M.E Baird is an Australian singer-songwriter, visual artist and educator with a career spanning nearly three decades. Originally from Melbourne, Victoria, he has lived in many places since, each a unique chapter in life and art. For the last seven years, he has called the Northern Rivers Region of NSW home.
M.E Baird is also an advocate for creativity in all its forms and how it can assist with emotional upheaval and managing mental illness. In 2018 he was diagnosed with a type of post-traumatic/stress illness stemming from early childhood and young adulthood that would manifest in crippling anxiety and prolonged depressive episodes. Since that diagnosis, he has a much better understanding of his mental demons and has developed and maintains daily strategies to successfully manage his mental health and is singularly dedicated to his family and creative pursuits. However, in 2019 he was diagnosed with aggressive Prostate Cancer and commenced treatment just as the world was descending into the madness of COVID but his quiet determination to keep going even through ongoing treatment has found him in the midst of what could be his most creative and productive years yet.
M.E Baird grew up in Frankston in the 70s and early 80s about two hours south of Melbourne. His upbringing was somewhat unconventional. He spent a good deal of his childhood on the road with his family traversing the continent in all compass directions. He was to cross the infamous Nullarbor Plains twelve times by the time he was eighteen. As a child and young adult, he was often in the company of much older people and extended family members who were artists, musicians, writers, poets, hippies, surfers, thinkers, religious types, ex-soldiers, conmen, cattlemen and slaughterman. In his late teens and as a young man, he found that he was drawn too and felt most comfortable with those considered a 'little strange', the lost and lonely, the aberrant. These formative years and experiences were to have a profound influence on his outlook on life, people and the human condition forever. It was also during this period that he began to paint, draw, play the guitar, surf and discovered via Melbourne community radio, station 3RRR a world of music way beyond what his peers were listening to or the banal rubbish his local radio station was dishing up. He eventually fled the confines of his suburban malaise and moved to the iconic bayside Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda at the age of eighteen. Just in time to see the Birthday Party perform their last ever Australian show at the iconic Seaview Ballroom. A very singular life-changing event indeed.
Song Writing and Music
M.E Baird’s output is unique and distinctive with an insatiable quest for substance over output. For M.E. Baird, songs rarely come to him as a melody, they arrive as scenes, and are often populated with characters and 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 a cinematic vignette full of elegance, beauty, tragedy and longing.
"There is a haunting quality to M.E. Baird’s music, a type of gothic folk/blues noir that permeates the songs. Baird knows how to successfully balance the beauty and the despair on Time and as a result, this is an album that should fit nicely in the record collections of fans of songwriters such as Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Will Oldham." ★★★★ - The Music (Australia)
"The slowly developing, intimately held tracks, which are neither folk, nor country, but maybe a Leonard Cohen interpretation of both are meant for the small, dark, alone spaces of your life." ★★★★ - Sydney Morning Herald
"Deeply emotive, M.E. Baird is driven by emotion. Whether in the carefully crafted lyrics, the music itself or his lamenting singular voice, emotion drips from everywhere, it trickles down walls and pools on the floor. It aches and hurts...and it’s beautiful." ★★★★ - Rhythms Magazine
""Baird speaks of lost loves and scarred hearts, and while he paints life in a harsh light, he still finds something to hold onto, be it a memory or a dream not yet faded. This" is folk; sad, bitter and beautiful.” ★★★★ - The Brag Magazine, Sydney
Current Musical Projects
M.E Baird has recently embarked on composing original music for film, TV including songs for a PBS production in the US. He has completed some recent screen art projects as well as writing songs for what may become his fifth solo album. He is also continuing to perform live, when possible.
M.E Baird’s music career started in Melbourne as part of the early 90s indie pop, and grunge rock scene while studying at RMIT University. He had several bands during this period and for the most part, his early band incarnations were pretty bad. But they did lay the foundations for his slightly more capable three-piece outfit ‘Zen For Head’ who released one Lp and several Ep’s. In 1998 M.E Baird embarked on an eight-year hiatus from songwriting to travel and pursue an academic career in art, design, architecture and fatherhood. However, in 2006 M.E. Baird reduced his academic commitments and returned to writing and performing eventually assuming the nome de plume of ‘Lionel Lee’. This fictional character 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 newspaper, Melbourne’s best folk/pop album of 2010.
FALL - loss, grief and renewal (2014 -2018)
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 his first truly solo album under his own name, albeit just his initials. 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 FALLwas 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 - The music and songs that are the dance of 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 for a more ‘authentic’ audio representation. It also places more emphasis on musicianship rather than software know-how and digital trickery.
M.E Baird was introduced to by his much older sister in his early teens and for a young troubled soul growing up in a suburban malaise, drawing was and still remain his greatest refuge. It was put to him at an early age while at school that he exhibited some potential but had trouble maintaining focus and was told he was more likely destined to achieve very little. He was subsequently expelled from school at sixteen years of age. Fortunately for M.E Baird at the age of eighteen, he fled suburbia for the iconic bayside Melbourne suburb of St Kilda in the late 80s just at the climax of its post-punk heyday and it was here in St Kilda that his musical and creative education really got underway and gathered momentum. He initially studied fine arts, then completed a degree in Landscape Architecture followed by a Masters in Architecture. While studying at RMIT he quickly fell in love with the freedom of ideas and self-expression that university life offered and it was at RMIT that he would meet Mardi, his soul mate and future life partner. M.E Baird eventually graduated from RMIT University with first-class honours and shortly after took on a permanent part-time lecturing position while simultaneously writing, recording and playing music. He would continue to hold various lecturing and tutoring roles in design, art and architecture at universities and art schools in NSW and Victoria. Although no longer an academic, M.E Baird does offer workshops in art, songwriting and creative theories.