The seeds of this milky desert scenery-inspired odyssey of love & music were planted many moons ago...
Born and raised in Staten Island, the "forgotten borough" of New York City, Rob Carey picked up the guitar when he was 19 years old, but it wasn't until the age of 22, on a trip to New Orleans in 1999, that he discovered his authentic style of singing and playing while busking on Bourbon Street.
After rolling around the deep south for a spell, Carey returned home, threw his guitar on his back, and started taking his folk-blues-soul sounds to the streets of NYC, stopping to sing original songs and covers in subway stations and on the Staten Island Ferry.
He started a folk trio with two Staten Island musicians called Pocketful of Pearls, and when the group disbanded in 2004, he went back to solo performing in NYC, with sporadic musical sojourns to San Francisco, Philadelphia, Michigan, and New Orleans. He also studied and graduated with a degree in music theory and composition from the College of Staten Island.
Originally from a suburban town on the shores of Lake Ontario in Western New York, Elise Brianne found her voice sometime in the early 2000s, when she began singing folk spirituals in a church music ministry while studying philosophy, psychology, religion, and English literature at a liberal arts college in Staten Island.
Songs like Blessed Quietness, Down in the River to Pray, and I'll Fly Away awoke a warbling sweetness in her vocal cords, and eventually, as the strength of her sound grew, she picked up the guitar and began writing & performing original folk songs in coffeehouses and bars in New York and New Jersey.
The two met at a show where they shared the stage in Staten Island, back in 2007. Sparks flew but the timing wasn't quite right to merge, and though they crossed paths here & there, away they went on their separate musical journeys. . . .
In the fall of 2007, after breaking ties with a church environment in NYC that had become creatively and spiritually stifling, Elise Brianne struggled to find her footing in a city that moved too fast for her slow soul. So, in the summer of 2010, she listened to the inner urging to leave her New York homeland and travel cross country to the Pacific Northwest to see what life was like on the West Coast.
She landed in Washington state and started singing solo sets at house concerts, coffeehouses, bars, spiritual centers, and folk festivals. Countless songs were written while wandering the Northwest and temporarily settling in Seattle, Bellingham, and Olympia.
Most of these dreamscapes and heartsongs are yet to be recorded, although a 5-song E.P. is available for download at elisebrianne.bandcamp.com.
During this time, Rob Carey was pouring every ounce of his singer-songwriter spirit and music production skills into his Americana rock band The Headlocks. The band took the stage at bars, colleges, folk festivals, and other venues throughout the Northeast and Midwest for several years. They also produced two records, Cuckoo Bird (2009) and Most Golden Goose (2014), with a third album soon to be released.
The years ebbed and flowed, and when these two songbirds living on opposite American coasts reconnected to ring in the New Year in New Orleans in 2014, they discovered a mutual fascination with and magnetic pull toward the southwest, along with a shared vision of traveling and exploring while writing, recording, and performing original songs.
For over 10 years, Rob had also been steadily building his collection of recording gear and keeping a keen eye on the production and engineering techniques and sound treatment aspects utilized in his favorite studios, in the hopes of one day building a recording studio of his own.
In the spring of 2015, after a few months of long distance correspondence, followed by a year of up, down, and shifting around in Staten Island, they managed to pack up their lives and move to a small hot springs town situated along the Rio Grande in the high desert of southern New Mexico.
Blue skies, sunshine, hot springs, starry nights, and a simpler way of life gave them the space and time to slow down and dive deep into the wells of healing and inspiration. While settling into this rhythm, new songs emerged and old, semi-forgotten songs rose to the surface to be rekindled, reworked, and recorded.
Out of all this, a folk duo slowly came into being. They first performed together at a local Art Jam in late 2016, before officially debuting as Desert Milk at the Austin Art Factory in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, in March of 2017. Listeners described the experience of their combined musical vibrations as having a heartwarming, soul-stirring effect that leaves you feeling grounded and expanded all at once.
Desert Milk has since performed on a variety of stages in (mostly) southern New Mexico, with one very special house concert in Arboles, Colorado.
More shows are on the horizon, but as of January 2018, the duo has been taking a performance break, primarily to focus on nurturing their recently birthed baby girl! When the moment is right and the stars align, Desert Milk will continue carving out their musical path by booking shows and house concerts throughout the southwest and beyond.
As a final note, in preparation for the opening of a professional recording studio & retreat in their high desert home, Rob dove deep into sound engineering and music production in the summer of 2018, graduating with honors from the Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio. It's been a long road since breaking ground in early 2016, but Cosmic Turtle Sound Studio, with mountain views and hot mineral springs nearby, will be welcoming musicians looking for a unique recording experience very soon!