I had the pleasure of chatting with Adrian Galvin, also known as “Yoke Lore,” before he played an amazing show at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, TX. His energetic, playful behavior onstage had fans engaged entirely throughout his performance, including me. I’ll be sure to catch his next show when he comes back in town, and I hope that you will, too!
MELODIC MAGAZINE: When researching for the interview I noticed that you were primarily a drum player. What made you start playing banjo? It’s a very unique instrument that isn’t featured in many songs.
ADRIAN GALVIN: The banjo is the closest melodic instrument I could come to drums. It’s like, “I don’t want to play anything but drums.” And I have to, though, since I wanted to be a lead singer and sing my own songs and stuff. So, when I was deciding how I was going to play my own music and everything, I was like “I can play the guitar a little bit,” but everyone and their moms play the guitar and they are much better than I am at the guitar.. so It’s not really that impressive. I just really love the banjo. I’m a fan of older folk music and I really love its very specific history. You know, when you think of a banjo player, you think of some asshole with a huge beard wearing suspenders. Because it’s only been done one way; there’s so much I can do with it. The guitar has been played every way, every style, by every kind of culture and just the banjo has so much, kind of like room, for me to exist.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: Do you feel you’ve evolved since your first release under Yoke Lore? If so, how?
ADRIAN GALVIN: Yeah, I think so. I feel that the first release was a real experimentation… like kind of a shot in the dark almost. I had a previous project called “Yellerkin” and it kind of broke up over this deal we were signing. It was with a French record label that we were signing with, and so the company that was doing the American distribution for that deal was like, “Hey, do you have any other music?” And I was like, “No.” Then they were like, “Could you go make some?” And then I said “Yeah.” And that became Yoke Lore. So, the first release was kind of just me figuring out what I was gonna do; how things were gonna sound like; what instruments I was going to use. And then, Absolutes [latest EP] is a much more, refined version of that, where the sonic elements have been kind of solidified and the point of the project has been a little bit better defined. Each release has helped me focus a little bit closer unto what I actually want to say, and what I actually feel like Yoke Lore can mean for people, and what I actually want to sound like and what histories I want to draw from.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: Your releases have consisted of singles and EPs. Do you have any plans for a full length album?
ADRIAN GALVIN: No; people have the idea that musicians have really strong feelings about albums and stuff. I’m just like I don’t really care… I just want to release and music consistently and just keep pushing my stuff and keep myself relevant in the world. Being able to keep myself present and participating is much more important to me than if I ever get to make an album.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: Your lyrics have a poetic feel to them. Do you write poetry?
ADRIAN GALVIN: Yeah I do. I read a lot of poetry.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: What helps you stay creative; what’s your creative process like?
ADRIAN GALVIN: I think being creative helps you stay creative. I think it’s kind of like a chicken or the egg thing… but if I’m ever feeling “a little bit stale,” then I just need to start the output. I just need to start writing; I just need to do something. I feel that my creativity is very much tied to my physicality. And often, if I’m feeling physically not so great, then I’m feeling creatively not so great. A lot of times I’ll have to fire up one to fire up the other.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: Kind of like the whole “mind-body connection” type of thing?
ADRIAN GALVIN: Yeah, yeah. I often think that there’s not a connection. It’s just the same thing.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: You recently released a new EP, titled Absolutes. Is there a specific message or takeaway you’d want people to have after listening to it?
ADRIAN GALVIN: I mean this is what I meant in writing it; I tend to structure my life and opinions in terms of absolutes. I have an instinct to want things to be either really true or really false. And I want people to be really easy to define… and the world does not like that. And people aren’t like that. And so all these songs are kind of like moments where I’ve had to contend with the fact that the world isn’t as black and white as I want it to be sometimes. But… I also want people to bring themselves to it and bring their own histories and associations to it. What it means for me is not going to be what it means for everyone and I think that’s okay. I did write a book about what it means for me; not to say that I want it to overpower people’s interpretations or anything. I just want what I’m saying to be really concrete and understood.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: Do you have a favorite venue so far or city that you’ve played in? Any dream venue you’d like to perform in some day?
ADRIAN GALVIN: I mean there are a couple beautiful places to play. I played in a town called Bristol in the UK and the venue is on this boat in a harbor. The boat was called Thekla. And it was awesome. You go into this boat and you just walk in and there’s nothing in the middle of the boat except for the venue. It’s so cool. Red Rocks is a huge incredible thing. I would love to play Glastonbury. I would love to play a show in Central Park; as a New Yorker that would be super awesome.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: What are some of your favorite and least favorite aspects about touring?
ADRIAN GALVIN: My favorite aspect about it is the routine of it all. I really like kind of falling into a consistent habit of getting up, eating, driving, listening to a podcast, playing a show, smoking, chilling, and then going to bed. I like the repetition of that, and the fact that it’s consistent; you’ve gotta do one thing every day [playing a show]. I like things that are absolute. I like things that are super single minded and focused, and tour, to me, seems like one of those times where I can just be super focused and not have 18 different things going on that kind of stretch me in different ways. But it’s also the constant movement is definitely a little rough. You don’t really sleep a ton. You don’t relax a ton. But I think that the pros outweigh the cons for me.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: You get to go to a lot of places that you maybe wouldn’t have gone to otherwise if you didn’t have a show there, which I think is pretty cool.
ADRIAN GALVIN: Yeah, and I get to play my music for everyone and that’s a wild, awesome thing.
MELODIC MAGAZINE: I know this tour is still very fresh, but as we conclude, is there anything you can tell us about future plans for touring and/or new music?
ADRIAN GALVIN: Yeah, I have a couple collaborations coming out before the end of the year and then a whole mix of remixes is coming out from the Absolutes EP. We have some awesome people doing some remixes. I have another EP that’s already made but it’s probably not going to be ready for around another year. The process of making music is so much easier and simpler than the process of releasing it and putting it out to the world. So yeah, I have a ton of new music, but you probably won’t hear it for a while. But it’s there and it’s for you and it’s coming.
Keep up with Adrian by following his social media accounts: @yoke_lore for both Instagram and Twitter, and @yokelore for Facebook. His website is http://www.yokelore.com/, and all of his music can be found on major streaming sites such as Apple Music and Spotify, as well as for purchase on iTunes.
Additional portraits as well as live photos of the show: