Freelance Whales: Indie and Poor
The Freelance Whales emerged from the underground. Literally. Upon their 2008 inception, the quintet quickly found that the subway was the best way, as multi- instrumentalist Chuck Criss explains: "It seemed silly to book a small club and invite friends and that's all who would show up," he explains. "I remember playing a club in Williamsburg and we went outside a block away and started busking to encourage people to come see our set. It became immediately clear that people who would stop and listen to us on the street would also end up coming to our shows. From that point on, we ended up busking a lot, and it was a very organic way of growing the band."
There are no whales in Freelance Whales.
They've grown quite impressively. The Queens-bred group of versatile multi-instrumentalists ply their trade using banjo, bass, synthesizer, glockenspiel, harmonium, guitars and, on their latest, Diluvia, a "gigantic zither." While they've been termed "baroque pop," Criss is more pointed when it comes to the oft-asked request for a pithy descriptor. "I normally say 'indie pop that mixes acoustic rural instrumentation with electronic music,'" Criss says. "Then they ask me, 'what does indie mean?' And I tell them it means I'm poor."
But not as poor as previously. Freelance Whales' music found its way into an inordinate amount of TV shows and commercials, especially the sweetly lush three-minute "Generator First Floor." "We're not really sure how these songs actually get perceived as 'suited' for that world, but we're always excited to get our music out to an audience that may not necessarily hear our music otherwise," Criss says, adding, "It also means that somewhere along the line, someone made an emotional connection with a song we wrote and felt the need to share it. We've been lucky in that we've been able to associate ourselves with some really cool things like Twitter, the first electric car, and a PSA for Melanoma, for example."