Meet Pengshui: the three underground pioneers mixing punk, metal and grime


Metal is no stranger to hip-hop. From Anthrax and Public Enemy bringing the noise in the mid-90s to Limp Bizkit's turbocharged party anthems, through to the likes of Issues and The One Hundred, there has been an ongoing affair between the two genres for decades. And it's not stopping yet.

Pengshui are the London-based three-piece of Illaman (vocals), Fatty (bassist) and Prav (drums), who have worked with some of the hottest names in hip-hop and bass music including Foreign Beggars, Flux Pavilion and Goldie, but grew up as fans of rock and metal. Now they're mixing these two worlds with screams and raps, with live bass and drums, in an intense mix of aggro vocals and a slamming rhythm section.

They're playing the Earache Records stage at Boomtown Fair on August 9-12 and are premiering their new live video for No Time below. We caught up with drummer Prav to find out what Pengshui are all about.

How would you describe the music you’re making?

"It's many things, but is one cohesive sound. We all grew up playing metal, and we all play hip-hop and dance music, we have got a great synergy between the different sounds. It's not one thing with a bit of another, like metal with a bit of grime or hip-hop, or the other way round. It's proper rowdy, very bass heavy grime/punk with proper raps, gnarly guitar, proper screaming, and drums that get the shit beaten out of them."

What is the meaning behind the new track No Time?

"No time to waste, no time for bullshit. We just want to talk straight and be honest. Don't be a dickhead, be a nice person because it doesn't cost anything. That kind of thing."

Do you think your music will connect strongest with rock fans or rap fans?

"Both so far, and that's because it is genuinely both of those things, while still being one cohesive unique sound. 

What rock/metal/punk bands influenced the music you’re making?

"Wow, the list is endless. Pantera, Meshuggah, Napalm Death, Sepultura. The list is too long!

Why did you decide to merge punk with grime?

"Fatty plays in a band called Submotion Orchestra, and plays a whole load of crazy synth sounds, and mostly huge subs through his setup. With us he splits his signal three ways. One signal is just subs, one is mids/distorted guitar sounds, and the third is synth sounds. The three together makes for a huge sound. That's why we are a trio. Also Fatty spearheads most of the writing of the music, and this sound is just really his signature. Dave is a wicked rapper, and I have played loads of metal and hip-hop, and we all really enjoy the whole 140 bpm movement from dubstep through to grime, trap and hip-hop. 

"It was a very natural decision, and ended up being the sound of the music we make instead of us deciding on a sound/style that we thought we should create. We love the huge chest-rattling bass in dubstep and grime, and we love heavy drums and guitars, and the wicked synth sounds in dance music. Also, I think the prevalence of so much great music from the UK that is all at 140bpm has just influenced the writing process, because we like the whole feel at that tempo."

It feels like genre lines have been blurring in recent years.

"It's brilliant. Change is great, progress is great. We can all learn from different styles and genres. Fatty and I have played loads of sessions for loads of different styles of artists. I think it makes people more open minded – musicians and fans alike."

People often talk about grime being last genre to grow organically into the mainstream. Do you see anything on the underground rising right now?

"That's a great question. I think the fact that sounds are merging like you say is giving way to a bunch of whole new young musical pioneers. Check dudes like Ghostemane – he's on some rowdy shit and it's very unique. Trap/industrial/metal/anything he feels like, he's killing it. It's hard to keep track of the millions of things/artists that are doing their thing and creating their own niches."

You’re playing the Earache stage at Boomtown, how do you think you’ll go down with a metal crowd?

"We are confident it will be an absolute smash. Or at least we can only hope. We are ready for it and have all been playing live for years – we are loud and heavy AF. We are really looking forward to the show."

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

"We got a bunch more music and videos ready. We just got signed to X-Ray touring so we have plans for more shows. Just going to keep making music, playing and making a racket."

Download Pengshui's new single No Time now.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.