Three years since her final album Chapters, Yuna returned Friday (July 12) together with her new album Rouge. Coming from a distinct place than her final launch — not solely has the world modified loads since then, however the Malaysian singer received married final 12 months –Yuna’s newest is a star-studded album stuffed with collaborative songs concerning the realities of life and love. A bit extra emboldened and impassioned, Yuna captivates on every monitor, joined by the likes of Tyler, the Creator, G-Eazy and Little Simz, together with a number of different artists from throughout the globe, together with J-rocker Miyavi and Korean-American hip-hop artist Jay Park.
Whereas in New York Metropolis final month forward of this month’s upcoming Rouge tour, Yuna sat down with Billboard to debate the discharge of her new album, her artistry, collaborations and what it means for her to work together with the the music business and stardom whereas staying true to herself.
How are you feeling forward of the discharge of your new album Rouge?
I really feel actually nice. I am so glad I get to do that once more. It’s been sort of…, I wouldn’t say stagnant. I maintain myself busy when I’m not busy. When I’m not doing this or touring, I simply concentrate on spending time with the household have in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. I don’t actually inform my administration or my label each time I’m like engaged on stuff again residence. I have a administration firm again residence that we used to handle my profession again residence earlier than I got here out right here, however now we handle three actually gifted indie artists primarily based in Malaysia. We directed just a few music movies, my husband [filmmaker Adam Sinclair] and I. It’s nice, however now it’s my time so it’s sort of good that I gave my all to them [then]. It’s that feeling. I contributed one thing to my residence, you realize? And now I’m right here, I’m doing my very own factor.
Your music video for “Forevermore,” considered one of a number of of your music movies directed by Sinclair, actually highlighted Malaysia. Was that associated to this?
I really feel like, for individuals who already knew about me, that is sort of like an introduction or a reminder that, “Hey, this is me. This is where I’m from.” Malaysia is a big a part of me nonetheless. I wasn’t born and raised right here. I was born and raised in Malaysia and I moved out [to Los Angeles] like 10 years in the past. So it’s sort of good to have the ability to share that with my older followers and the followers which can be simply new to my music.
A nice approach to reintroduce your self after just a few years out of the highlight because it’s been three years because you launched Chapters.
Yeah, precisely. To me, 2016 is like, “Oh, it’s like last year. Oh, wait a second. It’s 2019.” I’m actually glad we waited. It’s only a good. That is the best time to place out an album.
What makes it the best time?
The whole lot simply type of labored out for me. I received married final 12 months. I centered on that just a little bit, making ready a dream marriage ceremony. My husband and I, we’re two inventive folks. We met on a set taking pictures commercials and music movies, so now we sort of get to work collectively creatively for like one thing we love, you realize what I imply? A venture that we love. It’s not for a model. It’s not for anybody else. It’s sort of for us. He will get to do his concepts, and it’s for my music. And likewise with how the world is. I really feel just like the world is extra accepting of variety. Like with me, that is the right time. I’m so glad lastly Loopy Wealthy Asians is out. It just about has given us a platform. For me, I’m Southeast Asian. Nobody will take note of me. It’s like, “Oh, what are you, Malaysian? Southeast Asian? I don’t know where that is.” I’m actually glad [Loopy Wealthy Asians] occurred and I assume that sort of impressed us as effectively to shoot it in Malaysia as a result of all the things that you just see on “Forevermore” you’ve by no means seen it in any music movies out right here, proper? It’s so totally different and to me, it’s genuine. And you’d have by no means gotten that therapy for those who shot it right here. It’s extra uncooked, the stuff that we shot. I’m actually glad about that.
“Forevermore” preceded the discharge of Rouge, so are you able to inform me a bit concerning the album? What impressed its identify?
I’ve all the time felt like pink is such a daring coloration and I felt like, “Oh, maybe it’s not for me.” Even the colour, the lipstick coloration is possibly not for me. That’s all the time been the person who I am. And now I really feel like, you realize what? I’m just a little older, just a little wiser now. I’m entitled to really feel offended or passionate, horny. I don’t need to maintain something again anymore. I can simply be myself. I’m pleased with my id. Let’s give all of them this trustworthy, actual Yuna and I speak about that in considered one of my songs “Likes.”
My private favourite. The whole time I was listening and identical to, “Yes!!!”
Actually? What’s humorous is that it’s such a really feel good music however you take heed to the lyrics and also you’re like, “Oh, wow. She’s mad.” And I really feel like there’s a variety of songs on there that’s sort of like, “Oh, this is so true but oh, she’s mad.” I’m not mad or offended or hating on stuff. It’s simply actual life conditions I need to speak about. Possibly earlier than, I didn’t get to speak about it as a result of I was shy, I wasn’t assured sufficient. However now I’m glad. I’m very content material with life. Like I dance in a single the music video for “Forevermore.” I’ve all the time needed to try this, however I was afraid to. I’ve been dancing for years. Why wouldn’t I need to present that to folks? It’s sort of good that I get to be this open on Rouge.
It’s additionally a freedom to inform the story that you really want. Not letting different folks inform your story, which for me is essential as a result of I’m this particular person. I’m a Muslim Asian girl, making music within the American music business. It’s sort of remarkable. Being a Muslim Asian girl who’s fairly vocal about her id, I don’t attempt to conceal myself and given the political [environment]… While you’re a songwriter, you get to put in writing your story and share it with the world.
Did you’re feeling such as you didn’t get to try this as a lot along with your previous releases?
I really feel like I received to try this, however it’s extra like I assume I psyched myself out. Like I was pondering an excessive amount of about how do I make an album that can sort of enchantment to my Western viewers. I assume becoming in was a wrestle for me. Generally I really feel like I’m not Japanese sufficient, I’m not Asian sufficient generally. Then I’m not Western sufficient. Then what am I? In my life now, it’s like, “You know what? I’m just going to be me.” I’m simply going to do that and see what occurs. It’s laborious however at the least it’s mine.
This album is sort of a bit extra pop-ish than your prior America-oriente releases. Was that intentional?
It’s however I’ve all the time been a pop author too. Interested by all my previous releases, I assume the closest to pop-R&B was the stuff that I did with Pharrell. After which for Chapters, I tried to concentrate on making an R&B album. However even that wasn’t absolutely R&B. That was nonetheless me.That was nonetheless Yuna, the poppy Yuna however with my R&B beats. And this time it’s identical to, “Let’s just have some fun. Let’s see where this takes us. Let’s see where these disco beats take us.” And I like it. It has a Daft Punk kind of vibe to it on some of the songs. And then you hry into the darker side like “Forget About You.” It’s very ghostly, and sort of offended. I assume Rouge may be very me however an upgraded model.
You grew up just a little and that is the you of now. You get to put on some pink lipstick and embrace it, which you probably did with a variety of collaborators. You have been simply speaking about the way you needed folks to listen to you. How is it to convey out your individual voice in affiliation with so many collaborators?
You already know what’s humorous? The entire artists that I labored with, all of them have their very own worlds, proper? And generally they don’t match with mine. Like Tyler [the Creator]’s world doesn’t match with mine. However by some means, a way, for a number of the songs I assume when I wrote them, I already knew. “This is so Tyler, even though maybe Tyler hasn’t done anything like this. This is so him.” I simply realize it and I observe my intestine. It’s the identical factor with “Teenage Heartbreak” the place I have Miyavi on it and he’s a tremendous guitar participant. His music is so totally different from what I am doing, that he even informed me that that is so totally different from what he’s used to. He was sort of like, “Just guide me. Is this ok?” And he managed to give you one thing that I by no means would have give you. G-Eazy, I labored with him earlier than on my final file and generally folks inform me, ‘Oh what, him again? Why do you want him again?” Why not? He’s wonderful, he’s gifted. Plus we didn’t get to do a music video earlier than, so I needed to do a music video [for “Blank Marquee”].
Being a musician, not all people needs to work with you. It’s laborious to get a “yes” from folks that you just need to work with and I’ve gotten rejected so many instances. Nevertheless it’s cool. I’m used to it. I haven’t any ailing emotions if this particular person or that particular person doesn’t need to work with me. However once you do get a “yes,” that’s like magic. It’s like a miracle. And it additionally reveals that they’re not saying “yes” due to cash or something like that. I’m not Rihanna. I’m not Beyoncé. I nonetheless really feel like I’m new, and if folks need to work with me it’s solely as a result of they see one thing in me they like, that they love they usually need to be part of. Every considered one of them, I’ve met personally, I’ve gotten to know them, and it’s essential for me to have actual collaborations and never simply, “Okay, you’re over there, I’m over here, we don’t talk in real life, we don’t ever have to communicate, but here’s a song.” It’s not going to go anyplace for those who don’t imagine within the product, for those who don’t imagine within the music.
I met Tyler and I know what he feels strongly about as a result of I keep in mind a dialog that I had with him. We have been speaking at a pageant and it was actually essential for him, for when he performs, that his followers don’t put telephones as much as file. It’s so essential for him to have a present the place folks don’t file, dwelling by their telephone. I know that Little Simz [featured on “Pink Youth”] loves her mother. I love that about her, you realize? And Miyavi has an attractive household which I really feel like, “Wow, this is the kind of family that I want to raise if I ever were to like settle down in LA.” Like yeah, I’m going to observe his steps. He’s like, “Yeah, move to this area. The school is great for the kids.”
What makes somebody an incredible collaborator for you?
The truth that they actually imagine within the music they usually see the worth in it, I assume that’s simply so precious to me. I’ll be trustworthy, for this album I reached out to some singers however I don’t know why I reached out to them. They stated “no” to me like I’m nothing. A minimum of have a dialog or one thing about it. Generally I’m on this place like, “Am I not cool anymore? Am I not relevant anymore?” As soon as in awhile as an artist you go on that likeemotional rollercoaster. It’s identical to, “I’m great.” After which, “No, I suck.” I was coping with a rejection when Masego [featured on “Amy”] hit me up on Instagram. He was like, “Hey, Yuna. I know you’re recording a new album. Let me know if you need any help.” I was like, “How does he know? Is he listening to me or spying on me?” We met this one time for a Quincy Jones factor, a launch of his headphones with JBL and I keep in mind everybody who was working with Quincy was taking an image, and I was sort of feeling like the shy outcast just a little bit. I’m by no means going to be in the midst of all the things. I’m not that particular person. So I’m all the time going to be that particular person. Similar to alright, I’m simply going to face on the aspect or on the again of photographs, additionally as a result of I’m tall. I’m going to let one of many tiny ones up entrance and behind me was Masego, and that is the place we met.
It’s a must to be constructive about all the things, however generally you do undergo these moments the place it’s identical to, “I suck.” And then you’re like, “You know what? No. I’m great. I can do this. I’ll just keep on asking.” Even with Tyler too- I’m simply going to speak about everybody [Laughs]. He’s in all probability going to be so mad at me, however he’s tremendous candy. I don’t know if he needs folks to know that he’s candy however he’s. Simply a tremendous human being. I met him for the primary time at Camp Flog Gnaw in 2016. I keep in mind sitting in a darkish nook of the stage and he came to visit. We had a dialog and it was nice. Then for this album, I had this one music “Castaway” and I was like, “Oh my God, this is it. I’ve always wanted to find a reason to work with Tyler and now this is it.” My supervisor is aware of his supervisor. We met a few instances. So I hit up the supervisor and however it wasn’t occurring, and appeared unattainable. I felt so unhealthy asking repeatedly. Like, “Can we get Tyler on this song?” They usually have been like, “We kind of don’t know where Tyler is.” Possibly they have been being secretive as a result of IGOR was popping out. I completely get it. It went on for months. I was DMing him, and I know he doesn’t even test his DMs. Like, “Hey, I don’t know how to reach out to you but I have a song.” After which nothing. And four months later, I was making ready to fly again to Kuala Lumpur that night time. Round four o’clock, I was like, “You know what? I finished packing. It’s a nice day out. Let’s just go out and have coffee.” So I drove to my favourite espresso store, I parked my automotive, I received out, and he’s simply strolling down the road. I’m not even kidding. That is the universe, God. I needed it so unhealthy and he was simply there, strolling. I was like, “Tyler?” And he was like, “Oh, hey, what’s up Yuna?” He gave me his quantity and I despatched the music. In order that’s the way it occurred. I have a sense he’s very choosy together with his tasks, so for him to be on that is only a blessing to me. That is simply wonderful.
You talked about the way you’re the person who sort of goes to the again of the occasion otherwise you’re sort of off to the aspect. How is it for you being within the heart of the highlight in your music movies and once you’re performing. How is that for you as an individual?
I don’t know, I simply clean out. Simply do not give it some thought. As an artist, for those who don’t love being the focal point you must at the least be snug with it and know the intention and goal of why you’re there. For me, it’s not like, “Everybody look at me, look at me.” It’s like, “Ok, well, I have to do this. If not, people are not going to listen to my music.” It’s all the time been the music for me. I really feel like if it’s not about that and it have been all about fame and the glitz and glamor, I wouldn’t be out right here nonetheless observing my religion, working towards my religion, or observing modesty. Just about I would in all probability abandon it as a result of it’s not simple to hold on to a sure perception after which get into an business that may be so superficial. It may be just like the narrative has been written for you already. “You’re an artist. This is how you have to look, this is how you have to dress up. This is the standard of beauty that you need to get on to.” I just about don’t care concerning the guidelines. Can’t I simply be me?
Generally folks don’t get it. Final night time, for example- all people was ingesting and I didn’t. I was identical to “Okay, I think I’m going to go back to the hotel and get some rest.” That has occurred to me all through my life. I’m not struggling. It’s not like I really need it and I can’t. It’s simply who I am. It’s the identical with carrying the scarf. It’s not like somebody is oppressing me. When folks say, “Why don’t you take it off? No one cares. Why are you wearing the scarf? Why are you wearing long sleeves? it’s hot. It’s the summer, it’s like 900 degrees.” I care. It’s simply me. Let me gown how I need. So yeah, I guess with “Likes,” these are all of the feedback that I’ve gotten from totally different teams of people who find themselves identical to… They are often liberal and they are often conservative, however they simply should sort of settle for that I’m simply going to be me it doesn’t matter what. Yeah, I haven’t any wrestle in any respect to be myself. I really feel like that’s how folks ought to really feel about themselves. They shouldn’t really feel embarrassed. They shouldn’t really feel uncomfortable carrying what they like.
Do you assume now versus when Chapters got here out in 2016, the state of issues are very totally different? Do you’re feeling like now greater than ever it’s essential for women, Muslims, to see somebody such as you within the media?
Oh, positively. Illustration is all the things. And it empowers children particularly to sort of, you realize, to really feel like they will nonetheless follow no matter they love. Like in the event that they love their religion, they shouldn’t really feel threatened to try this. They shouldn’t should really feel it rising up. Like, “If I’m going to work in the music industry maybe I have to drink, maybe I have to fit in, and maybe I have to take off the hijab.” And it’s tremendous in the event that they need to. But when they need to maintain it too, that’s tremendous.
The ultimate music on the album, “Tiada Akhir,” is sung in Malay. Was it essential to shut issues out on Rouge by bringing this aspect of your self to the album? Have been you pondering one thing like, “I’m making this album for the American market I’m going to end things on my own terms?”
Precisely. As a result of I felt like possibly I was scared to ask earlier than. “Hey, can I have one Malay song on the album?” I really feel like the concept was not welcome sort of. “We prefer having English songs.” And I get it. Extra performs means more cash, so in all probability including a Malay music received’t actually get American listeners to tune into that or repeat that music on streaming platforms. However I don’t care. This time round, nope. This music goes to be in there. “These are going to be the songs, that’s our last song,” I said. “Tiada Akhir” means “no ending,” and “no ending” means it’s perpetually. There’s a narrative about how I misplaced my coronary heart like raindrops falling from the roof onto the leaves. It’s so poetic. Falling from the roof to the leaves and then you definately maintain me like a vivid gentle, such as you have been born like a vivid gentle. You’re just like the remedy to my illness. You’re the tip of darkish days sort of. So that you’re just like the remedy, however you’re additionally the snake with the poison to cease my coronary heart. While you cease my coronary heart, you trigger loss of life. And that’s all that you just left me with. I don’t know why I wrote that however these lyrics are lovely, I wanted to share.
This interview was shortened and edited for readability.