M.E. Baird is an Australian singer-songwriter, musician and occasional visual artist. As a teenager, he desperately wanted to be a painter. He was introduced to drawing and painting at a young age by his much older sister. Drawing was then and still remains one of his greatest sanctuaries and respite from the madness. He even went on to study art and design and later in parallel with his music career, he was an academic in design and creative theory at various universities and art schools in Victoria and New South Wales. However, that unique combination of words, melody and the exhilaration of performing to a captive audience is a very powerful drug and once bitten can become an all-consuming obsession - for some, there is no turning back.
M.E. Baird is originally from the Mornington Peninsula two hours south of Melbourne, Victoria, He later moved to Melbourne at eighteen years of age in the late '80s. He has lived in many places since, each a unique chapter in life and art. For the last seven years, he has been living somehwere in New South Wales.
M.E. Baird has been performing, writing, and recording since 1990 and is the former front person and songwriter for Zen For Head, and Lionel Lee's Curse.
In 1998 he dispanded songwriting in favour of a career in design and academia. However, he made a return in 2006 to songwriting and performing under the musical moniker of 'Lionel Lee'. He wrote and recorded a four-track acoustic Ep which garnered some attention. However, he began to see more success around 2010, with the release of the critically acclaimed long-player, Mystery of the heart; Vagaries of the mind. Since then he has overcome countless obstacles and battled with many a demon but continues to work hard each and every day to keep his musical journey moving forward always building towards the next song, the next release, the next tour.
His last two albums Fall and Time (as M.E. Baird) are the first and second releases in a trilogy of single titled concept albums. In 2020 he began penning and recording demos for the final in this trilogy with an anticipated release in late 2021. These albums represent a distinctive approach to songwriting fuelled by M.E. Baird's insatiable quest for substance over output coupled with his love of words and a continued emphasis on a 'less is more ethos. The first two albums chronicle his own very personal experiences and observations on the grubbier and darker side of what is to be human. The songs can sway between being candid and direct or dreamlike 'Lynchian' moments populated with characters, disjointed recollections, and non-sensical dialogue. Therefore, it is no coincidence that his songwriting and live performances have been described as possessing a distinct visual richness and depth where each song can be like a cinematic vignette full of elegance, beauty, tragedy, and longing.
He has also dipped his toe in composing original music for film and screen art projects including song placement in a US-based PBS production. Over the years he has had the great fortune to collaborate with some very talented musicians, producers, and industry folk. He has toured extensively and has had the pleasure to share the stage with some of his most favoured artists that include Roland S Howard, Spencer P Jones, Ed Keuper, and Chris Wilson.
The solo albums and their stories
'DOWN ON THE BLACK TOP' (1992 - 1998)
In 1996, M.E Baird under the musical moniker of Zen For Head wrote and recorded a collection of songs that would become his first real solo album. The songs were penned in a small Victorian terrace on Smith St, Collingwood. Melbourne. A street that at the time possessed a very dark underbelly of heroin, homelessness, and petty crime. A perfect location for an aspiring songwriter wanting to be inspired by his surroundings. The album was inspired by folk laureates Tim Buckley and Loudon Wainwright III, which was at complete odds with the zeitgeist of Grunge and Hard Rock that was consuming Melbourne at the time. Within months of its release through Blah, Blah, Blah records the album was dropped to make way for bands that could do the best 'Seatle Sound' impression. The cities music punters were to descend into collective deafness, then as fast as the noise levels grew an even faster silence came and descended upon the inner city suburbs as the venues one by one were closed down to make way for swanky apartments, cafes, and clothing shops - the day the music stopped and moved back to the suburbs. For M.E Baird feeling somewhat defeated it was time to put music aside board a plane and leave for new horizons and a new career as an academic.
In 2006, feeling very disillusioned with his academic career. M.E Baird felt an overwhelming need to write songs again. He would return to songwriting and performing by assuming the nome de plume of ‘Lionel Lee’ a fictional character that was an amalgamation of the carnival-like characters he encountered in remote towns and caravan parks while traversing the continent as a child. Under the expanded band banner of ‘Lionel Lee’s Curse,’ he released an Ep followed by the critically acclaimed album Mysteries of The Heart; Vagaries of The Mind, (2010). The album was runner-up for the AGE, Melbourne’s best folk/pop album of 2010.
'FALL ' (2014 -2018) The first album in the trilogy of single titled concept albums.
In 2014 he wrote and recorded an eight-track solo album his third long-player, entitled FALL. The album was a deeply personal exploration and a huge turning point in M.E. Baird's attitude about what it is to be a songwriter and performer. Therefore it was no mistake that the album was to be his first truly solo album under his own name, albeit just his initials. Why just initial? It's a long story.
The album was to represent a period of great loss, grief and mental hardship for M.E. Baird. Leading up to the writing and recording of the album he was to lose his Nephew Jeremy who at eighteen months his junior was like a brother to him and sadly died as the victim of a horrific and brutal murder. A short time after his mother passed on to early-onset Alzheimer’s and cancer followed by an uncle and aunt whom he was very close to and were a constant source of support and inspiration. More loss was to come when not long after the recording was completed, he was to endure the deaths of his Sister and Father in quick succession, all in all, six family members passing in three years. The impact of the losses and grief eventually took a toll on M.E. Baird and resulted in another major breakdown. This meant the release of the album would have to be put on hold, perhaps indefinitely. In the summer of 2015 seeking a reset, M.E. Baird decided with his partner and young daughter to move to Northern, New South Wales. Shortly after relocating and as an act of renewal and resilience FALL was formally released in August 2016 two years after its recording. Overall, the album has been recognised as a fine testament to M.E. Baird's skills as a solo musician, songwriter, performer and the enduring commitment he has to his art. Although the album despite being a critical success was considered too dark and melancholy by most in the Australian music industry and therefore didn't get the live airing it deserved. This was to be another heavy blow to M.E. Baird, making it difficult for him to continue. Nonetheless, he was not going to be defeated and, in the winter of 2017, he began writing tracks for what would become TIME his 4th full-length album.
'TIME ' (2018 – 2020)
M.E Baird's most current release entitled TIME is a lyrical and sonic journey through age, experience and a testament to the passing of ‘time’. The tracks on TIME individually explored varied subtexts ranging from belonging, coming of age, corruption, migration, fortune, misfortune, contempt, loneliness and the joy of being alone. The album has received glowing four-star reviews, airplay and global recognition. The album was co-produced, arranged and recorded with producer/musician, Jamie Trevaskis. Jamie and M.E. Baird had mused for some time about recording a new album together, with Jamie playing a leading and creative role in the co-production of the album. When recording began it became instantly clear that Jamie, as a collaborator was able to transport the songs sonically into a universe far beyond the ordinary. It was important for the song's narrative to tell Jamie Trevaskis where the song/story needed to go sonically. Where a song needed to be tough, it had to be threatening, where it needed to be honest, it needed to be candid, where there was tenderness, it must be achingly forgiving and where there is, anger, it’s uncompromising. It was creatively vital that the album not pander to any genre, audience or expectations, of course, there are some hat-tipping and influences evident; it would be arrogant to pretend otherwise. Both Jamie and M.E. Baird wanted to show that it is an album born of maturity, rigour, determination, and patience. With this album, there was a return to how M.E Baird made records in the past. All tracks were recorded to analogue tape, predominantly live and with very little overdubs. This was done not for nostalgic reasons but a more ‘authentic’ audio representation. It also places more emphasis on musicianship rather than software know-how and digital trickery.