No Time Like the Present
Tatler Malaysia|September 2021
Award-winning singer-songwriter Yuna’s musical journey proves that taking a chance on one’s self and going all in is all you need to realise a faraway dream
Koyyi Chin

It was 2009 when 23-year-old law student Yunalis Mat Zara’ai—who is more famously known as Yuna today—knew that she had to face the music eventually: she needed to come clean to her parents that not only was she, in the singer-songwriter’s own words, “jamming with the boys”, but she also had a substantial following over her MySpace at the time with her own music, and was performing her songs live over the past six months.

She grins when she recalls the moment she spilled the beans. After telling her parents that she was doing gigs in the local indie scene, the first thing her father had asked her was: “what’s a gig?”

Deciding there and then that she’d show them, Yuna invited her parents to watch her perform at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC). “They were so surprised,” says Yuna. “I remember my dad asking me things like, ‘you wrote these songs? Without help? With the guitar that you just bought over a year ago?’ And I had to keep telling him that, yes, those were actually songs I wrote myself, and no, they weren’t cover songs!”

Contrary to what some may think, however, being a musician was never in the cards for Yuna, who had fully intended to follow in her father’s footsteps after graduating, as the man himself was once a former legal advisor and a judicial commissioner in the high court—but after that one night at KLPAC, it only seemed to set ablaze what initially began as a quiet passion for music.

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