Singer-songwriter, dancer, yogi, artist, and just all around creative person Adrian Galvin (known professionally by his moniker Yoke Lore) has had quite the year so far, and he's only getting started. In addition to releasing his Goodpain EP, Galvin has toured all over the country, recorded an Audiotree session, and had his songs placed in some of your favorite TV shows. He just completed another run with Overcoats after touring with them in the spring, and on Tuesday he'll be at Lincoln Hall with the mellow British duo Aquilo. Before the show, we chatted with Galvin about everything from the process behind his EP, his core beliefs and values, pirates, bookstores, and more! Get familiar with Yoke Lore with these six facts you need to know!
He's Always Writing
Yoke Lore released a sophomore EP in June this year, as a follow up to 2016's Far Shore EP, but Galvin says his songwriting never really has a set plan. "I'm always writing. It’s a constant process for me, so there isn’t really a time where I’m like 'I’m gonna write an EP' or like 'I’m gonna write an album now.' It’s just kind of what’s happening. [Good Pain] just came together...those are the songs that felt the most...that fit most naturally next to and within one another. It was kind of like a set of ideas that I had for awhile that I wanted to elaborate on and really have to deal with. It was probably a couple months long process, but again the process is kind of on going," he says.
As far as the recording process, Galvin reveals he went a bit off the grid to knock these songs out. "So we recorded it in Connecticut in this--" he pauses before saying, "It sounds so like dumb and hipster when I say this, but it’s this converted barn. It’s really beautiful, in the middle of nowhere. The middle of the woods. It’s just a really good place to go. When we made Good Pain we didn’t have any internet hooked up yet. We were there for maybe like a week, and we would get internet and phone service when we drove into town, but other than that, we were just in this beautiful studio with an amazing array of instruments. Silly pedals. All kinds of drums and stuff." The huge selection of instruments came into play to help deliver the diverse puzzle pieces on Good Pain; each song weaves its own story with a unique tone and sonic structure, but the individual narratives come together to form a story.
He Practices Taoism
As fas as what inspires the constant flow of writing from Galvin, he gives some insight on that as well. "I get really inspired by books that I’m reading. I’m a big practitioner of the I-Ching. I'm using a lot of weird words there, but I’m a student of taoism, and I focus on the I-Ching a lot," he begins. "What is is...it’s kind of like the taoist equivalent of like tarot cards or something. You can look it up...it’s an Oracle, is what they call it. It’s a navigation tool. You use it to ask questions. The taoists believe that all life is constant flux. All life is constant change," Galvin continued. "In order to feel okay in an environment of constant flux, you have to be changing as well. So they came up with like 64 different transitions that you could possibly be going through at any different moment, and they like mapped them out. So they wrote them all down, and you throw these coins and you build a hexagram with these coin throws, and you end up with one of these 64 transitions. Then you look it up and read about it and figure out where you’re going," he added.
Galvin also says that while he uses these beliefs to guide him in life, he also uses them to guide his art. "I use it to really like find and map out and follow movements in myself and in my writing. I think the ideas that it contains really inspire me. The idea of constant flux and figuring that out...I’m pretty sure that’s where every belief system begins. With the idea that 'this sucks, how do we figure it out?' I know that’s where Buddhism starts. The first noble truth of Buddhism is that all life is suffering. They’re like 'this sucks'. They don’t hold back. Even if you think about it, the same thing as Christianity...it’s original sin. Blanket statement: 'This sucks, where do we go from here'?" he says.
Although one of Galvin's biggest outpour of creativity comes in the form of song, he's also creative in other ways, and still pulls from his beliefs to be inspired in that work. Talking more about his passion for visual art as well, Galvin says, "I think I’ve always kind of been into it all. I’m a dancer. I have a dance company. I’m a yoga teacher. Obviously I play music, but I think that this is where music schools go wrong. And they try to make musicians by only focusing on music. To me that’s like the opposite of the point. The opposite of what we’re trying to do here. Everything else enriches everything else. If I want to be a better musician, I’m not just gonna try to be really good at playing chords. I’m going to find out the things that inspire me, and go figure those things out. The dance that I do and the movement with my body really helps me navigate my body onstage and makes me a better performer. The drawing kind of gives me these little like maps to follow that kind of like help me being to figure out where I am and where these songs are going for me. I think it all enriches every other part of it. I don’t think I could do just the one thing. It would feel incomplete, whatever it was."
Bookstores Are His Favorite Tour Pitstops
While Galvin's art is inspired by his other art, he also looks for other sources of enlightenment. Since he recently stopped over during the summer after performing with Overcoats in May, I asked Galvin to share some of his favorite spots around our city. "I do love Chicago. What’s that bookstore? Myopic Books! It’s a really great place. I spent a couple hours in that place last time I was in Chicago, after our Audiotree session, which was at like 10 in the morning. After an all night drive we parked ourselves in this bookstore and zoned out for a couple hours. I always try to find a really good bookstore in a lot of cities. It’s one of my favorite things to do," he says.
As far as his other favorite stops in Chicago, Galvin says, "I went to the Carhartt store, which is down the road from that, which I fucking loved. It’s rare to find a whole store. I’m a big fan of Carhartt, which is this kind of industrial clothing brand. A lot of constructions workers wear it, but they make the best stuff because it wears so well. It breaks apart so nicely!"
He's A History Buff
In addition to reading books on the road, Galvin enriches his mind by listening to podcasts that are equal parts entertaining and educational. In the realm of educational podcasts, Galvin loves learning about history. "We don’t really listen to music at all. I guess I listen to music if I’m like in a venue or before a show by myself, but in the car on these long drives, we’ve gotten really into these long form history podcasts. There’s this dude Dan Carlin, who is the godfather of history podcasting. One of the most brilliant dudes I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. He goes into such fanatical detail about historical events that you could just listen to for hours on end," he says. "We’ve gone through his entire catalog at this point, so we’ve used him up. We’re on episode 90 of the "History of Rome" right now, which we’re gonna continue on from our last tour. We’re just getting into it...the History of Rome is like 300 episodes or something, so we’re just getting through the Caesars and it’s just about to get good," Galvin continues.
While most people might get that "tour brain" when everything sort of becomes autopilot for them, Galvin seizes the opportunity to stay on his toes. "I love making tour into an intellectual experience. When I can make these long drives into history lessons, it makes tour so much nicer. It keeps me stimulated. It keeps me guessing," he adds. By listening to so many history podcasts, Galvin has also been able to throw out random facts and trivia knowledge...especially about Pirate vernacular. "We were listening to the History of Pirates actually. There’s this vernacular that you find in the English language that’s just like Pirate Speak. They used to whip sailors who were not obeying their orders. They used this whip called the "Cat of 9 Tails", which was a whip with 9 strings, with either little knots or rocks or a piece of metals at the edge or their strings. Really terrible thing. You didn’t want to get whipped with the Cat of 9 Tails. So the Captain or the First Mate who would do the whipping, would leave the whip in a bloody bag on the deck. Everyone was like don’t fuck up, don’t let the cat out of the bag. There’s so many things like that," he revealed. The more you know...
Most of His Songs Have Two Sides to Them
Some of the best songs that can stand the test of time are those that can stand out even when they're completely stripped back. On the recorded version of Yoke Lore's Goodpain EP, there's layers and layers that come together to form the finished product, but the songs Galvin writes always begin with the bare bones. However, some lucky fans get the chance to absorb that first step of the process depending on the live setting they catch Yoke Lore. Talking about his recent stop in Chicago this summer to do an Audiotree session and a Sofar Sounds show, Galvin says, "Audiotree was a full set, but we had to drive through the night to make it to that. We were driving from Denver the night before. Then we played a Sofar in Philly too." For the Sofar Sounds performances in Chicago and Philadelphia, Galvin performed a solo set with just his banjo. "I really like the acoustic thing because it’s...my music is very big and expansive sounding. There’s a lot of like synths and sweeps and stuff, and it’s nice to just pair it down and really give people what I wrote in my bedroom like a year ago. I like that I can offer both iterations, and I think that both iterations are meaningful and have value in their own way," he adds.
Being able to have a strong acoustic and raw version of a song, in addition to an organic sounding song that's been fully produced actually proves to be quite rare these days. "I think it’s like a test of a good performer who can perform without any bullshit. And I think it’s a test of a good song that you can play it with just one instrument and it can still be a good song," Galvin concurred. However, it still surprises people to see a Yoke Lore song done with just a banjo. Laughing, Galvin says,"I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten up there and people are like 'whoa you play the banjo?!'"
He's Friends With Tourmates, Overcoats
Besides educating himself and being a multidimensional performer, Galvin admits his tour mates are also a huge part of being out of the road. Talking about the best friend pairing behind Overcoats, Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, Gavin gushes, "I fucking love those girls so much my gosh. They’re the best. We toured with them whenever it was earlier this year. We had an amazing time with them!"
Thinking back on his first run with Overcoats, Galvin added, "I love their music so much. We had a great time with them. We had a little bit of a rough tour the first leg cause we did a leg in the midwest, and a leg on the west coast. It was just spring...seasons were changing, and we were just sick. We were all just dying. Then we all started getting injured. This one morning I had this cough I couldn’t shake, and I was like fuck it, let’s go to Urgent Care and get me some antibiotics so I can kick this thing. So we get to the Urgent Care, we get the antibiotics and we call the girls to meet up for brunch, and they were like 'Actually we can’t we’re at Urgent Care, Hannah hurt her foot last night!' We were like what?! We’re at Urgent Care!" Even through the rough times, Galvin says he and the Overcoats crew had a great time in general.