Yuna rehearsing at the 24th annual Juara Lagu.
|Birth name||Yunalis binti Mat Zara'ai|
14 November 1986 |
Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia
|Origin||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
Yunalis Mat Zara'ai, professionally known as Yuna, is a Malaysian singer-songwriter and businesswoman. Born and raised in Kedah and Selangor, she began writing songs at age 14. She soon taught herself to play guitar, and by 2006, in need of a creative outlet while attending law school, performed for an audience for the first time. Yuna offered her music on her MySpace page, which received over one million plays. This online success tipped off the Indie-Pop label/management company to her music, and in early 2011 she signed with the Fader label.
Joined by guitarist Pa'an, bassist Efry Arwis, and drummer Adib Azfar (and later, Adil Ali), Yuna made her recorded debut album in Malaysia in 2008 with a self-titled EP, which went on to snag five Malaysian Music Awards nominations (the Malaysian equivalent of the Grammy). She took home four trophies, including Best New Artist and Best Song (for the breakout hit "Dan Sebenarnya").
The Decorate (EP) followed two years later (and was released stateside in spring 2011). Decorate included the viral hit "Rocket," which won raves from Billboard magazine, indie rock radio station KEXP, and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, as well as ink in SPIN's Eight Bands You Need to Hear Now. On the performance end, Yuna was nominated as one of MTV Iggy's Best New Bands in the World in 2011, and she marked the occasion by playing at the historic MTV Studios.
Yuna rang in 2012 with a new single, "Live Your Life", produced by Pharrell Williams as a preamble to her self-titled full-length debut, which arrived that April. Summer 2012 found Yuna sharing the Lollapalooza stage with the likes of Florence + the Machine, Jack White, and Childish Gambino. In 2013, Yuna returned with the album Nocturnal, featuring the single "Falling." In February 2016, Yuna previewed her third album with the release of "Places to Go," a single produced by hip-hop legend DJ Premier. The full album, Chapters, was released three months later.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Artistry
- 4 Discography
- 5 Awards and nominations
- 6 Businesses
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and education
Yunalis Mat Zara'ai was born on 14 November 1986 in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia to parents from Perak. Her father, Dato' Mat Zara'ai bin Alias is the current legal advisor of Mahkamah Tinggi at Johor Bahru and her mother is a retired high school chemistry teacher.
Yuna attended SMK USJ 4 Subang Jaya, Selangor, where she completed her secondary education. After that, Yuna attended Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam, where she studied legal studies at its Faculty of Law. In 2009, she graduated with a Bachelor of Legal Studies (Hons.) degree.
2001 - 2006: Early commercial success
During her tertiary studies, Yuna was involved in the music scene. Yuna was once an independent Malaysian singer-songwriter. She began writing her own songs when she was 14 years old, and her first performance of her own songs was at the age of 19, after she learned how to play guitar. She has performed in numerous acoustic shows and events in many parts of Malaysia since 2006. The same year, she auditioned for the first season of One in a Million, making it to the top 40 round before she got cut from the competition.
2007 - 2010
In 2008, she released her self-titled EP which become a massive hit in Malaysia most notably the single 'Deeper Conversation'. Yuna's meteoric rise in the Malaysian indie music scene is largely due to the strong following she gained via Myspace.
2011 - 2013: Early international breakthrough
Yuna was eventually discovered in the US by the Indie-Pop record label and management company. They flew out to Malaysia to convince her to sign with them and then proceeded to get her a deal with Fader Label, a record label based in New York, in February 2011. She released her debut US EP, Decorate, in the United States in March the same year.
One of the first few people who expressed interest in her music was Farhan Fadzlishah aka Pa'an of Telephony Delivery, who later became her supporting guitarist. Along the way, Efry Arwis (Lightcraft) helped her with the bass while Adib Azfar handled the drums. Adil Ali (of Seven Collar T-shirt) replaced Adib Azfar after the latter quit to concentrate on his drumming role in Oh Chentaku. Yuna performs with her band when she is not active in acoustic gigs.
On 24 January 2012, her single "Live Your Life" debuted on iTunes. The track was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Pharrell Williams. MTV Iggy described the track as, "polished until it gleams but instead of burying Yuna, it lifts her up. The track has hints that a diva is waiting to shine." On 16 February, the official music video for "Live Your Life" was released. On 24 April 2012, Yuna's US debut self-titled album was released. Debuting at No.23 on the Pop chart and No.86 on the Top 100 Albums on iTunes, Yuna was also No.23 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart. Accolades from fans and critics alike, such as Billboard, NPR, Elle, NY Times, Vibe Claire and National Geographic, who raves that her sound is “as fresh, honest and deeply personal as anything by Bon Iver or tUnEyArDs," have been rolling in.
She performed "Live Your Life" on late-night TV shows Conan and Last Call with Carson Daly. She was featured on the CBS Evening News in a featured profile piece and toured with Graffiti6 with stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. She also contributed to the Savages soundtrack on the track, Here Comes the Sun.
Having played at many gigs since the release of her Demo, EP and then two local albums; she is now focusing on promoting and performing music on her debut US Album. Yuna also performed as part of the Lollapalooza 2012 line up.
Yuna was the first runner-up of MTV Iggy's Best New Bands in the World. She performed at the historic MTV Studios in Times Square New York singing "Decorate", "Come As You Are", "Lullabies" which is produced by Chris Braide and her new single "Live Your Life", which is produced by Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D.
Yuna recently signed with Verve Music Group. Multiple Grammy-winning producer David Foster, who heads the creative operations of Verve, tweeted: "I'm really excited about the next hot artist to join Verve Music. Stay tuned and keep an eye out for Yuna in 2013".
Charted in Heatseekers Album on Billboard "Live Your Life".
2013 - 2015: Nocturnal
On 31 January 2015, Yuna performed in the closing ceremony of 2015 AFC Asian Cup. She has been appointed as Malaysia's tourism adviser to boost tourist arrivals in the country alongside with Datuk Siti Nurhaliza and Jimmy Choo on June of the same year.
2016 - present: Chapters
Yuna possesses a light lyric soprano voice. She once described her music as "a cross between Mary Poppins and Coldplay". She explains about this characterization of her musical style, "I can’t believe people still hold onto that! It was a quote that I had on, like, my MySpace music page seven years ago. But yeah, what I meant to say is I like to incorporate a lot of different genres in my music, and, you know, having a sense of honesty and sincerity in the lyrics as well. But I’m still pop at the same time."
Yuna has cited Coldplay, Bob Dylan, and Feist as influences, having been introduced to them by her father. Growing up in Malaysia, she listened to a lot of The Cardigans, Fiona Apple, and Garbage.
Awards and nominations
Malaysian Music Awards
Malaysian Music Awards (Anugerah Industri Muzik) is an annual event similar to Grammy Awards which recognises Malaysia's finest artists. Yuna has received ten awards (including the special Kembara Award in 2011).
The year indicates the ceremony year, awarding the previous year's works.
|17th||2010||Yuna||New Artist of the Year||Won|||
|Dan Sebenarnya||Best Pop Song||Won|
|Best Song (Song of the Year)||Won|
|Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female)||Nominated|
|Deeper Conversation||Best Local English Song||Won|
|18th||2011||"Decorate"||Best Album Cover||Nominated|||
|Penakut||Best Pop Song||Nominated|
|Best Vocal Performance in a Song (Female)||Won|
|19th||2012||Terukir di Bintang||Best Pop Song||Nominated|||
|Memo||Best Local English Song||Nominated|
|Photo of You||Nominated|
|"Terukir di Bintang"||Best Album Cover||Nominated|
|Terukir di Bintang||Best Musical Arrangement in a Song||Nominated|
|Sparkle||Best Music Video||Won|
|20th||2013||You're So Fine (with Guba)||Best Duo / Collaboration Vocal Performance in a Song||Nominated|||
|Best Local English Song||Nominated|
|Lelaki||Best Pop Song||Won|
|Best Song (Song of the Year)||Won|
|Dwihati (with Aizat Amdan)||Best Music Video||Nominated|
|21st||2014||Falling||Best Music Video||Won|
|"Material"||Best Album Cover||Nominated|
|Best Album Recording||Nominated|
Anugerah Planet Muzik
Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) (English: The Music Planet Awards), is an annual event held by three countries – Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Each year, one of the three countries hosts the event where all artists from the three participating countries gather to compete in two main categories – Best Achievement (judged by professional judges from all three countries) and Most Popular (voted by voters from all participating countries through Short Message Service (SMS) and forms in magazines). Yuna has received 17 nominations and received one special recognition.
|9th||2009||Dan Sebenarnya||Best Vocal Performance in a Song (New Female Artiste)||Nominated|
|Yuna||Most Popular Malaysian Artiste||Nominated|
|10th||2011||Most Popular Regional Artiste||Nominated|
|11th||2012||Best Female Artiste||Nominated|
|Terukir Di Bintang||Best Song||Nominated|
|Yuna||Most Popular Regional Artiste||Nominated|
|New Media Icon||Nominated|
|12th||2013||Terukir Di Bintang||Most Popular Regional Song||Nominated|
|Yuna||Most Popular Regional Artiste||Nominated|
|13th||2014||APM Most Popular Artiste||Nominated|
|Dwihati (with Aizat Amdan)||Best Duo / Group||Nominated|
|14th||2015||Yuna||Regional Most Popular Artiste||Nominated|
|Social Media Icon||Nominated|
|Lautan||Most Popular Song||Nominated|
|15th||2016||"Material"||Best Female Artiste||Nominated|
|Yuna||APM Most Popular Artiste||Nominated|
|Social Media Icons||Nominated|
|Rentas Planet Award (International Breakthru Award)||Won|
Anugerah Juara Lagu
Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL) (English: the Champion Song Awards), is a yearly event which recognises the musical composition of a song based on the collaborations of three parties – the lyricist, the composers, and the artist. Its weekly programme will gather singles and song nominations from various artistes where they will compete until their songs are shortlisted as finalists before ultimately being nominated to be judged by professional judges. From 1986 until 1991, finalists were chosen based on monthly winners, and from 1992 until 2008, songs were separated into three main categories – Ballad, Irama Malaysia and Ethnic Creative Song and also Pop Rock. However, from 2009 onwards, the award show was revamped and all 12 finalists were made to compete against each other regardless of category. Throughout Yuna's four years of participating, five of her songs had qualified for nomination in the show. In 2012, she won the award show's highest title, the Champion of Champions with Terukir di Bintang, her seventh Malay language song.
|24th||2009||Dan Sebenarnya||1st Runner-Up||Won|
|27th||2012||Terukir di Bintang||Winner||Won|
Anugerah Bintang Popular
Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian (ABPBH) (English: Berita Harian's Most Popular Star Awards), is an award ceremony that recognises the most popular artists of the year. The award is a yearly ceremony organised by one of Malaysia's newspapers, Berita Harian. The results are entirely based on votes cast by readers. Yuna has received five nominations and won three awards.
|23rd||2009||Yuna||Popular Female Singer||Nominated|
|Popular New Artist (Female)||Won|
|24th||2010||Popular Female Singer||Won|
|29th||2015||Popular Trending Artists||Nominated|
The Shout! Awards is an entertainment award show created to celebrate the Malaysian entertainment scene which is said has rapidly developed. The award recognises people of music, television, film and radio industries, and the entertainment industry as a whole. Yuna has received thirteen nominations and won five awards including the award show highest honour, the Ultimate Shout! Award.
|2nd||2010||Yuna||Break Out Award (Best New Act)||Won|||
|Dan Sebenarnya||Mobile Artiste of the Year||Nominated|
|Yuna||Ultimate Shout! Award||Won|
|Power Vocal Awards||Nominated|
|Terukir di Bintang||Music Video Awards||Nominated|
|"Bintang di Langit"||Fresh TV Series Awards||Nominated|
|Yuna||Wired Celebrity Awards||Won|
|4th||2013||Dwihati (with Aizat Amdan)||Music Video Award||Nominated|
|Wired Celebrity Awards||Nominated|
MACP (Music Authors’ Copyright Protection) Awards
|22nd||2011||Dan Sebenarnya||Most Performed Malay Song||Won|
|25th||2014||I Wanna Go||Most Performed English Song||Won|
|Choice Female Celebrity||Nominated|
|3rd||2016||Melodi Music Personality||Nominated|
MTV Europe Music Awards
The MTV Europe Music Awards (EMA) is presented by MTV Networks Europe which awards prizes to musicians and performers. Conceived as an alternative to the MTV Video Music Awards and since 2011 other worldwide, regional nominations have been added.
|19th||2012||Yuna||Best Asian Act||Nominated|||
|21st||2014||Best Southeast Asian Act||Nominated|
World Music Awards
|22nd||2014||Lelaki||Worlds Best Song||Nominated|
|"Nocturnal"||Worlds Best Album||Nominated|
|Lelaki||Worlds Best Video||Nominated|
|Yuna||Worlds Best Female Artist||Nominated|
|Worlds Best Live Act||Nominated|
|Worlds Best Entertainer of the Year||Nominated|
||Best Pop Vocalist||N/A||Won|
||Best Song to Play at Camp Fire and to Do Away with Monday Morning Blues||Deeper Conversation||Nominated|
|Best Overall Female Vocalist||N/A||Nominated|
||Best Acoustic Act||N/A||Nominated|
|Song of the Year||Backpacking Around Europe||Nominated|
||Best New Band in the World||N/A||Nominated|
||Favourite Asian Act||N/A||Nominated|
||Best New Female Artist||N/A||Nominated|
||Stylo Artist Award||N/A||Nominated|
|Promising Artist Award||N/A||Won|
||Bella Creative Award||N/A||Nominated|
||Best Artist – March||N/A||Won|
||Special Award – Grand Master Brand Icon||N/A||Won|
||Most Stylish Female Celebrity||N/A||Nominated|
|Best Achievement Celebrity||N/A||Nominated|
|Choice Magazine Cover Celebrity||N/A||Nominated|
||R&B Video of The Year||Come Back||Nominated|
||Best Original Film Song||Lautan||Won|
||1st Singer Listed in The US Billboard Top 10 R&B Chart||N/A||Won|
||Top 10 – Best R&B Albums of 2016||Chapters||Won|
||Top 20 – Best R&B Albums of 2016||Nominated|
||Best Collaboration Singer||N/A||Pending|
Yuna co-owns a women's clothes boutique, IAMJETFUEL, in Subang Jaya, Selangor. In 2014, she re-opened the shop with a new name, 'November Culture', which is also situated in Subang Jaya with a worldwide online presence. 14Nov by Yuna Zarai (brand name) are clothes and scarves that are designed by Yuna herself. She started introducing this brand in the US by promoting it in fashion shows (Fashion Fighting Famine or #FFFShow) in California. Besides that, she also opened a pop store in New York as well as Los Angeles. Recently, she has launched her new collaboration with Malaysian designer, Hatta Dolmat.
In popular culture
Yuna covered "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles for the 2012 film, Savages. The song was featured during the ending credits. "Tourist" was featured as part of the soundtrack in season 1 of a US TV series, Arrow. Her song "Favourite Thing" was featured in another US TV series Pretty Little Liars. She was featured in the Malaysian version of KakaoTalk advertisement, released in Malay, English, and Chinese language. She also recorded a song in collaboration with Adam Young of Owl City called "Shine Your Way" for the soundtrack of the animated film The Croods. The film was released by DreamWorks Animation in March 2013. A remix version of her song "Live Your Life" by MeLo-X appeared on the in-game radio station WorldWide FM in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Another Yuna song "Lullabies" was also featured in the twenty-second episode, the season finale of the fifth season and also the series finale of 90210, the reboot of "Beverly Hills, 90210". Not only that, this song was also featured in Being Mary Jane. Yuna also had her song "Lights and Camera" featured on an episode of the third season of the US reality show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. Lights and Camera was also used as one of the soundtracks from Beyond the Lights. Yuna's version of A Whole New World from the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, featured in the Deluxe Edition (bonus track) for the album We Love Disney (2015 compilation album).
- "Yuna Zarai". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
- "Pesuruhjaya Kehakiman Mahkamah Tinggi Malaya | Laman Web Rasmi Pejabat Ketua Pendaftar Mahkamah Persekutuan Malaysia". www.kehakiman.gov.my. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
- Koh Lay Chin (29 November 2010). "Yuna on being 'Malay Malay'". The Nut Graph.
- "8 Most Educated Malaysian Celebrities". mynewshub.com. 17 March 2015.
- "Someone Out of Town by Yuna Music on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free". Soundcloud.com. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "Yuna joins The Fader Label". 2 February 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- "FADER Label: Yuna's Decorate EP". 16 March 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- Bryan, Beverly (24 January 2012). "Live Your Life by Yuna". Mtv Iggy. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "BEST NEW BAND 2011". Mtv Iggy. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "It's Official: David Foster Named Chairman of Verve Music Group". Billboard. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- Yuna. Billboard.
- "Pandelela, Yuna Win Youth Icon Award". Malaysian Digest. 1 September 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- "LISTEN TO YUNA'S "BROKE HER," WHICH FLIPS THE SAMPLE FROM DRAKE'S "0–100"". 3 December 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "H&M Spring Fashion featuring Daria". YouTube. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Mitchell, Gail (9 December 2016). "10 Best R&B Albums of 2016: Critic's Picks". Billboard. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- Joseph, Charlene (15 July 2009). "Yuna reveals her dark side". Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- Rahman, Ray (24 October 2013). "Let the buzz begin: Singer-songwriter Yuna on her new album 'Nocturnal'". Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- Tara Aquino (8 June 2012) Interview: Yuna Talks Her U.S. Tour and Working with Pharrell Williams. Complex
- "About RIM". Rim.org.my. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- Suraya al-Attas (13 December 1993). "Countdown to local Grammys". New Straits Times. p. 27. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- Kamin, Azhariah (3 May 2010). "Yuna wins big at AIM awards". the Star Online. Retrieved 3 May 2010.[dead link]
- "Yuna sweeps three awards at AIM". New Straits Times. 12 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- Alexia, Jenilyn (19 November 2012). "English song the biggest winner of the night". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli (15 December 2013). "Hafiz, Yuna big winners of AIM20". New Straits Times. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- Chua, Dennis (9 January 2013). "Aizat rules with Yuna's song". New Straits Times. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- "Siti Nurhaliza makes it No. 7.". New Straits Times. 5 April 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- Chua, Dennis (4 August 2011). "Newcomers win big at ABPBH". New Straits Times Press. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Chua, Dennis (9 April 2012). "Aaron, Maya voted the most popular". New Straits Times. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- "Shouts of joy". The Sun. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- "Yuna shines at Shout!". New Straits Times. 25 November 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- "Yuna nominated for MTV Europe Music Awards". New Straits Times. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- "Đông Nhi named 2016 #MTVEMA Best Southeast Asia Act!". Pop Inquirer. 7 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- "Asian Acts Wonder Girls, Agnes Monica, Charice, & Yuna Rock The U.S. [VIDEOS]". RyanSeacrest.com. 3 April 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- "Yuna Zarai Brings Her Sound and Style to the U.S.". Marie Claire. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Arrow Music | Season 1". CWTV. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
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