Freelance Whales formed in the summer of 2008 after the members connected through Craigslist and various friends-of-friends. From their subsequent acoustic performances on the streets and subways of New York, to a coveted slot at this year’s Coachella Festival, the band has developed a truly unique style of pop, incorporating a collection of uncommon elements into their engrossing musical dynamic. Bassist Doris Cellar contributes her own unique flair to the group, adding a harmonium and glockenspiel into the mix, as well as an energetic personality that is as infectious as the band’s music.

Freelance Whales just completed a month-long North American trek, performing throughout the States and Canada to their legion of die-hard fans. While they take a short break prior to the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, I had the opportunity to speak with Doris on the band’s recent success, her passion for music, and becoming a true beacon of inspiration.

Did you always know that you wanted to be involved in music?

Yeah, sure! I’ve always been a songwriter, and I knew that it was what I wanted to do. I was in an all-girl band. I was just playing drums and then I started playing bass. It’s always been a passion of mine. I just didn’t think that it was going to happen, and I didn’t think that it would take off as much as it has.

Was there any doubt going into it, from friends or family, that you weren’t going to make it?

Totally. My father was never accepting of the fact that I want to be a musician. When I was younger, when I was a teen, he would throw away guitars. He would throw away my artwork. He even threw away a keyboard that I had.

He was totally unaccepting—that’s why I was sort of like a rebel. I just went out there and played in spite of him. He was not really accepting. My mom, on the other hand, was just like totally a rock ‘n roll chick. [LAUGHS]

As the band has progressed, has your father changed his mind at all?

No, he’s like, “When are you going back to college?” and “When are you going to get your degree?”

How did you make the transition from playing music for fun into making it your career?

It’s always fun. I try to find ways of keeping it fun, even though we’ve been playing the songs off the Weathervanes album for about 2 or 3 years now. I still find ways to keep it fresh and new because we still have listeners that are first-time audience members. I am always trying to focus on them and trying to get them and make them happy, because if they are happy, then I am happy.

Also, I am always trying to have fun on stage. If you don’t find fun in your career, then you’re not really going to be a happy person. I am happy that my career is something that I love to do.

You seem pretty easy to get along with—how do you deal with any troubling male personalities in the industry?

We’re on tour a lot, and it’s very rare that I get to see a female. I think we’ve been on eight tours so far and I very rarely get a female. Nobody wants this job. You have to lift stuff, you have to travel for hours on the road, you have to pee at rest stops, you know? It’s pretty hard. You’ve got to really be a road dog and have that mentality, especially being with my band.

They are not really alpha dogs, but we are just trying to accept everyone as equal, and just accepting that it’s your job and that it is what you love to do really helps you get by. You just outweigh the fact that there are so many men around. It’s exhausting at times, but you gotta think of all the positive.

Has there been any specific milestone that you recognize as an “I made it” moment?

I think when we started making our music videos is when I felt like this was really coming to life and all of my dreams were coming true, but I think there are different levels of success.

My creativity and ideas are being projected thorough different forms of media. Whether there are a million people watching or two people watching, as long as your creativity is being projected and your art is being put out there and released, then that to me is like, “I’ve made it!”

When our albums were released, that was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, because I felt like I was really doing it. When we began to tour that was another level, and then the music videos. Now we are closing our record with this final tour. The fact that we are going back home and writing another album, that to me is an “a-ha!” moment. We are actually making what we love a career! I feel like I am successful today.

What advice do you have for anyone that’s inspired by your band and how far you’ve come?

It depends what the dream is. If it’s music, then I would say to try and write from your heart and try to make it appealing if you wanna make a career out of it. If it’s artwork, try to find a way and express it. Don’t be afraid, because art is subjective.

You just gotta be who you are and not afraid to show that. Also, if you’re doing other things, like being a doctor or teacher, then study really hard. (LAUGHS) That’s my advice, because you are not going to be a great doctor if you don’t study!

For more information on Freelance Whales, check out: