Art Works Blog

Art Talk with the Givers

Givers. From left to right: Josh LeBlanc, Tiffany Lamson, Taylor Guarisco, Kirby Campbell, and Nick Stephan. Photo courtesy of Givers

This is the moment that you need to be in.” ---Tiffany Lamson

Givers is a band that consists of five friends from Lafayette, Louisiana---the art that they create is simply an expression of that bond. Kirby Campbell (drums, vocals), Taylor Guarisco (vocals, guitar), Nick Stephan (keyboards, saxophone, flute), Tiffany “Teddy” Lamson (vocals, percussion, ukulele, guitar), and Josh LeBlanc (bass, trumpet) played “connect-the-dots” with one another throughout their college years. Through music improvisation and collaboration, the band weaves together an assortment of instruments and genres---including Creole and Zydeco influences---to create a new and refreshing sound. Earlier this summer, Givers released their debut full-length album, In Light, with Glassnote Records, the company notable for launching indie darlings Phoenix, as well as Mumford & Sons.

Though their album only recently hit shelves (and the Internet), the band is using their short breaks off the road to hang out and to continue to create music. We caught up with Tiffany Lamson over the phone as she drove to meet up with “the boys,” who were tucked away off a river basin at a camping site in Louisiana.

NEA: Did you always intend to pursue music professionally?

TIFFANY LAMSON: I always really had that dream... I always felt like in my heart that was kind of what I wanted to do and my mom always encouraged me to go for that dream. But as a kid, it just seemed really far-fetched because there are so many bands and ways [that] life could play out.

NEA: I understand that Hurricane Katrina was, shall I say, “instrumental” in bringing the band together.

LAMSON: I don’t know if we would be this band if the hurricane hadn’t happened. Taylor and I were both living in New Orleans---actually in the same house playing music together. That hurricane brought us back to Lafayette. We had to evacuate, all of our stuff drowned, and it was a really moving experience. We took it as a positive one and just made a lot of music together. It brought me and Taylor even closer together. Then we connected with the other guys after we were back in Lafayette.

NEA: What’s the cultural scene like in Lafayette?

LAMSON: I think Lafayette is one of the most cultural places in the South. It’s the only place that you’ll find real, authentic Cajun and Zydeco music that stems from Haiti and West-African rhythms. They have so many festivals---food and music---all around the area year-round. It’s a celebration of life...which is elemental to the [local] vibe and pace. It’s something that is beautiful.

NEA: What do you think is the role of the artist in the community?

LAMSON: As an artist, there is a service that you provide to people who don’t know how to express themselves in that manner, but they can connect to it. I think it’s really important for us as artists to be open to that expression. There are different ways of art: there’s the personal therapy that comes with it, and then there’s the political side, where some people speak through their art about their religious and political views. I know a lot of people who are not musicians who still come together because of the art of music. I think it’s something that is community-driven.

NEA: Conversely, what do you think is the responsibility of the community to the artist?

LAMSON: There is such an appreciation for the art down here, especially being neighbors with New Orleans. There are a lot of artists that live down here; one of every five people you meet is an artist in some kind of way. [That being said], there are not many venues in Lafayette, so there is a spot of responsibility that is starting to come up in the community. They’re realizing how important the artists are to the whole community. Kirby [Campbell] and I curated a music festival that was geared towards genres other than just Cajun, jazz, or Zydeco. That was the way we gave back---we wanted to make a festival for other younger musicians, provide them with a space to play music and people to see them play.

NEA: With a mingling of various genres and instruments, how did the band’s sound develop?

LAMSON: Before we were together, there was a time that we all were playing different genres of music and just one instrument. My main instrument was a drum set, Josh’s was trumpet, Taylor played bass, and Nick played mostly saxophone. We all had this one genre to play on one instrument. This is a band that when we started playing together, we were like, “There are no rules. You can do whatever you want---whatever you feel.”...We gave each other the space as well as the opportunity to do whatever we felt and to express ourselves freely. There was just an open-ended vibration between all of us; we could do whatever we felt was right in the moment...It evolved into this beautiful relationship.

NEA: How do Givers create a song?

LAMSON: No song is under one formula---each one has its own process. Some stem from improvised jams that we record and listen back to, [others] stem from our own individual growth of creating---being at home alone and creating a song idea and bringing it to the band. Every song has its own way of creation, so we just need to step out of the way, let it be, and not…force.

NEA: How do you create so much infectious energy during your live shows?

LAMSON: The energy is just something we get freely. Why be up there and not enjoy what you are doing? Our aim at every show is to provide a space for everyone to be able to let go of their inhibitions---what they were thinking about earlier, what they have to do tomorrow---and just be in the moment. That’s the kind of space we try to provide for each other and the audience. This is the moment that you need to be in.

NEA: Would you agree that there is an uplifting and positive sound within your music?

LAMSON: We need something that’s positive. There’s been a long stint of negative, [depressive], kind of like a low-end vibration [in music]; we are here to bring the high end. It isn’t an easy thing because it isn’t like we are happy-go-lucky people and nothing bad happens to us, but I think it’s our change of perception. We’ve had to look at ourselves, call each other out, and even call ourselves out on things that are negative and turn them into something that we can grow from. That’s what life is about: not staying swallowed up in the mud. It’s about getting up and going on beyond that.

NEA: What does “Art Works” mean to you?

LAMSON: I think artwork is the expression of the individual, and the beauty is that you can take whatever you need or want---the viewer or listener. Artwork provides an outlet where they can dive into and take whatever they might need in that moment. I would say our artwork lies in our live show, though. If you want to be a part of the artwork, then you should check out the live show.

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