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HYPETRAK recently had the opportunity to catch up with FADER label signee Yuna after her dazzling performance at the Converse Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn. Touching on a variety of topics – including her Malaysian upbringing to her burgeoning career as a lawyer – the interview is poignant and thought-provoking. While choice excerpts appear below, the entire HYPETRAK editorial can be viewed here.
Thank you for taking some time out your busy schedule to speak with us. So tell us, what were some of the first experiences with music and your upbringing in Malaysia?
I was a pretty much a normal kid. I grew up having parents who loved music and my dad had a lot of musical instruments in the house. He’d always play songs to me and my mother. I would sing in the car everyday on our way to school. I started learning how to play the keyboard when I was six years old, but I think I was eight when I first got hold of a No Doubt album (Tragic Kingdom) and fell in love with music.
You mentioned “fell in love with music.” When did you discover your talents as a singer?
I think the moment people started to come up to me and telling me I should make a career out of my music. I never really had the confidence to pursue a music career in the beginning, it was just something I did for fun until my mom and my dad, and everybody else told me I should really just focus on music.
Seems like your friends and family saw something that you didn’t. Is this why you eventually became a lawyer? Do you still practice law and does the knowledge help you in music at all?
I got into the music scene during my final year of law school. It was intense. I had classes and assignments, but during the weekends I would have shows and promo dates. I managed to finish my studies before really getting into music, something that I thought would never happen at one point. Honestly, I don’t remember much about what I studied though, but in the music industry we deal with a lot of contracts, and I run a company back home so contract and company law really come in handy these days. I’m glad I really studied for those two subjects!
I can see how it would. Speaking of transition, you are quite successful in Malaysia. Tell us about the process entering new markets such as Europe and North America. What were your expectations, if any?
I didn’t know what to expect! It was a trial and error type of thing. I’m an independent artist back home and my music was doing so well when I received an offer to sign with FADER Label. It was scary in the beginning to finally sign with a label, because I was so used to doing things on my own. However, I decided to give it a try in order to take my music to another level. If I hadn’t done it, then I would never know.
Can you tell us some of the concepts behind your newest self-entitled album and what the vision you wanted to capture?
The album was such a fun project! It was me really just exploring music, different sounds and styles. A lot of those songs were written when I first came here to the States, which was two years ago. Hence, a lot of stuff in there had a lot to do with my experience like dealing with heartaches, being homesick, missing my friends, falling in love, chasing your dreams. I wanted it to be a really positive, good pop album – something that a lot of people could relate to.