Simply put, Marie Naffah is the total superstar package. Between her rich vocals, clever lyrics, and commanding stage presence, it’s only a matter of time until she gets the attention and recognition she deserves! And if her latest double single is any indication, it won’t be too long.
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Marie wrote ‘Honey’ and ‘Air’ as the same song, but they took on two different lives after she performed the acoustic version now known as ‘Air’ during her 50 Gigs In 50 Days Tour last year. From there, she took the song(s) to two different producers to see how they’d capture the mood of each version. As a pair, ‘Honey’ and ‘Air’ show off Marie’s versatility as an artist, while separately, they become two separate atmospheres that highlight her ability to embody a certain feeling.
To bring ‘Honey’ and ‘Air’ to life even more, Marie set up a special page on her website that describes her vision for each song, the tracks that influenced their sounds, and the lyric that best summarizes each rendition. We love that she put so much thought into making ‘Honey’/‘Air’ such an immersive experience!
Now for the most exciting part… we got to ask Marie about ‘Honey,’ ‘Air,’ and more! We also got an exclusive acoustic performance of the track, so grab your headphones, press play, and read what she had to say about the double single.
We love both ‘Honey’ and the new, lighter ‘Air’ version! What inspired you to write the original song?
Ah, thank you so much! I’m so pleased you like them both! So, ‘Honey’ I suppose was the original song as that came first. I started writing it when I was an artist in residence in a 17th century mansion somewhere in the South of Spain. I had my own studio, spent a week with kindred spirits, ate amazing food, drank great wine, and (most importantly!) made music that came straight from my soul. For me, London’s chaos can sometimes get too noisy to think properly. Finding the space and peace to create is a real blessing. ‘Honey’ (and then ‘Air’) became a celebration of a quiet thing – that is, finding yourself in a better headspace.
You made ‘Air’ after performing an acoustic version of ‘Honey’ that completely switched the vibe of the song. At what point did you realize that it was more than just an acoustic version of ‘Honey’ and that it should be its own track?
‘Air’ took on its own life after I played 50 gigs in 50 days travelling around the UK. I only had a guitar, so the big songs needed to hold up acoustically. I started messing around with arrangements and then found the chords to ‘Air.’ Lyrics have always been important to me, and I felt ‘Air’ gave my listeners the space and time to fully consider the words. It gave me the space and time to tell the story. The entire mood felt different, more contemplative. The choice to release them both together is a nod to the idea that we feel different emotions at different times. I wanted people to take their pick depending on which mood they were in. It was wonderful to be able to give people that element of choice from the start.
You shared a video of an early ‘Honey’/’Air’ demo on Twitter a few weeks ago. How long did it take to go from that demo to the finished songs?
I wrote ‘Honey’ back in May, and recorded both versions in late June whilst on the 50/50 tour. I purposefully worked on them with two different producers who I love working with – Simon Byrt (‘Honey’) and Tom Donovan (‘Air’). Neither of them had heard the other version. It was awesome to see what they came up with.
If any, what other songs would you consider to make an alternate version for?
I’d love to make alternative versions for all my songs. Especially the ones on my first EP, Golden State. To breathe new life into them gives me such a rush. For totally different reasons, I can fall in love with them all over again. I love that.
What particular lyric from ‘Honey’/’Air’ are you especially proud of?
I actually really like the line that I lifted the titles from which is: “I was wading through honey, but, honey, I’m drifting through air.” To me, it totally describes the physical and mental transition I felt moving from an anxious state to a peaceful one. Though it was something in my brain that was happening, I felt it all so physically. I felt lighter. That’s what I wanted this line to convey. And that’s what the artwork is all about!
To build on the atmospheres of ‘Honey’ and ‘Air,’ you made 20-song playlists that include songs and artists that influenced each track’s sound. If you could collab with one artist from each playlist, who would you choose?
Great question! And a hard one too! Fleetwood Mac and Bon Iver always get my vote. Tough though as I’d take ‘em all.
You also made a music video that’s split into two parts: a warmer-toned ‘Honey’ half and a cooler-toned ‘Air’ half. What was it like to make the video?
It was such a fun day! I was so lucky to work with some great people who really understood the concept and my values as an artist. We shot it through a fisheye lens in my bedroom in Dalston. It was me in my truest form – dancing around being a dork, then taking a nap. I love it when filmmakers can capture us artists being authentic. It’s tougher than it sounds.
You wrote ‘Honey’ while participating in an artist residence program in Barcelona, Spain. What are some lessons you learned on your trip that have stuck with you?
I learned so much on that trip. I was surrounded by the most stunning set of creators across all different mediums. I think the main thing I learned was how to be an Artist with a capital A. That is, be your own boss and stay true to your craft. Let the business and the rest come second.
While you’re based in London, you’ve found inspiration in places like Barcelona and California, which inspired your Golden State EP from April. Are there any other inspiring places that you’d like to visit?
I would absolutely love to go to Mexico. I have got to meet some amazing fans from there online, so it’s a dream to go and write and perform there. Fingers crossed!
What was it like to connect with fans on your 50 Gigs In 50 Days tour after a year of not being able to play shows?
The most moving, exhilarating and heartwarming thing I’ve probably ever done. I have the best fans.
We love how your voice manages to be fluttery and rich at the same time! Who were some of your influences when you were learning to sing?
Thank you so much! Well, I grew up with a huge mix of stuff mainly through my parents’ records — amazing female powerhouses like Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, and Etta James, but then also other amazing artists like Jackie Wilson, Eric Clapton, Dylan, Leonard Cohen… The Beatles. More recently, I have been compared to people like Florence Welch and Amy Winehouse, which I will take any day!
What can your fans look forward to going into 2022?
Definitely more music and the thrill that live music is coming back. More of it all! Stick around/Hop aboard!
Do you prefer ‘Honey’ or ‘Air?’ Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! For more exclusive interviews with your favorite and new favorite artists, click here.
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Featured Image Source: Cecilia Díaz Betz, edited by Afnan Acharki for THP