Interview – Givers’ Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco
-by Ria Nevada
Earlier this year, Givers nearly blew the lid off Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret when they opened for indie sensation Ra Ra Riot.
Hundreds of attendees, who were unfamiliar with the newcomers, quickly grew enamoured with the quirky, charismatic and gutsy performers from Lafayette, Louisiana. Since their first Canadian stint, talk has circulated, not only in Vancouver, but throughout North America and the UK about the eclectic band.
Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco talked to The Snipe about their well-deserved notoriety amongst critics and fans. The musicians were quick to downplay their long list of achievements. Instead, they preferred talking about simple pleasures: their connection with the international music from their hometown, and the natural development of their first full-length record, In Light.
Givers return to Vancouver for a headlining spot at the Media Club on Monday, Sept 5 2011.
Ria Nevada:I have been dying for the chance to talk to you guys since I saw you open for Ra Ra Riot at the Biltmore a few months ago! I was blown away by the energy you guys bring to a live show. How do you prepare for such a rigorous set, night after night?
Tiffany Lamson: Water, you know, helps.
Taylor Guarisco: Lots of water. Maybe ah, between water and being in a place where whenever we go out on stage we’re a band that’s very, I should say, we’re at this place right now and we’re always gonna be at this place where whenever we see people that are actually coming out to see us, like they’re there in front of us and about to listen to our songs, that’s not just the day-to-day regular old bullshit.
That’s like a crazy thing for people to go see your music and we don’t take it lightly. We take it very seriously. And anytime we see people at our shows it brings about this kin of like, “Wow, these people are here to see us! Let’s give them the best show that we can possibly give them.” Because that’s what they came for, you know? You just like have to treat every show like it’s the most important show ever. Um, I think that mentality just kind of like prepares and gets us ready to play every show the best it can possibly be at.
RN: Right, so you feed off the energy of the crowd. Cool, so the bright rhythms and beats in your music got the crowd going as well. What influenced your heavily percussive sound?
TL: Rhythm is one of the main elements down here [Lafayette]. I think being raised around that kind of music, you know. We have a lot of festivals down here, it’s really international with music from around the world. There’s West African music – the rhythms of Haiti – it’s something that’s really prominent in this area, so that’s definitely one part why that is also dominant in our music.
RN: Over the past year and a bit you’ve been featured at several festivals including a coveted spot at SXSW, you played on Jimmy Fallon‘s show, and I just saw the video for “Up Up Up”. Have you been able to sit back, relax and enjoy your rise to fame?
TG: [Laughs] That’s funny. Like just you saying those words…
TG: “Rise to fame”.
TL: Sounds like a foreign movie.
TG: It’s like I need subtitles for whatever that’s supposed to mean because in many ways that’s like, not the reality that we acknowledge.
RN: Right, but someone else says it. It does sound like a long list of achievements, you know?
TG: Yeah, we recognize that there are a lot of people that are recognizing our music. We don’t ever want to be a band that gets caught up in that. We want to be a band that just goes deeper and deeper into being creative and making more and more meaningful music for people to connect with. We don’t ever want to be a band that…
TL: Cares about the fame. That status is just fake and kind of like, not really what music is about.
RN: But your popularity or notoriety is extremely well deserved by the way! You guys have had a hectic touring schedule. What things do you miss most from your hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana?
TL: Mostly just sleeping in my own bed! That’s like the the basic level, “oh man I miss that bed.” Oh and the food. Food’s good here.
RN: I can imagine! Any must see’s, must eat’s, and must do’s that you can recommend for a person who’s never been to Lafayette?
TL: Oh man, we’re gonna be on the phone for a while.
RN: What’s a food craving you get on the road?
TG: We eat a lot of Thai food being on the road, and even though we’ve been all over the place, eating Thai food everywhere, the best Thai food that I’ve ever had is actually made in Lafayette, Louisiana
TG: It’s funny, you’d think that Cajun food is the best, and yeah, there’s that too, but the best Thai food in the world for me is at Bangkok Thai in Lafayette, Louisiana. They’re not paying me to say that…
TL: It sounds like it! He’s gonna get a free meal out of this.
RN: You’re gonna get an endorsement deal right now.
TG: They should totally give me free shit, but they don’t.
TL: Yeah they do!
TG: They actually have. They’ve given me an appetizer but it actually had meat in it and I’m a vegetarian.
RN: So you guys got back from a string of gigs in the UK. And i saw your video for “Meantime” with Black Cab Sessions. It must have been such a great honour to be a part of a special project like that.
TL: It was really random, we just happened to run into them. They were like, let’s do that right now. We had already done one a couple of, oh my God, like I don’t know, a year ago or something almost? I guess it never got finished or something. But we kind of just coincidentally, it was awesome to like run into them. It came out way better than we expected just because it was one of those spontaneous, lovely occurrences.
RN: I always wondered about the Black Cab Sessions, did any of you guys get motion sickness while playing in the car?
TL: No you just get cramped up. [laughs] You’re like sitting on top of each other which is fun. It makes for more special moments.
RN: More intimate for sure! With all these projects on the go, not to mention touring, when did you find the time to write your first LP, In Light?
TL: The songs kind of developed as we were developing as a band. Some of the songs and ideas were born at our first improvisation, like we were playing at a club just as friends, and not really as a band yet, and some of the ideas that you hear on the record came from that first show. So all the songs just kind of were continuously growing as we were gaining experience and moving towards becoming a band that was gonna become a full time thing for us. So they developed in their own time. And we did spend a lot of our time arranging and really sacrificed a lot of time to put in a lot of love into making each song very special and individual.
RN: Well I hope to catch you guys again when you play at the Media Club in Vancouver early next month! Thank you so much for talking to me today.
TL: Yes! I love Vancouver so much!
TG: We love Vancouver so much and can not wait to be back.
TL: Yeah, it’s one of my favourite places to tour.
RN: Awesome, and you guys have a huge following here…
TG: We didn’t realize that!
TL: Well you met us, or I guess, I don’t know if you met us or not, but when you saw us, that was like our first time being in Canada as a band.
RN: Nice! So I’ll see you guys again soon!
TG: Awesome, Ria. Bye!
More Givers in Vancouver photos: