Out of Trinidad and Tobago is the prestigious Lion Twin. Known for their roots reggae mixes, live streams, and radio shows, the sound recently launched a multi-function reggae radio app titled Dread Radio in mid-January. Also coming up from the movement is the first ever Dread Fest on April 21st, a reggae festival exhibiting a unique assortment of reggae infused art, craft, food, fashion, literature and music in Port of Spain.
KingstonToLA recently caught up with identical twins, Asfa and Yacob Charles, who are the creative forces behind the movement.
KNG2LA: What inspired you to create your own radio station?
LION TWIN: "We started Dread Radio as a platform for roots reggae music, where people could tune in 24 hours a day, all year round. So far it's been going well. People have been tuning in from The US, Germany, Canada, France, the UK, even Africa and Japan, as well as the Caribbean. It's been doing well and the whole thing behind it is about positivity, Rastafari, spreading reggae music and endorsing reggae artists."
KNG2LA: It's interesting to see you two working together as twins, how does that connection work when it comes to music?
LION TWIN: "The team thing with us is mostly a spiritual connection. Most times I would say we agree, we have a liking for the same set of selections but we also give each other freedom. If one or the other wants to play a certain tune, we will endorse it. It's that kind of love when we play, we try to show we aren't just friends, but brothers for life and so it will be. We continue to use that connection in events, on our live stream on the radio and even in everyday life."
KNG2LA: How do you two divide up the workload?
LION TWIN: "Yacob is the selector, I'm the emcee, but Yacob is very calm, I'm more out there with the laughs and kicking around, but we always make it work either way."
KNG2LA: Does the family connection go beyond the two of you?
LION TWIN: "The team is majority family, brothers and sisters, in-laws as well. It's something that you don't find everywhere and we click a lot so my brother and I as the founders and creators of this Dread Radio, Yacob is the tech programmer, production, program directing and what happens on a day to day basis on Dread Radio, making sure the music is running properly, making sure the right selections are on, that ads are being placed well. I (Asfa) on the other hand deal with more the business aspect and finances, making sure everything is running also dealing with sponsors and having to meet and greet."
KNG2LA: The vibes are fundamentally roots reggae. What influenced that direction?
LION TWIN: "The whole roots reggae from Lion Twin is from inception. Our family is a Rastafari family, we are members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel organization here in Trinidad and Tobago so that came from our mother and father. Our father, being one of the top selectors in reggae for over twenty years, which is Lion King. That is also our sound system, Lion King Sound, with our father and my brother as well. We started in the year 2003, at the age of 12 being the youngest selectors in Trinidad and Tobago playing reggae music at first, then we kind of transitioned. At a time we were playing urban music as well, then we decided it's roots we are dealing with. "
KNG2LA: That's a long time to be selecting, tell us some of the artists you've worked with?
LION TWIN: "We have played amongst the greats in reggae, to name a few Jr. Gong, the late great Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Freddie McGregor, Chronixx, Nas, we also wanna say shout out to Fred Locks out of Jamaica, he was responsible for bringing Lion Twin out to play there. We continue to let that history grow with us year by year.
KNG2LA: Tell us what we can look forward to next from Dread Radio?
LION TWIN: "Our main plan is to make Dread Radio a household name worldwide. From the time you hear reggae music you would hear Dread Radio. We want people to tune in across the globe once you love reggae music, you would tune into Dread Radio, that's the plan. Also to endorse and to support and endorse a lot of artists that would not get support from the stations world wide. We also have some foreign DJs coming on board. Basically we recruit selectors by listening to their mixes, and if they fit what we are looking for in terms of a certain quality, we have to keep the standard up to present reggae at it's best. We recruit them on a basis where they are fit for Dread Radio, cause the radio station is a different vibes. From our experience people could easily tune into another station if you play or say something bad."
As Lion Twin continues to make a name for themselves from Trinidad to the US and beyond, their movement has also expanded in conjunction, giving reggae fans a reliable outlet for new reggae music. Dream Radio hosts shows from other well know roots reggae selectors such as Blueprint Movements out of Miami, Wadadah II out of Chicago, Lion Face from Brooklyn and more.
Stay tuned to DreadMovement.com, where they debut the Dread Ten, their top ten singles that the sound endorses for the moment. Coming soon, fans can vote for the Dread Ten on a weekly basis on DreadMovement.com.
Listen to Lion Twin's "Roots Academy" radio show, streaming every Saturday from 4-6pm, on Dread Radio here on KingstonToLA:
Featured image by Raya Charles.