NYLON Nineteen

Yuna Almost Auditioned For ‘America’s Next Top Model’

And more revelations from the acclaimed Malaysian singer-songwriter.

A decade into her career, Yuna is still keeping busy. Over the past year in lockdown, the Malaysian singer-songwriter has kept her fanbase fed with a string of new songs released through her own label, Yuna’s Room. While her first 2020 release was the timely titled piano ballad “Stay Where You Are,” the singles have gradually bloomed in scope and sound, as she made herself comfortable in independent waters again for the first time since she was signed in 2011.

Circumstances now, however, are drastically different. With several albums in her pocket and collaborations with some of music’s top names like Usher, Pharrell, and Jhene Aiko, the singer — who’s also a bonafide superstar in her home country — is far from the twenty-something law student uploading her creations to Myspace. Instead, the musician is spending her days putting on massive livestream concerts in emptied out aquariums in her home country; and just in time for AAPI month, the star was invited to judge at The Lion Awards, the world’s first-ever awards show celebrating AAPI creators which took place this past weekend and drew over 1.6 million viewers.

Below, we caught up with Yuna as she took on the NYLON 19 and dished about why she doesn’t believe in astrology, her first No Doubt concert, and why she might’ve been on America’s Next Top Model in another lifetime.


What’s your astrological sign (and do you believe in it)?

I don't believe in horoscopes or predicting the future or anything like that, but it's kinda fun to know the personality trait stuff... they were right about never crossing a Scorpio! We don't forgive and forget, and we'd be out here plotting ways to get even.


Do you believe in ghosts, (and have you ever seen one)?

I do believe there are other beings that exist beyond our comprehension. I've never seen one but I think I've heard one... it doesn't make it less scary!


What’s your go-to drink order? (And if it's boozy, what’s your go-to hangover cure?)

I don't drink, so San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa. That's my jam!


Who would be the three headliners of the music festival of your dreams?

They'd have to be the best performers. I'd pay to watch Beyoncé, Tame Impala, and Rosalía.


What's the weirdest snack that you make?

I don't know if this is weird enough. I love Cocoa Puffs, just on their own. That's my snack when I'm watching TV. It's probably so bad for you!


What's a bad habit of yours that you've been meaning to fix?

When I get anxious I scratch my thumbs. It's not pretty when I'm stressed out about work!


What was the last internet rabbit hole you went down?

Middle Eastern history and politics, and cat videos, of course.


Describe your worst date in three words.

Self-absorbed. Dull. Rude.


What was the last DM you received?

My best friend responded to me sending her a pic of her potential husband candidate, saying, “Not my type.”


If you could be in any music video, what would it be?

Easy! “Song 2” by Blur.


What was your first concert, and what are your memories of it?

No Doubt in Kuala Lumpur! I was 13, my best friend at the time and I squeezed our way to the front of the stage. I still couldn't believe it that I was so close to Gwen. It was the best.


What was your favorite movie as a kid?

I was obsessed with Free Willy.


What's your favorite meme/internet joke and why?

The shouting cat meme. That meme can just make my day instantly no matter what people put on it.


What is your favorite red carpet look of all time worn by someone else?

Zendaya's hot pink Tom Ford Critics Choice awards look.


What is one thing everyone should buy that is under $10?

Chocolates. Always. For someone else.


What is your go-to sad song?

Jeff Buckley's "Everybody Here Wants You."


What reality show would you most like to appear on?

I have no idea. I always thought I'd maybe audition for America’s Next Top Model and be one of the quiet, shy models who'd get voted out because of “personality,” when really they were just staying outta fights!


What is your best beauty tip or trick?

Apply eyeliner with your eyes open. This way you can determine if you want a thin or a thick line.


What is your coffee order?

Iced latte, all day everyday!