Yuna should be exhausted, but the singer is all hot-pink lipstick and fits of giggles on Friday afternoon. We’re sitting in the lobby of the Standard Hotel lobby, where she’s currently staying on her press-heavy trip to New York. On the heels of Tuesday’s release of her buzzed-about self-titled album, it’s no wonder everyone wants a piece of the singer. But sitting comfortably on an over-sized couch, the Malaysian beauty is soft-spoken and entourage-free. Her flawless complexion glows (courtesy of Olay products and moisturizing, she shyly reveals) and we quickly bond (and Instagram) like BFFs over our matching outfits: leather jackets, black skinnies and Converse sneakers with a pop of pastel‚—mine, a vintage sweater, and hers, a patterned head-wrap, which has quickly become both her signature piece and a bad hair-day remedy. “I sometimes have bad head-wrap days though,” she admits with a quiet laugh.
In a Top 40 world mostly dominated by the aesthetically and sonically loud-and-proud mega pop star types, the anti-frills 25-year-old fits somewhere between the world’s most famous heartbroken-songstresses, Adele and Lana Del Rey—if, of course, their heartbreak was optimistic and they played the ukulele. “It’s like living a day in a fun pastel-colored world filled with macaroons and cupcakes!” Yuna says when asked about her sound. She cites a slew of ’90s singer-songwriter types like Fiona Apple and the Cardigans as influences, and her smokey pipes would cover the Cardigan’s “Lovefool” perfectly, but it was her cover of that other ’90s classic, Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” that turned her into a viral hit.
Yuna’s penchant for the ’90s was tamed by Pharrell Williams, who produced her eponymous album. “I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into, but he made me realize I was capable of making music that was different from what I was so used to doing,” she says. But no matter how far she strays from her singer songwriter roots, Yuna hopes her music continues to send the same message: “It’s important to me that whenever someone listens to my album to feel good about their self, and if they’re going through a rough time, that they will be more positive about things after listening to my music.” Click through to listen—we promise you will.