Here's a giddy gob of pop righteousness, courtesy of a crop of kids making one heck of a go behind their just released debut album, In Light. In support, Lafayette Louisiana based quintet GIVERS recently stopped by for a session jam, discussing bits of their history and personal musical philosophies along the way.
Like a single ray of light pushed through a prism, Givers' songs shoot a delirious wash of color into the musical spectrum. Delta rhythms and big bouncy bass lines form the foundation, with tangy guitar work, woozy plumes of synth, and bits of celebratory brass and woodwind bubbling in every which direction. Most prominent are the band's freewheeling vocals - both Taylor Guarisco and Tiffany Lamson sharing leads - with rich melodies and syrupy harmonies accentuating the mix. It's a fun loving and infectious approach...one that sees the band tipping their caps to everyone from Paul Simon to The Dirty Projectors along the way. On record and in performance, Givers will convince you that they are one of the most exciting young bands to watch this summer. So why not start by taking a peek at our exclusive video session and interview with the band? One listen and we can bet you'll be giving into the light that is Givers and the hypercolor pop music that they make.
at our show. We try to be as uncool as we can possibly be. So don't come to our show and be cool. We set the bar. - Yeah, we're setting the bar low. Coolness. - We all come from Lafayette, Louisiana. And it's like this gradual thing where we knew each other from other bands, and eventually Tiff ended up, I met her in New Orleans, we decided to... Well she just moved in upstairs, and yeah, the connection was, just in our kitchen. She had her drumset set up in my kitchen and we would just, we would just jam in the kitchen. And it wasn't anything serious, it wasn't anything serious at all. We just played music and we hung out a lot, and we just kind of became best friends, you know. It was after the hurricane, we just kind of went back to Lafayette from New Orleans and we just hung out every day, just playing music. But mainly just becoming friends. It wasn't like, there was no, there was no like ambition to like make a band or like write songs, it was just let's play music and have fun. Because college said we could have a semester off school, and so that's what we did. We just played music all the time. I don't mind that I mind sometimes It'd be easier with you girl Oh, how I know, yes the glow, the show The difference between them, go Separate the lines Still hoping that your mind will be a friend with me and calling out your light We're gonna see our shadows dance and come to be See how they love, still you won't go Love and happiness is growin' in your vase And all we think of time Made it in our minds, the lines, the lines I know why I find that line so haunting appealing Cause oh, how it shows, yes the glow offset the distance between us And it's gonna get heavier, heavier And it's gonna get brighter too And it's been such a long time waiting for you Yes, all your wasted time Caught up, oh, in your line Your line, your line, your line Yes, all your wasted lines Caught up, oh, in your time your time 'Cause all this time you lost you'll earn again It comes, it goes, it washes away It comes, it goes, and what will you say Don't get stuck in the meantime No such thing as the meantime Don't get stuck in the meantime No such thing as the meantime It comes, it goes, it washes away It comes, it goes, and what will you say Don't get stuck in the meantime Don't get stuck in the meantime No such thing as the meantime No such thing as the meantime It comes, it goes It comes, it goes Don't get stuck in the meantime No such thing as the meantime Don't get stuck in the meantime No such thing as the meantime - It all started, we started jamming, was our first initial way of playing music together. And then from there we would record our jams and we'd listen back and find little hooks and little rhythms and things where we just felt like that was a perfect moment. So we'd grab that and then take it in our rehearsal space and work on it more. But then, we have many songs that come from ...like Tiff will bring a song to the band, or Taylor bring like a demo, but we'll all like, take it a lot further than where it was. But yeah, every song we try and have a very different approach. Like some, we even write on the road, on the stage in front of people. - I would just say rhythm really. I would like just narrow everything down to rhythm. Like, that's where people, I think, get that feel from ...but it's, it's derivative of like a lot of different kind of things like African rhythms and Haitian things which is all a part of like our culture in Louisiana. Caught up, flesh be warned I have just begun to pull this thorn of needing, and want Here in these woods I will become undone Come to find the place Where your heart can rest from this race Of breathing in and out There you can mend your ways With no doubt Wait 'til our bones are older Our stones to reach the sky Yet still the walls are growing Into the Atlantic Ocean Outstretched on my own I have only begun to see blood Move through all my veins In my heart I will remain the same Wait 'til our bones are older Our stones to reach the sky Until our hearts are open Thanks to the Atlantic Ocean In Grace I'll go And in Faith I'll know It's in your heart It's in your mind 'Cause you were right Right, right - This is very, very different then-- - If it looks like we're comfortable that's good because we tricked you. 'Cause this is, this is totally new, like normally we're playing... - Loud. - At a million decibels, you know, somewhere around a million or two million decibels. And then here we're playing very quiet, and so it allows us to kind of like, expose a different part of the songs, you know, you can actually understand a few words I'm saying, which is good... - It' is good 'cause it pulls us out of our comfort zone. It makes us almost dissect the songs in ourselves in a way that, you know, so that we can really see the core of them and the core of ourselves. - In Life, just came as like this piece that kind of like, this set of words that just kind of weaves a lot of these songs together, you know. And it felt, it felt like it was, it was just appropriate in a way. - It kind of seems to be a motif in our lives, I suppose. A lot of our songs have a message that we feel is uplifting, so. Think it was kind of thematical. Oh, we up, up, up for the glow show Yeah, we down, down here on the ground Yeah, we up, up, up, up above love Yeah, we up, up, up through the clouds Yeah, we up, yeah, we up You're gonna find your way, find a way to be You're gonna get yourself a land with your old man You're gonna get it free, you're gonna get it free It's the way now, way to see 'cause it's inside and out with no doubt It's in everything, it's in everything Oh, we up up up for the glow show Yeah we down down here on the ground Yeah we up up up up above love Yeah we up up up through the clouds Yeah we up, yeah we up Yeah we up, yeah we up You're gon' find your way, find your way to be Yeah you're gonna get yourself a line with your spine You'll get it free, you'll get it free It's the way now, way to see Yeah in the moment it comes and it goes Gets in everything, it's in everything Hey we up up up for the glow show Yeah we down down here on the ground Yeah we up up up up above love Yeah we up up up through the clouds Yeah we up, yeah we up Yeah we up, yeah we up Yeah we up up up for the glow show Yeah we down down down here on the ground Yeah we up up up up above love Yeah we up up up through the clouds Yeah we up up up for the glow show Yeah we down down down here on the ground Yeah we up up up up above love Yeah we up up up in the clouds Yeah we up Yeah we up up up for the glow show Yeah we down down down here on the ground Yeah we up up up up above love Yeah we up up up through the clouds Yeah we up, yeah we up Yeah we up, yeah we up on the ground, woo - I think the way we play like a song like "Up Above Now" which is one of the first songs we ever got together. It was like you can go back and listen to one of the original recordings jamming and it was like "Oh, that's up, up, up", but I mean now, it's like a completely different song from when it was on the EP and whenever it's on the fully ...it's always evolving, even on stage, like sometimes we'll try on different vocal parts just improvising 'cause makes it fresh and fun. - I guess like what we kind of try to bring is like, you know, this moment that you're having during a live show can be translated, you know, in a bigger way, and that's what we're, it's not just like you go to a show to experience that. It's like life can be that. - Like whenever we get on stage, being, being able to ...to let go of many things, let go of our worldly selves. And let this unworldly self take over and express something. Whenever you see people do that, it allows for you to do it, you know, like as a person. We see someone being free it makes it okay for you to be like that, you know. And so that's what we feel like we, we try to offer people that shows. If we lose our composure, to where you could lose your composure, let guards down, just feel free to just, just kind of, just be, you know, just kind of like, like I just said let that unworldly self kind of be yourself, you know.
In understanding GIVERS, it's helpful to think of a constellation, a configuration of points of brightness that when placed in succession, led to the Lafayette, Louisiana-based quintet's brilliant debut. The metaphor proves particularly useful given the name of their album In Light (Glassnote Entertainment Group) is a collection filled with joy and brightness, buoyed by constantly evolving rhythms, warmed by spangling guitars, and illuminated by the melodic altruism that is the band's mission statement.
The first point of light in the pattern stretches back to the band's origins- lead singer/guitarist Taylor Guarisco and lead singer/percussionist Tiffany Lamson both signed up to attend the music school at the University of New Orleans in the fall of 2005. A fallen-through accommodation led to Lamson crashing on Guarisco's couch, bonding over their shared love of sound. Guarisco's immersion in the sounds of New Orleans as a youth led him to play in handful of different funk, Cajun, and Zydeco groups. This influence on his playing was easily complimented by Lamson's strong upbringing and appreciation for classic rock, soul, and pop. The musical connection between them was immediate and thrilling to them both. With her drums set up in the kitchen and Guarisco on bass, the duo would play together long into the night, eventually singing together as well as finding their voices matched each others' perfectly. "There's a very magical part," explains Guarisco. "We slowly started inspiring each other to sing more and more. Honestly, that's one of the major miracles of my connection to Tiffany, and hers to me. We didn't have anyone else in our lives beckoning us to sing out." Guarisco specifically remembers an evening spent on a friend's balcony in Baton Rouge that sealed Lamson's status as a genuine singer.
That fall of 2005, Hurricane Katrina forced them back to their home of Lafayette where they began to form the basis for GIVERS. The next point of light occurred when Guarisco found himself playing music with drummer Kirby Campbell and trumpet player Josh LeBlanc. Campbell and Guarisco had played together before in various situations; they knew LeBlanc as one of the most impressive trumpeters in Lafayette. "One night we decided to meet up in this very small practice room that had no air-conditioning, very low ceilingsit was very intimate and very loud. Josh grabbed the bass instead of playing trumpet, and we were all blown away by how amazing he was," explains Guarisco. All three of them describe that night as a "game-changer", ending with Guarisco asking Campbell and LeBlanc to properly form a band. "I was going to go to Berklee College of Music," says Campbell, "but that night Taylor pretty much convinced me to stay."
A few months down the road, Lamson got a call from a club looking for a band to fill a last minute spot. Though there wasn't a band to speak of between her and Guarisco, they immediately called Campbell, Leblanc, along with keyboardist Will Henderson and saxophonist/keyboardist Nick Stephan--their most consistent companions at that point. The night would serve as yet another point of light. As the band improvised for over two hours--the crowd's response was immediate. "Being into improvised music and having that be a big part or our lives has had a huge influence on our sound as a whole," explains Lamson. The connection was working; the six of them began playing together regularly, deciding to call themselves GIVERS.
The band would spend that next year holing up in Campbell's apartment, molding improvised jams into taut, finely-honed songs, and recording an EP along the way in the very same place. "Kirby and Will and Nick all lived in the same house, and Taylor was basically living there," explains LeBlanc. "Everyone was hanging out all the time, and that's what solidified us as a group." The closeness became immediately apparent in their songs. "We had all been in a bunch of bands, but for some reason, the chemistry with these people seemed to do something very special to all of us," Guarisco says. Their friendships and musical bonds became a source of inspiration and empowerment.
Both Guarisco and Lamson credit being back in Lafayette as one of the major influences on what they were creating. "I can't imagine growing up anywhere else and being the way we are. There is a life about the music here. People are drawn to dance with freedom; there is a sense of enjoyment in music that I haven't seen in many other places," says Lamson. "Being from southwest Louisiana has an effect on everything we do," agrees Guarisco. "The way in which we play music...the way we talk...the way we think...the way we dance...everything really. Because of the heat in the South, people take their time in their day-to-day affairs. Being from the South, we have all learned how to slow down and appreciate life as it is here now--something that in most parts of the world is totally lost. All of this is directly reflected in every aspect of our music, as well as every other celebratory music in Louisiana--whether it be Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, jazz, or funk." After a few more shows, their break came when Lamson approached their future manager, Aaron Scruggs, booker for Baton Rouge venue Spanish Moon. "I went and begged Aaron for three days in a row to give us a show -- this random band from Lafayette that nobody's ever heard of," says Lamson. With the band's members returning to school and scattering across the country imminently, the show would decide the future of GIVERS. Scruggs eventually booked them for a Friday night and was impressed enough to offer them an opening spot for Dirty Projectors in July--one of the only stops in their tour where they happened to need an opener. "With that one show, everybody dropped out of their college career, the touring Zydeco band, and whatever else prevented us from preparing for that one show. And it wasn't for a tour, it was for a single show" says Guarisco. Dirty Projectors liked the show enough that night in Baton Rouge to book them as an opener for the east coast leg of their fall tour. "It was that tour that solidified our paths in music. We thought, if this can happen, anything can happen." explains Guarisco.
In listening to In Light, it's easy to hear what propelled the band so quickly to blog buzz, coastal tours and opening slots for Dirty Projectors and Ra Ra Riot. While on tour with Ra Ra Riot, the band made a stop at the Austin City Limits festival, where their set was seen by Daniel Glass, founder of Glassnote Entertainment Group, who was immediately taken by their sound and charisma. "GIVERS are genuine, unique and uplifting," says Glass. "Their live show is a visceral experience that captivates you, and makes you feel like a member of the band."
GIVERS signed to Glassnote Entertainment, and set upon making their debut album with acclaimed producer Ben Allen, who had worked with bands like Animal Collective, Cee-Lo, Deerhunter and more. "Ben Allen seemed like a great option for us in the sense that his experience ranges from left field experimental all the way to right field pop. We wanted someone who would understand both the pop sensibilities of our music, as well as appreciate and highlight the more unconventional aspects of our songs," says Guarisco. The resulting record, In Light, perfectly emphasizes everything exciting within a GIVERS song. "Up Up Up," the bones of which were born out of the band's second improvised show, is a bouncing ode to resilience, featuring waves of glimmering programming and infectious guitar peals. "On one end there's a joyful, celebratory side of the album," says Guarisco. "On the other, it's more introspective, more meditative." Towards the end of the album, "Atlantic" is one of the more meditative songs, placing Lamson's once-hidden vocals at the forefront, as delicate ukulele gives way to almost Celtic beats while her voice, warm and gritty, like sand sifted, echoes out over the song. In order to tap into the more serious and solemn-natured songs, they called upon producer and mixing engineer Chris Coady, who's back catalog includes Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio, and Beach House. Coady's contribution to the album lies within the darker, more moonlit songs that seem to bring an overall balance to the album.
Above all is the unrelenting positivity in every note of the record, central to the band's polarity. It's the joy that only the truly gracious can have, and in discussing their trajectory, they marvel at the pattern and fortune in their wake. "Every dot is just as important as another. All these dots are so crucial," says Guarisco. "One without the other it wouldn't be the constellation that is GIVERS."