This interview was conducted and this article was written in collaboration by Maggie McHale and Nicole Almeida.
When Atwood Magazine first chatted with Adrian Galvin, the mastermind behind New York City’s Yoke Lore, last fall, he had only just released Yoke Lore’s debut EP less than six months prior. Now, a little more than a year later, Galvin has passed the one-year milestone of the debut, played a SXSW showcase, released three new singles, and traveled the globe on some pretty impressive tours. With his sophomore EP, Goodpain, due on June 16 (ILA/Yell House Records), it’s been quite a wild year for Galvin and his Yoke Lore project, something of which he is highly aware.
“…My megaphone has grown, and I’m able to reach more and more people every day,” Galvin notes. “Every week, there are more and more fans, and every release there’s another group of converts.”
Galvin and Yoke Lore’s centralization around honest storytelling has continued to work to his benefit, and even in the last few months since Atwood Magazine spoke with him, the opportunities have been ostensibly endless. Yoke Lore has curated an artistry around the project unlike anything else, and continually impresses with genre-bending sounds inspired by folk, pop, electronica, and seemingly everything in between. And, though he’s rightfully seen continued growth and recognition over the past few months, he’s not necessarily clamoring to the top.
“I’m just trying to really get the steady climb thing going, you know?” Galvin says. “You see people, artists, who blow up really fast, and it’s always a tragic, fast extinguishing. So, I’m really trying to build this up slow and steady, so I can do this for the rest of my life.”
Watch: “World Wings” – Yoke Lore
CATCHING UP WITH YOKE LORE
Atwood Magazine: So we wanted to talk to you, because the debut EP, Far Shore, is now a year old. It’s wild that it’s already been a year that you’ve officially been ‘Yoke Lore.’ What have you seen happen over the last year, since you put that out, and how do you think you can progress, moving on from it?
Yoke Lore: Yeah, a lot has happened! I’ve been so lucky to have been given the opportunities that I’ve been given, and the doors that have been opened for me this last year. I think one of the biggest things about it has been the people on my team; the people that I’ve gathered around me in the last year. My manager, my lawyer, my agents, publicists — it’s like building an army, you know? It’s like raising an army and calling your banner men.
And you’re at the head of it all!
Yoke Lore: Yeah, exactly. I just light the beacon and see who comes to fight the war. And I’ve had the most amazing people come and help me, and fight this “war” with me. It’s the best war to fight; it’s such a happy war. But – it is a war. It’s like, definitely an uphill climb. But, yeah, over the past year, I’ve seen some crazy stuff, and I’ve done some crazy stuff, and I think it’s hard a lot of times, to keep a larger perspective. You know, like, some days, when nothing’s going on, I’m like, “Holy shit, my life is fucked. I’m not doing anything today. I should be making all this music, I should be out meeting all these people.” And it’s good, in those situations, to be like, “Look at the year, not at the hour.”
Do you feel like you always have to keep yourself busy?
Yoke Lore: That’s kind of a compulsion of mine, I think. I’m a little untiring in my ability to push myself with this stuff, with music and such. I think it just kind of comes from this idea that — which is on this [new] EP a lot — struggle is good for you. I do like physical stuff like that, because it’s just like, I believe that the mind is the body, and the body is the mind. Also, I very much believe that just like, trying really hard is good. Like, really pushing yourself further, and being challenged, and meeting your limit is a really good thing. And on the EP, […] there’s a song called “Goodpain,” and it’s about that; it’s good to go through periods or moments or experiences of pain in order to enrich everything else, in order to enrich the moments where you’re not going through pain. A lot of people, I feel like, live in this constant state of, “Ugh, I’m so busy, I can’t sit down,” and it’s important to know that you’re — it’s the same thing, it’s always perspective. The periods of pain are good, and they’re necessary, almost, and essential for you to keep yourself real and true. There’s like, this [Daoist] idea of the “little death.”
Listen: “Goodpain” – Yoke Lore
What has been the most challenging part in the last year, because you kind of had to reintroduce yourself from your previous projects?
Yoke Lore: I think the most difficult part has just been — I think it’s that day-to-day thing; it’s tough on a day-to-day basis, but it’s so — looking back on this year right now, I’m like, “Oh my god, this is great,” and it’s on a steady, upward climb, but if you were to ask me every day if I’m always on that upward, steady climb, I’d be like, “Fuck no! This shit happened yesterday, this person fucked up, I was two weeks late on this thing…”
Dwelling on all the little things.
Yoke Lore: Exactly, and I think that’s the hardest thing. I mean, I think it’s hard for everyone, but just keep that wider perspective in mind, and don’t get bogged down by the day-to-day, and don’t get bogged down by the semantics of it all.
And on the flip side, what kind of opportunities have you seen? What doors have opened up that maybe weren’t available before?
Yoke Lore: It’s just like, a steady — my megaphone has grown, and I’m able to reach more and more people every day. Every week, there are more and more fans, and every release there’s another group of converts. So, you know, I think it’s just, in addition to speaking to more people, I’ve also spent the year playing music, and writing music. I mean, someone asked me the other day, “What is the biggest milestone in Yoke Lore?” And I kind of said, like, there are none, really.
It’s all just one big thing that’s happening!
Yoke Lore: It’s like a steadily growing child, you know? You can’t really see — like, when a parent watches a child grow, it’s not just like one day they’re like, “Whoa, you’re grown up! That’s dope!” It just kind of happens slowly and slowly and slowly, and that’s kind of how I feel about the success of Yoke Lore. There are like, points, like, we’ve gone on some amazing tours, and I got a fucking vinyl of my own music — I think that’s insane. Things like that are cool. We played this show at Bowery Ballroom [with Shura], and that was wild. But, all of these are kind of pieces, and they’re all connected. So we’re just taking baby steps — it’s all baby steps. And each one is so important to me; each one has something to say; each one is really important to making progress.
Of course. It’s the continued growth, like you were saying. That’s awesome. It must have been wild, doing your own thing, and now reflecting back over the year. Just taking it day-by-day is good, and not having to think, ‘I have to achieve this in order to consider myself on the right path.’ You’re already on the right path.
Yoke Lore: Yeah, and I think — it’s such a strange thing, because there’s no prescribed path. I think the difficulty there is in forging your own, and being okay with that. There’s no prescription about how to go about becoming a “huge rockstar,” you know? There’s no way to go about it, and there’s no set of instructions. So, I think it becomes a lot about kind of like, being okay with setting your own milestones, and being okay with giving yourself a paycheck once in awhile, and being okay with failing.
As a musician, you kind of have to accept that failure is inevitable, at some point.
Yoke Lore: I mean, it’s a necessary part of this whole thing. Not so much in like, you have to go through a period of failure to get success, but there’s a little bit of failure in every success, and that’s a necessary part of success; that there is an innate little bit of rising above yourself, I guess. In artistry, and in finding success, you kind of have to be someone else sometimes. You have to not entertain your own — like, if I’m up there [on stage], and I’m “Adrian Galvin,” and I’m going through all of Adrian Galvin’s bullshit, then I’d never make it through a fucking set. I’d be crying, I’d get so angry, I’d freak out; so, you have to kind of put yourself aside for a second, and that’s another one of these things you start to learn how to do.
Like a stage presence or persona?
Yoke Lore: Yeah, it’s like it’s almost like, each song is kind of like, a “state.” It’s like, alright, I’m in this place now, I’m back in this concept and this set of ideas and this relationship and these people. You kind of have to view it from an arm’s length, a little bit, in order to be okay. But that’s been an interesting, like, spot of growth, and seeing how I can at once really summon the emotional value of each of these songs, but at the same time keep it at an arm’s length where I can do it without collapsing.
It's funny that you say this, because like, when you perform on stage, you’re so energetic, and then you say you keep your emotions at arm’s length, but there’s such a release. Like, especially when you’re not playing anything, you’re just singing, you’re just in a moment there on stage, letting it all go. So, how do you balance what you’re going to do on stage, and how you’re going to give out to your audience?
Yoke Lore: Yeah, it’s a constant balance that you’re striking, and it’s a constant vibration that you’re going back and forth between. It’s like, a constant negotiation that you’re constantly finding and navigating, and that’s like, I guess, part of the magic of playing music live. You have this like, emotional conversation with all these people.
Still waiting for you to bring in some of your dance background to your live performing as well. You need to showcase all of your talents! Did you design your next EP as well, the artwork for that?
Yoke Lore: Yeah, I did.
And these new songs - how do they differ from the first EP? What does it signify in terms of your evolution?
Yoke Lore: Yeah, so, the first EP was like, about a bunch of relationships, and how to deal with it. And this EP is very much about me, more so. It’s very self-involved. It’s, you know — “World Wings” is kind of about realizing this responsibility that I now have, and like, saying words that people are going to listen to, and almost like, learn, sometimes, that I need to be saying like, good shit. And that kind of freaked me out for a second. I was like, “holy shit, people are going to be repeating these words that I’m saying. I need them to have value.” So, you know, it’s that kind of idea. “Only You” is about self-reliance, in a way. It’s very easily construed as a love song, but it’s very much not. There’s an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” So, it’s about that idea. Only you are going to be the one to make you feel like shit; only you are going to be the one to make your situation any better. It’s about having that, and realizing that kind of responsibility that you have over your own emotional experience in life. And if you’re feeling one way, then like, it’s on you. Like, if you want to get better, it’s on you.
Listen: “Only You” – Yoke Lore
Change comes from within, that whole thing?
Yoke Lore: Yeah, yeah, exactly. A lot of the songs are about these ideas, kind of using yourself in more ways, and better to make your life a little bit easier.
How many songs are on the new EP?
Yoke Lore: Five!
Nice! Really, it’s just so very exciting to see where you’ll go.
Yoke Lore: Yeah, I’m just trying to really get the steady climb thing going, you know? You see people, artists, who blow up really fast, and it’s always a tragic, fast extinguishing. So, I’m really trying to build this up slow and steady, so I can do this for the rest of my life.
As Yoke Lore? No more other projects?
Yoke Lore: Who knows!
You’ve evolved a lot!
Yoke Lore: I plan to keep evolving, but I want Yoke Lore to always be around, for sure.
Adrian Galvin has procured quite an impressive musical lifestyle for himself so far. The steady rise of Yoke Lore over the past year continues to prove that Galvin shines at everything he does, and people are definitely taking notice. The Goodpain EP is bound to show even more depth to Yoke Lore than ever before, and introduce new styles of genre-bending sonic innovation that has continually separated Yoke Lore from the pack.
Galvin has been many things: a member of Walk the Moon, a member of Yellerkin, a member of Yoke Lore. He has undeniably pursued his passion, and it’s paying off; he has exponentially expounded narratives seldom comparable to his compatriots. Through his many iterations as a musician over the years, one thing has remained consistently true: Galvin wants to tell you a story. So you’d better gather ’round.
cover © Nicole Almeida