The Malay adage “sirih pulang ke gagang” best fits Yuna, a Malaysian-born international musician who hasn’t released a Malay song in seven years. She makes a triumphant comeback with the emotional song “MENANTI,” written and produced entirely by Yuna with half-Malaysian singer-songwriter, rapper, and music producer Kenny J. Macartney.
“Gosh, I’ve lost track of time! It’s been 7 years since my last Malay-language single.
As a music-maker, my inspiration comes in slowly and that’s something that can’t be forced upon. In the last 7 years, I’ve been putting a lot of my time in making my past albums such as ‘Chapters’, then it was ‘Rouge’, and my latest offering, ‘Y5’, in which for each album I had to prepare to go on promotional tours, and then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, it’s a lot,” explained Yuna, whose real name is Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, 36.
Yuna’s home away from home, Los Angeles, America is where she is settled currently prefers to take things slow and steady before working on the next project, and now she has her sights on her latest Malay single and her upcoming Malay EP that will be launched soon.
“Apart from producing the single and EP, I too want to focus on being with family and can’t wait to celebrate Eid together. After the pandemic ended, in August 2021, my husband and I returned to Los Angeles after about 18 months being in Malaysia, and we went to a place called Joshua Tree to write some songs and that’s how MENANTI first started.
“At that time, MENANTI wasn’t wholly produced yet and just the melody, fast-forward to 2023, as I was going through some old files, I came across the melody and began writing the lyrics, at first I wanted to write something in English but what came out was in Malay, so as a result MENANTI was born.
The single is a love song about longing for someone who is far away, someone who is already gone but will always be a part of your life and will stay in your heart forever, a vow to always wait for this person whom you love very much.
“This one for me is personal, as I was writing the lyrics, I couldn’t think of anybody else but my late cousin Amy whom I was very close with, she was my bestie, and her untimely passing still saddens me. My world crumbles whenever I think about the fact that she is no longer around. So naturally, that sadness was poured into it, and when I presented the song to my friends, they told me they felt a sense of sadness upon hearing it although it’s a love song,” Yuna explained.
For Yunationals (Yuna’s fans), this is the answer they have been waiting for from Yuna, she said, “It’s hard to make promises to fans in Malaysia every year because of my commitments in LA, after all I want to produce something I’m proud of for them, rather than putting something out there just for the sake for it, you know, and it wouldn’t be fair as well. It’s very hard to do well in both countries at the same time, and I don’t believe in multi-tasking as it was a mistake I’ve made in the past. Now I realized when I have a focus I get to achieve a lot of things such as receiving the ‘Gold Record’ form RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for ‘Crush’ featuring Usher, and also the opportunity to work with other artists like Tyler The Creator, G-Eazy and Pink Sweats.
At first listen, the 3:05-minute song clearly reminds us of Yuna’s one-of-a-kind signature sound, but there is something different in the music arrangement that feels current with a modern ‘Malaysianize’ element, in-line with her status as an international singer.
Yuna shares about the making of her soon-to-be-released Malay single and upcoming Malay EP, “It took me 2 months to produce the song and it was done at home in LA, I have a home studio, so it’s quite easy for me.
As an artist who has been abroad for a long time, she has gone through it all thus those life-changing experiences have shaped her into becoming the person she is today, Yuna shared, “I think I’m more certain of myself as a person now than ever, before, I used to take things way too seriously, but now I’m more relaxed. I’ve achieved things that were beyond my expectations, despite the challenges and criticisms I faced.
“I am proud of myself for pursuing my dreams rather than to impress people, I used to be a workaholic which turned out bad for me, so now I’m more focused on doing work that matters, and then take a break to focus on what’s most important which are my health, family and life.
Who would have thought that the song ‘Dan Sebenarnya’ is 15 years old today, Yuna is back with her latest single and a Malay EP that will be released towards the end of April this year.
“I hope this song will remind you of a loved one when you listen to it, and don’t forget to check out my EP dropping in very soon with a mixture of folk and R&B, so please watch this space!” Yuna ended gleefully.
‘MENANTI’ is available for download on iTunes and as a caller ringtone from all major telecommunication service providers, and could easily be streamed and enjoyed 24/7 through various music-streaming portals such as Joox, KKBox, Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music and also YouTube Music.
While the audio music is available for viewing exclusively on the official Yuna YouTube channel.