Before he was Yoke Lore, a musician with over two million monthly listeners on Spotify, Adrian Galvin ’12 was a Kenyon student.
Between 2008 and 2012, Galvin declared a synoptic major, placed third in Division III nationals for ultimate frisbee and became immersed in the College’s music scene. By the time he graduated, he had already laid the roots for his career as Yoke Lore, and he credits much of his development as a person and as a musician to his time at Kenyon.
Kenyon’s community of deep thinkers was what first attracted Galvin to the Hill. As soon as he arrived on campus, he connected with like-minded students who fascinated him. “It was just a really rich communal environment that pushed you to take risks and to create stuff, and to fail — to go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go by yourself creatively or intellectually,” he said.
Galvin was immediately drawn to Kenyon’s music scene. He joined the Chasers a capella group as a first year, where he met Nick Petrecchia ’09 of Walk The Moon, now a Billboard Award-winning band. He would soon join the band as a drummer and play with them for two years. Their rise to fame happened so quickly that he was almost never on campus outside of classes, Galvin recalls.
Still, playing shows all the time didn’t detract from Galvin maintaining strong friendships on campus. Among his most cherished memories are encounters with Norton Hall’s ghosts, his time on the ultimate frisbee team and the countless hours he spent in the Pine Grove at the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC).
Playing in Walk The Moon was crucial for Galvin’s career, as it introduced him to the music industry. Playing the drums for and writing songs with his fellow band members taught him how to collaborate and explore music more deeply.
Despite the band’s success, Galvin quit Walk The Moon after his sophomore year to pursue other music projects. He started a “screamo-folk” trio called Poor Remy, whose song “Drinking All Night” was a campus hit, according to Galvin.
Academically, Galvin was interested in spirituality and Marxism. Combining these interests, he declared a synoptic major, which proved to be fairly difficult. “A lot of my time went into [that], they pretty much heavily discouraged it because so much time has to go into defending it,” he said. Each semester, he had to write a paper defense of the major, then go before a panel and present an oral defense. The title of his major, which Galvin was initially apprehensive to share, was called “Encountering Self Divinity: Halves in Liberation Theology and German Social Theory.” His course load consisted of plenty of philosophy and religion classes, and he completed his studies under the guidance of Donald L. Rogan Professor of Religious Studies Royal Rhodes and Professor of Sociology George McCarthy.
In 2016, Galvin released his first EP as Yoke Lore, titled Far Shore. Its songs gained the attention of many, with some appearing in MTV’s The Real World and Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet. The following year saw the release of the Goodpain EP, garnering Yoke Lore even more attention. The EP’s standout single, “Beige,” has over 58 million streams, and was featured in the film After. Additionally, the lead single, “Goodpain,” has over 24 million hits on Spotify, and has been featured in Good Girls and Runaways. Another song from the EP, “Safe and Sound,” appears in the shows Atypical and The Resident.
Yoke Lore has been releasing music independently for the past three years, and Galvin plans to sign with a major label soon, as he believes it will help him grow as an artist. “There’s only so much my manager and I can do with my own label, and in order to keep growing and rising you need a lot of money,” he said. Indeed, according to Galvin, there are many risks in following a music career. “I’ve seen bands disappear because they sign deals that aren’t great and their music is shelved … the past couple years, I’ve been trying to put myself in a better position to make a better deal for myself,” he said.
Of course, the pandemic has put a halt to some aspects of Galvin’s music career, touring schedules being among them. “It’s weird not being able to tour right now, because that’s usually how I … market the music,” Galvin said. “In terms of trajectory, because we can’t tour, I’m making a lot [of music], and that’s been great.”Galvin has been spending quite a bit of time in the studio and is planning on having “a ton of” new music out once he can tour again. He recently released a new song, “Fade Away,” with an animated music video.
Despite the financial risks of being a musician, Galvin feels music is integral to his being. “I feel a big responsibility to say stuff of value and bring real insight into peoples’ lives and give them stuff they can use to make their existence better and more fulfilling,” Galvin said. “It’s a magical responsibility.”