A smooth, funk-fluent R&B band based in Los Angeles, Free Nationals recorded and performed extensively with Grammy-winning artist Anderson .Paak before they branched out with a self-titled album in 2019.
Keyboardist Ron Avant (aka T. Nava), drummer Matthew Marisola (aka Callum Connor), bassist Kelsey Gonzalez, and guitarist José Rios took the name Free Nationals after working with Paak. Session-wise, Avant and Rios go back with Paak to the late 2000s. The whole quartet became integral to the latter's progression on Malibu, a 2017 breakthrough nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album. The band's distinct identity came into focus with extensive touring in support of Paak. After two additional albums with Paak, Oxnard and Ventura, and a handful of guest-fronted singles on their own, Avant, Marisola, Gonzalez, and Rios put the finishing touches on the full-length Free Nationals. Released digitally toward the end of 2019 (with physical editions arriving early the following year), the LP featured appearances from the likes of Paak, Daniel Caesar, Syd, Kali Uchis, and Mac Miller. It debuted at number three on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. ~ Andy Kellman