Meet Anderson .Paak’s Band, The Free Nationals

New Noise is a regular feature dedicated to spotlighting artists on the rise. Discover more New Noise artists that are making sweet tuneage here. This edition, we introduce The Free Nationals.

Name: The Free Nationals

Location: Los Angeles

Food for your earbuds: ‘Come Down (live performance)’

For people who rate: The Internet, Phony Ppl, and Thundercat

Imagine having a band that’s performed with celebrities like Beyoncé and Bruno Mars play at your wedding. Well, that’s what The Free Nationals did before their slow ascent to recognition. Composed of five friends with exceptional musical talent – producer and guitarist Jose Rios, keyboardist Ron Tnava Avant, guitarist Kelsey Gonzales and Callum Connor who serves as a DJ, producer, and drummer.

But this picture is not complete without Anderson .Paak, the Grammy-nominated rapper/singer that’s been with them since the beginning of their career 9 years ago, when he was known as BreezyLoveJoy. A constant by his side on stage, The Free Nationals are Paak’s unofficial official touring band. Callum told Nation of Billions “he’s always an honorary member…but we’re kinda the band that is supporting him, backing him up, helping him do his thing.”

The Free Nationals are funky as hell, but you’d have to be when you are paired with Anderson .Paak. A three-way between hip hop, funk, and the soulful saunter of jazz, their name is a nod to their sound. Speaking in an interview to Pigeons and Planes, Ron explained “the first people of America, indigenous to the land before Columbus came. We took that for our own interpretation to pay respect to the musicians that were before us. We are indigenous to the music.” And as Kelsey remarked “Indigenous to the funk.”

Paak appears to be the link in the chain when it came to The Free Nationals getting together. “I met Anderson in the parking lot of an apartment building. We both had girlfriends living there at the time. He just came out of a car and he kind of knew who I was from school. We didn’t connect again until the next day—I got a call from another artist who was putting together a band and it had me, Ron, and [Anderson] and then we played a show with this artist from school. We kind of just stuck together after that’, Ron reveals. Soon after Ron met Jose and Anderson at a gig, and then Kelsey met them at a bar.

Interestingly, The Free Nationals don’t release a lot of music; for the most part they just play Paak’s stuff. But they do plan on releasing a collaborative album sometime in 2017. “We’re gonna have our own project going on. I think we’re gonna do a project when we get a little break, we’re gonna do a record and have a lot of stuff, and I’m sure Anderson will be involved in it too and we’ll put him on some joints” details Callum. The potential for a magical project is a dead cert, we just say drop it already.

Words by Dale St. Marthe

NEW NOISE: THE FREE NATIONALS PLAYLIST