Yoke Lore: “I’m really making it my goal to make everyone feel like I’m there for them.” (8/19 at UT)

Today Yoke Lore (AKA Adrian Galvin) released his latest single (and lyric video), “Hallucinate,” off of his upcoming debut LP, Toward A Never Ending New Beginning, which drops September...

Today Yoke Lore (AKA Adrian Galvin) released his latest single (and lyric video), “Hallucinate,” off of his upcoming debut LP, Toward A Never Ending New Beginning, which drops September 22nd on Yell House Records.  Additionally, the indie rock singer/songwriter is set to kick off The Holy Havok Tour on Saturday, August 19th, at our very own Union Transfer.  I recently got a chance to chat with Galvin via Zoom about the history of Yoke Lore (which began with debut EP Far Shore in 2016), his literary influences (which include the novelist behind Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and an ancient Chinese divination text), and his biggest headlining tour yet.

Izzy Cihak: You’re gearing up to release Toward A Never Ending New Beginning, your first LP.  What can fans expect of the full-length?

Adrian Galvin: I’ve only released EPs, about four or five songs, and so I feel like there is definitely a bit more of an exploration here, a bit more cohesion, and a bit more space.  I go more places than I have before.  I think fans can expect a larger exploration of what I’m trying to do, ‘cause it’s both a bit intimidating to make an album, but also, in the end, I had to pare it down from way too many songs, because in an album, you wanna say something complete.  You wanna come with like a well-researched paper, so to speak.

Izzy: You were saying you were exploring more sounds on the LP than on all of the EPs and singles, but was the process of writing and recording any different, or did it feel any different, than when you were doing the shorter releases or just individual songs?

Adrian: I think when the pandemic hit, I just went into a writing hovel, and kind of just wrote for a couple of years.  And I don’t think that’s the normal way people make records [laughs].  But it was kind of this forced seclusion, in a way, which I think ended up really helping me out.  I think it ended up really doing me a service and allowing me the space and time that I needed to really be able to articulate myself, and to be able to find something new that I hadn’t really touched on before, that I thought was valuable enough to give to the world.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to this new music so far, whether things people have written about it, things fans have told you, or just reactions the songs have gotten from live audiences?

Adrian: Yeah!  I released a song called “Winona” when I was on my last tour, opening for Goth Babe, and the day after I released it, everyone knew the words to it.  That was wild!  I think fans are a little bit more engaged with me this time around, just because I’ve been with them for longer and they’ve been with me for longer.  But I think the reception has been good.  I feel like the record has gone through a lot of iterations and a lot of the songs have changed a ton, just because I had two years to like beat this dead horse [laughs].  I want people to have all different reactions.  I play a lot of banjo on this record on certain songs, and there’s no banjo on certain songs.  A lot of it sounds like folk, and a lot of it sounds like pop.  A lot of it is more rocky that I’ve done before, like a lot harder hitting drums than I’ve used before.

Izzy: I know that the album was largely inspired by the I Ching.  What is it that inspired you to look to this text, or how did you come across it?

Adrian: My favorite writer is named Tom Robbins.

Izzy: Oh, okay!  I know Tom Robbins.  I mean, not personally, but his work [laughs].

Adrian: He’s like my favorite writer, and I have several songs about his books.  But I was reading through one of his books one day, and he mentions it kind of offhand, like, “Oh yeah, she was like throwing I Ching coins and divining hexagrams and stuff.”  And I learn everything cool from Tom Robbins, so I was like, “I gotta check this shit out!”  And I’d been teaching yoga for a long time… and it made a lot of sense to me.  The baseline idea in Taoism, and that informs the I Ching, is that all life is flux and that you’re constantly going through some sort of transition.  And these ancient dudes mapped out about 64 different transitions, and you kind of just see where you’re at.  And the idea in Taoism is that the Tao is ineffable, and, like, you can’t talk about the Tao, but I think you can sing about it [laughs], because life is flux and music is movement and the body is like a machine that’s always going.  So, I think it’s a lot easier to move through transitions in music.  It’s a lot easier to feel like flux is productive when you’re dancing.  It’s a lot easier to experience change when you’re dancing through it and singing through it and you’re with a couple hundred people who are all doing it together.

Izzy: I was looking through your Spotify playlists, and you seem to be a fan of a lot of artists we love, like Mr. Twin Sister, Broken Social Scene, Overcoats, and PRONOUN, so I’m curious what you were listening to a lot of at the time you were conceiving of these songs, whether or not you feel like it directly influenced you?

Adrian: A lot of times I don’t listen to a ton when I’m writing, just because I’m like a sponge and I need to be careful about what I expose myself to.  I mean, I’m always listening to stuff and I’m always taking from stuff, but I think the idea is more to be inspired by things that aren’t music, like the I Ching or Tom Robbins.  I really try to go towards art that makes me want to bring music into ideas, rather than art that makes me want to bring music into music.

But, I do have influences for this record.  A big one is this guy, Labi Siffre.  He’s like this British dude from the ‘70s.  He’s like an amalgamation of James Taylor and Stevie Wonder.  He’s like better than them, and he’s incredible.  So, Labi Siffre is a big one for me.  Modest Mouse has always and will always be huge for me.  I think the force with which they play folk music is so incredible.  Also, I’ve been listening to a lot of The Modern Lovers lately, and Jonathan Richman is amazing.  My brother’s in a band called Show Me The Body…

Izzy:  Oh, okay!  I was not aware of that, and I saw that!  We covered them and it was actually opening night of their tour earlier this year, actually at the same venue you’re playing.  And I was like, “That’s kind of out of place,” but that totally makes sense now!

Adrian: Our mothers are actually identical twin sisters.  And so we grew up pretty much as brothers, because we’re like genetically half-brothers.  And I remember I brought the banjo home one day, and I was like, “Julian!  This is the new thing!”  And he’s like, “Ooookay.”  But I’m always listening to a lot of music with Julian, and around that time we were getting into this Leftover Crack phase, and Suicidal Tendencies.  I’ve come back to it since I was younger, a lot of that like Rancid, even Bad Brains and stuff.  I’m kind of starting to get back into the hardcore thing a little bit, just because there’s nothing more evocative than hardcore music.  There’s nothing that is as energetic or as honest and forthright as real good hardcore, ya know?

Izzy: Your last single, “Shake,” has been out for almost a month now, and you have a really cool music video for the song.  What is it that inspired the concept behind the video?

Adrian: I don’t usually do this, but I was actually talking to Julian and he had just made a video where he really heavily referenced this scene from a Scorsese film where these friends are kind of like passing around a gun and there’s this weird moment where this guy gets ridiculed by his friend, and I was like, “That’s cool!  That’s awesome!  You’re awesome, I love you!”  And I have a lot of music videos that I create, I star in, I direct, I do the whole thing.  So, I kind of like wanted to bring something else in.  And so I found a bunch of these old Otis Redding videos.  There’s a bunch of these live Otis Redding videos from a tour he did in the early ‘70s, and the videos are just beautiful, and they’re really grainy, and they’re just in these concert halls, so everything’s black around him, and it’s just him, and he’s like sweating profusely and he’s like really going in.  And they’re just really beautiful films.  I’m a huge Otis Redding fan, and I thought it was a cool piece of musical history to reference and something I was honored to kind of try to emulate.

Izzy: And this is a huge question, I realize, but despite the fact that you’re gearing up to release your first full-length, you have been making music and touring for quite a number of years now.  What have been some of the highlights of Yoke Lore so far?

Adrian: Wow!  That is a big question.

Izzy: Whether it be reactions it’s gotten, or experiences it’s afforded you, or anything else…

Adrian: I remember the moment I came up with the name Yoke Lore, and it felt so real and correct and right.  That was a big highlight!  [Laughs] I was like deciding how to move into this new world, and it kind of just popped into my head, and it was like, “Fuck!  Yes!  This is what I want to do.”  That was a big one.

I think the first time I heard my music on the radio was pretty wild; it was a pretty big one.  It was with the song “Goodpain,” and they played it on some indie rock station in LA, and it was awesome.

Another highlight was this last tour with Goth Babe, I played to the biggest crowd I’ve ever played to, and that was really incredible.  I think it was in DC, at The Anthem?

Izzy: Yeah, The Anthem!  It’s owned by the same people as the 9:30 Club.  It’s like the bigger, crazier one.  But yeah, I’ve been there!

Adrian: It was enormous, and it was awesome, and that was a huge highlight for me.  That was a really beautiful night.

Songwriting and music creation is like tennis.  It’s like a personal battle that you’re fighting with yourself the whole time.  And the times where you find moments of breakthrough or moments of ease, even, are really wonderful.  Ya know, there are songs that I write that are real struggles, that I have to kind of like wrestle to the ground, and like keep there while I decide what it is and figure it out.  And there are some songs that just come like that, and I feel like are given to me.  “Winona” is actually one of those songs that – I don’t wanna sound weird or religious – it was like bestowed upon me.  It felt like it all came at once.  It all came without any questions, without any doubts.  And those are really, really magical moments for any artist to have something flow through them really naturally.  And it’s fuckin’ rare, and a really beautiful and amazing thing to have happen to us.

Izzy: You’re actually kicking off The Holy Havoc Tour right here in Philadelphia at Union Transfer, where your brother kicked off his last tour… which I’m just finding out [laughs].  What can be expected of the live show on these dates, in terms of setlist, production, and just the general vibe of the night?

Adrian: I’m gonna be playing a lot of new stuff.  I want to introduce people to the new music, the new world of Yoke Lore.  I’m expanding my band, bringing more people out this time, and expanding the production.  I think everything is just getting a little bit elevated.  I want to move into this new world of Yoke Lore.  I want to find bigger ways to create smaller moments.  Like, I want to find more expansive ways to be more specific.  And I wanna find larger words to encapsulate really, really intimate feelings.  And I’ve been trying to figure out how to translate that into a live show, and the whole live experience, and how to make everyone feel like they’re being addressed, specifically and intimately and personally.  I want everyone to feel really heard and seen and understood.  And, as I’m getting into these bigger and bigger venues, it’s a different game when you’re doing that for a couple thousand people, versus a couple hundred.  And so, on these shows I’m really making it my goal to make everyone feel like I’m there for them.

Izzy: You’re doing these dates with girlhouse, who I also really love.  How did you connect with Lauren and what are your thoughts on her music?

Adrian: Honestly, I’m just a fan.  I’m just a big fan, and I’ve been a fan for a while and I reached out, and she was like, “Hell yeah!” and I was like, “Fuckin’ awesome!”  It was great.  It worked out perfectly!

Izzy: Yeah, I saw her last summer…  I forget who she was opening for, but it was at the TLA, so it was like a big show, like a 1,000-person show.  But yeah, I totally dig her music!

Adrian: She’s awesome!

Izzy: Are there any shows you’re especially excited about on this run, whether venues you love, cities where you’ve always played good shows, or even just cities you especially enjoy visiting?

Adrian: I’m really excited for my Philly show!  I’ve only ever played Johnny Brenda’s, half a million times [laughs], which I love.  Johnny Brenda’s is classic.  And then I’ve played The Foundry a bunch…

So, I’m really excited for my Philly show, and I’m always excited to play New York, my hometown.  I always love it.  I’m really excited to play the 9:30 Club.  That’s kind of like a bit of a bucket list for me.  I’ve seen a lot of good shows there.  I saw Animal Collective there a couple years ago.  That’s a beautiful room.  I’m really excited for it.

Izzy: Yeah, that’s the room that I kind of grew up going to in high school, because I’m from between Baltimore and DC, so from like ninth grade to… Like, I moved here when I was almost 19, but I would still go back there because it is such a great room, especially for that size.  It still feels intimate, despite being kind of a big room.

Adrian: I think it’s like the room that I view as the last small big room before you get to rooms that are like too big.  All the bands that I grew up listening to I’ve seen at 9:30 Club.  It’s not like the biggest venue in the world; it’s still accessible.

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you?  How are you hoping and planning to spend the last quarter of 2023?  Is there anything you’re especially excited about?

Adrian: I’m pretty much touring until it’s up, which I’m really excited about.  I love touring, I love being on the road.  I really am excited to play these songs live for people and offer people new ways to articulate the changes going on in their lives.  I also just hope I get to reach as many people as I possibly can with this record.  I think music is not just a universal language, but a binding force, and Yoke means to bind things together.  And so I’m trying to bring Yoke Lore to the world, and really trying to rope us all in together.  But, in terms of the end of the year, I really just want to sweat as much as possible onstage, really just go for it and give it my all.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.