It’s a pretty interesting story how I first heard of Yellerkin. Back in 2012 when I was still in high school, I discovered alternative rock band Bear Language on YouTube, who were just starting out in Boston, and I followed them until the release of their first LP. Fast forward to 2014 when I started writing for MEB, I found that the group was on hiatus but I fortunately got in touch with the vocalist/guitarist from Bear Language, Luca Buccellati. After some correspondence, I learned that he’s currently based in Brooklyn working on a new project, and yes, you guessed it – that project is Yellerkin.
The indie duo is made up of two halves – Luca and his childhood friend, Adrian Galvin. The two have known each other since they were kids back in Westchester, before recently moving to Brooklyn. Music has always been part of their friendship, and as Adrian said, “Our first band was called Chicken Fist in 5th grade. It has always been a way of being together for us.” Fortunately, their knack for interesting band names has stuck with them many years down the road, where we now see their newfound identity, Yellerkin, based on the idea of “different yells that we use to express both our suffering and our elation.”
Considering their history together, the music-making process has proved to be much more natural than most bands starting out. As Adrian puts it, “We like to just let things flow, for instance we make music by sitting down and I’ll bring an idea to the table…and Luca will take that melody and play it on like six different instruments.”
Luca being a Berklee graduate, it’s no surprise that we hear a diverse range of sounds on their recently released self-titled EP. Just have a listen and you’ll find that there’s literally something in it for everyone. From banjo-driven tracks to sleek blends of drum machines and electronic tones, the duo displays a knack for creating catchy tunes while still allowing their innovation to shine. Imagine a blend of the indie folk rhythms from Fleet Foxes, the electronica vibes of Animal Collective, and the experimental courage that is widely admired of Dirty Projectors – all packed into one lovely four-track collection.
One highlight from the band is definitely their wide use of harmonies and instrumental layering in the recording studio. With such talent at their disposal, “Tomboy” and “Vines” from the EP feature these techniques heavily and what we get are eclectic mixes of instruments and vocal variation resulting in a fuller sound. Besides ‘indie’ (which is as generic as it gets), it’s hard to even place a finger on what genre the duo would fall under. As Adrian pointed out, “We gotta keep up with the production; songs are eternal but production is always different and changing. The stories stay the same but the way we tell them changes with the times.” More recently, Adrian and Luca performed a set as part of The Wild Honey Pie’s Welcome Campers series. You can check out their performance of “Dixie Rain” from that set below and you’ll get what I mean.
[youtube width=”720″ height=”400″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNt47WzNFo0[/youtube]
Perhaps the most intriguing part of their signature sound is the clever use of electronic textures and synthetic tones. Infectious melodies created by synths and drum pads play a huge part in most of their tracks, and while these are also evident on live performances, the duo pay special attention to keeping it raw with the use of the banjo, bass, and drum kits as well. “It’s for sure a departure from where we both came from (rock, folk) but it’s where the world is going and moving, who are we not to be a part of it,” explains Adrian.
As Adrian shared more on the songwriting experience and what makes their music stand out, it struck me that these are guys who take their craft seriously, and fully realize the beauty of music as an intrinsic experience that can only get more overwhelming as they go along. “We decide what kind of sonic motif we want the song to live within, we make it dance. We know how to work with each other really well in a way that allows us to play on our strengths as musicians. We always say I bring the skeletons and Luca makes them into real flesh-and-blood people.”
Being songwriters, Yellerkin keeps it relatable as well and draws inspiration from his past experiences. I always feel that you’ll be able to hear an artist’s authenticity when you look at their lyrics and the way the music presents those thoughts, and the Brooklyn duo pulls it off in an eloquent manner. The lead single “Solar Laws” is written as a message to a loved one with raw feelings of both affirmation and warning. Speaking about the EP, Adrian described, “There’s a song about a really tough breakup, a song about my sister, and there’s a song about not wanting to come to the impending and obvious end of a really wonderful relationship. Sometimes a bad break-up is easier in some senses than having to let go when you’re not ready. So these songs were written as explorations of these girls and how they made me feel and change and question myself in different ways.”
So what’s coming up for Yellerkin? If you’ve already gotten hooked to their unique indie sound, you and I are both lucky because we don’t have to wait for long with new music from them coming up in the fall. Meanwhile, you can stream their latest EP here:
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