Tiffany Lamson (vocals, percussion), Taylor Guarisco (vocals, guitar), Kirby Campbell (drums, vocals), Josh LeBlanc (bass) and Nick Stephan (flute, sax, keyboard) are Givers: young, alternative-afrobeat-folk-rockers from Lafayette, Louisiana. This hardworking quintet gives it their all when they perform, and it’s beginning to get noticed. They’ve been named one of Time’s Ten Acts that Rocked South by Southwest in March; actor Ryan Reynolds has declared himself smitten; and in June they performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Having lived on the road for much of the past two years – and despite persistent coughs and sniffles – a strikingly upbeat and sincere Lamson sums up how Givers feel about making music: “Nothing beats this.”
You tour so frequently – is it difficult to stay enthusiastic?
You know, we’ve been on the road for two and a half years straight now but it’s such an amazing feat to realize the dream of being professional musicians and being in a band. I did a lot of reading on Quebec when I was growing up – and I did a book report on Montreal – so it’s an awesome thing that we’re finally here to play our music. Nothing beats this.
You made your television debut recently – how’d it go?
It was surreal. I expected that I’d be terrified but Jimmy Fallon is just so cool and so into music. It meant a lot that people from our hometown – our parents and our friends – got to see us on TV. It was a great moment of confirmation knowing our passions had brought us this far.
What kind of work ethic is required to be in a band?
We’re on the job 24-7. There’s not a moment that goes by that we’re not in some way or another working: on the phone doing interviews; in the van driving to another show; rehearsing. It’s definitely more demanding than a 9 to 5 job.
You’re under the weather now – but you can’t call in sick and cancel the show.
(Laughs) You’re so right. I mean, as much as it sucks that you get worn down and sick because of how hard you’ve been going at it, I would never want to do anything else.
Tell me about music in Louisiana.
It’s a heavy Cajun-Zydeco scene. There’s blues and a little community of indie rock, too. Musicians move around and play with each other in different bands and that’s how we came together as this collective. The scene is really one of cross-pollination. Music is a way of life.
Have Cajun-Zydeco influences found their way into your music?
A lot of those rhythms have bled into our music because we were around it all the time. There was a point when we were younger that it wasn’t cool to be into that style of music, but then there was a movement of musicians working in these styles and it’s just permeated Louisiana culture all over again.
Tell me about the making of In Light.
We recorded in January of last year at Dockside Studios in Maurice, 20 minutes away from Lafayette; it’s in the woods surrounded by Cyprus trees and so peaceful. Some of the songs came from our EP we’d released the year before and the others came from Taylor or me: we’d sit by ourselves and come up with something, then the rest of the band would bring them to life. It was five people in one room, just jamming.
I read this comment from one of your fans on a music blog: ‘I’m from Lafayette and Givers are a local treasure. [They do] many appearances at festivals and fundraisers and I am so happy [they’re] getting the recognition they deserve.’ What does this kind of support mean?
(Long pause) Wow. You’ve made me well up just telling me that. That’s Lafayette for you: so warm. It’s nice to hear because we care so much about representing Lafayette. There are so many great bands there – any night of the week you can see an incredible performance – but rarely do they get national or international attention.
Speaking of recognition, Time included you on their list of Ten Acts That Rocked South by Southwest.
Yeah, that blew our minds. That was just our second time at SXSW and we had like, eight shows, I think. You know the drill there: it’s like, 15 minutes to play, 5 minutes to get off.
Why do you think you stood out?
Our motto is simple: let go. We don’t see any reason to hold back. We’re up there to play music and connect with the audience and more importantly, ourselves. I think maybe they saw that and maybe whoever wrote it felt it personally when they watched us.
Learn more about Givers and view the official video for Up, Up, Up at giversmusic.com.
*Originally published under ‘Interviews’ on MyTelus.com.