Greentea Peng Talks Her Forthcoming Album ‘Man Made’, Her Journey & More
26 Apr 2021
Hailing from South-East London, Greentea Peng is an acclaimed songstress who’s music blurs the lines between psychedelic R&B, Soul, Dub and Ragga; creating the ultimate genre-less and fluid sound that has seen her accumulate an impressive fan-base over the years. Harnessed with her signature butter-like vocals, which have been previously referenced to the likes of Erykah Badu and Sade, Greentea Peng’s fearless attitude and powerful stance have caught the eyes of many across the globe.
Growing up in a musical household, it was inevitable that her roots would align with her undisputed creativity, however it wasn’t until the London native started travelling that she reconnected with her love for singing after taking a few years off. Carrying a slew of boast-worthy tracks behind her including “Downers”, “Mr Sun” or even “Hu Man”, Greentea peng recently took to social media to announce her forthcoming and highly awaited debut album named ‘Man Made’.
Mixtape Madness got the chance to catch up with Greentea Peng over Zoom for a chat about her forthcoming album ‘Man Made’, the process behind it, her journey thus far and more. Be sure to tap in below to see what she had to say!
How have the past 12 months treated you as an artist. Have you found it challenging at all?
Very intense. Very challenging mentally, spiritually, and physically. It’s been thought provoking, but on the other hand it’s been a great opportunity to create, take some time to think about what I’m doing here on the planet; it’s like swings and roundabouts.
Have you been making music throughout it all?
Oh yeah! As soon as we got locked down, I have been writing bare. All the singles last year like “Hu Man” and “Revolution” were written as soon as lockdown hit and pretty much the whole album too.
Having has so much time to reflect, do you think it’s shaped your music in any way?
100%! It’s definitely influenced the music and like I said earlier it’s given me more time to create. I never would have had the time to make an album if lockdown hadn’t of opened. It’s given me a lot of reinforced perspectives and shifts inside that have influenced my music.
Let take it back to the beginning for a second, tell us a bit more about your upbringing and how music paved a way into your life.
I guess I was bought up musically. My Dad was an actor and enjoyed theaters and musicals, I was always encouraged to sing and act from a young age. I have always sung since when I was a kid, but I’ve also done theater, dance and acting until I was about 14/15, I was performing at all the school stuff and at local festivals – I was about! I started writing my own music, but I fell out of love with it and stopped. I forgot about it until I was around 21/22 and realised,“Oh shit, probably shouldn’t have stopped singing!” but everything happens for a reason. It’s always been a presence in my life, but yeah I did have a break from it.
I know you lived in Mexico for a period of time and that’s where I believe you reconnected with music. What was it like living there?
Brilliant! I loved it. My heart is there. It’s my favourite place; I’ve always loved to travel, and it was always on my list after travelling around other countries and meeting other people. It was a culture shock; it gave me the space and the time to process a lot of the past years. The result of that was me coming to the conclusion that I need to start singing again. That’s where it all happened. It’s nice because it’s so different to London, I was staying in a small town and everyone loved music. I was in bands everyday and started singing again. There was a lot less egos and you didn’t have to worry so much; people are there on holiday and enjoying their time, so you are performing to people who are already gassed, it was a really nice place to build up my confidence and stage presence. London is like dog eat dog and everyone looks at you on the stage funny! *laughs*
That’s where I learnt in London as well. I didn’t grow up there, but you really have to fend for yourself, it’s for thick-skinned people.
You have to! It’s a mad place. That is what an extreme capitalist society does, everyone is worried about their survival, succeeding and it can translate into the art too. Especially if you go from having no confidence to being on stage.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming album ‘Man Made’ which I know so many of us have been looking forward to! Before we talk about the tracks, it would be great if you could tell us a bit more about the meaning behind the title of it…
Yeah for the title of the album I thought it was relevant and suitable because of the situation we are in. As a species, we are in a very man-made situation; the album is a product of Babylon and living in the light that Babylon forces you to seek out. It’s a product of man and an accumulation of reactions to man-made scenarios, I thought it was pretty suitable.
Your sound throughout the album weaves various genres into one – and ultimately creates this genre-less yet fluid sound which you mentioned in the manifesto! How did you want to approach this album soncially?
I knew I wanted it to be a natural evolution from the two EP’s, but I wanted it to be way more experimental and trippy because that was the state of mind that I was in. Entering it, I wanted to alter my state of reality and consciousness, so that was an intention from the beginning. It’s the first project we’ve made from the beginning with the band, so I knew that was going to add way more depth to it.
I wanted it to be different than anything that is getting released now, I didn’t want it to fit into anything directly. I didn’t want people to think this is a Neo-Soul or R&B album, it’s a reflection of my personality; I am all over the shop and inspired by everything, every day I am in a different mood and I listen to different music. I wanted to experiment with the 432 frequencies and manipulate them. I took the band away to my mates’ yard in the middle of the woods and set it up as a studio for a month and a half, we took bare mushrooms, played every day, and delved into the music – the mushrooms helped us take it to the next level too. *laughs*
Do you think that if you had made the album in a different circumstance, i.e., you made it in a studio and didn’t go to the woods, that it would have come out differently?
100%! It gave us the freedom to do what I wanted it to do which is how I would picture Jimmy Hendrix or The Beatles back in the day when they made their albums. It’s completely immersing yourself into the music, we were playing all night; it’s not like we went home and came back to the studio the next day. Because of the all the sh*t that happened in the year, I have funny mental health anyway, I am very extreme, and I needed to get out of the city. Then, my stepdad died, bare sh*t just kicked off and it was an immense time, so we needed an immense setting!
You aren’t one to shy away from exploring important topics and issues – was there a message or concept that you really wanted to get across with this project?
There were moments where it became extremely political and personal for me, some of it was about me reconnecting with God, my deliberation and battling with the two sides between materialism and spiritualism and being this juxtaposition. It explores so many different themes! When I finished it and looked at it all together, I didn’t want it to do anything, it’s just a set of expressions. It’s social commentary at best, I’m not after any resolutions or answers I am just expressing myself; if a biproduct of that is me allowing people to connect with a deeper part of themselves, switching up the frequency was a part of that. I wanted to bring people into their spirits. It doesn’t necessarily have a certain message, but it has a certain tone, meaning and resonance.
Another thing you mentioned in the manifesto that caught my eye was when you said “Out of tune with the industry and in tune with the universe” – How do you find balancing both the industry life and staying grounded?
It’s f*cking hard to be honest! *laughs* What I have to do is switch up my environment, I am out of the city in the countryside and surrounded by trees because that’s what I need as a part of the exchange to being in the city half of the time. To translate experiences, what I am seeing and feeling; it is hard because I’m not the type of person who wants to have Instagram or have a camera in my face. I am trying to come out of image-based sh*t. I have been working the past few years to try and dissolve my ego, or at least try and come to some sort of terms with it. As a kid growing up, I was very into that and now my career involves that, in this day and age I can’t delete the gram! It would be mad! I can’t not do photoshoots; people want to see me. It is a constant battle of trying to find that equilibrium of the two sides and not getting too swallowed up into the material side of things too much. You have to keep reminding yourself that you are an eternal being and it’s just a human experience and none of it matters. It’s become all about numbers and music is anything but that, music is the opposite of that.
Putting the music aside, what do you like to do for fun or wind down?
I like to go for a nice walk in the countryside. I like to be in nature, but at the same time I love to party! I love to smoke weed, that’s my number one thing I do and have done for years to chill out – I just bun a zoot preferably in nature! *laughs*
Obviously we have the album coming! Is there anything else we can expect to see from you this year?
To be honest, it’s a pretty big project so there will definitely be a few more singles and there are a couple of features lined up. Other than that, my creativity isn’t non-stop it comes in waves so I will probably just live my life and experience sh*t that I can translate back into it. Unless there are shows, I have got my tour planned for the winter so hopefully that goes through!