As a music afficionado and big time fan of Lollapalooza, I'm always trying to find that hidden gem of performer-whose new to the scene and the big stages-with the voice and skill to make it big with staying power. And this year, it is Yuna. Originally from Malaysia-the lawyer turned singer songwriter left the comforts of home to pursue here dream in America. A tiny bundle of energy and good spirits, after speaking with and hearing her sing-understood which she made the leap-to cross the pond in pursuit of happiness.
Well, your show is coming up later at the BMI Stage…are you excited about performing in Chicago?
Yes, definitely. I always get excited when they tell me I coming to do a show in Chicago. I'm proud to be here. I've been here a few times before for shows. The first time was two years ago-during the winter. That was my first time coming here. And the weather was brutal-I mean I could never live out here (because of the cold winter). It was too cold for me.
The last time I was here was for my summer tour. So this is my fourth time.
So, you're from Malaysia…tell me about your musical beginnings.
Well, I was just a normal kid from Malaysia. I did my own thing and I love music. My parents brought me up as a music lover. They loved music, the arts, culture and film. And I was brought up that way. I think around six or seven years ago-I was in law school-hanging out with a lot of musicians. The independent music scene had just started blooming in Malaysia and I was at the right place at the right time.
And I started writing songs. I was so inspired by the whole movement and I was like…ok, you know what-I'm going to do this on my own. I'm going to try and write my own music and see where it takes me. And after that I just couldn't stop. I continued to write more songs-I started writing for other people.
In Malaysia, everything just happened so fast for me. I'm just really blessed to be doing what I was doing back in Malaysia. And two years ago I felt I needed to do something bigger than this...I got to move to America and work on my english music. So now I'm out here.
What language were you writing songs in Malaysia?
Most of my music was in english-but I had a couple of Malay tunes as well, but to be able to make a living in Malaysia you have to sell Malay music. You can't really go anywhere with your english stuff there. But back then I had more english music with me. I had probably 30 english songs and they weren't going anywhere. So I was like oh, my God this is such a waste-I've got to do something with it.
Two years ago I move out here to LA. I'm based out there and it's been a lot of fun. I was working on this album which came out in April. My debut album which I had been working on for 1 and a half years. It's self titled-called "Yuna".
What can the followers of your music expect out of that album?
It's just a fun, feel good album, and it's honest. I don't really know how to describe it-because all of the songs are new. I worked with a lot of different producers-so there's a lot of different sounds in there. It's important for me to show a lot of different styles. For example I worked with Pharrell-for three of the songs on the Album-which bring an urban-R&B sound to it.
How did you and Pharell hook-up?
I'm signed with the Fader label. When they signed me they were really excited about having me work with people. They work like you've got to work with this person, this person and this person and Pharell happened to be one of these producers who got really excited about this Yuna person. It's kind of surreal working with him in the studio.
It wasn't like me being in LA and him being in Miami sending tracks over for a recording-we were in the studio at the same time-discussing thing about what we were going to do. And he was asking me for input and things I liked. He's just a really cool guy.
How did you just decide to go from law school to doing music?
Well, music has been a huge part of me. I grew up with my dad who is a lawyer-but also a musician. I guess he understood how important it is. For music and me there is a strong connection and he understands that-because he's been there before. So as much as he wants me to be a lawyer-he also want me to be doing what I love. I think in the back of his mind-he's thinking what if she becomes this singer whose making it big in America. So he's really excited and really supportive of what I'm doing out here.
How did you choose LA vs. Miami or New York to live?
Well, the first time I came to America it was to LA and I like the vibe and of course the weather. Because I'm from Malaysia where it's hot-LA was where I moved. I thought I was going to live in New York because it's go four seasons-but I visited there during the winter-it was kind of crazy. I don't think I can ever live in New York. Five days in New York and that's it for me. So LA is just perfect.
What can the audience expect from your show?
I'm just a fun positive performer. Probably when you perform-you'll see in me the kid you used to be. Whenever I perform, I try to be fun and I try to get you to dance and just enjoy the music.