Songstress Yuna Zarai's Hijab-Chic Style

In a time when music seems to be dominated by digital effects, over-the-top productions and even bigger personalities, it's nice to come across an artist who shines with the quiet glow of raw, unabridged talent. Yuna Zarai, a 24-year-old singer/songwriter from Malaysia is one such musician. Yuna's clear, earnest harmonies are bound to end up on your daily playlist (her single "Decorate," out on March 15, is the song to put on repeat when you're nursing a broken heart), and they're so good that she was recently snapped up by The Fader for their music label. It's not just her music we're craving, we're equally enchanted by her unique style. Being Muslim, Yuna wears the hijab, and we admire the way she's stylishly incorporated her headscarf into her modest yet experimental getups. Whether as a singer, guitarist, lyricist, blogger, or stylista (she owns her own boutique!),Yuna sure knows how to wear many hats (or shall we say scarves?) in her own inimitable way. We can't get enough of this girl (and we know you'll feel the same, too) so we tracked down the multi-hyphenated talent for a quick Q&A and photo sesh where she shows off more of her covetable style.
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First off, tell us about the new album out this week. How does it differ from your past work? What song do you have the strongest connection to and why?
"I'm very excited about the EP. It's a mixture of songs that I used to do back when I was in Malaysia like 5 years ago, and also the newer stuff that I started writing here when I was in the States that might be a little bit experimental. I guess this time it’s different because I have a mindset of putting out an American release EP that I've always wanted to do ever since I started writing. I also guess the energy in the music is different, just because I'm experiencing a lot of new things. I think the song I have the strongest connection with is “Decorate” because it was never meant to be recorded. But you know, we recorded it acoustic for fun, and it was probably a 50-50 kinda situation where it could work or not. But it ended up a really beautiful song, and “Decorate” is truly a brainchild so I love the song to death!"

Yuna wears a Dorothy Perkins top, Zara skinny jeans, Forever21 shoes, and an Urban Outfitters scarf.
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You're quite the busy bee—you maintain a Tumblr, a Lookbook page, and an e-boutique. How does each serve as a form of expression for you or what drives you to keep them all up?
"They're just something I do for fun. I started building my own website, like from scratch -HTML codings and all, since I was 13. I'm a tech geek. I love all gadgets. I'm always into graphic design, blogging, photography—and that’s how I got into music as well, I recorded stuff on my computer and uploaded them online, so I guess my real passion is actually technology. I’m with it 24 hours a day. That got me into all of these things."

Yuna wears a Forever 21 men's shirt and a Topshop shearling jacket.
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Who are your music and style heros?
"Fiona Apple, Nina Persson, Feist, Lykke Li. Style-wise it's Kate Lanphear!"

Yuna wears an American Apparel shirt, Zara belt, Casio watch, Forever 21 necklace, and a vintage scarf.
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What would be your dream collaboration (both music and fashion)?
"I would love to see what Thom Yorke, or Damon Albarn, or Aaron Marsh of Copeland can do with me! I grew up listening to them. I would also love to collaborate with this Japanese post-rock band Toe. I'm a huge fan. They make beautiful music. I want them to play on Decorate! As for fashion, I love Alexander Wang!!! I would loooove to collaborate with him."

Yuna wears a Zara hoodie, a Dorothy Perkins top, and a scarf she bought in London.
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Your style seems to be such an element of your self expression. Can you tell us a little bit out your dressing mojo?
"I used to play with a lot of bright colors before, and now I'm more into monotones, earth colors. I guess it’s a natural course of growing older. But I love basic stuff. I'm a bit of a tomboy, so I like my pants and men's shirts. Whenever I'm over in the States, I love going into American Apparel and get 10 plain-colored men’s shirts. But during my free time, I love going through European street style blogs and seeing what’s good. I love the fashion scene there. It's just so strange and beautiful. You can have a really strange get-up on and that’s okay, I love it. They're just clothes."

Yuna wears a scarf she bought in London, a Dorothy Perkins top, a Forever 21 necklace, and a Zara belt.
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What are your five style staples? The pieces you find yourself returning to again and again? Obviously the scarf is numero uno...
"The scarf! Yes! I'm also getting more and more into oxford shoes and brogues."

Yuna wears an oversized American Apparel sweater, a printed scarf from a vintage store in London, and an Urban Outfitters scarf.
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You're from Malaysia, how does your heritage inform your style? Do you dress differently when you're home to when you're in NYC?
"Maybe a little, nothing drastic. I probably indulge more in winter style here! I love the layers. We can't have layers and layers of clothes in Malaysia because it's too hot. I'll never wear anything revealing, I've been that way since I was a kid, and I was more prone to wearing long sleeves and long pants."

Yuna wears a vintage scarf from a vintage store in London and a Dorothy Perkins top.
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If your style were a song, what song would it be?
"L'amour Ne Dure Pas Toujours" by Feist."

Yuna wears a Dorothy Perkins top, Zara skinny jeans, Forever21 shoes, and an Urban Outfitters scarf.
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Favorite songs for:
A lazy day at home—"I’m Safer on an Airplane" by Copeland.
Getting ready to go out—"Jealous of Roses" by Bibio
A roadtrip —"Sedih" by Hujan
Karaoke duet—"Endless Love" by Mariah!!!

Yuna wears a jacket from a vintage store in London; Casio watch; and a scarf she got in London.
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Yuna wears a Topshop dress and an American Apparel oversized cardigan.
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