Deria Matthews and María Mónica Andia are the creators of High Tea, a podcast on which they discuss everything from astrology to pop culture to heaux-ing, while high. But they’re not just a dynamic podcasting duo – they are lovers and best friends who have built a deep and trusting relationship as they’ve simultaneously built a following around High Tea. Their first live show is coming up on Wednesday, October 31st, so we were lucky enough to catch them and explore their relationship in work, love, and beyond.
How did High Tea come about?
MMA: This began with our friend Vanessa Newman, they posted something about two best friends smoking and having a conversation on a podcast and I was like, that’s us. It would take no work for us – that was the inception. That concept was fun and light-hearted, but we as individuals are on spiritual journeys and have gone through a lot and this podcast is an archiving of our journeys. We recorded the first episode a week after we found out we were partners, so it’s really been a platform to archive and talk openly and freely.
What role does weed play in your creative process?
DM: I think weed has been a way for us to initially connect. It’s a huge part of our relationship. I also think that it’s because we love coming together and talking about pop culture… like what is Beyonce or Cardi doing? And weed lets us take that conversation in another direction. And like how does Janelle Monae’s piece relate to us? We’re polyamorous, we’re figuring out a life partnership, astrology is important, and nothing is off limits. Weed helps with that.
MMA: I really agree with that. I think that we live in a time where weed growing up was worst thing in the world. But we believe in decriminalizing weed and we want to use High Tea as a platform to support prison abolition.
How does High Tea relate to your day-to-day life?
DM & MMA: We were both so accomplished in our field in the eyes of white supremacy and capitalism. But we got to a point where we felt unfulfilled and used. We choose High Tea, which was born out of that exodus. Its a reflection of our commitment to building a life driven by joy and pleasure.
What’s it like to be in a relationship and also be creative partners?
DM: It’s the best thing ever! Why haven’t we been working together this whole time? It goes so well.
MMA: Stepping into the depth of our relationship… I trust Deria with everything and because we have a deep bond, I trust us to resolve things in ways that are healthy for the both of us. There’s no reason to be mad because there’s no performing. And that’s also really freeing, to know that we can create work that is in line with what we want to do with the world, and it can also feel so easy.
DM: We should all work with people that we love. What scares people about working with people they love is the boundaries. Like this is work, we’re working through this… but this feels like a love project. We just want to have fun with this and we’re open to it growing as it needs to. People have these like benchmarks… we’re just super aligned in the openness of this project. It allows us to move together.
MMA: This podcast has also helped me to work through the way I see relationships and the reason I think so many people are scared to work with people they love is because they’re like what if the relationship ends. I don’t believe that my relationship with Deria is going to end just because of the way it has been built. I truly believe we are going to be in each others lives for this whole lifetime and I know that will look like many capacities. So maybe High Tea will come to a close at some point and something new will be born. And through High Tea, we actively see how our relationship will grow.
How did you meet?
MMA & DM: We met at NYU. We were in a class together called “The Constitution and People of Color” and we were in a group project. We actually came across an email from when we were in the group project and we found out that we’re both from Montgomery County. This was in 2011. We loved the class. We had this Asian woman professor and she was hilarious, but so badass and did not fuck around. Our NYU classes actually taught us how people constructed whiteness.
Out of all the creative mediums, why did you guys choose to make a podcast?
DM: I feel like we’ve been drawn to podcasts. They are just in our lives. MM has a podcast with another close friend and we just also wanted to start one. I think it’s the organic-ness… we don’t do a lot of writing for the show. It’s like we step into this space and whatever comes out of it we take.
MMA: When we responded to Vanessa’s call to action, we recorded and finished an episode with no edits. Because we are so comfortable with each other, I couldn’t do this with anyone else. I feel myself, like I’m not performing. And I trust myself to go into any space.
What is your creative process for High Tea?
MMA: The process has shifted since we started. We started off with Cardi and Beyonce and that was more structured, we are now just responding to things we’re thinking through in movement. If something is on our mind or our community’s mind we will talk about it. There was a time when cancel culture was everywhere in the Brooklyn QTPOC scene and so we did an episode about it with some planning. Since then we have just gone through so many different topics.
DM: Yeah – it’s a response to what’s happening outside of us and it’s about things we deeply care about. And how we see these things impacting our lives.
MMA: We haven’t explicitly said that this is an offering to our community but it is, and some of the feedback we have gotten from our community has had me in tears! Its so kind and generous. It has started a conversation and it is an unspoken offering. Someone sent us a message about canceling and abandonment… and we are very raw on the podcast and it has created a trust with people who may not have felt inclined to share that information before.
What advice would you give to someone trying to start a podcast?
MMA: I think I would tell people to really trust the vision and the intention. Like, if we had had this conversation 2-3 months ago and you said we were going to be having a live show – I wouldn’t have believed it. We didn’t plan on this but because we are moving out of love and intention the blessings are just coming. I consistently feel like the universe is smiling at us and at High Tea. Go from that place and it just feels so abundant.
DM: Trusting the vision and committing to it. We were just like, we’re doing this and we’re going to do it consistently – you know? So I guess consistency. We were putting out something every 2 weeks. We actually didn’t have an end date but this live episode presented that for us. Trusting allows for room, and commitment keeps it.
When things get frustrating or you run into any technical issues, how do you remember to move through love?
MMA: There’s something about documenting your views that helps you commit to them.. I’ve had an issue where I can get mad and be stuck in my anger for sometime, but the podcast has led me commit to the things we discuss like practicing accountability that doesn’t leave anyone behind. . I can’t just be out here still getting mad in the way I used to. This podcast, this public archive, and public testimony of how I want to be in the world is my own way of holding myself accountable.
DM: We have had hiccups and people not holding up their end of the bargain. Lots of hiccups are around communication and people just not communicating their capacities or like communicating one thing and doing another. Or even just thinking about technical shit – editing was so hard and learning my own capacities as someone who is editing the podcast it’s just like, I’ve never done this before. That has been really challenging but I’m growing through it. The biggest thing is we could get really stuck in the anger, but we both move on because we have to and we hold each other accountable as partners. If one person is still sitting in the anger the other person can write the emails and do the things that need to get done. It is helpful to have each other and hold space for anger to be released and then we gotta’ move on and go forward.
Who are your inspirations right now?
MMA & DM: Rihanna – Pisces queen! She practices the way we would like to exist in the world and we do through High Tea – glam, fun, and doing what we love. And the way she relates to women and femmes. She is goddess. So visual. We also draw from so many black women. We love black women rappers. BbyMutha… when she said “My children are my creation.” Like High Tea is our art, our creation. We’re also both youth workers and political education teachers for women of color, and don’t take that role lightly. Some of these high schoolers listen to that podcast and it’s so amazing to be adults in their lives.
What would you tell your younger self?
DM: Fuck the institutions. I am living in D.C. with my aunt right now and she wants me to help my cousin with his homework, and it’s almost like healing for me to be working with him and I can see him put all these pressures on himself to do these arbitrary things. I’m so glad we entered into this project because it allows my creativity to flow. I feel like when people hold you or you hold yourself to academic benchmarks in life, your creativity is stifled.
MMA: I think I would tell myself to commit to being less scared. I think I felt like the only option was to believe in institutions and find success within them. This meant that for my entire adolescence my biggest goal in life was to go to college as a means of proving my worth. Looking back, I think its sad that my dreams for myself could only imagine be being as old as 21. That’s the danger of institutions – they stifle your imagination. I would tell myself to really be fearless because institutions are what make us scared.
Tell us more about the live show!
MMA & DM: So, it was a beautiful summer day. We were going on a date to three Black-owned stores in Bed-Stuy. We started off at Rituals & Ceremony and we hit it off with the owner, Sarah. We were just chatting it up when she asked if we wanted to ever do a live episode in her store. The planning with her has been beautiful – she wants us in that space and she is giving us creative control. I don’t know much about planning live events but I’m like, is it always so joyous?It’s a Halloween Tea Party!. We want people to partake and be extravagant and feel royal.. We really love to dress up and be decadent and we want to give our community that opportunity. We can’t wait to see everyone in their beautiful gowns!
Learn more about High Tea‘s live show here.
Photos by Nikki “Snikka” Freyermuth.