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Analog Living: The Milk Carton Kids

Analog Living: The Milk Carton Kids

As part of our ongoing "Analog Living" series focused on community, creativity, and the things that inspire us both in our home and in our lives, we connected with the talented pair behind The Milk Carton Kids, an American indie folk duo from Eagle Rock, California consisting of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan. 

Below, we chat with Kenneth and Joey about what's currently inspiring them, their creative rituals, and what analog living means to them when it comes to music, and their individual lives. 


The band, Milk Carton Kids, standing outside in a garden drinking coffee.

The Milk Carton Kids standing under an orange tree.

Can you tell us a little bit about how your band first came to be? 

We were both solo artists working in Los Angeles when we met at a show at the Hotel Cafe. We sang together for the first time about a week later and had one of those epiphany moments, where we just kind of laughed and knew we had to retire our solo projects and become a duo.


Milk Carton Kids in kitchen making coffee and playing the ukelele.


Do you have any routines or rituals you rely on to assist in your creative practice?  

We’ve been known to light a stick of palo santo in the studio from time to time, but honestly our ritual is collaboration. Being in a duo is the most intense form of artistic collaboration and it makes us both better songwriters and musicians.

"Our ritual is collaboration."


The Milk Carton Kids drinking coffee outside on the porch.

If you had to choose three words to describe what you love most about making music, what would they be?

Harmony, connection, transcendence. 


We would love to hear a little bit about what's currently inspiring you right now! What are you listening to or reading?

Currently, Rob Delaney’s memoir A Heart That Works. It’s an unimaginably painful story, but contains intense beauty and Rob's relentless love for humanity is completely inspiring throughout. 


Milk Carton Kids sitting at dining table.

Lastly, making music can be a very analog process, and I'm curious what the word "analog" means to you? How does it show up throughout the rest of your life?

Of course music making today can be a completely digital art form, and we love tons of artists who work with samplers, synths, midi, and laptops. Our process has always been a largely analog one, and there’s a richness we find in using vintage or handmade instruments and recording equipment, for example. There are great craftspeople in our community - like Pharis and Jason Romero in Horsefly, BC - who built my banjo or Philip Graham of Ear Trumpet Labs in Portland, OR who builds the microphones we use. Folk music is defined in large part by its connection to its own history. It’s a genre made up of stories passed down within communities and across generations. So using instruments passed down through the generations, or crafted by artisans we have relationships with, deepens that connection.  


Milk Carton Kids in studio making music.


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