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A Grounded Life with M.E. Baird

A Grounded Life with M.E. Baird
 M.E. Baird - Conversation #9 as featured at über stylish bath house The Banya

M.E. Baird - singer, songwriter, musician, painter and teacher. Forging a place for himself weaving between the two worlds of art and music, M.E. Baird has received critical and commercial recognition in both fields.  As a singer-songwriter and musician, with a career spanning nearly three decades, he has written and recorded five critically acclaimed solo albums, and numerous other recordings with bands and musical monikers, including song placement and original soundtrack work in film and television.  

As a visual artist, he has exhibited widely and has more recently expanded his art practice into short audio-visual projects combining his musical compositions with his visual art.  M.E. Baird also has a background in fine arts and architecture and shortly after graduating from RMIT, Melbourne he took on sessional teaching roles as a way to fund his music career but he quickly moved into research and would go on to explore Western ideas and philosophies on creativity and critical thinking as a process.  Although no longer an academic, M.E. Baird does occasionally hold workshops on creativity. 

"Whatever I have achieved for the day that I am most satisfied with; is my proudest moment. Even if it's just making the perfect coffee."

Where do you call home?

For the last decade, I have called home the historic township of Bangalow settled in the hinterland foothills of the Bundjalung Nation, Northern Rivers, New South Wales. 

What doeshomemean to you?

Notions of a ‘home’ is very nuanced for me. I was born on the Mornington Peninsular, Victoria then split my time either living with my much older sister in Melbourne or long sojourns across the vast Australian continent to satisfy my father's obsession to be on the road and his gipsy inclinations. I literally spent hundreds of hours crisscrossing the nation in every direction. Therefore, from a young age, I got to see many different versions of what a home is or means. Plus my partner of 30 years Mardi and I are known for sudden and unplanned upheavals to new and different places, each a unique chapter in art and life. Where to next, who knows?

What are the elements that help you transform a house into your home?

There are definitely key elements for me that a house must have. They are a physical if not visual connection to either nature or in an urban context a connection to the ‘street’. It must have as much natural light as possible and a place for quiet seclusion if possible. I love an internal courtyard in the right circumstances.

What creative projects find you most excited and energised?

Whatever I’m working on at the time. However, I do find the interactions of performing live with an audience where you receive immediate feedback in real-time to be the most exciting. 

M.E. Baird - Ghost Boats Series

Which life and/or work projects are most proud of?

I’m not sentimental about things. I used to be. But now I consider life and its projects as an ongoing never resolving creative pursuit. Whatever I have achieved for the day that I am most satisfied with; is my proudest moment. Even if it's just making the perfect coffee.

You were also an academic in art and design for more than two decades researching and lecturing on creative thinking and creative processes. The Roman philosopher Seneca said,While we teach, we learn”. Whats the biggest takeaway in your teachings?

My biggest takeaway after two decades of teaching and researching in the creative fields is the realisation of just how little we know about the creative spirit and more specifically how to define creativity. It’s a subject that is for the most part shrouded in unnecessary mythology.

M.E. Baird - Ghost Boats Series

Could you share with us some personal insights into a challenging time in your life?

Ill be candid and say that since childhood I have battled with crippling anxiety and episodes of profound depression. It had always been a daily challenge. However, my biggest challenge came in 2019, when I was diagnosed with aggressive and advanced prostate cancer and the prognosis was not good. I’m happy to say that after four years of treatment, I am officially cancer free.

What did you learn about yourself throughout this challenge?

The cancer was a gift, an agent for change wrapped up in pathology request forms. And it forced me to deal with the unresolved past and some personal issues. It instigated a profound change in my thinking and day-to-day lifestyle with a daily meditation practice at the centre. I’m happy to say the life skills I now have in place, mean that anxiety and depression have taken a back seat and will hopefully keep me in good health mentally and physically for years to come.

What type of activities or rituals do you instil to help you remain Grounded?

Time with my partner, daughter, close friends, meditation, a healthy diet, genuine social connections, no alcohol and time in nature.

What is the best life advice you have been given?

Hmm. I have been given a lot of advice over the years, most of it unsolicited and I’ve found that people tend to give advice with themselves in mind, not you. I’m not sure I have received any ‘best life advice’ apart from, ‘say less, do more’.
Favourite travel destination for Grounding yourself:

A large city where you can be anonymous in a crowd or in a forest or on an isolated beach.

One city must-do travel tip

Drive your own car through the centre of Casablanca at peak hour.

Catch M.E. Baird playing in Sydney this Wednesday evening the 19th July at The Midnight Special for the release of his latest album 'Spinning Man’. Preview the video for the lead single and title track HERE.