Words by:
Photography: Jade Ang Jackman

In astrology, a Saturn return signals the crossing of a major threshold and the start of a new stage of life. For many, it can be a brutal period of change – as Marissa Malik knows all too well.

“Saturn is a malefic planet,” says the artist (and practising astrologist) better known as Manuka Honey. “Since my return started [last year], things have just been so hardcore.”

2023 was arguably Malik’s busiest year yet: on top of touring Asia, Europe and the U.S., and releasing her sensual yet turbulent, dembow-fuelled second EP, Machete, she also went through a transformative period in her life. Though she’s grateful for the career progression, she ended up feeling burnt out and disconnected from her own sound. “The neoliberal shitstorm causes you to live and breathe and work all at once,” she groans into her screen, wrapped up in a hoodie.

Writing her new EP, 3Eternities Beneath You, then, was a much-needed act of meditation amid the chaos, and an opportunity to reconnect with herself, Malik explains. Her main influences were sexuality and Aymaran and non-linear time concepts, which she deftly channels in the disorientating, spaced-out opener Sinner’s Dirge. “You can definitely tell I used to listen to a lot of dubstep and doom metal, can’t you?” she smirks.

The project was released via Florentino’s Club Romantico imprint on 29 February, a date loaded with significance for Malik. Not only Pisces season – her season – beginning, it’s also a leap year. “If there’s so much exploration and implicit subtext about the absurdity of time and different concepts of it, what better time to release it than on a day when the Gregorian calendar fucks itself every four years?” she laughs.

Malik started DJing in 2018 after moving to London and finding a dearth of the Latin-inspired club sounds she had grown up with on the U.S. east coast. “I really poignantly missed it,” she says, sincerely. “I was like, ‘What the fuck, no one plays reggaeton here!’” She would start sets with “bait” reggaeton edits of Usher and Missy Elliot tracks to draw the crowd in, before “going weird on them”. Since then, Malik has established herself with her sexy and stormy selections from the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora and beyond, spanning guaracha, dancehall and shatta. She took up production the following year, in 2019, after sharing a bill with Air Max ‘97; they struck a deal that he’d give her an ongoing course in Ableton in exchange for astrology readings.

Mysticism and spirituality have always played an important role in Malik’s life and, in turn, her music. She’s also fascinated by the occult, and sees clubbing as “sacred conjuring” – an opportunity to entrance the audience through hypnotic tracks and long, calculated blends. Built around steely, syncopated percussion and murky sound design, her productions embrace the same spirit. “I think of it like a witch mixing a cauldron,” she says, gesturing with her hands. “The performance is all part of it. I love looking up and seeing something deranged happen.”

Go to any Manuka Honey show and you’ll see that instigating carnal energy is a big part of her performance; it’s not uncommon to find her climbing up on the decks, Pleaser heels in tow, to entice the crowd into dancing harder. “It’s a feeling that I wanna evoke,” she says, eyes widening. “And how ironic that I do it within the medium of little bits of metal [sounds] that can never feel horny!”

Though her rowdy sets and mischievous persona are well documented, she’s ready to be taken seriously as a producer. “ I’m a party girl, but that doesn’t define me, you know? I feel like a lot of people [have] focused on me as a personality, rather than on my artistry,” she says, before grinning knowingly. “But that will change after this record. Just watch.”

Sounds like: Menacing, dembow-flushed industrial electronics
Soundtrack for: Dropping it low under the full moon
File next to: Tayhana, Safety Trance
Our favourite song: Te Aviso
Where to find them: @mariimals

3Eternities Beneath You is out now via Club Romantico