He's toured with some of our favourite acts, Shura and Overcoats, and is quickly becoming one of the best offerings of 2017. Ken Grand-Pierre sits down with Yoke Lore, to find out what drives him and his music.
The video for 'World Wings' is beautiful, and I'd love to jump right into that. What struck me right away was how even though you were filmed in these places with such grandiose space, there was still a direct intimacy throughout the video. Was that a goal, and what was it like making that video?
The goal was to really play with the idea of constancy within constant change. If we're constantly moving, growing, and changing, how do we stay the same? How do we remain constant? I believe that - when telling a story or singing a song - the more personal you get, the more universal the experience becomes. With space, it's the same thing. The wider the perspective, the more information you get. I wanted to be honest and do these spaces justice in their majesty and in my smallness. Filming the video was a blast. My best friend Kenny Polyak (the director) and I got a camera and some rigs, and then we went snowboarding in Lake Tahoe. We went to some hot springs in Nevada; down to San Francisco and jumped in the ocean, and took a hike in the redwoods.
The reason I wanted to start with that, is because I feel like that what's conveyed through that video is also how I'd describe your music. It's intimate but you clearly don't feel the need to limit what your sonic palette can be. When you started writing music, did it feel important that the lyrical content wouldn't force the music to adhere to a certain way?
I dig music for its intimacy. It blows my mind that a human body can be moved by sonic waves. I try to be really honest so people can identify with my fears and dreams - so they know that they are not alone in their fearing or their dreaming. I guess I try to play with this idea on a sonic and instrumental level as well. While I want you to be able to hear my voice, I use huge drums and choruses of myself to uplift, elevate, or diminish different parts; I want certain words, phrases, or ideas to be highlighted. I'll repeat something if I think it's an idea that needs to be heard a couple times before its really understood. I'm trying to get better at experimenting and playing with my lyrics, but at this point, it's really just what comes out. I write about experiences and feelings of mine, a lot of my misgivings about myself, my process of making things, and about my history, but it's still instinctual for me. Slowly but surely, I'm working it into a skill.
When we met a few weeks back, we discussed your music and I don't know if I did it any justice in how I described it. That made me wonder, how would you, describe your music to someone who's never heard it before?
I would say it's gentle grit, heavy drums, heavy vocals, and I play the banjo.
A refreshing element to your music is how it has tracts of genre-bending, where one might hear folk but someone else could hear folk. I find that as time goes on, the adherence of genre becomes lesser each year. When it came to writing your music, did that aspect of anything goes, sonically, play a role in how you wrote?
Not really. I think I write pop songs. Others hear folk or electronic. I think it's just what is at my disposal.
You're also a very personable person and I often wonder what must it be like to perform live, when interacting with people clearly means so much to you?
Sometimes, it can get pretty scary. Performing is a really vulnerable space for me... not just because of the subject matter of the songs (which is very personal), but because I feel that performance is a kind of sacrifice to an audience. It's an offering. When it's rejected, it can be pretty tough, but I'm working on not taking anything personally.
You've gotten to play shows with two groups I care about loads: Shura and her band, and the lovely women of Overcoats. What was it like opening for them both?
Shura is a goddess. It was so amazing to play with her and her band. The sold out Bowery Ballroom was a wild show to play. It was such an honor. And I love these Overcoats gals so much. This is the most fun tour of the century. We're fast buds, and it's fun playing jokes on crowds. We've been chariot-ing them off of the stage for the last couple nights. We have surprised them on stage more than once during dance numbers. It's such a great experience to be on tour with not just a band you get along with, but furthermore, people you really respect and look up to.
Can you tell us a bit about your new tune, 'Goodpain?'
It’s necessary to go through periods of pain or difficulty in order to find growth and betterment. This song is about striving for a bigger perspective on life in order not to feel bound by your circumstances. But it’s more than just "look on the bright side." Things move in cycles; they're necessarily constantly shifting. If there is no change, there is no growth—however, this can sometimes be downright painful. It's important to find balance between knowing who you are while keeping in mind that there’s always growing and learning to do.
Yoke Lore's Goodpain EP is out on June 16th. You can catch him live at the following dates:
5/23 London // Victoria Dalston *
5/24 Bristol // Thekla %
5/25 Manchester // Night and Day %
5/27 Newcastle // Think Tank %
5/28 Glasgow // Stereo %
5/29 Leeds // Church %
5/30 London // Oslo %
6/1 Paris // Les Etoiles
6/3 Toronto, Canada // Field Trip Festival
6/8 San Diego, CA // The Casbah &
6/9 Los Angeles, CA // The Echo &
6/10 San Francisco, CA // Swedish American Hall &
6/12 Portland, OR // Doug Fir Lounge &
6/13 Seattle, WA // Barboza &
6/14 Vancouver, Canada // The Cobalt &
7/7 Brooklyn, NY // Baby's All Right
& with Overcoats
% with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
* with Kan Wakan