1. One of the most prolific and influential of the ’80s electro artists, Miami-based producer Tony Butler recorded a string of popular club tracks on Power/Jam Packed and his own Music Specialist label in the mid-’80s, helping build the electro legacy that would give birth to Miami-style bass music and freestyle (named after Butler’s primary pseudonym), as well as influence ’90s post-techno artists such as Autechre and Biochip C. Butler’s earlier tracks under his own name are all electro classics, with singles such as “Fix It in the Mix,” “Jam the Box,” and “Get Some” exploring a thinner, more stripped-down sound similar to Man Parrish and Cybotron. Butler’s tracks with Freestyle are perhaps the more well known, and include such club staples as “It’s Automatic,” “Don’t Stop the Rock,” and “The Party Has Begun.” His more commercial, pop-oriented writing and production work with Trinere, Debbie Deb, and Shannon, however, remain his claim to fame. Butler continued to live and record in Miami thereafter.
2. A Swedish synthpop group from the early 1980s. Their most popular hits were “Vill Ha Dig” and “Fantasi”. Members: Tommy Ekman, Christer Sandelin, Gigi Hamilton, Joakim Hagleitner, Anders Uddberg and Diane Corinne Söderholm. When the group split up in 1983, Sandelin, Ekman and Hamilton formed Style. Freestyle briefly reunited in 1998, re-recording a few old songs.
3. A Filipino band, formed by Top Suzara and Jinky Vidal in 1996. When Freestyle hit the Manila bar scene in 1998, it was a case of young musicians being at the right place at the right time, with the right sound. Those five guys and a girl had then what Manila was looking for- a new band with vast appeal and the knack for filling venues with their blend of pop, R&B and original hits. After seven years of doing what they do best, Freestyle has grown into an OPM heavyweight with four studio-recorded albums (two of which made platinum), a string of local and international concerts, and industry accolades under their belts, thus making them one of the country’s best-loved and most sought-after group.
Last year, a new leaf turned for Freestyle. Freestyle learned that change is vital for any band seeking quality and longevity in the music biz. Ushering a new era for Freestyle are the fresh voices of Mike Luis (former Brand New Funk, Next Level), and Joshua Desiderio (former Kindred Garden, Art & Soul), themselves seasoned musicians. Also, since the migration of one of the founding members, Carlo Tapia, Freestyle is proud to welcome Rommel de la Cruz on bass, formerly of Barbie’s Cradle. Continuing members are Gerald Banzon (drums), Nikki Cabardo (keyboards), Tat Suzara (guitar), and Jinky Vidal (vocals).
Seven seems to be a good number for the group who, after only a few rehearsals have blended together seamlessly. The addition of Mike and Joshua (who each play synths on stage) has revitalized Freestyle’s sound to a level of funk and soul that builds upon Jinky’s solid vocals and the band’s tight playing. The result is a powerhouse of rich harmonies and robust music, flavoring their cool mix of old and new school R&B, Hip Hop, funk, neo soul and ballads.
Freestyle is positive of the path they are taking. A new vibe was introduced by the new members. From watching their gigs, it’s clear that Freestyle is happy to be where they are now, and is very much here to stay.
Band info from Official website
4. Hip Hop artist, former member of The Arsonists