. I’m learning a lot of things about myself and the industry. I’ve worked harder, and I feel like I became another person. So yeah, I needed a change, and I just needed to be better in everything I was doing before.

Earrings – Accessorise / Jacket – Emma Charles / Dress (worn as top) – 2NDDAY / Trouser – Scotch & Soda

FAULT: What was it like working with Usher on “Crush”?

Yuna: It was really cool. I’ve been a huge fan for the longest time. I used to listen to all his music growing up in Malaysia. I’m a huge R&B fan, and Usher has always been a name I never even thought about it getting to work with. As an artist and songwriter, you’re just like: “Hmm who do you want to have on this track?”

And in my mind, when I wrote “Crush,” I was like: “Okay, let’s just go for Usher. Not sure if he’s gonna say yes, but let’s just ask him.”

I was very lucky to have him as part of the album, and it turned out really, really great.

He was super supportive as well. I felt like I was really new in the industry, and to see that kind of humility in him, working with a new artist like myself is really cool.

Turban – Gudrun Sjödén / Kimono – Gudrun Sjödén

FAULT: You felt new to the business even though it was your third album?

Yuna: Yeah, I still feel very new. I’ve done this for 10 years; I started when I was 20 or 21 back home in Malaysia. When I moved out here, it felt like going back to square one, slowly learning and growing. I feel like that was a good thing.

I’m always excited about: “Ooh, what’s gonna happen next? Let’s try something new.”

I also feel that a lot of people are still out there, still discovering my music. I’m really happy that’s happening. It’s slow, but it’s very natural and organic. It’s pretty much just me making music and people finding out about me on Spotify or whatever. So it’s cool.

FAULT: When I listen to your song “Places To Go,” and especially when I watch the video, I can’t help but think about the Muslim ban or travel ban or whatever you want to call it. What should people be doing about the political climate at this point?

Yuna: The first big focus is being positive … There’s always a constant struggle, so you always have to have that fire inside of you and always believe that things are gonna get better. And always believe that whatever happens, you’re always gonna do the right thing.

Jumper – 2NDDAY / Dress – Samsoe & Samsoe / Earrings – Accesorise

FAULT: What is Lovelifest?

Yuna: Lovelifest is a music and arts festival that focuses on Malaysian local arts. It’s actually something I wanted to do for the longest time, because of a lot of people told me: “Oh you’re gonna do a music festival? That’s kinda crazy. You’re not gonna be able to do it.”

And I did it.

It was a lot of work, but it was very successful. It’s based in Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, which is the capital city of Malaysia, where I grew up. I had all my friends come to perform, and all of their fans came to the festival and enjoyed themselves. I was just really happy that I managed to put that together. I had a great team; they were all super on-point with everything, so I was lucky to have them.

FAULT: What are the challenges of creating something that big? Not too long ago, the whole world saw how badly a festival can go. What goes into creating a good one?

Yuna: The biggest challenge would have to be teamwork. The reason why I managed to do this was that everyone was on board with what we wanted to do. I never once had a disagreement or a argument with anybody, whether it was an artist who was performing, or their manager, or my team. I was really lucky because these were the people I grew up with, and I kept a lot of positive people around me. So it went pretty well, I guess, for my first festival. We didn’t lose any money, and we had fun. It was like mini Coachella, which I’m really proud of. I love music festivals, and I go to a lot of music festivals, so to be able to create a similar vibe is pretty amazing.

Coat – Samsoe & Samsoe / Top & Trouser – Scotch and Soda / Shirt – Ghost / Earrings – Whistles

FAULT: Are there going to be more editions of it? Is it going to be a yearly thing?

Yuna: We want it to be a yearly thing, but for now, I think we’re trying to focus on making it maybe once every two years, because it’s a ton of work. It took a lot of time prepping for it, so we’ll see.

FAULT: What are your plans for the near future? I understand you’re doing Wireless and Glastonbury this summer?

Yuna: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting; I’ve never performed at any music festival in the U.K., so this will be my first time. I’m really excited about Glastonbury; I’ve never been, and it’s such a huge deal for me. And I’m really excited about Wireless because a lot of my friends have performed there, so it’s kind of cool when you’re able to share the stage with some of the people you know.

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

Yuna: I’m always late. I think a lot of people will agree that I’m always late for something. And I always have trouble sleeping, so I always end up being really late. Maybe I drink too much coffee. I need to change that.

 

Yuna’s third studio album ‘Chapters’ is out now. She performs at Wireless and Glastonbury festivals this summer.
Listen to Yuna – Chapters on Spotify here.

Words Cody Fitzpatrick

Photos Stephanie YT

Styling Edith Walker Millwood

MUA Abbie May

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