When creativity is good, genuine and refreshing it doesn’t mean it can’t also bring with it a nod to the cultural fabric that came before it. Exhibit A is Louisiana-bred GIVERS, a band that has delivered, with infectious energy, a carefree debut album appropriately titled In Light. Weaving regional musical influences of Cajun and zydeco into indie pop/rock, these talented guys (and a gal) don’t hold much back. Rarely following a typical song structure, their music is an explorative journey through rhythms, instruments, genres, bright melodies and changing tempos. We asked vocalist and guitarist Taylor Guarisco to talk a little bit about their home state and how the soul of Louisiana and the South influences their exhilarating music.
How would you describe your sound?
A blend of afro-influenced rock-folk-pop stuff.
What is your favorite venue in Louisiana to see or play a show?
Our favorite place to both play and watch shows would be the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge. In many ways we got our start there. The place has a really amazing system and always has good bands coming through.
What do you consider a hidden gem in Louisiana?
Our hometown of Lafayette is a hidden gem for most people. It has such a down to earth feel yet is so rich with the unique cultures of southwest Louisiana. No other place will show you this more than the Blue Moon Saloon, which is an amazing music venue/bed and breakfast. You will have the funkiest, sweatiest, most authentic time there.
What is it about the South that inspires you?
There are so many things – the way people talk, the way people cook. There is this connectedness that people have down South. People will look you in the eye, ask how you are doing, these are things that typically someone in a hurry wouldn’t consider. People in the South know how to take their time, which allows for more of the human connection to take place. The overall feeling in the air is that there is a lot to be celebrated – which is why there are so many festivals – and that life is too short to not be friendly.
How has the culture of Louisiana influenced your art?
Louisiana has influenced us in many different dimensions – the music, the social atmosphere, the celebratory approach to life. Just even the way people celebrate life down here – that is something unique to the South that’s found its way into our music.
Did you intend to incorporate Cajun and zydeco styles into your sound?
All of our musical backgrounds are different. I used to play bass in Cajun and zydeco bands. Some of us have studied jazz and classical music all throughout school. Most of us grew up with Beatles records in the house. The Cajun and zydeco you may hear in our music is definitely an indirect influence. We never consciously incorporated those influences into our songs, it was somewhat an accident, which to me, makes it even better.
Who is someone that makes you proud to live in the South?
Ben Jaffe, the musical director for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. He ended up inviting us to play their 50th anniversary show in Carnegie Hall. Ben and the whole PHJB operate from such a pure place. It’s so refreshing to find people like that these days.