Music/Interviews

Yoke Lore isn’t afraid of becoming a popstar

After leaving Walk the Moon to go solo, the Brooklyn-based artist is turning change into triumph.

January 31, 2018

When I spoke to Brooklyn-based artist Adrian Galvin, he had just landed in New York after returning from a much-needed vacation in Hawaii. “I was taking a little time for myself just before I start my tour,” he explained. “My homie is a farmer and he was going down to Hawaii to work on a farm for a little bit, so I decided to just tag along with him to hang out for a week before I started the grind.” When I asked him the obvious question about how laborious farm work isn’t the most traditional choice for a vacation, his response reflected an artist whose good-natured, down-to-earth approach to his craft comes easily, “Yeah, you know. Doing good things, working the earth.”

For the last few years, Adrian Galvin, who performs under the musical moniker Yoke Lore, has been a mainstay of 2010s contemporary indie music, playing in Walk the Moon and Yellerkin before breaking out on his own. After releasing his debut EP, Far Shore in 2016, Galvin hit his stride with the well-received sophomore EP Goodpain. A seamless blend of melodic pop, folk and electronica—with a healthy dose of banjo overtop deep beats—Galvin’s approach to lyricism pairs gripping lyrics rooted in real life experiences, like “I’ve been doubting all those fools saying that we’re all alone, my gut’s the only level tool I own,” which he sings on “Level Tools.”

 

Galvin is a heavy believer in the beauty of growth and change, and the name “Goodpain” stems from Galvin’s personal mantra: to get through to the good stuff in life, you have to endure some pain. “It’s more of a motif that I want to keep around, rather than something I’m tortured by,” he explains. “I think it’s important, as a framework for humanity, to understand that difficulty breeds meaning.”

Over the past year he has performed alongside the Overcoats and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, with festival appearances in SXSW in Austin, Field Trip in Toronto, and the Emerge Music + Impact Conference in Las Vegas. 2018 promises his continued upward trajectory as he kicks off the year with his first headlining tour across North America. As the conversation turned to nerves around the potentially physically and emotionally taxing experience of going on tour, Galvin explained that his strategy for keeping both his mind and body clear rely heavily on ritual. “I have physical and intellectual rituals that I follow pretty closely, because I think of my body as my mind, and my mind as my body. I have a lot of activities where I try to connect them further.”

I have to be aware of what the popstar part of me is, and how I want to deal with that popstar part of myself. Striking a balance is really about being aware of yourself.

It’s an approach to stress relief that follows his dynamism as an artist who also dabbles in yoga and dance. “I think with dance, it helps me explore how I want to interact with the world physically. It helps me to know where I am in time and space in a really tactile way. It helps me interpret how I want to write music and the ideas that I want to put forth,” he explains.

“I really believe in using every part of me for everything that I do, I think that it enriches everything else. I don’t think I’d be as good of a musician if I wasn’t a dancer, and I wouldn’t be as good of a dancer if I didn’t fuckin’ read sci-fi, and I wouldn’t read sci-fi if I wasn’t interested in yoga.”

Shervin Lainez

The mention of sci-fi might seem out of place when discussing rituals linking mind and body, but for Galvin, it’s a crucial part of his daily routine. What’s currently on his reading list? Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov and Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul by Jane Roberts, both of which he describes with enthusiasm, and which, by the way, sound insane. Just look up Seth Speaks, it’s like real-life sci-fi.

But Galvin attributes love of reading, and the way it relates to his overall creative approach, to his childhood years. “I am very much blessed with very, very conscious parents. I was blessed with a really illustrious education, and I’m blessed to have an intellectual life,” he muses. “I feel responsible for a lot of those ideas that were imbued in me throughout my life, that I have really used to make my life better, and my work meaningful. I want to spread these ideas, I feel like I shouldn’t own them and keep them to myself.”

 

With Yoke Lore, Galvin has become a one man show in every respect; taking on the sole responsibility of his own success. And while he has no regrets about venturing off on his own, he did initially struggle to mediate his desires and instincts with his relationships, “Yoke Lore is the first time I’ve done it by myself,” he says. “The first time I’ve really struck out alone and tried to do everything. I do the songwriting, the artwork, the recording. It took a lot for me to rise to the occasion.”

Cognisant of his growing popularity over the past year with the success of Goodpain—streams for his recently released singles have garnered seven-figure views—Galvin released a video for EP single “Beige” last December where he analyzes the delicate balance of staying true to yourself while also trying to grow as an artist. In the video, Galvin is manipulated into the image of what we would consider a “2018 popstar,” replacing his sweater with a see-through mesh shirt and leather jacket and placing him within a manufactured set of pale pinks and tropicals with the exotic animals that have become commonplace in big-budget productions (see Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” or Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”).

Shervin Lainez

For Galvin, the video is also a statement and summary of his evolution as an artist who doesn’t necessarily fear change, but instead, embraces it with a measured degree of wariness. “Striking a balance is really about being aware of yourself, and not being like “Oh, that shit is like not me” or “That shirt is going to make me look like a popstar,” he explains.

“But while wearing that shirt, I have to be aware of what the popstar part of me is, and how I want to deal with that popstar part of myself. It’s not to say, “Oh shit don’t go there.” It’s to say, ‘Well if you go there just like you gotta be conscious of where you’re going, and what that does to you, and what that does to other people, and how it looks.” His biggest piece of advice on staying true to yourself is quite simple: “It’s just a big question of awareness, and of keeping yourself conscious of what you’re doing and really, systematically remembering yourself.”

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