GROWING SOUNDS Troy Nijland jams on his guitar. Photo: Murray Williamson

Champion Trees and the Fruit They Shall Bear

By Skyla Thornton

Stellenbosch-based indie band Champion Trees, named after the monumental trees in Ardene Gardens in Cape Town and made up of students from the University of Cape Town, are set to drop a new single on 25 March and release their new album by May this year.

Meet the band! 

First up is Francis Christie (BComHons), the lead singer and guitarist. Then comes Alexis Pienaar, a third-year BEng (Chemical Engineering) student, bass player and backup vocalist.

“Lex and I are cousins and have always been really into music but grew up on opposite ends of the country from one another. We’d always envisioned getting something going at university,” said Christie.

In their first year, the band began with the addition of guitar player Troy Nijland (who is doing his postgraduate degree in accounting), but things only became serious after drummer Langa Dubazana (who graduated with a BMus in Jazz Performance) joined the band in 2018.  

What about the music? 

Champion Trees’ debut album, Now 3000, is inspired by the albums The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg by Beatenberg, American Water by Silver Jews, and If You’re Feeling Sinister by Belle and Sebastian. 

Christie said, “The songs were inspired by the music and literature we love, and just by our daily lives really. A lot of the lyrics are pretty observational as a result of that. Most of the songs started as jokes of sorts, from us just messing around.”

These songs were recorded with Marcel van der Veen, the guitarist from the Stellenbosch band Uncle Spike

In reference to their latest single, “Uncontested Scrums”, which will be released on 25 March, Christie said, “It’s a song about school sports, traffic near the Groote Schuur Hospital, and John Maytham’s Rapid Fire segment on Cape Talk.”

Upcoming live shows in Stellenbosch? 

With regard to playing a live show in Stellenbosch, Christie said, “We’d love to play at Bohos or something soon.” 

Until then, Champion Trees can be found on all major music platforms, with their newest singles on Bandcamp. 

Stellenbosch, with its unbeatable culture and beauty, is fertile soil for talented students to sprout and grow, and Champion Trees promise to be as grand as their name suggests. 

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