“It was like a switch clicked inside my head and suddenly I was creating music from a new perspective, writing sidewards, out of the corner of my eye” says singer songwriter Maryen Cairns on her seventh album, ANEW.
This Scottish born Australian moved to the island of Guernsey not long before covid hit, so she was isolated in a place full of history’s remains, and within this new world a seed of creativity germinated into something far flung from the drama based approach she had previously been inhabiting. Recording in her home studio she captured the basis of the introspective, yet uplifting, mood with guitar, piano & vocals, before sending them out to her mentor, producer Chris Kimsey and musicians across the world, to gently add their magic.
Easy rhythms support lilting vocals with folky pop songs like Spill the Tea and Slice of the Pie, but the album spans a wide range of genres, encapsulating all the way from new age through to indie rock. For a strongly lyric driven artist Maryen surprises with the instrumental track Slow Burn, a contrast to the wry Superwoman , the climate conscious Change In The Weather, and the mammoth story of The Smuggler’s Tale - where the listener hangs on to every word.
A Scottish transplant to Australia as a child, after leaving school Cairns spent a decade in London following her music muse before returning to Sydney to start the journey motherhood would take her on. Fast forwarding 20 years she has left her Queensland rainforest mountain hideaway to roam with the family back to the northern hemisphere, landing in the island of Guernsey.
A little more background on Maryen? ... Having grown up in Sydney, she travelled to London for a 3 week holiday creative sabbatical which turned into an 11 year stint performing and writing in London’s original music scene. Her career as a U.K. solo artist (with a 7 piece band) caught the attention of U.K. progressive rocker FISH (ex Marillion) for whose album Internal Exile Maryen sang backing vocals.
Maryen’s distinctive performance style led to other engagements, including a central role in a world wide promotional video for BOSE & Philips CDi filmed in the Canary Islands in which pianist Maryen plays a grand piano in the crater of an extinct volcano.
A track (Too Young to Die) from one of Maryen’s U.K. releases (The Pictures Within (1992) and For Eternity (1994)) was picked up in the U.S. and used by Nickelodeon in an Aids educational roadshow tour of U.S. schools.
Returning to Australia, Maryen became a mother before embarking on her pursuit of encouraging original music by instigating and hosting Sydney Songwriters - Sydney’s 1st “Original’s Only” Open- Mic night. This led to her releasing a 3rd album, “Stories From Beneath” in 2004 before moving to Springbrook Mountain, Gold Coast, Queensland, to raise her family on an off-the-grid mountaintop, where she also instigated and ran an annual one day festival, The Mfest - Celebration of Motherhood and the Creativity of Women (2007 - 2017).
Cairns's 4th album Stories From The Red Tent was released in 2012. The song Homebirth, along with photographer Deirdrie Cullen’s birth images, has been viewed over 56,000 times on YouTube.
Legendary Rolling Stones producer Chris Kimsey produced Maryen’s 5th album, Femina Australis in London where material already recorded in Maryen’s Gold Coast hinterland studio was augmented by artists gathered from three continents, including Hal Lindes (Dire Straits, BAFTA nominated soundtrack composer), Red Young (Sonny & Cher, Willie Nelson) and Jennifer Maidman (The Proclaimers, Boy George).
Femina Australia is a concept album tracing the lives and contributions of twelve significant Australian women. The CD is presented in a jewel case sized illustrated book containing important historical background in story form, relevant to the songs. In 2017 Maryen was invited to present a show “The Stories of Femina Australis” at the Somerset Celebration of Literature (now known as Somerset Storyfest) along with running a Songwriting Workshop. Later that year she took both the show & the workshop on the road with her family to Remote Community Schools in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, covering 18,000 kilometres in four months, and leaving 26 new songs with the schools whose students wrote them.
With a fascination for the imagined, the deep spiritual world and very real history (which often proves stranger than fiction), Maryen continued to develop as a singer and songwriter, with her 2019 album COME TO ME, again produced by Chris Kimsey.
In 2019 she left her Queensland rainforest mountain hideaway to roam with the family back to the northern hemisphere, moving to the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Maryen took the opportunity of the covid induced time-out to not only up-skill her home studio knowledge, but also to connect with new listeners through live streaming. Her club, The Cairns Club, has led to real communication about her music (hence why the Alt Mix version of Spirit was released before the normal mix!) and has led to her newly launched Cairns Club Inner Circle.
ANEW includes 3 songs that were released as singles in 2021. Hope, The Haunted Lane and Spirit (Alt Mix), and, featuring at the end of the album, these are a conduit to the artist as she was, as they are on the way to the new...
Maryen Cairns has indeed found something anew... which is probably why she says “ANEW feels like the first album I’ve ever made and I’m nervous because this is different... I feel unmasked as an artist. I’m naked. Here I am anew.”
ANEW has 12 tracks - 11 original songs and 1 alternative mix.
ANEW is released on the 11th November 2022
The Pictures Within (1992)
For Eternity (1994)
Stories From Beneath (2004)
Stories From The Red Tent (2012)
Femina Australis (2016)
Come To Me (2019)
Too Young To Die (1992)
The Red Tent (2012)
The Devil’s Fly (2018)
The Mouth Of The Goddess (2018)
Come To Me (2018)
The Haunted Lane (2021)
Handing Down The Knowledge (Songs for Homebirth) 2009
Reflex Magazine CD Sampler 1992
Also contributed to:
Fish - Internal Exile (1991)
Adrian Borland - 5:00AM (1997)