At the end of February, DJ, producer, professional astrologer and more Manuka Honey released her latest and second full-length EP, 3Eternities Beneath You. Speaking on the EP, the artist in her own words described it as “a conjuring for the club and sonic ritual that revolves around yearning, sex, and moments of the infinite which occur through a suspension of time.”
3Eternities Beneath You is Manuka Honey’s most confident sound to date. Refusing to pander to the Internet’s rapidly changing trend cycle, Manuka Honey’s EP brings something distinct and fresh. Manuka Honey infuses her music with the vibrant energy of Latin-American and Caribbean dance beats, making those sounds entirely her own. The EP carries the rhythmic pulse of the hypnotic rhythms of warped reggaeton, instantly drawing in listeners. Album opener Sinners Dirge sets the tone for the album with its low, slow, and sultry vibe. Collaborations stand out on this album, with synths from Safety Trance marrying the warped-reggaeton track I Like it, alongside vocals of Grammy award-winning vocalist La Favi, to collaborating with DJ Florentino on the relentless track Miniskirt.
Manuka Honey, or Marissa Malik as she is also called, is known for her spirited, passionate performances that have to be experienced in person. Following her successful European tour, Manuka Honey has announced dates across Europe and the US through April and May; she is definitely one to watch live if you can. Malik developed Desenterrada del fuego for her live shows; a sonic ritual in collaboration with Safety Trance that invokes the work of Palestinian-American academic Edward Said, decolonising the art of divination with lectures, soundscapes and tarot readings. With METAL, Manuka Honey talks all about her album and preparing for her tour.
As a DJ, producer, astrologer and otherwise multi-disciplinary artist, do you feel all your different projects inform one another in some way?
Yes, because I’m the common denominator. It’s all very inherent. I suppose there are moments, for example, where certain planetary transits impact my making process. I can never sleep on the full moon, so a late-night studio session often makes the most sense. When it’s Mercury Retrograde, I’m more likely to re-open a discarded project file and attempt to salvage it rather than start something fresh. But on the wholescale, it all weaves together without me having to give it much thought a lot of the time. The thing about astrology is that it’s like the weather; it’s constantly happening around us whether we like it or not, and we can always retrospectively look at what imprint that had on us even if in the moment we felt above it.
Also, the way I grew up culturally already showed me that so many truths can exist at once, harmoniously and with ease, despite the projections of those around me. So of course, the composite products of what I make (art and music) are enmeshed with pieces of what I love, hate, or feel any passion towards. I believe most artists have a personal semiotic language that develops throughout their lives. Like of course we do, our minds are so porous and when we experience, grow or learn it’s impossible not to carry that into your art. It’s just about whether one names it or not. Astrology and spirituality are both explicit and implicit aspects of mine, so they pour into my DJing and music making.
Your new EP 3Eternities Beneath You was released at the end of February, congratulations! How does it feel to have this out into the world now? Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the EP?
It’s all been a very surreal, amazing, and terrifying experience for me. A degree of relief arrived when it finally came out, too.
This is my second full-length EP, and I put so much of my heart and soul into it. With dance music, it’s fairly easy to see what sounds are trendy and likely to go viral on TikTok or otherwise, then work towards pandering towards that. On this record, I wanted to make something that embodied my sound in its authentic, raw, purity that bucked or ignored the algorithm. I wanted to create music that preserved the continuity in my practice and dissolved the boundaries of time. I’m so happy with 3E from this standpoint; I truly feel I accomplished this. It resonating with my audience is just icing on the cake.
Your music features lots of different sounds from all across the world, especially of course from Latin American and Caribbean dance music, to create this beautiful hybrid sound. Could you share a little behind your creative process and working these sounds together?
I often start with an instrument and a feeling. A singular sound, and a way of moving that I want to work around. Whether it’s a slow hip movement or a sexual gyration; I merge that desired movement with a rhythm and a sound. Sometimes that movement is a slow, sorrowful walk, and sometimes it’s a moment of melting into someone else.
My sonic palette is very informed by my heritage and history hearing sounds from across Latin America in my family home (anything from reggaeton to cumbias) and my love of UK bass music (dubstep, garage, grime) which I discovered as a teenager. From the latter genres, I dug into bashment and dancehall and researched reggaeton’s origins from the dembow beat. Realising the familial relationship between reggaeton and dancehall changed the game for me and became two distillation points of genres that influence my making process.
Leading track I Like it with Safety Trance’s amazing synths and of course Grammy award-winning vocals from La Favi feels like a perfect meeting of minds. How did this track come about?
Originally, Favi showed me the vocals with a different instrumental. When we were on FaceTime one day. I asked her if I could work on another idea for them, and soon enough we had a soulful club ballad in the works. After showing my iteration of the track to Florentino, he chimed in with what turned out to be the perfect suggestion - adding another member of the Club Romantico family to the track - Safety Trance! The rest is history.
These aren’t the only collaborations on this EP, working alongside Florentino as well. How do you approach collaboration with other artists?
Most of the time it comes from a very simple and pure place - I love their music. The music we make exposes a part of our personalities and mind. It can tell you so much about who that person is. Maybe I’m delulu, but I feel like when I hear people’s music sometimes I can tell whether we’ll get along? Regardless of if we do or don’t gel, collaboration has the most exciting potential to birth something you never imagined could exist. Florentino is a close friend as well as a collaborator, so there’s already an existing degree of comfort and ease when we work together that we harness to our benefit.
You've described this EP as a "sonic ritual" revolving around yearning, sex, and moments of the infinite. How do you approach incorporating these themes into your music?
Music allows us to suspend time, and so does sex. The way we conceive of time in the west is also such a farce; in indigenous Peruvian societies (and many others) time is circular and we are so much more connected to our ancestors via this format. We know this as Aymara time. It warps life into a totally new framework: an innovation and a homage. This record is really about me meditating on suspending time, the eternal, sex, and how we create this in the club. Through stretched and warped synths with grating edges, deep bass, and swirling percussion that pans through your ears I convey these feelings.
Ahead of live performances, do you find you have any pre-set rituals to get you in the right mindset to perform?
Salt baths. I swear by them! Such an important limpia or cleaning ritual to keep my energy fresh and wash away any evil eye on me.
I want to ask about one of your most poignant live performances; could you tell us more about performing Desenterrada del fuego?
Desenterrada del Fuego is an evolving live piece that I began in 2019. Its form merges soundscape with sonic lecture and ritual. It involves me doing anything from fire magic, to tarot readings, to reading from my research notes. I ask the audience to sit on the floor if possible and allow themselves to enter a meditative state if they are able. Each time it's performed, I collaborate with a different artist(s) of Latin American heritage to create something that responds to current astrological events. The piece has seen the walls of Gasworks Gallery in London (2019), Wysing Art Centre (2021) Athens Biennale (2021) and, in its most recent iteration, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA 2023).
With Desenterrada del fuego, you perform tarot live and reference Edward Said. How do you see your own work and this project in particular contributing to larger conversations on decolonisation and divination?
There are so many links and intersections that we as artists or researchers don’t tap into because they’re taboo or seen as so separate. I think it’s our jobs as innovators to connect the dots to develop anticolonial narratives.
In astrology, there’s a phenomenon where a planet is said to be in exile depending on which sign it’s transiting through. When a planet is in exile it means that the nature of the planet is at extreme odds with the energy of the sign it’s in. For example, Mars, which is a hot and dry planet, is at odds with the water sign Cancer and thus struggles to perform its planetary influence as well as it would if it was, by contrast, in its home sign of Aries. Ancient astrologers correlated these times of exile in somewhat apocalyptic ways and developed this rhetoric around the planets in reference to the Roman state.
As we know, Said is one of the world’s most famous anticolonial scholars who wrote on exile. In Desenterrada I use Said’s theoretical framework to reframe exile as one of the most powerful and generative places a planet can be and dispel the colonial notion that those who have been uprooted are inherently punished and relegated to weakness. I discuss planetary friction as a necessary tool in revolution and cite that when these placements occur in the natal chart of a person, that they are often able to see the world for the flawed place that it is more easily.
What's next for you? Are there any upcoming projects, collaborations, or performances that you're excited about sharing with your audience?
I’m really excited about the collaborations I’m working on right now, the sounds I’m conjuring for my next record, returning to East Asia for my second ever tour there, and flipping looks wherever I go!