Maxim Meyer-Horn

13 Dec 2019

Yuna: “Rouge Is the Most Important Record I Made”

If you’re a fan of R&B, you’ll know Yuna without any doubt. The Malaysian-born singer has been making music for ten years now and released her best album this year. On ‘Rouge’, Yuna has found herself as an artist and storyteller and connects with her listeners. On a cold, but sunny day, we met the singer in Brussels, where she had a show on her European tour.

You’re currently on the road through Europe. How has the tour been so far?

Tour is going really great. I haven’t been back in so long, 2016 was my last time I was on tour. So it’s really cool that I get to be back and do the same route through Europe like last time. The last time I was here was during summer, so it was pretty hot. Now it’s pretty cold, but I like it. For this album, I feel it’s more exciting since the show is a little bit different than the previous ones. It’s nice to put up a different show with a different team and it’s a lot of fun. 

You have released a wonderful album this year. Can you give us some more details about Rouge?

Rouge is my fourth US released album and I don’t know, it’s still pretty surreal that I get to release so many projects. I’m very proud of this album and I got to work with so many different artists, which is really cool. I never used to do that, so I decided to have a lot of fun with it. I really wanted to focus on telling my stories because I’m a little bit older and married now. There’s no holding back and wanted to be open about certain topics. I really said what I wanted to said.

You worked on the album with different producers. How did you make sure the result was coherent?

I guess for this project, I worked with the executive producer Robert Hannibal and I worked with other producers here and there. J.LBS for example, who has worked with artists like Kendrick Lamar, SZA and Jorja Smith. I also have one song that was produced and written by Sam Farrar of Maroon 5, and he’s really talented. I’m so lucky that I get to experiment, but at the same time have Robert who brings it all together and have this Yuna-sound. I’m so lucky I got to work with Robert.

Why is it for you the most important album you made?

I think it’s probably because it took me a longer time to kind of get everything together. I feel like I worked really hard for every song and re-recorded a lot of things or was looking for things to make it better and fix little things here and there. I was very meticulous for this project. The album is a great starting point, because my previous songs were more generic love songs. There was no spice to it, so I think this was the very beginning of a new Yuna. The projects that I’m releasing after Rouge, are going to be even better because I’m already passed what people are going to say about Rouge.

You’ve worked with some amazing artists on the album like for example, Tyler, The Creator, G-Eazy and Masego. How was it working with these hip hop heavy weights?

I think it’s cool, because it was also a great learning process since I learned to work with other artists and kind of merge with their style. Thankfully, every artist I worked with, was a great addition to the album. Tyler is a good example. I never thought in a million years, that I would be able to work with him. We’ve known each other since 2012, but it’s in recent years that his musical maturity has come out and I love that. I love his music and he deserves all the recognition he’s getting. I’m so happy I got to catch him at the time.

I can say the same about G-Eazy. We started out around the same time and he totally blew up in recent years. For him to be like: “Yeah, cool! Let’s work together” is so cool. Further, I met Little Simz a few years ago and from the moment I saw her, I was a huge fan. I had the idea of making a song for my album with her in mind. I sent it to her and she liked it. I had that in mind when I was working on the album and really was thinking about certain people I wanted to have on the record.

I also recently put out a remix of my track “Teenage Heartbreak” with MadeinTYO and I’d never worked with him before. Our music is so different, but at the same time there are parts of us both that go together perfectly.

How was it to work with the utterly talented Masego?

Masego happened kind of accidentally compared to the other collaborations.  For the song “Amy”, I wanted to have someone else but the person said no, so I planned to be on this track myself. One day, Masego hit me up on a DM and told me that he was open to help for my new album. I was like “Can he read my mind?”, so he came by one day and worked on it. Him on “Amy” just made sense and I’m really happy he was able to do it. I would love to work with him again. I feel like we should make a five-songs project.

You caught our attention because of your magnificent Vogue Arabia cover and we fell in love with your style. Would you describe your style for us?

For me, I’ve always been a huge fashion enthusiast since I was a little girl. Being a Muslim musician, I practice modesty and it has a lot to do with faith, but it’s also an individual choice. I don’t know, it’s fun to be creative with what you have.

For me, I like something that’s a little bit more edgy and the style of Europe. I love minimal and sometimes avant-garde pieces, but there’s no one I refer to. I just wear whatever I like. I have a really good stylist I work with and he would put me in crazy outfits. As an artist, I love to try something weird and different. In my everyday life, I’m more laid back and just wear a jeans and sweater.

Photos by Maxim Meyer-Horn

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