Culture, Q & A + Profiles

Singer Yuna talks working with Owl City, touring

Yunalis Zarai, more commonly known as Yuna, is an artist who appreciates the power of music. It is the first thing the Malaysian songwriter, who released her first EP back in 2008, references on her website as well as her Facebook page.

Yuna’s self-titled EP was widely recognized at the AIM awards, a Malaysian music awards ceremony. In 2010, Yuna joined the record label FADER and released her second EP “Decorate” in 2011, followed by her self-titled album in April 2012.

Most recently, Yuna recorded a song with Owl City called “Shine Your Way.” The collaboration is featured on the soundtrack of the new DreamWorks film “The Croods,” which hit theaters March 22.

The Miami Hurricane got the chance to talk to Yuna through email about making music, performing and working on a major movie soundtrack.

The Miami Hurricane: What inspired you to pursue music?

Yunalis Zarai: When I learned how to play the guitar and wrote my first song, I felt the need to share my music with everyone. I remember this one video of Feist performing in Paris years ago, and I was like, “That’s it! I’m going to do it, play my guitar and perform my songs.”

TMH: Who would you cite as your musical influences?

YZ: Fiona Apple, Feist, The Cardigans, Coldplay, Francoise Hardy.

TMH: Who are you listening to currently? Are there any new artists in particular you like?

YZ: I’ve been listening to Miguel, The Submarines and Best Coast.

TMH: You’ve released two EPs and a full-length record. What has it been like recording?

YZ: It’s exciting to see something you created and wrote bloom into a full song and then into a full album. Working with a lot of different producers definitely made the process more exciting. I … became friends with them along the way, and we got excited when the album came out.

TMH: How do you think your music has changed from when you first started?

YZ: I try to fuse different types of music into my music and try new things. When I first started out, it was singer-songwriter, folk and little bit of jazz music. Now I’m open to a lot of new ideas: trip hop, orchestra, R&B.

TMH: What has been your favorite part about being a performer?

YZ: I love and hate touring at the same time. I’m always prim and proper, so one part of touring that I don’t like is having little or no comfort to get ready before the show, and the fact that we spend most of our time in a van. But, when I get on stage, I love it.

TMH: What was it like recording “Shine Your Way” with Owl City? How is recording a song for a movie soundtrack different than for an album?

YZ: I loved it! It was different from my music, but I loved being able to collaborate with Owl City and work on an incredible project.

TMH: Where do you see your career going moving forward? What goals do you have for the future?

YZ: I just want to make more albums and more music. For some artists, music says so much about you and the person you are. I’m that kind of artist … I define my music, not the other way around.

Check out “Shine Your Way” in the movie “The Croods.” For more information on Yuna, visit her official website 

April 10, 2013


Marlee Lisker

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.