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If you didn’t know any better, the story of how Olden Yolk came to be a duo might sound like folklore. Back in 2016, under a Harvest moon in Texas, Quilt’s Shane Butler became aquatinted with fellow musician Caity Shaffer, and after some shared poetry verses, Butler’s musical project Olden Yolk suddenly had a new member.
“We first started writing poetry together and actually made a full book of poetry before we started making music together,” Butler says. “Caity moved back to the Northeast at the beginning of 2017 and pretty much as soon as she moved up here we started making music together. It was pretty natural — we had been sharing so much music, writing, and art with each other already and it just kind of fell into place. It’s been a huge blessing.”
Shaffer adds: “Shane summed it up. It was a natural progression. Sharing poetry came first, and then we began sharing songs — it just felt right.”
That’s exactly how their entire new self-titled album “spilled out” of the two kindred spirits over a quick six months, roughly the first half of 2017. Not that there wasn’t ample (and often unfortunate) inspiration around otherwise. Their two singles, “Vital Sign” and “Cut To The Quick” both reflect and acknowledge the trauma of current events in a similar way that Butler’s solo track “Beige Flowers” served as a mental health advocacy and fundraiser.
“For myself, I just have to be really honest about what’s going on and how I feel about it all,” Butler says. “In terms of the songs — many of them reference different events that have happened in the last handful of years as well as our reactions/emotions around those occurrences. Both ‘Verdant’ and ‘Cut To The Quick,’ for instance, were written after mass shootings took place in different spots around the world — one being the attacks in Paris in 2015 and the latter being the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Miami in 2016. Both events had a really strong effect on me (as I’m sure they did for many).”
Olden Yolk bears the weight of social consciousness, yet springs back with sprightly psych-folk melodies strewn with poetry. Together, the ten songs present a reactionary project: One that’s slightly incendiary, but in an responsible way.
“The events themselves are horrific and deeply upsetting — yet, if we don’t talk about things like that openly and discuss our feelings we risk being blind and turning a cold shoulder to our neighbors who are effected directly by these events,” he adds. “We need to have an ongoing dialogue about these sorts of things so we can be aware and shift things in a better direction moving forward. I feel that type of thing is in everybody’s hands.”
“Simple conversation can be a great healer,” she says. “‘Vital Sign’ was inspired by feelings of isolation and alienation in certain scenarios I have experienced and some I never have (for example, the prison system, Trayvon Martin’s case, etc.). I don’t see a reason to edit those negative experiences from our songwriting. They’re part of us.”