New Orleans-based JOVM mainstays People Museum — currently co-founders Claire Givens (vocals), Jeremy Phipps (trombone), Aaron Boudreaux (drums, keys) and Charles Lumar II (bass, tuba) — have established a sound that draws from pop music and the rich and lush musical and cultural roots of their hometown.
Additionally, each of the members of People Museum has an eclectic upbringing that informs their fresh take on electro pop:
- Claire Givens grew up in the woods of North Louisiana and has a background in choral and sacred music.
- Aaron Boudreaux grew up in Acadia and has spent the better part of a decade as a film composer with Maere Studios for a decade while touring the world as a member of a Grammy-nominated French Creole band. While touring with Tamino earlier this year, he was approached to write songs and score an upcoming film with acclaimed studio A24.
- Jeremy Phipps has been a New Orleans brass band staple since he was a kid, and Charles Lumar II have toured as a member of Solange‘s backing band for years.
Sonically, the JOVM mainstays work has ranged from haunting to joyfully cathartic and dance floor friendly and rooted in a sound that meshes electro pop soundscapes with ethereal vocals and New Orleans brass.
People Museum’s long-awaited sophomore album Relic was released earlier this month. Thematically, the album sees the band exploring and unpacking their growing anxieties about climate change and preservation, the sense of communion rooted in their hometown’s deep cultural history, family and aging among others. Fittingly, the album is a poignant love letter to their hometown. And while the majority of the album focuses on the external relationships with our environment and others, at points the album does turn inward.
The album’s latest single, album title track “Relic” is a slow-burning and meditative ballad featuring a mournful reverb-soaked horn line, a steady yet forceful backbeat, fluttering and arpeggiated synths and buzzing and wobbling bass synths paired with Givens plaintive and ethereal delivery. Sonically bringing SoftSpot and KINLAW to mind, “Relic” according to the JOVM mainstays tells the bittersweet story of two lovers, who are consciously parting ways, but cherishing the memories they’ve shared while acknowledging that there’s a happier version of themselves to discover beyond the relationship. The sentiment also manages to mirror their relationship and kinship with their hometown: After being forced to evacuate during the storms, they still felt an unwavering loyalty and devotion, which the band’s Claire Givens has described as “If I can’t go back. I will be forever be imprinted with the life I lived here.” Certainly, as a native New Yorker, I can understand and empathize with that deeply.
Directed by Nicholas Ashe Bateman and conceptualized by Bateman and People Museum’s Givens, the accompanying video features the band’s members bathed in golden light with what appears to be moonlight glistening on water behind them.