The London singer’s debut EP will warm you through the winter.
It’s not often an artist’s name serves as a direct representation of their sound, but in Greentea Peng’s case, it’s right on the money.
With her lo-fi, honeyed production and her beautifully raspy vocals, the south London musician’s songs are themselves a sort of warming herbal remedy, rolling through your headphones in a way that really can only be described as ‘peng’.
It’s not just about tea, though, the ‘green’ just as easily applied to the singer’s earthly, nature-driven personality as to her music. She is achingly cool, but in an effortless, meditative way that is only available to real stoners, this another explanation for her favoured choice of colour. However, Greentea’s first EP, Sensi, is more than a soundtrack to your Sunday night smoke-up, though it would certainly suffice.
The record’s moody, cloudy atmosphere pitches it firmly in the depths of London, but its DIY, scrap-book-style production acts as a counterpoint, resulting in an eclectic and unique sounding group of songs. At times emotional, always chilled, Greentea Peng’s debut is one you will remember, inevitably seeping into your playlist until it’s as regular a fixture in your life as your daily cuppa.
We chatted to the singer about the EP, her musical inspirations, and how London, among other places, has influenced her sound.
Tell us a about the name Greentea Peng.
I don’t really take it too seriously…Green Tea’s my favourite tea, and it’s peng. Green’s my favourite colour, so that’s literally it!
I was going to ask you what your favourite tea was…
Do you know what, it is green tea, but I also make a lot of my own ginger and turmeric tea. I’ll make a big pot of fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, black pepper, and let it brew for days. Spicy tea, with good honey.
Have you always known you wanted to go into music?
No. I’ve always sung, but my relationship with music changed when I was about 15: I completely fell off it, and lost connection with music. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I started singing again and realised – ‘yeah, this is something I want to do.’
What made you fall out of love with music?
I went through a pretty dark time in my mind, and became really disconnected. I came out of alignment with purpose and the meaning of everything, and just didn’t really see the point in anything for a long time. I think you can’t help but get emotional when you’re doing music, because that’s all it is, it’s emotion, it’s truth, so I wasn’t ready for that for a long time. It was only when I began to be ready to start feeling things again that I could start singing.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Lauryn Hill, the Fugees, Finley Quaye, people like that. Lots of Reggae, all different types really.
Did these people inspire you musically?
Yeah. I guess I’ve taken a bit from everyone, but Lauren Hill was just like… The Score was my first album, and then The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill after that. So yeah – I’ve always had good music around me.
You’ve just released your first EP – Sensi – can you tell us a little about it’s sound?
It’s quite a London sound, but it’s also quite stoner and distorted. Although the beats seem quite familiar, there’s something strange about them as well. Proper lo-fi, I’m a lo-fi person to be honest, I don’t do anything in HD.
Has London helped shaped your sound, or inspired you creatively?
Yeah, a hundred percent. The moodiness of London has for sure, but I’ve also lived in a lot of places. I’m from London but I’ve lived in Hastings, I’ve lived in Mexico, so I think everywhere I’ve lived through the different stages of my life has kind of influenced my music. I also think that the music I make now isn’t necessarily going to sound like the music I’m gonna make next year, so it’s forever growing and changing.
Your video for ‘Moonchild’ is a dreamy, collage-ey homage to the city. How much creative input do you have with the visual side of your music?
If I’m honest, I’m not a visual person. I like sound and I like words, and my head doesn’t work in visualisation, so I struggle on the video part – I don’t really enjoy them, I don’t really enjoy cameras. But yeah, it was chilled; I got my mate round, we got high, I was like ‘fuck it, we’re gonna do it’. I didn’t wanna do it at all, but I thought we had to do a video, so yeah.
But you dance really well in it! Do you enjoy performing?
Do you reckon?! Oh my god…(laughs). I love performing. I love performing to people, not cameras, humans. I had an EP launch show last week at Pickle Factory, and that was sick, quite emotional actually, because it was a celebration of the EP. There was so much love in the room, good vibes, really chilled.
Who would your dream collaborator be?
Lauryn Hill would definitely be up there, not even to work with her, just to meet her, and chat to her, vibes with her. Her, or Erykah Badu, one hundred percent.
What’s next for Greentea Peng?
Mexico for now, for a month. I just want to carry on creating man, make as much music as possible. Self-exploration, there are so many sounds to explore. So yeah, finding my vibration I guess, and just excelling in that. I’ll hopefully play some festivals and that next year, which would be nice. It’s exciting!
Buy tickets to Greentea Peng’s final show of the year on Saturday 17th November here.