Greentea Peng – Dingaling

28th May 2021 · 2020s, 2021, Music

Aria Wells, aka Greentea Peng, blends blues and soul, jazz and reggae and much more into a lazy, hazy sound that’s all her own – a hybrid that’s quintessentially London.

At first I was put off by Greentea Peng, the stage name adopted by Aria Wells. I thought it was just a bit too contrived, a bit too arch and hipster; but I hadn’t heard her music, which first caught my ear (and eye) with the video for Revolution, shot in Ridley Road Market.

I love the way she’s taken well-worn styles such as soul, blues, jazz, reggae and trip hop and woven them into a hazy, trippy, smoky sound that’s all her own despite the familiarity of its component parts. I love her body art too, and her whole general look, blending genres in the same way as her music – part hippy chick, part fly girl, part bashment queen, part soul diva.

She and her music are a mix’n’mash of multifarious multiracial influences that you get growing up in South London and the South Coast, with an Arab father and an African mother and a stepfather into Iron Maiden and The Clash, then spending time in Mexico running a yoga retreat.

I guess that’s my definition of being British in 2021; in my eyes she’s the quintessential Londoner – a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and lots of little bits of everything else, absorbing all the sights, the sounds, the smells and all the other experiences that you come across and pick up in your daily life.

She’s been putting out music since her debut EP Sensi in 2018, and the aptly titled Rising the following year, and a dozen more tunes since then. She was picked as one to watch by the BBC and The Observer before all this pandemic malarkey, and performed Hu Man on Later With Jools at the end of last year. Now BBC 6Music is all over her current single Kali, and her debut album comes out this summer. This is her latest choon.