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The handclapping indie pop of Freelance Whales was born on the streets and subways of New York City after the band's formation in Queens at the end of 2008. After amassing a collection of miscellaneous instruments, including a harmonium and waterphone, frontman Judah Dadone enlisted the help of fellow musicians Kevin Read, Doris Cellar, Jake Hyman, and Chuck Criss to realize his D.I.Y.-sounding, folk-inspired pop songs. To perfect its sound, the band took to the streets busking and playing at various venues in and around New York City, including Staten Island's Farm Colony. At the beginning of 2009 and with a collection of songs written, they set about recording their debut, Weathervanes. The self-released album picked up favorable reviews on various Internet blogs with the band being compared to Arcade Fire -- mainly for its use of unusual instruments -- and Sufjan Stevens. In September 2009 they signed a deal with Frenchkiss Records to release Weathervanes internationally in 2010. The band's sophomore outing, Diluvia, followed in 2012.
Freelance Whales is an American indie rock band from Queens, New York, formed in 2008. Consisting of frontman Judah Dadone (lead vocals, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, synthesizer, bass), and bandmates Doris Cellar (bass, harmonium, glockenspiel, synthesizer, vocals), Chuck Criss (banjo, bass, synthesizer, glockenspiel, harmonium, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals), Jacob Hyman (drums, percussion, vocals) and Kevin Read (acoustic and electric guitar, glockenspiel, mandolin, synthesizer, vocals). Their song "Location" from the Weathervanes album was featured in LOL, Starring Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore. Their song "Starring," also from Weathervanes was featured on an episode of Grey's Anatomy.
Freelance Whales was founded during 2008, after connecting through Craigslist and friends of friends. The band's debut album, Weathervanes, was largely composed by frontman Judah Dadone, the lyrics based on a combination of childhood memories and dream journaling. Because they're from New York, the band's name derives from that freelance atmosphere that the city has. Judah Dadone, once said: 'Everybody in New York is a freelancer of something, and we used to be too when we played in the subways'. Multi-instrumentalist Chuck Criss is the brother of actor and singer Darren Criss.
The band began to gain traction in October 2009 as they honed their sound on subway platforms around New York City. Toward the latter part of 2009, they self-released Weathervanes, and on April 27, 2010 the album was re-released under the band's record labels, Frenchkiss and Mom + Pop.
In September 2010, Twitter selected Freelance Whales' music as the background for a video introducing a major rework of the service's user experience. The same song, entitled "Generator ^ First Floor", was also used by the NBC show Chuck in its 4th season premiere episode ("Chuck vs. the Anniversary"), which premiered September 20, 2010, as well as by Chevrolet in advertisements for the 2011 Chevy Volt. On October 12, 2010, the song "Broken Horse" appeared in an episode of One Tree Hill ("Nobody Taught Us to Quit"). Their song "The Great Estates" was also featured in an episode of the USA show Covert Affairs Season 1. Their song "Generator ^ Second Floor" was used on season 5, episode 1 of the British show Skins while "Location" was featured in episode 4. Their song "Starring" was used in season 2 My Life as Liz on MTV. "Starring" was also featured in an episode of Grey's Anatomy in Season 7. A 2011 Starbucks commercial also used "Generator ^ First Floor" as background music, as did the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund for their "Dear 16-year-old Me" melanoma awareness campaign. Their song "Hannah" was also used in the Australian television show Offspring.
The band released their sophomore album, Diluvia, on October 9, 2012. The band has also released a track from the album called Locked Out, which is currently downloadable for free on their website.
On April 17th 2013, the band announced on Facebook that Doris Cellar would be leaving the band.
The band's first performance was at Staten Island's abandoned Farm Colony in January 2009. Throughout 2009, the Whales continued to busk around New York City, playing subway platforms and more traditional stages. In November–December 2009, Freelance Whales took on their first U.S./Canada tour, opening for London-based indie pop band, Fanfarlo. They continued to tour nationally over the course of 2010, as the first band of three on tour with Brooklyn-based rock band, Bear in Heaven, and indie-rock band, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and as the opening band for Swedish indie rock band, Shout Out Louds. They also began to dabble into the world of international touring, playing shows in England and releasing their first international single in the U.K. in February 2010. Freelance Whales have since toured the U.S. and Canada with Canadian indie rock band Tokyo Police Club, and are currently on tour with English indie rock band Foals and alternative New Zealand band, The Naked and Famous.
The band has received critical acclaim from a number of respected sources. In advance of their performances at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Spin magazine called them one of their 50 "Must Hear Bands at SXSW," and a live performance for All Songs Considered led NPR to refer to them as "a band to watch this year."