LA-based Malaysian singer Yuna reveals why she wants to hold her concert at Sungei Wang Plaza


Los Angeles-based singer Yuna is thrilled to be holding her first solo concert in Malaysia since 2015. Photo: Handout

She may be based in the United States for over a decade now but ask Malaysian songbird Yuna where her heart truly belongs, the answer would be Sungei Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur.

Yes, she’s referring to the mall located on Jalan Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur.

Growing up, Yuna – who’s currently based in Los Angeles – would always go to said location to purchase the CDs, albums and musical instruments that she loved.

So, it’s no surprise that the 36-year-old found it fitting to bring her Yunaverse concert to the shopping centre’s Mega Star Arena on Oct 22.

“It feels surreal holding my concert here because this place was such a big part of my childhood, so it feels like a nice homecoming tour.

“I have been working towards having my own show in Malaysia for the longest time. (But) due to financial constraints and logistics, the process was a little difficult.

“Now that this concert is finally happening, I’m really thankful,” Yuna told StarLifestyle in an exclusive virtual interview.

The artiste’s upcoming gig in Kuala Lumpur marks her first solo concert in Malaysia since her Yuna Live In Malaysia show in 2015.

Hoping to give her fans a memorable experience after a long absence, the singer – whose real name is Yunalis Mat Zara’ai – said that she has prepared a setlist of over 20 songs from both old and new albums.

Adding to the fun is local singer Aizat Amdan whom Yuna personally chose to open her concert.

The pair are close friends and have worked together on the songs Dwihati and The Last Thing.

“(Aizat) is an amazing singer and performer. He has this amazing English EP (Everything In Between) which he released after rebranding to Ai.Z.

“That’s the name he goes by when he’s performing English songs but not many people know about it.

“I just think he’s really smart and I really want my fans to watch him perform. I’m also excited to share with everyone the songs we did together,” she said.

In addition to her KL gig, the talented songbird will also be holding a concert at Hikmah Exchange in Kuching, Sarawak, on Oct 27 as part of her Yuna Asia Tour.

The events are Yuna’s initiative to express her gratitude to loyal fans who have supported her throughout her music journey.

Power couple

Last month, Yuna ticked an item off her to-do list after performing her latest single, Glory, on Colors – a German music platform featuring live performances of various artistes.

Among the big names previously featured on the platform are US rapper Doja Cat, Grammy winner Billie Eilish and Canadian singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar.

In an Instagram post, Yuna revealed that she had been longing to perform on the platform for years but was unable to do so because of clashing schedules.

Weaving tinkles of synth piano with bass tones and subtle snaps, Glory centres on the theme of someone striving to be the best for, and bringing out the best in, the one they love most.

For the track’s lyric video, Yuna once again collaborated with her husband Adam Sinclair.

The couple – who tied the knot in 2018 – previously worked together on the music videos Forevermore, Make A Move and Blank Marquee.

Reflecting on her experience working with Adam, Yuna said: “It’s kind of weird when you think about it because there’s this notion of how there will be clashing of ideas or interest when you work with your husband.

“But for us, we actually love each other’s ideas and work well together. We also have mutual respect which I think is the most important aspect. We never try to compete with each other and there’s no toxicity.”

Yuna first met Adam, 39, on the set of a commercial after a 16-hour flight from the United States back in 2013.

The singer revealed in a past interview feeling moody and disinterested in continuing the shoot on that particular day.

However, Adam made her feel “safe and comfortable” after checking on her and making sure she had something to eat.

Yuna describes her husband as her most favourite person to work with. Photo: Yuna/FacebookYuna describes her husband as her most favourite person to work with. Photo: Yuna/FacebookThere’s a certain glint in Yuna’s eyes as she spoke with StarLifestyle about her beau, whom she said is her most favourite person to work with.

According to the singer, teaming up with her husband made work all the more fun.

“He brings balance into my life and would always calm me down and reassure me when things get overwhelming. I do the same for him too.

“There’s no stress whenever we work on something as a couple because we just know the end result will turn out great.

“The lyric video for Glory, for instance, was created with just the two of us in the studio. We didn’t have a huge crew or anything like that,” she said.

Remembering her roots

Yuna started performing at various events in 2006 while attending law school and found success on the online platform Myspace, where her music amassed over a million plays.

In 2008, she released her self-titled EP which clinched four trophies at the Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM).

Yuna’s success caught the attention of US label Fader Records; she would eventually sign with the label in 2011 and kickstart her career Stateside.

Her discography includes five English albums and four Malay albums.

The singer was featured on the New York Times Square digital billboard as part of Spotify’s Equal campaign in 2021.

In April, Yuna delighted Malaysian fans after releasing Masih Yuna, her first full Malay language project since the 2015 album Material.

According to her, the four-track EP pays homage to her Malaysian heritage and serves as a gesture of appreciation to locals who have supported her.

“I haven’t released a Malay song in such a long time too, and I know fans are looking for me to fill that void. I’m really happy that I got the opportunity to work on it,” she said.

Going nearly eight years without a Malay song, Yuna told Berita Harian that she has been accused of forgetting her roots.

Despite the claims, the artiste made it clear that she cherishes her Malaysian identity and that her “Malay spirit” never once wavered throughout her journey in the United States.

Masih Yuna itself is testament that I’m still the same old me everyone knows,” she told the publication.

Unreleased Billie Eilish collab

Yuna’s prolific music career is marked by a string of collaborations with established artistes like Usher, Tyler The Creator, Jay Park and Epik High.

But what really got fans in a frenzy is her unreleased song with seven-time Grammy award winner Billie Eilish.

Earlier in May, Yuna revealed in an interview with a local radio station that the two of them had worked together on a love track.

As the story goes, Eilish reached out to Yuna via X (formerly known as Twitter) in 2016, saying that she was a fan of the latter’s song, Lullabies.

However, Yuna only saw the message two years later as she was previously caught up with preparations for the Camp Flog Gnaw music festival.

Interested in collaborating with Eilish, Yuna contacted her and they penned a love song together. Many fans have since been begging Yuna to release the duet.

Unfortunately, the Crush hitmaker told StarLifestyle that it won’t be happening anytime soon.

“Aside from the fact that the song is unfinished, it doesn’t have the right vibe yet since it’s just a rough idea and the message could go anywhere.

“This collaboration happened right before she blew up. If she’s keen to revisit the song, I would love to finish it. I will let her have the final say in this,” she said.

The road ahead

Having enjoyed an artistic career spanning nearly two decades, Yuna admitted that she never expected to stay in the music industry for such a long time.

“I thought I’d be over it, but I still enjoy creating music and working with other artistes. I guess when you really love what you do, it feels less like a job.

“Even though I’ve been in the industry for so long, I still feel like I’m new because there’s always something new every day, and that keeps me going. I don’t see myself quitting music anytime soon.”

Sharing more about her upcoming endeavours, Yuna conveyed her hopes to collaborate with Beyonce, Rihanna and especially Kendrick Lamar, whom she is a “huge fan” of.

Yuna also said she plans to release more EPs which will pave the way for a full album.

“I’m working on some new songs right now and I’m really excited about it because it’s different from what I usually do.

“I like to experiment. There’s still lots of music left in me, and I’m going to keep making it because it’s what I love doing,” she said.


Tickets to the Yunaverse concert in Kuala Lumpur are priced from RM99 to RM889 and can be purchased via lolasia.bigtix.io/booking/YUNAVE23.

Meanwhile, tickets to the upcoming concert in Kuching, are priced from RM259 to RM349, and can be purchased via ticket2u.com.my/event/32887.

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