SHE isn't your typical picture of an artiste - no airs and graces, no flamboyant jewellery and perhaps strange to some, she dons the tudung, off stage and on.
"I was wearing tudung before I started to make music, and I wear it still, it has become my comfort zone," says singer-songwriter Yunalis Zarai.
Calling herself a "simple person", this 22-year-old law student regularly dons jeans, T-shirts and hoodies.
"I'm a huge fan of vintage T-shirts and jackets, hoodies and jeans. I like one-of-a-kind scarves with bright colours, but I'm pretty normal when it comes to dressing up," says Yuna, who also plays the piano.
"I started out writing songs when I was 19, because I just started to learn to play the guitar then," explains the 22-year-old Subang Jaya native. "When I was getting better at it, I recorded my own songs on my laptop, and a friend convinced me to play at his gig around two years ago."
The friend even had her name printed on the flyers before she even fully agreed to play, but from the look of it, it all turned out all right in the end.
To keep her studies as her main priority, Yuna usually only performs at gigs on weekends and holidays.
"I turn down gigs if they are the same time with my exams or assignment submission," says Yuna.
On stage she appears completely at ease, interacting with the audience as she would a casual friend, laughing and cracking light jokes before she breaks into song.
Strumming away at her guitar, she smiles slightly throughout her performances, changing up her voice as she goes along.
The law student writes songs in English, but has attempted at writing a few songs in Bahasa Malaysia. She admits that her ability in writing Bahasa Malaysia lyrics will take a while to improve, but she's trying.
"My music is a mixture of what I grew up with, the people around me and the music they play. There''s folk rock, acoustic and alternative elements, thanks to listening to a mixture of The Cardigans, No Doubt, Garbage, Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos and other 90s bands," explains Yuna, who says her current ultimate influence is Feist.
All songwriters have their regular places of inspiration - and Yuna's is her car.
"While I'm driving and staring vacantly into space is when I'm most likely to come up with a new song. It's a subconscious thing, I never really write them on paper the second I get a line or a melody," she says.
"It just plays in my head over and over again, and when I start holding my guitar everything naturally comes out, the lyrics and the melodies."
Yuna has already performed at numerous venues - the Moonshine acoustic event at The Apartment KLCC, Layar Tanchap in Shah Alam, No Black Tie, the Annexe Central Market and at university/college events.
Yuna's music career has only spanned two short years and her music has that fresh, enthusiastic sound about it and she is all geared up for more.
"It's such a fun thing to do, being able to make music that you like, and when people like it, nothing else matters, not getting airplays, getting signed, being on TV. The only thing that matters is that people appreciate your work," she says.
Survival in the music industry is another thing as many artistes emerge from nowhere and disappear just as quickly, but to Yuna if your love for music is real and the artiste believes in what they're doing, survival shouldn't be a problem.
"If you're talking in terms of income, that's a different story," she jests, but adds, "Making music on your own, that's a commendable quality. Because it's a personalised style of music, it's not tainted by people's demands. I hope that this will continue based on the love for music, and not just for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon."
For the fans, there's good news - Yuna plans to begin recording an album next month, so watch her page for updates.
To listen to some of her songs, visit www.myspace.com/yunaroomrecords, or search for her live performances on YouTube.
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*Her songs now are in my favourite list...
"The Best is yet to be"