Multi-talented singer Yuna on life behind the music

By Gwendolyn Han,

Singer-songwriter. Businesswoman. Law graduate. Brand ambassador. It seems there’s no stopping Malaysia’s breakthrough musical export Yuna from conquering the world. The talented songstress, with her organic blend of contemporary pop and acoustic folk, has won raved reviews comparing her to the likes of Feist and Sara Bareilles.

Now on tour in the US after her one-night only concert at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, Yuna shares with us life on tour, her hometown and her go-to hotel food after a long day’s work.Yuna performing You’re travelling a lot these days. How’s it like to mix work and travel together?

I try to separate work and leisure as it gets quite stressful when you try to do both at once. You can’t fully enjoy or focus on either aspect which can be distracting. I used to explore at least one spot whenever I’m on tour though, most recently in Paris. Now when I’m not too busy I try to plan a fun weekend with my friends. We even have our own Instagram account (@wearenotlostLA) where we add all our travel photos!

As a musician frequently on tour, how do you create a sense of home in a new city?

I can’t really create a sense of home anywhere else… Because I’m so used to traveling, I simply accept the fact that I will be away for a little bit. It’s ‘bye home!’ for now, but it’s just temporary.Yuna divingWhat about the hotels you stay at? Anything that helps with the transition?

I look for hotels close to the city, in a safe area and clean. I’m not picky when it comes to hotels, as long as they’re accessible to shops by foot and safe to commute alone. I avoid staying far out from the city, even though those are usually the cheapest options for the band. But sometimes that’s necessary – I wouldn’t want to spend $500 a night for a room.

Do you get special treatment?

They do give flowers and chocolates, though I don’t really expect anything from hotels other than clean rooms. But when they do, I make it a point to show my appreciation on Instagram to recommend these hotels to my fans.

Which is your favourite hotel? And if you could design your own, what would it look like?

I love Ace Hotels in the United States for their minimalistic and contemporary design. Sometimes they even leave a guitar or record player in the room. And if I designed my own hotel, it would feel like a homey, lofty apartment. Exposed brick walls, wooden desks, fresh flowers, Aztec rugs. I love decorating and think I would do an amazing job designing a hotel!Yuna and Aztec RugWe’re suckers for memorable travel stories. Do you have one you’d like to share?
Probably going to Italy by myself when I was 16, for a student exchange program for three months. It was so much fun. I was hosted by a lovely family in Turin and we went skiing and camping in the mountains. It was amazing and I’d recommend it!

As a KLite what are your all-time favourite hangout spots in the city?

I love Bangsar and TTDI. There are a lot of interesting cafes, I personally like Quartet which is really laid-back and has good coffee.Yuna and the skyDo you also recommend other spots in Malaysia to friends visiting?

Penang is a really unique because of the old colonial buildings and strong arts scene. I also recommend Langkawi and Kuantan, the beaches are so pretty and there are really nice people there. And of course food is good everywhere!

Lastly, you arrive in your hotel room, tired and hungry. What’s the first thing you order from room service?  

French fries!