Embracing the duality of her R&B and Latin pop styles, much in the spirit of her recent album's title, Luna en Geminis (Moon in Gemini), Venezuelan-born musician Manu Manzo has artfully refined her ethereal and multifaceted musical style. Now, she's ready to take the stage as she embarks on her inaugural tour, which kicks off at the Faena Theater on Wednesday, September 27.
Bathed in the vibrant world of show business from the beginning, Manzo's upbringing was a masterclass in embracing creativity. Born to parents deeply entrenched in equally artistic industries — her mother, a working actress, and her father, a seasoned TV director — a young Manzo eagerly absorbed every available influence within reach.
"My earliest memory of falling in love with music was when I was probably 4 years old," Manu tells New Times. "I remember my parents having people over, playing music, and my dad, who was a big rock fan, would play his jams. I would listen to Pink Floyd, Crosby, Stills & Nash — just all of the classics."
As a child who frequently moved across countries with her family, from Venezuela to Spain to Mexico and ultimately to the U.S., Manzo quickly embraced various cultures — and accents, she adds. Also of Lebanese descent, Manzo openly discusses being intrigued by Arabic melodies and their similarities to the many Latin cultures she's encountered. This ability to adapt to different cultures at a young age left an indelible mark on her, quickly igniting a love of genres from flamenco to jazz to salsa and everything in between.
"Living in all these different places expanded my musical palate a lot since I was able to submerge myself into cultures that are not my own more easily than I would as an adult," Manzo says. "I'm a huge fan of cultures. I love to travel, and I think that also comes from me just moving around and being able to adapt. So that's a huge influence on my music because it's all part of me. Maybe it won't be so on the nose, and people might not even notice it, but I am very specific about bringing those little parts into my music."
Luna en Geminis is a harmonious melting pot of those sounds with which she quickly fell in love. "Saca la Camara" is one of the tracks that emerges as a fusion of tranquil Latin beats mixed with a subtle violin riff akin to the Arabic music Manzo grew up with and admired. Other songs on the album's roster, like "Pegaito," made in collaboration with Dominican artists Maffio and Calacote, more boldly represent the Caribbean sounds of reggaeton with which Manzo effortlessly conquers.
When searching for a name that would embody the power of her body of work, Manzo reflected on her personal journey with light and darkness, more specifically, a period of sharp transition she faced over the pandemic era.
"I was going through a really transformative time in my life where many bad things happened to me at once during COVID," Manzo explains. "I lost my grandmother, my boyfriend cheated on me, and I lost my record label all during that time. It was like my first big-girl loss."
An avid astrology follower, she settled on Luna en Geminis after years of piecing together her musical journey, admitting she felt it was the only way to truly capture the duality of her personality and life experiences in her music.
"My moon is in Gemini, so I have this duality already in me," Manzo says. "The moon guides emotions in the zodiac, and that energy has always been present in my life. I love to study and be serious, but I also love to go to the club and have a great time. That's how the duality represented itself, and I felt it was completely appropriate for this really special project."
Manzo now embarks on her first tour, kicking off in Miami Beach on September 27. Having finally come out of one of the harshest periods of her life on top, Manzo voices nothing but excitement for taking her album to the stage, relishing in the power of resilience in the darkest of times alongside new audiences.
"I love being on stage. It's my safe place and where I feel the most me and the most free," she says. "I can't wait to perform and show everyone this new face of Manu, and I just feel so blessed that I'm starting this journey with this album. Life requires a balance of good and bad for a journey, and that's exactly what Luna represents."
Manu Manzo. 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 27, at Faena Theater, 3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-655-5600; faena.com. Tickets cost $50 to $150 via exploretock.com.