Based: Cape Town
“ Free Radical delivers honest beats—although there are diverse influences, including hip-hop, reggae and electro, the result is sufficiently distinctive and edgy to evoke a sense of being unique, avoiding tired genre labels. Theirs is a contemporary African sound with universal appeal, and the muscle to unite divergent tastes. It’s revolutionary music geared to ignite dance-floors while exploding our thinking ”. Keith Bain
“A Sizzler….Recommended as a spirit-lifter”
Rolling Stone SA
“Trenton and Free Radical’s Giant Step is pop music the way pioneers like Marley, Dylan and the Clash imagined it (…) there’s gold in this album. ”
“Catchy songs that should have you singing along spontaneously (…) 100% enjoyable! ”
With his feet firmly planted in African soil, Trenton Birch has a global musical sensibility. Having done his time in London developing the distinct sound and conscious lyrics of his reggae-infused Afro-beat band, Trenton and Free Radical, his return to Cape Town was a major score for the South African live music scene.
Birch believes there’s a revolution afoot. A tidal wave of changing attitudes; around the way people think about their world, their responsibility towards each other, the planet, and the type of music that’s being churned out.
Trenton and Free Radical, a partnership between Birch, Thabo Mobo and writing collaborator Marco Wielander, is evidence of this revolution. Ibiza-raised Marco is a studious musician who is never without his guitar; has shared stages with the likes of Roots Manuva and Killa Kella, he’s developed unique techniques for laying down guitar tracks, sampling, and layering, giving their music a distinctively individual character. Mobo who has played with, amongst other bands, Ill Skillz, Archetypes, ShapeShifting and Calabash, leapfrogs between hip-hop, funk, jazz, and soul house. He gave up playing bass for two years as he became despondent with the industry but his passion for playing was quick to reignite after meeting Birch and Wielander and hearing the bands songs.
Their sound—seductive, acoustic, urban—elegantly marries catchy tunes with meaningful lyrics. Their songs have the energy and impact of anthems, their words pack meaning and their rhythms are ones you can’t help bopping to.
Free Radical delivers honest beats—although there are diverse influences, including hip-hop, reggae and electro, the result is sufficiently distinctive and edgy to evoke a sense of being unique, avoiding tired genre labels. Theirs is a contemporary African sound with universal appeal, and the muscle to unite divergent tastes. It’s revolutionary music geared to ignite dance-floors while exploding our thinking.
Birch says he’s disgusted by apathy. Pay attention, and you find yourself intellectually engaged; they’re stoking awareness, activating listeners. They’re not radical in a purely political sense, but Birch is a poet with something to say, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. The band sings about war, about social injustice, about love; and they sing the praises of heroes like Mandela, offering thoughts on making the world a better place.
Before setting of for the UK, Birch was prominent on the local music scene as part of electro-rock band Anti-Gravity which opened for South African performances by both The Prodigy and Faithless. Whilst in Europe, Birch promoted Johnny Clegg live, headed up the African hip-hop website / label Afrolution and ran the record label Black Mango Music which helped launched Goldfish internationally.
There debut album, launched earlier this year, has sizeable international credentials. Produced by Dean James (Nitin Sawhney, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly) and Craigie Dodds (Sugarbabes, Natty, One Eskimo, Gorillaz, Leona Lewis, Erica Badu), the album—“Giant Step”—is mixed by Gripper (Faithless, Dido, Hempolics), and includes vocals by the inimitable Maxi Jazz, best known to the world as the lead singer of British band, Faithless. It’s a collaboration that suggests the esteem in which the band has been held whilst working in the UK. The album also features the immensely talented South Africa hip-hop MC Ben Sharpa and Senegalese hip-hop artist and activist Sister Fa who recently won the global “Freedom To Create Prize”.
As they rack up live appearances in South Africa, Birch, Mobo and Wielander are joined by local Keyboard Player Clem Carr (Rudimental, The City, Little Kings) and drummer Ruby Crowie, filling out their live sound as they constantly strive for a richer, more authentic, local flavour.