Bunga Isme on Becoming an Opener for Coldplay’s Concert in Kuala Lumpur

She’s going to Viva La Vida on the same stage as Chris Martin.
Photo: bungaisme/Instagram

It’s not every day we see a collaboration of this height. Malaysians have been battling it out for a ticket to see the British rock band in Kuala Lumpur—or in Singapore on any of the six days that Coldplay is there. For those incredibly lucky ones who managed to score the tickets, they’re going to see Bunga taking the stage as the opening act on 22 November 2023.

The sold-out show has been generating a tonne of buzz. Why isn’t Coldplay adding another date in Kuala Lumpur? Especially when Singapore is almost constantly adding more dates? And who is Bunga? After speaking with the artist herself, we can shed some light on that last one, and what it was like for her to hear the news.

Who is Bunga Isme?

If you’re honestly wondering who Bunga is, then you might have missed out on a hugely trending moment. It was the perfect recipe for going viral. For starters, she took part in a local rapping competition, 16 Baris. It was hosted by none other than local rap star Joe Flizzow, so it was already going to get some traction.

At that point, she already stood out as being the only female participant in the contest. However, what really sealed the deal for her is that she was wearing baju kurung, and that visual portrayal of a traditional Malaysian woman clashed with the genre she was engaging in, which often corresponds with uncouth language and immodest depictions. That video went on to pull over 3.7 million views.

That, coupled with the fact that Bunga chooses to wear the hijab, has garnered international headlines. Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and South China Morning Post took notice, as well as The Associated Press. Despite receiving flak from a portion of her local audience, Bunga is determined to not let that hold her back. In fact, she is quite proud of carrying the torch and being able to pave the way for future hijabi rappers.

Originating from Perak, her real name is Noor Ayu Fatini. In 2019, she has already signed with Warner Music Malaysia, where she released banger after banger. This includes a collaboration with local industry juggernaut, Nuraniza Idris. She has also seen multiple nominations at local music awards and has stood toe to toe with local legends such as Aina Abdul, Aubrey Suwito, and Marsha Milan. Bunga has also made appearances internationally, showcasing her talent and representing Malaysia. Working with Coldplay isn’t her first rodeo too, as she has partnered with international talents such as Ali Gatie and Pink Sweat$.

Bunga Isme on Opening for Coldplay

We’ve already painted a picture of a polarising artist at this point. When we approached the singer for the interview, we found that Bunga thought that she was being pranked. “It was surreal and unbelievable because I did know when my team sent my profile for their consideration. The first thing I realised was that I will be performing for a massive crowd, and it made me really nervous,” says the 23-year-old.

And fairly so, seeing that this is only her fourth year in the industry, and it’s going to take another prolific band to top this opportunity. Due to the magnitude of this news, Bunga has seen many skeptics and naysayers surfacing the platforms alongside her excited loyal supporters. Gracious as she is, the young star did not take it to heart. Instead, she sees it as a chance to prove herself on a greater scale. “I know there are people who will say that I don’t deserve it because I’m still new, or they don’t know me. But for me, I am going to let them know who I am, and what I can do,” she expresses.

When asked about a lesser-known fact about herself, she shares this: “I think not many people know that I can rap in Mandarin. I even have a song with Layla Sania where I do just that.” Bunga also finds that Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars” resonates deeply with her, and her favourite line in the song is “I don’t care, go on and tear me apart.”

“To me, the lyric reminds me that I can be whoever I want to be, no matter what people say or how hard the journey is going to be. At the end of the day, I still want to be myself.”

Read more: Meet the Malaysian Artist Who Helped Bring Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse to the Screen