'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
M.E. Baird is indeed a highly respected Australian singer-songwriter, musician and visual artist with an impressive body of work spanning more than two decades. As a creative he describes himself as walking a jagged line between despair, hope and tragic romanticism. Without a doubt, songwriting and music represent his first true love and his main vehicle for expression. However, he is equally passionate about and inspired by art, literature, and cinema. He is also a former academic with a background in art and design including creative direction for film, television and digital media. Born and raised in Frankston, a working class bayside town an hour south of Melbourne, Victoria. M.E. Baird has lived in many places since, each a unique chapter in life and art and currently calls the historic township of Bangalow in the lush hinterland of Northern New South Wales home.
SONGWRITING AND MUSIC
M.E. Baird has been writing songs, composing music, producing music, fronting bands and performing solo since 1989. Over this time he has explored blues, folk, rock, country and jazz albeit his own off-centre interpretation of the genres. Regardless of the style he has always been fascinated with the sonic elements of light and shade combined with a well crafted lyric. He has written and recorded four full length albums and numerous Ep's. He has contributed songs to soundtracks and composed original music for film and screen art projects, as well as extensive touring and live performance. He has already begun writing and recording demos for his 5th album.
1992 - 1998 - The early years and 'Down on the Black Top'
M.E. Baird began his career as part of the Melbourne, folk, rock and grunge scene of the 1990s, while also studying at RMIT University. During this initial period, he performed regularly across Melbourne’s inner city venues playing guitar and fronting several band incarnations. With his main band Zen For Head, M.E. Baird wrote and recorded his first full length album 'Down On The Black Top’ (1996) under the long since dissolved Blah, Blah, Blah label. In 1988 M.E. Baird became disillusioned by the music industry and the rapid closure of inner city venues due to gentrification. M.E. Baird was also suffering from severe anxiety with major depressive episodes resulting in a mental breakdown. He then decided to flee Melbourne and to travel to Europe, the UK and Northern Africa. He returned to Australia in 2000 settling in Sydney where he embarked on an academic career lecturing at various universities and art schools.
2006 - 2010 - Returning to a true love, a new identity and exploring the 'Mysteries of the heart; Vagaries of the mind'
M.E. Baird eventually returned to Melbourne taking on a part time academic position at Deakin University. It was during this period that he fond the light again and made the long awaited return to his true love of music making and songwriting. Rather than write under his own name he decided to take on the musical moniker 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 young child and teenager with his family. As Lionel Lee' he recorded a solo acoustic six track Ep entitled Vexed Intentions (2008). This was followed by the full length and critically acclaimed folk/pop album, Mysteries of the heart; Vagaries of the mind with a full band under the expanded Lionel Lee’s Curse band moniker. The album was runner up for best folk album of 2010 by the Entertainment Guide, (EG) The AGE newspaper, Melbourne. However, for imagined and practical reasons the moniker of 'Lionel Lee' was becoming a real life curse. It was clear to M.E. Baird that moving on he would have to emerge from the shadows and no longer hide behind nome de plumes. He would need to take ownership of the material and begin writing and performing under his own name, all be it just his initials.
2010 - 2016 ‘FALL’ - A life defining journey through grief, loss and a new beginning
"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." ★★★★ Bernard Zuel, Sydney Morning Herald, 2016
"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.” ★★★★ Chris Martin, The Brag Magazine, Sydney, 2016
In 2014 M.E. Baird 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. However, 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 Alzheimers and cancer followed by an uncle and aunt who 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, coupled with a lifetime of struggling with depression and anxiety eventually took a toll on M.E. Baird and resulted in him suffering 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 north to the Byron Bay hinterland, 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 However, 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. However, he was not going to be defeated. In the winter of 2017, he began writing tracks for what would become ’TIME’ his 4th full-length album.
2016 - 2019 'TIME' — 'The music [songs] that are the dance of time’ - John Cale
There is a haunting quality to M.E. Baird’s music, a type of gothic 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)
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.
On the first day of June 2019 the album was officially released in Australia and instantly received glowing four star reviews and critical acclaim. M.E. Baird with full band embarked on a national tour and as the tour gained momentum with several sell out shows, M.E. Baird was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer resulting in the tour being cancelled. It would be an understatement to say this did not deliver a heavy blow to M.E. Baird both, physically and emotionally. He immediately embarked on treatment to slow the growth of the cancer and then had surgery to remove the prostrate in March 2020 just as the world was descending into to what would become the COVID-19 pandemic.
M.E. Baird has always had a passion for art and specifically drawing from a very young age. Being an outsider as a child and teenager drawing and music primarily offered M.E. Baird refuge and escapism from his suburban malaise. Even now, M.E. Baird's works are still very much a form of respite and meditation utilising a painstaking Zen like process that can see some larger pieces taking weeks to complete. More recently, M.E. Baird has been exploring the symbiotic relationship between his songwriting, composition and visual art.
M.E. Baird has held various full time and part time teaching and lecturing roles in art, design and creative theory at various art schools and universities in Victoria and New South Wales. Although no longer lecturing, M.E. Baird does offer workshops exploring the notion of 'creative thought/s' and the creative processes.
Click here for more information on workshops by M.E. Baird