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This is the memorable first single from Champion Trees’ much anticipated debut album, “NOW 3000”. A breezy, bossa-nova-infused song about Americanisation, “Californ-i-a” announces the arrival of an exciting new band on the Cape Town music scene.


Champion Trees’

With their playful, literate approach to indie rock, Champion Trees is an exciting new band from Cape Town, South Africa. Francis Christie, Troy Nijland, Lex Pienaar and Langa Dubazana are four friends truly having fun with language and music, and this translates in their memorable first single, Californ-i-a. Lyrically, the song demonstrates a sharp, incisive knack for the observation of suburban life, sung to a melody which exhibits the band’s pop sensibility. A rich chord progression backed by a grooving rhythm section drives the song forward, with occasional lead guitar flourishes brightening things up. The fun Champion Trees have had in the process of creating this music really translates into a refreshing, enjoyable listening experience. The band have put their best foot forward here with a striking first offering, and are one to watch in coming months as the rest of the album rolls out. 

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Champion Trees was formed in 2018 when cousins Francis Christie and Lex Pienaar met guitarist Troy Nijland and drummer Langa Dubazana at the University of Cape Town. Taking notes from local heroes Beatenberg, as well as 90s indie acts such as Pavement, Silver Jews and Belle & Sebastian, the band set about jamming out songs which would result in the release of a demo EP. A committed live following was developed on the back of this EP in the latter stages of 2019, with Champion Trees being billed as an exciting new act by local music media.

The ensuing dormant period brought about by COVID-19 gave songwriter Francis Christie the time necessary to flesh out a backlog of unfinished ideas. By the end of 2020 he had an album’s worth of songs which signaled somewhat of a departure from the demo EP’s angsty post-punk leanings. In early 2021, with everyone back in Cape Town, Champion Trees reconvened for a week’s worth of rehearsals in which new music was arranged and readied for recording.

In February the band traveled to Nature’s Valley with recording engineer Marcel van der Veen (of Stellenbosch band Uncle Spike) where a small home studio space was set up. A few days of intense recording sessions followed where van der Veen’s DIY approach brought the songs to life. In a brief period of respite from COVID restrictions, the band managed to play three small shows in which these new songs were performed for the first time, building much anticipation for a debut full-length offering which will doubtless make a splash locally and abroad.

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Champion Trees

Recording, Mixing and Mastering:

Marcel van der Veen


Tao Varty


Francis Christie


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