If Freelance Whales were a coffee, they would undoubtedly be a blend. Their sound tastily combines the aged, nostalgic warmth of folk with the smooth sweetness of pop. It’s relaxing, yet it’s energetic. It’s ethereal, yet it’s urban. It’s conventional, yet it’s cool. South American coffee growers can harvest their crop to it and Starbucks customers can receive their warm espressos to it. In case you didn’t already know, Starbucks did in fact use their song, “Generator ^ First Floor” in a television commercial, so there is some truth to that last juxtaposition at least in the minds of Starbucks executives. Numerous companies and television shows have likewise used Freelance Whales’ music, driving home the point that they are simply a good and much desired mix.
The quintet started a mere three years ago in Queens, New York, playing largely on subway platforms and other obscure locations but quickly progressed to playing stages around the U.S. and abroad. Weathervanes, their only full length recording to date on which all three featured songs can be found, brought them considerable praise, but their live performances at various venues, festivals, and private sessions are what truly established their reputation as an attention-worthy band. Despite using a wide array of instruments which the members more or less pass around between songs, they produce coherent, well-blended folk-pop. And if I were to name that blend, I would probably call it Subway Roast or Fair Trade Urban Banjo, but I suppose Freelance Whales will do just fine.
Recorded and Mixed by Corey Barnes and John Taylor at Lovebird Recording
Filmed and Edited by Joe Wallace and Doug Fellegy
Words by Gerard Pannekoek