missed 420? greentea peng is the south londoner singing about lovers and weed
Drink her in.
“Everything that is green is good, except money,” Greentea Peng says of her name’s genesis. “Green tea is peng, peng is one of my most used words, green is my favourite colour. But one time in Peru I found the buffest green tea with the buffest packaging and it was called greentea seng,” she continues. “Swap the S for a P and there we have it.”
Peng -- for those living outside of the UK and/or the age bracket of 15-30, who’ve yet to adopt it into their common lexicon -- means hot. Hot, fit, good looking, tasty, the lot. Examples, as taken from Urban Dictionary: “1) He's peng. 2) Mmm this tastes peng.” Greentea Peng could be easily be third addition to the list. Weed leaves, snakes and lotus flower tattoos are scattered across her torso. Her hands, nose and ears drip in gold rings. She makes crochet look cool.
“We underestimate how important it is to have a creative outlet.”
Her earliest music memory is, quite reasonably, being terrified of The Prodigy’s Fire Starter. “There's actually a video of me at like 5 years old crying ‘cause it came on the radio,” she explains. “I don't know why but it actually still sends me under -- the video is mad!” We know why -- it’s a nightmarish black and white vision of wide-eyes and devil horns that should probably come with a R rating. Later, it was Sean Paul that defined her pre-teen years, his dancehall beats infiltrating the south London playgrounds she grew up in. “I was the only one who couldn't tick tock. I was pissed,” she says. “Still can’t dance now.” At 12 she moved to Hastings, was surrounded by “grungers” who -- as well as her stepdad Jim -- introduced her to a menu of new music: the Clash, Talking Heads, Beastie Boys, Sabbath.
Then she hit a speedbump, dealing with her problems through suppression and self-medication. “I was in a mad dark place. No confidence, no self belief, no prospects really.” So she moved Mexico, enticed by the soothing balm of nature, space and solitude. Six months in and she started singing again. “I realised that's where my healing was,” she explains. “We underestimate how important it is to have a creative outlet.”
We’re very grateful for Mexico’s medicinal properties, because it’s blessed us with Moonchild. It’s the first track from her upcoming EP, “all old songs about my ex and lovers and weeeed”. The debut’s a fitting amalgamation of her formative experiences, crossed with hints of the powerhouses she cites as inspirations -- Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Finley Quaye and Lily Allen. Her breathy voice drapes over warped synths, all lazy “la da das” and lyrics about how money fucks you up. It’s punctuated with rhythmic percussion, which has the same level of sonic satisfaction as cracking open a cold can on a hot day.
Videowise, it’s a glitchy snapshot of London life, all quick cuts of double deckers, chicken shops, offies, flashing neon, and Greentea proving she can indeed dance -- very well, actually. Clearly, Greentea Peng no longer needs to be in Mexico to be comfortable. Which is just as well, because some of her favourite green tea is found right here. “I love Lidls own brand,” she says, when asked about the number one brew. “But recently I was gifted this peng tea by this lady at one of my shows. It's called Yanagi Green, banging.” Obviously -- everything that’s green is.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.