The first point of light in the pattern stretches back to theband’s origins- lead singer/guitarist Taylor Guarisco and leadsinger/percussionist Tiffany Lamson both signed up to attend the music schoolat the University of New Orleans in the fall of 2005. A fallen-throughaccommodation led to Lamson crashing on Guarisco’s couch, bonding over theirshared love of sound. Guarisco's immersion in the sounds of New Orleans as ayouth led him to play in handful of different funk, Cajun, and Zydeco groups.This influence on his playing was easily complimented by Lamson's strongupbringing and appreciation for classic rock, soul, and pop. The musicalconnection between them was immediate and thrilling to them both. With herdrums set up in the kitchen and Guarisco on bass, the duo would play togetherlong into the night, eventually singing together as well as finding theirvoices matched each others’ perfectly. “There’s a very magical part,” explainsGuarisco. “We slowly started inspiring each other to sing more and more.Honestly, that’s one of the major miracles of my connection to Tiffany, andhers 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 BatonRouge that sealed Lamson’s status as a genuine singer.
That fall of 2005, Hurricane Katrina forced them back to theirhome of Lafayette where they began to form the basis for GIVERS. The next pointof light occurred when Guarisco found himself playing music with drummer KirbyCampbell and trumpet player Josh LeBlanc. Campbell and Guarisco hadplayed together before in various situations; they knew LeBlanc as one of themost impressive trumpeters in Lafayette. “One night we decided to meet up inthis very small practice room that had no air-conditioning, very lowceilings…it was very intimate and very loud. Josh grabbed the bassinstead 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 nightTaylor pretty much convinced me to stay.“
A few months down the road, Lamson got a call from a clublooking for a band to fill a last minute spot. Though there wasn’t a band tospeak of between her and Guarisco, they immediately called Campbell, Leblanc,along with keyboardist Will Henderson and saxophonist/keyboardist NickStephan--their most consistent companions at that point. The night would serveas yet another point of light. As the band improvised for over two hours--thecrowd’s response was immediate. “Being into improvised music and having that bea 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 playingtogether regularly, deciding to call themselves GIVERS.
The band would spend that next year holing up in Campbell’sapartment, molding improvised jams into taut, finely-honed songs, and recordingan EP along the way in the very same place. “Kirby and Will and Nick all livedin 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 agroup.” The closeness became immediately apparent in their songs. “We had allbeen in a bunch of bands, but for some reason, the chemistry with these peopleseemed to do something very special to all of us,” Guarisco says. Theirfriendships and musical bonds became a source of inspiration and empowerment.
Both Guarisco and Lamson credit being back in Lafayette as oneof the major influences on what they were creating. “I can't imaginegrowing up anywhere else and being the way we are. There is a life about themusic here. People are drawn to dance with freedom; there is a sense ofenjoyment in music that I haven't seen in many other places,” says Lamson.“Being from southwest Louisiana has an effect on everything we do,” agreesGuarisco. “The way in which we play music...the way we talk...the way wethink...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, wehave all learned how to slow down and appreciate life as it is herenow--something that in most parts of the world is totally lost. All of this isdirectly reflected in every aspect of our music, as well as every othercelebratory music in Louisiana--whether it be Zydeco, Cajun, Creole, jazz, orfunk.”
After a few more shows, their break came when Lamson approachedtheir future manager,Aaron Scruggs, booker for Baton Rouge venue SpanishMoon. “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. Withthe band’s members returning to school and scattering across the countryimminently, the show would decide the future of GIVERS. Scruggs eventuallybooked them for a Friday night and was impressed enough to offer them anopening spot for Dirty Projectors in July--one of the only stops in their tourwhere they happened to need an opener. “With that one show, everybody droppedout of their college career, the touring Zydeco band, and whatever elseprevented 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 enoughthat night in Baton Rouge to book them as an opener for the east coast leg oftheir fall tour. "It was that tour that solidified our paths in music. Wethought, if this can happen, anything can happen." explains Guarisco.
After choosing Louisiana native and Dockside studio engineerKorey Richey to co produce their debut record, GIVERS and Richey spent roughlya year working on In Light before signing with GlassnoteEntertainment. Richey knew how to work with GIVERS to add to their alreadystrong ideas and draw stunning performances out of the band. Each song on theresulting record, In Light, perfectly captures the excitingenergy of GIVERS. “Up Up Up,” which was born out of the band’s secondimprovised show, is a bouncing ode to resilience. It features waves ofglimmering programming and infectious guitar peals. “On one end," Guariscoexplains, "there’s a joyful, celebratory side of the album." Thesesongs were mixed by the acclaimed Ben Allen. But the other side of InLight tells a different story.
“Atlantic” is a meditative song, placing Lamson’s once-hiddenvocals at the forefront. Her delicate ukulele gives way to almost Celtic beatswhile her voice, warm and gritty, echoes out over the song. These darker,moonlit songs, were mixed by the master of textures, Chris Coady. His backcatalog includes Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio, and Beach House. All of theseforces combined help transform a powerful collection of songs into InLight, an album balanced in booming energy and rich texture.
In listening to In Light, it’s easy to hear whatpropelled the band so quickly to blog buzz, coastal tours and opening slots forDirty Projectors and Ra Ra Riot. While on tour with Ra Ra Riot, the bandmade a stop at the Austin City Limits festival, where their set was seen byDaniel Glass, founder of Glassnote Entertainment Group, who was immediatelytaken by their sound and charisma. “GIVERS are genuine, unique anduplifting,” says Glass. “Their live show is a visceral experience thatcaptivates you, and makes you feel like a member of the band.”
Above all is the unrelenting positivity in every note of therecord, central to the band’s polarity. It’s the joy that only the trulygracious can have, and in discussing their trajectory, they marvel at thepattern 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 – itwouldn’t be the constellation that is GIVERS.”