Yoke Lore (Adrian Galvin) is currently on tour, and since he’s got a show tomorrow night at Rough Trade followed by one on Friday at Mercury Lounge and another next week at Bowery Ballroom on 4.25 (AND will be swinging through DC on 4.26 to play DC9) I had a little phone catch-up with him a few weeks back to talk about spirituality and consciousness, and (naturally) what foods pair well with weed as we gear up for 4.20 // read up on all of that below, give brand new track “Only You” a listen and mark your calendars for the release of Yoke Lore’s Goodpain EP on June 16th!
So you went to Kenyon, and I went to Denison, which is not too far from there. Being from NYC, how’d you find that transition of going to school in a place that’s (for lack of better words) rural as fuck?
[Laughs] Well, I really enjoy the space that isolation affords you; I’m a nature kid, I love the woods. And I wanted to be a writer. Not literally an author, but whatever I did, I wanted to be a writer within it, and Kenyon historically has a very strong writing program.
Yeah, it’s a really great school, so that makes sense if you don’t mind being off the beaten path. Now, you also went to India for a bit and studied meditation there, yeah? How would you say all of these experiences have influenced the way you approach the creative process, if at all?
Buddhism is a really mixed bag, you know? First of all, it’s ancient, and anything ancient is going to have a ton of shit in it because it’s been around for so long, and people have added stuff. I went to India and meditated for eight hours a day for a year, and it was really intense. Basically, I came out of it not digging the whole Buddhist lifestyle that much, because after a while it felt a bit escapist. But I did come out of it with really immense respect for Indian spirituality; Buddhism is this itty-bitty piece of the Indian pantheon, and their whole spiritual existence is so wild. It’s also really particular and specific and beautiful, and so I came out of it with this immense respect and connection to this idea that a life is kind of blanketly informed by spirituality; everything they do there is with some kind of god in mind. Not that I want to live thinking about gods, but to live with a kind of macro-cosmic notion of things, or to live with the idea that you’re not the be all and end all, and that there are bigger forces at work and you’re working towards something bigger, something communal. It changes the people around you and how they interact, how they treat one another and how they treat themselves, and it just changes everything.
Right, and that’s such an easy thing to forget when you’re just kind of plowing along in a city like NYC, not really looking at anybody or thinking about your connection to everything.
Yeah, and I think that’s what it is; it’s really easy to be unconscious here and now, and I think for me, art is a way for people to remember themselves, and to kind of explore themselves and gain vision and perspective. In a way, it’s similar to religion and spirituality in that it’s all predicated on how much you know yourself and how well you can challenge yourself, do what you’re not used to or are uncomfortable with or not that good at. Yoke Lore is about all of these connections I want to forge, and while I want to inform these connections between us and ourselves, us and the community, us and the things we make and the things we do, all that is just about kind of remembering yourself, and not just going through the motions, but making every act a conscious one. When you make every act a conscious one, you go through your actions much more slowly, and you go through your thought process much more carefully. And that’s really important. Buddhists talk about making everything meditation, like washing dishes should be meditation, driving should be meditation…everything should be a time for you to come back to what you’re doing, how you’re thinking about things, how you’re talking to people, and you should make yourself conscious of details. If everyone was more conscious of what they were doing and how it would affect the people around them, I don’t think anyone would do anything that bad. So there’s a lot, but there’s a deep connection to me between all the spiritual stuff and the art stuff.
Well, going back to what you were saying about pushing yourself and challenging yourself, maybe doing things that are uncomfortable, what’s the last thing that you (big or small) feel you really challenged yourself with?
I had a bad breakup recently, and that was really challenging. I initiated it because I knew I had to do it, but it was really hard, and I really didn’t want to. I knew I was in a place where I needed to be alone for a while and take time for myself, and I’m such a lover that my instincts are naturally, “Go be with someone! It’s fantastic! It’s always going to be good!” But another part of me was like, “You’re a little scatterbrained right now, and you need to hunker down and be alone for a little bit to get some perspective, re-calibrate a little bit.” So I broke up with this girl who I was totally in love with against my own will, you know? It was really, really challenging. Not fun, not easy, but necessary for me.
And have you seen any change as a result of that?
No, no. Not at all. I still feel terrible about it. But the thing is, that’s kind of the point; if you search for pay offs in these things, you’re always going to be disappointed. Life isn’t clean like that. You don’t make your conscious decision and get rewarded for it, you know? It’s not like that. Real shit like this is a really long process, and it’s a way of setting up conditions and a way of making your life into a set of patterns that will serve you. And it’s really hard not to look for benefits of your conscious decisions, and real, concrete positive outcomes of the difficult choices you have to make. It’s about process and the time that you lose sight of that process, and that being a challenge in itself, because our culture is so immediately-oriented. This stuff is about thinking differently about yourself and what you’re doing, and it’s hard. It’s like all of those classic proverbs that say it’s about the journey and not the destination. In all martial arts and yoga and dance in Asia, they say that you’re always shooting for this archetype, right? Shooting for this ideal. And the point is not that you ever achieve your ideal; the courage is in taking that leap knowing you’re never going to get to that archetype, to that ideal, but your valiant decision to try to get there anyway is what makes it so magical and powerful in the end. The idea is that I’m never going to be that great at this, and it’s never going to be easy, but to be going through this thought process and this struggle and these challenges, I hope that I’m setting up a pattern so that all my decisions can be a little more conscious and a little less difficult, that all of my choices can be a little more communal and a little less selfish. I want to develop these as habits, that consciousness becomes a compulsion for me, or that a general awareness becomes necessary and habitual.
So what is that ideal, that archetype for you?
Well, I’m never going to write the perfect pop song, the perfect rock song, but I believe there’s courage in the attempt, and in living that attempt. It’s about writing and writing and writing and writing, because that’s the courage of it; you try to write the perfect pop song, but you’re never disappointed that you didn’t, because you know it’s never going to happen.
I mean, clearly there’s no perfect pop song, but I think “World Wings” is pretty dope. What’re you working on now? I know you released the EP about a year ago, but will you have a full-length anytime soon?
We just entered the release cycle for the new EP, and so we’ll have another five songs out by the summer. We’re just touring our faces off right now. I’m in LA for a week or two writing, but then we have to get back and start a tour with Overcoats. Then we’re headed to Europe to play Great Escape, and then we’re back to do more US touring. So it’s just on the go right now.
And you’re at Rough Trade on 4/20, so I’ll end this on a lowbrow note in asking you what your high snack of choice is.
I gotta go with breakfast cereal. Gimme some Honey Comb or some Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch…I’ll down ten boxes of that shit.