New Yorker Adrian Galvin has been doing the thing for a while now. In the late 2000’s he was the original drummer for alt-pop heroes Walk the Moon, and then went on to form the indie folk outfit Yellerkin. Enter Yoke Lore, Gavin’s newest artistic venture.
It’s the perfect blend between indie, folk, and synthpop – and considering his musical background it makes sense. His latest work, the Goodpain EP, is an introspective collection of songs that are both heartfelt and excitable. Promising to reinvent himself yet again on the next batch of songs, only one thing’s for sure – even if Yoke Lore was to abruptly end tomorrow, you know Galvin would rise from the ashes with a new bag of tricks, and more impressive body of work than his last.
Interview and Photography by Andy Gorel
Andy: How’d you get into playing music?
Adrian: I started on drums. I started cause my sister wanted to play drums, in my sister’s like the coolest thing since sliced bread. I was like “Yeah, I definitely wanna play drums too.” Like two weeks later she was like, “Yeah, nah, I don’t wanna do this.” But I was down. It was awesome. I loved it.
I was a pretty energetic kid, it was good for me to have something to bang on. My parents stuck me in the basement, and were like “Have at it kid.”
Andy: So you’re from New York?
Adrian: Yeah, I grew up in Westchester.
Andy: How did that come into the equation?
Adrian: It was wonderful. I was like a little Mowgli child. Running around barefoot all year, spent a lot of time in the woods.
Andy: Did you go to a lot of shows?
Adrian: No, I started going to shows later on in college. I didn’t really go to a lot of shows in high school. I was in a lot of bands, and more concerned with my own music I guess. My own Motley Crue covers, and being a rockstar at like 13.
“I still don’t know what I want to do for a living. It kinda just happens. Just following the flow of where life is taking me.”
Andy: When did you know it was what you wanted to do for a living?
Adrian: Dude, I still don’t know what I want to do for a living. It kinda just happens. Just following the flow of where life is taking me. I’m the kind of person that needs to be doing a lot of things at once. So when I got to college I started making music with Nick, formed that band, and did some stuff. Then it kind of slowed down for me and my interests, and I was like “Alright, gotta go back to college.” Finished my major. When I left I started that band Yellerkin, and a folk trio at the time called Poor Remy. Once that started slowing down I was like, “Okay let’s do this.” I’m also a yoga teacher, and I’m in a dance company. So things are always moving and changing, getting replaced by each other. I don’t know what I’m gonna do for a living. This definitely isn’t a living at this point (laughs). I’m supporting myself for sure and some other people, but it’s all subject to constant flux.
Andy: You went to Kenyon College in Ohio. You said you finished your major. What did you study there?
Adrian: (grins and pauses) I made my own major while I was at school. The name of it was “Encountering Self-Divinity, Paths and Liberation Theology, and German Social Theory.”
Andy: You’re definitely the first person to major in that.
Adrian: Yeah, I think so. Kenyon was like fucking paradise. It was incredible. We were in a really small community of like-minded individuals in this little polis on a hill in Ohio, and everyone was like super smart and interesting and good-looking. It was a little oasis of intellectual study. You look at it now and there are so many people who came out of Kenyon. Half Waif, Pinegrove, Walk the Moon, me.
“I think it’s also just the time of life you really start to understand what you look for in people, what you need from the people around you, but you feel like you can give to them. It’s a really huge time for everyone.”
Andy: How important were those years to your identity as an artist and/or performer?
Adrian: Huge, I think being in Walk the Moon didn’t pan out for me and Walk the Moon. It was the first time I went on tour for real, and the first time I started playing big shows. I think it really help me define what I needed and what I wanted out of that kind of experience. In addition to Kenyon being just a really rich environment from which you start to build a certain belief system or value system. I think it’s also just the time of life you really start to understand what you look for in people, what you need from the people around you, but you feel like you can give to them. It’s a really huge time for everyone.
Andy: It was there you joined Nick Petricca as drummer of Walk the Moon. Did being a part of that project contribute to your own artistic voice at all?
Adrian Yeah, definitely. I think writing with Nick – he’s a big influencer on how I think about pop music, but also writing with three other singers was something that I really hadn’t done before. It was something that I want to do with every project ever again because everyone in that band was in an a cappella group at some point at Kenyon. So we wrote together as a group and it was something I had never really done before. I think because we’re all really strong vocalists it added a texture to songwriting for me.
Andy: How do you feel all the projects you’ve been a part of so far contribute to the identity of Yoke Lore?
Adrian: I think they’re part of it. I don’t think they contribute to it, I think they’re part and parcel of Yoke Lore.
“You don’t get to the next place unless you really suss out where you are at the moment. Both of those projects were snapshots of where I was at the moment, as is this, and this will lead into whatever comes next.”
Andy: What is Yoke Lore to you?
Adrian: It’s a glimpse of my sonic identity I guess. What the Moon was very much a part of me, and what I wrote for Walk the Moon was very much part of me. Same with Yellerkin. They were these songs about where I’m at, at the time and what I’m thinking about – what’s motivating me, and what’s driving me at the time. That shit changes, but you don’t get to the next place unless you really suss out where you are at the moment. Both of those projects were snapshots of where I was at the moment, as is this, and this will lead into whatever comes next.
Andy: Where does the inspiration for Yoke Lore songs come from?
Adrian: The first record was from my relationships with different women that I’ve known, and have all been really important to me. Goodpain is more about my relationship to this whole thing. “World Wings” is about my relationship to my lyrics. A while ago, this girl tweeted out to me a lyric of mine, and it was not a good lyric. It freaked me out. I was like “Holy shit, I’m writing this bullshit and people are repeating it.” I realized that I needed to step up a little bit, and bring something to the table when I was writing. “Only You” is about my relationship to my responsibility to my own situation. Wherever you’re at at the time being you have to know that you got yourself there, and only you can get yourself to the next place. “Goodpain” is about my relationship to struggling, and my relationship to conflict. It’s all about different mazes that I have to navigate.
Andy: Your sound is definitely a bit left-of-center, but are there any big pop artists who really influence your music?
Adrian: Nas. I’m a huge Nas fan. He blows my mind. There are also some people that I’m really influenced by like George Jones. He’s an unbelievable country singer from Nashville.
Andy: Any songwriters you really like?
Adrian: I aspire to have that soulful quality of Leonard Cohen or someone like that who is singing these epic poems in songs. That’s really incredible.
“I think a lot of being an artist is allowing yourself to grow and change. Allowing yourself to take risks and go new places. It can be hard for an audience who has an idea of what they want to hear, but I want to keep exploring.”
Andy: What about the next chapter of Yoke Lore? What can people expect?
Adrian: They definitely shouldn’t expect this. They shouldn’t expect Yoke Lore to sound like Yoke Lore next time. Maybe it’s gonna be a little different. I think a lot of being an artist is allowing yourself to grow and change. Allowing yourself to take risks and go new places. It can be hard for an audience who has an idea of what they want to hear, but I want to keep exploring. I want to keep growing and changing, adding and subtracting, and trying out different combinations to see where they get me.