People Museum are a New Orleans-based alternate pop group formed in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. The band’s affinity for pop production, traditional New Orleans music, and unique experiences in the south have formed a novel interpretation of music not typically heard in the New Orleans idiom, and it shows. The creators of People Museum, Jeremy Phipps (producer/trombonist) and Claire Givens (composer/singer), took time to share their thoughts with us on music, mental wellness, and everything in between.
How would you describe your music in three words?
When did People Museum get together?
Jeremy: A few years ago, a mutual friend of ours introduced us. We started writing songs
the same day.
Claire: It was an instant connection.
Ya’ll spent years perfecting your music before performing publicly. How has your music changed from when you first began writing together to the music and shows you create now?
Claire: I think the only thing that really changed is that as people, and as performers, we have changed. We both have this confidence as artists and performers now that I wouldn't say we almost 4 years ago when we started this band. We are bringing back songs now that we wrote in the first few sessions. The music has always been consistent with us. I think the music itself gave us that. I know that for myself, I found myself in this music we created.
Allen Toussaint has said, “Music has a role to lift you up, not to be escapist but to take you out of misery.” Reflecting on this statement, how has music helped you through difficult times?
Jeremy: It gives me a thing to wake up and do, and without being able to write songs, I don’t know if I’d have a sense of purpose.
Claire: The physical act of singing is like meditation for me. It physically changes me, my mental state, as I’m doing it.
What does the phrase, “Music for the Mind,” mean to you upon first impression?
Jeremy: For me, it’s how music can uplift your mood, unravel feelings deep inside, or help focus your brain.
What are some non-musical tools that you use to cope with stressful times, or to keep yourself grounded?
Jeremy: Lately, working out and being more physically active has been a good Yang to the Yin of making music. Music is my only career, and I can get caught up in it sometimes, forgetting I have a life outside of music. That non-music life is just as
important, family, reading, art. Exercise lately has helped draw me out of the deep music hole I can get caught in.
Claire: For me, going on long walks, especially around bodies of water. And taking time to not be an artist – going to non-career oriented events, or just doing something because it’s fun, not because it’s for a career goal. For me, I’m able to give a lot to music because I can find balance in other places where there aren’t expectations I put on myself, or are put on me by others.
What is a message that Ya’ll hope people get through your music?
Claire: Our original idea was that we just wanted people to dance with us and take time to clear their minds, to just kind of get lost in this world.
Jeremy: Definitely, it’s critical, to me, to try to make the music a moment for the listener to not have any responsibilities. Stress relief!
Learn more about People Museum at:
All photos by Jose Cotto for the Brett Thomas Doussan (BTD) Foundation.