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Burnished Gold Video & Unedited Version

cheynne murphy

With the help of some creative commons footage I discovered on Youtube I created a visual representation of the natural inspiration behind the song. Check it:

Also the wonderful Paul Pilsneniks has revived from the archives the original unedited version of Burnished Gold. Enjoy its natural glory.

The lyrical journey of A Horse Called Freedom

cheynne murphy

This album documents a journey of the soul for me. Into new territory. An exploration of the inner world through music and the outer world through metaphorical landscapes.  It is in essence a concept album that had its genesis upon listening to a poem being read out on ABC radio that had the striking visual lyric ‘burnished gold’. My first musical projects embodied a concept called ‘Firesongs For the Soul’ so that lyric evoked the flame but also the way the sun lights up the back of the wave in the early morning, how the fronds of a palm shield and reveal a golden light, the setting sun…its everywhere. It seeped into my consciousness. At the time I was driving back from my work in my day job as a marketing lecturer that I like… but is not quite as inspiring to me as music and song-writing is. Burnished gold took me somewhere that day and as I looked out the window passing the beautiful sun-drenched hills near Murwillimbah a haunting melody struck me in three part harmony and the song had begun to write itself. It took me quite literally to ‘a time long ago’. Lost in the canyons, almost like a lost cowboy on some kind of shamanic journey after stumbling into a tribe of American Indians…falling in love with them, nature and a raven haired woman.  This song had some very interesting variations rhythmically and after much experimentation I settled into the unusual 6 /8 to 4/4 feel which in a way can be disorientating but strangely harmonious simultaneously.

The song burnished gold is written in a minor key (capo on the second fret) and I began the realization that where I was at spiritually was often best reflected in the deeper mournful yearning of minor keys and in fact at a certain point I had surrendered to the idea of writing an album completely in the minor realm. In the past I had always thought people would like to be uplifted through music and this uplifting lends itself through major or as music teachers often call it ‘happy’ chords. Music that makes you want to dance. But I was being led by something different. I wanted to create some kind of concept album which begins in the more melancholic ruins of self discovery but leads the listener or writer on a journey that faces the inner shadow squarely and hopefully leads them to a more relaxed space and acceptance of ‘what is’. Back tracking now…

The journey begins with Back At the Start. It was inspired by a brief encounter with a radiant little baby, peering over his mothers shoulder…such innocence and joy. I reflected on this innocence and how we are conditioned by parents firstly and then society, and are filled with preconceptions and ideas that may or may not be true but we somehow become confused in our identity and some of us turn to drugs or therapy to unravel this conditioning. I see it like a helmet or uniform that we are told to wear. I then thought of my 4 grand parents that passed away in nursing homes. My Irish Grandad in particular had an interesting journey with Alzeimers and during my monthly visits he eventually forgot who I was or indeed his own wife. However he did seem rather happy and by all accounts he was content, smiling and loved his food. He was even known to wander the local streets in search of….who knows. In some respects he was almost turning into a baby again hence the title Back at the Start. The heart has some kind of guidence system, some kind of purity, and 'if it comes from the heart you'll be back at the start again'...back to a more innocent approach to life.

So in track 1, Back At the Start we contemplate the corruption of innocence by unwanted rules and conditioning that are designed to order us but may in fact constrain our freedom.  Burnished Gold (Track 2) looked at the old worlds and tribes and their connection to nature which are ‘signs like a roadmap, always knowing where to go”.  But our path can unravel unpredictably and we can sometimes face loss and devastation. Until its Gone (Track 3) is a contemplation that often “we don’t really know how good it is until its gone”. Originally inspired by the death of the brother of one of my closest friends who has indigenous heritage, I used this as a metaphor for an American Indian warrior dealing with the grief of the death of his own brother and feeling his presence, sitting by the fire, hears his brothers totem animal the coyote … “wild cries in the distance’ your animal songs”. This song traverses minor sadness and lifts up in the chorus almost as a revelation to honour what we have hear and now. The altro or end is the acceptance. I have played music at many funerals and see these as a celebration of one’s life but wonder about the irony that this happens after they are gone?

 The title track of the album (track 4) follows, as this warrior, whom ambiguously may be of modern times or from the old world, is searching for “A Horse Called Freedom”.  Not sure if I was unconsciously affected by an old movie I saw with my Dad called 'A man called horse' or the desert chill of Horse with No Name by America. This lyric is a metaphor for finding freedom within. My personal journey of living in a blended family with my two children and my partner’s two children has been emotionally challenging. Combine this with 5 jobs and still a burning desire to keep writing and recording musical ideas, I sometimes feel like a warrior albeit misguided at times. This journey is not free from darkness and the emotional upheaval of my own difficult upbringing (family of 4, a very strict father and all the conflicts apparent in the interrelationships -N.B dad has since mellowed like a bottle of red wine god bless him x). Interactions in my own day to day experiences can trigger these old wounds. This leads the warrior to paint his face, embodying his shadow. Removed from society, somewhere in the mountains, with the threat of rain, a metaphor for inner isolation and the emotional storms that can plague us. Throughout this isolation there are glimpses of this mythical white horse (also represented in the album artwork). Glimpses of a freedom that can lift the spirit beyond these sometimes chaotic worldly concerns onto a more elevated plateau.

 The album’s central character re-enters society in ‘Must Start Moving’ (Track 5) but on the fringes only. Wandering with just a dog as a companion he finds deep solace in the solitude of loneliness and turns his gaze once more back to nature and its infinite support. The theme here for the character is not to get stuck. Not dwell unnecessarily in emotional confusion but to stay grounded. He 'Must keep moving'.

 This theme is continued with Tears for the Road (Track 6) where a soul is dealing with the tremendous grief of losing his family in the Victorian bushfires. He couldn’t save them and watched them be burned alive. Horrifying. To tell someone to just move on would be disrespectful to them so instead the song explores how grieving can be like leaving ‘tears for the road’ (Track 6) which can lead you to a lighter space. It is also touches on the journey from one place to another.

Thus we enter a transition from the dark into the light where in track 8 “good feelings will guide you to a home”. A metaphor for the inner home of knowing yourself and contacting your own inner power and strength and ability to self-nurture.  The song is  also an exploration of manifestation whereby the intuition is expressed by genuine good feelings which if you choose this method of guidance may lead you towards self-actualisation. It is also an honouring of family and its role in the bigger picture.

Now as the transformation is near complete, the wounded warrior with the ‘broken wings’ meets the mythical Firebird (Track 8) who becomes a spiritual healer and teaches him to ‘fly again’. This is similar to the rising phoenix that according to Greek mythology, is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. After writing the song I was present at a ceremony where an indigenous leader from Australia was passing on a Black cockatoo feather to another man of Hawaiian descent as a peace offering and a sacred symbol of the environment to 'spread' the word. He relayed the story that his people called the black cockatoo a firebird as well as the bearer of rain and it is very lucky to be 'dropped' one of these feathers. I actually wrote the song as Fireburn but my lovely step daughter Arianna thought I said Firebird so it stuck. It is interesting when you let go of the conscious mind what can come through. Now our character is transforming, lightening and moving through into modern times.

 So We Can See (Track 9) looks at the pressure of day to day living. We can all ‘crack like thunder’. It also looks at how long term relationships can lead to the  drifting apart ‘phase’ through the mundane, the familiar, as we are ‘moving along like trains in the night with rattles and aches, and there’s splinters of light’. This metaphor draws on the themes of ships in the night which may arise from a lack of quality time spent together, which in turn can create unwanted friction. Again pointing ‘back to the start’, this quest for peace and liberation may require a connection to a greater spirit or power who can ‘strip us of the dark, so we can see’. It also looks at the humanistic aspect of spirituality where each one of us can ‘light a candle’ for the other 'so we can see'.

In the End (Track 10), we need not take it all so seriously, so as the painful process of the metamorphosis ends and the butterfly emerges from the cocoon we can move into that peaceful, breezy, connected space that dwells somewhere within the moment. Written at a Corroboree near Casino, I was by a rushing stream, like vagrant, a wayfarer, watching the children swim and play free from the shackles of technology and Facebook. It is also inspired by a great book called Siddhartha by Herman Hesse who'se journey of hedonism ultimately leads him to a life of simplicity by the river.

So as this first part of my journey ends…..another begins

Headlights & Goodbyes - Behind The Scenes Part 2 - The day Jeff Martin knocked on the door

cheynne murphy

So Headlights and Goodbyes EP is complete and as I look into the rearview mirror I acknowledge this life and it’s richness. The good the bad. The coming together, the moving apart. Tis a journey indeed. Originally conceived as an album it morphed into an EP. As in all my creative projects I try to let intuition rule and let go of the steering wheel. Case in example was the completion of the title track Headlights and Goodbyes. As it was being mixed by Paul Pilsneniks in a bedroom in the hills of Byron Bay. Unbeknownst to me his co-resident Jeff Martin (from The Tea party - one of Canada’s all-time favourite bands) happened to be listening and heard a specific sound and offered to collaborate. Basically he knocked on the door as my guitarist and one of my closest musical allies & friends Mark Heazlett was laying down a final rhythm track and said “After you finish that Ronny Woods  guitar I would like to lay down some B-Bender if you like?”.   Here is Mark laying down the rhythm to Headlights single:

I then had to quickly write down a chord chart and explain my non-musical approach to somehow justify this shitty chord chart.  (i.e., no formal music training and I even put it in the wrong capo WTF! ). He handed me a guitar (one of about 30 lying around) and said “no pressure but this is probably one of  my favourite guitars so don’t drop it and I have a job..can you write a chord chart for the song. I grabbed the guitar tightly and scribbled down what I knew about the chords to the song.  B-Bender is a very unique guitar (I later learned). I had never heard of a B-bender so asked about its origins and its unique design which presents an octave bend on the B string I believe using the guitar strap connection.  A very unique style is required to playing it well. When I heard the sound I was sold.  Here is Jeff playing the track.

After that I ended up getting him to play on five of the tracks. It was an opportunity and I just ran with it. Serendipity is a mistress I like to follow. Here is him laying down some guitar for Run Aground. So many licks left on the cutting floor. 

The treasure chest which is a song about growing old but staying young at heart has a country bluegrass feel. Mark add some country tones at my place.

I asked Jeff what he wanted to play over the top and this is the audio of the unedited first take he did, only hearing the song a couple of times.

It is a cliche but in some ways the process of recording and sharing music is the real pleasure for me. Its just one recording in one moment of time. I always like to experiment with the form thereafter but when I listen back to the songs I see the stories in my rear view mirror and then I move on.

Headlights and Goodbyes EP - Media Release

cheynne murphy

Headlights or Goodbyes 

Headlights and Goodbyes is the single and title track off a new EP from North Coast folk-rocker Cheynne Murphy being launched with his band at the Rails, Sunday December 02.  Recorded in the hills of Byron Bay, the EP also features guest guitar from Jeff Martin of Canadian rock band The Tea Party.  Jeff who now resides in Byron Shire heard the song playing from producer Paul Pilsneniks home studio, and offered to play a final part to the track. Cheynne describes the moment as “pretty amazing as Jeff Martin is not only of my favourite vocalists but he is also an incredible guitarist and inspired me to pick up the 12-string guitar. It was very surreal”.  He ended up playing on five of the six tracks adding to the adroit guitars already laid down by accomplished local musician Mark Heazlett.

Headlights and Goodbyes explores the notion of moving forward with the simultaneous feelings of nostalgia and a yearning for what is being left behind. As Cheynne explains:  “ The concept is the idea that our memory is like a rearview mirror.  Perhaps there are things that do need to be addressed from the past in order to move forward. Ultimately though we are all looking to the headlights to what is coming ahead. Nostalgia and sentimentality can offer warm and comforting feelings, but sometimes we can get stuck there. Stuck in the past if we don’t let it go.”  The song explores the lyrical theme of making empowering choices to leave negative situations and the sobering acknowledgement that ultimately we can never turn back the time. In this case it is a story of domestic violence and the struggle of the pain of saying goodbye but also the freedom in letting go. 

The title track co-written with long-time collaborator and also drummer on the record, Carl Hemmings (aka The Greater Tapestry) represents another page in their 20 year history of song-writing. “We first started writing together in bands in Sydney and got signed to Warner Chappell as songwriters. We have continued to exchange lyrics, chords, and arrangement ideas to help refine the songs. Hopefully it shows in the end result.” 

Headlights and Goodbyes is a loose rollicking, harmony fuelled, folk-rock EP in the vein of Californian soul bands like the Eagles, America and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. This EP represents the next step in a critically acclaimed songwriting career for Cheynne which has included a Bluesfest appearance, television performances, songwriting awards and a recent nomination as song-writer of the year in the North Coast Entertainment Industry Associations’ (NCEIA) songwriter of the year category.

Cheynne joined forces to record  the EP with local collaborators including engineer and producer Paul Pilsneniks (Angus Stone, Bernard Fanning, Pete Murray, The Tea Party), fellow singer-songwriter Mark Heazlett on harmonies and guitars, Mat Akehurst on drums and Ben Brennan (Seven) on Bass. The band launches the EP at The Rails, Sunday, December 2. 

Headlights and Goodbyes - EP Behind The Scenes Part 1

cheynne murphy

So 2018 is going to be a big year of change. This first clip is behind the scenes recording demo's for an upcoming release that was tentatively titled The Tide is Turning - but the track is now being worked on for a new album . I went into the studio's with New Gold Mountain rhythm section Ben and Carl and long time song-writing friend Mark Heazlett, with Paul Pilsneniks engineering and co-producing.  Also stay tuned from an upcoming EP from my long-time songwriting collaborator Carl Hemmings aka The Greater Tapestry who also recorded a few tracks in the same session. A wicked session all round to kick off the new year.

Making of Celtic Heart LP

cheynne murphy

Celtic Heart LP Behind The Scenes

The genesis of Celtic Heart ,the album begins last century, as the album title track tells in “ a place called Knocknageehe, County mayo”. This was the birth place of my Grandfather Pa Murphy who grew up with his seven siblings and endured the famine with his family. His Mum died early and the Catholic tradition deemed it inappropriate to marry again so his Father brought up all the children on his own.  My Dad took me over with my two brothers and visited the farm on a family bonding trip. We were travelling down these very narrow lanes, using our smart phone to chart a course to the old homestead. Remarkably we found it and as we stood outside the place, a local farmer with gumboots above his knees, and a thick midlands accent, asked us if we were lost and then proceeded to invite us all in for a cup of tea and a look around. This is the opening scene and context for my home-made travel video for the song:

This profound meeting inspired a song-writing session in the coastal town of Clifden, at Abbyglen Castle. I had visited this Castle with Dad and brothers and shared a beer. Thought it might be good to come back to on my own as I had a few days before flying out. Some old Irish ladies gave me a lift from the bus. They had been staying at the Castle for 50 years. I had an incredible time. They messed up the booking true Irish style and I ended up having all my meals covered (silver closh and all) and champagne in the evenings. Later on I would debut Celtic Heart, after I had written it by the piano with all the guests for the obligatory nightime singalong. Here is the work in progress just after suffering the worst flu of my life!! Hence Mr Croak. Lyrics on the final version were tweaked.

The next stage of this was dropping in on the way to Lismore for work at Guy Andertons home studio. I played him the song Through the Hills of Inishmore and an hour later drums were done. I was originally going to get a traditional Irish drum sound but Guy did a pretty good Irish feel on his toms for the track .Thought it matched the energy of the track. Has a Fleetwood Mac Tusk feel solo'd.   Guys drums solo (starts 26 secs):

Here is the original version which was much slower and doesn't feature the skipping 12 8 groove:

Next a quick acknowledgement to Chris Aronsten a very authentic local North Coast Australia performer. He came in and played a great fiddle. When I asked him about his inspiration he said he wanted to give it that “West Coast” irish feel. Additionally he also played some mandolin on his 1930’s Gibson Mandolin!  Here is clip introducing Chris:

Matt Connolly who played the Irish (UIlian) pipes (on Celtic Heart, Sailing, Through The Hills of Inishmore), shared to me that he made them himself. He has a great affinity with Irish music and plays special music with an Australian Irish feel. This is a short clip of him in the zone on the pipes but he also played the Bodhran on Lovers Breathe :

Introducing the folk aficionado Chris Sullivan. I first met Chris in Uki playing at the Sphinx Rock Cafe. He told me he was doing a doctorate in the origins of traditional Australian Fold Music. In my work at Southern Cross University (SCU ) in Lismore I met Chris a few years later as he smoked a rolly (handmade cigarette). I was on my way out and after a quick chat found out that he played the concertina. As I walked off I was hearing the track in my head and could hear the concertina sound. I walked straight back and asked Chris if he would play. When we got together the recording studio was down so I ended up borrowing a zoom field recorded and recording via Garaband. 

Also I wanted to tag in this man Adrian Brett. Such a beautiful flute player. He puts his heart and soul into his expression. We recorded in my home studio and this was one of his takes recording Lovers Breathe.

Bel McKenzie added extra lament to Track 6 She'll stand by Your side. The song is prayer to a friend when his wife was on life support and eventually passed with his unborn baby. Alone with their daughter this song was written as a balm. Bel played beautiful strings. One of my favs on the album.

Longtime collaborator and live guitarist and backing vocalist Mark Heazlett provided some beautiful acoustic guitar on tracks 1 and 6 adding to his co-production support for these tracks.

Finally introducing the incredible mixing and engineering and my brothers in arms co—producers for Celtic Heart Mark Heazlett, and Paul Pilsneniks “The Farm” up in the hills of Byron Bay. 

The final video is my artist rant on the whole process and recording and its inspiration. I did this as a completion of my headspace behind the whole project. Honestly blessed to live here and work with the people I do. Much love and many blessings.

Made in China Part 1 - 2016 Tour

cheynne murphy

Confucious say: "when one journey ends another begins". Not sure if he did...but someone said something like that sometime. I had only just finished stamping the new Celtic Heart album when I received a Facebook message from Ej the engineer and co-producer of Firesonsgs for the soul EP about a trip to China: 

“Morning, will you by any chance be interested to perform at a music festival in Chongqing, China? Me and my project band will be going there for the second year. It's nothing fancy but from my experience it was fun.  The catch is that there could not be any payment for the shows because it is part of a university's welcoming festival. You are however will be fully taken care of (flights, other transports, food, hotel, translators, small trip). And you are free to bring along band members and crews whom they will cover for as well. Festival is between 24-30th October. Let me know if you are interested mate “ 

So I went through a process questioning if it was real or not. But EJ is a man to be trusted, so I took it on face value and accepted. Who couldn't trust this face?

I had been playing with a harmony based trio that included Mark Heazlett (co-producer of Celtic Heart) and Mat Akehurst (drummer on A Horse called Freedom). Initially they said yes. however for different reasons eventually both guys opted out. I knew I had to get to China. Even thought about going solo with the 12 string. I love playing with other musicians, and if the intention was right I believed I would get a good crew for the project. Time was running out. There was hesitation from various people I ‘felt’ out.  I then invited my old originals band from Sydney - Spinifex. We used to play around Sydney in the 90's.

We were only a small indie band but I had this kind of "Spinal tap" moment where I thought it would be good to invite the whole band to do a reunion tour in China and film it. The bass player declined but Jay Kong (violin and guitar) and Carl Hemmings(drums) said yes. A week later Carl also pulled out on personal reasons. He also has anxiety around flying. I then asked Dave Atkins (sometime drummer from Wolf Mother, and key figure of the Resin Dogs) who was giving a lecture at SAE where I teach. He said in a text: F%^$# yeah and told me he knew of this dope bass player Ben who may be up for it if we needed a bass player.  Based on one phone call I booked him in.  It seemed trust was going to be a key component for this adventure. 

I did one quick rehearsal with Dave and we had a plan to use some loops with organic drums, however again something came up for Dave and he pulled out. When Dave pulled out I called Carl again and this time he seemed ready and took the plunge. He only got his visa approved the Friday before leaving. We left Sunday. Paul Pilsneniks who co-produced the Horse album was in from the get go, originally for audio crew support but then included to play keys, backing vocals, and percussion. It was to be his first ever band gig. I also had the hidden agenda he would record the band at a later date. Here Paul introduces himself:

I also went through a process of what 'set' to tour and decided that the Horse Called Freedom was the best vibe for the trip and based on Carl’s ‘John Bonhamesque’ (Led Zeppelin) take on drums I focused more on the rock element (featuring the tracks A Horse Called Freedom, Back At the Start, Burnished Gold, Good Feelings). I did some research and found out that Hotel California was a big deal in China and also Blowers Daughter (Damien Rice) was quite popular. I learned ‘Hotel’ as one of the first songs ever on guitar and I loved Blowers daughter so they got included. Because Jay and Carl were coming I wanted them to connect to the set, so I included one of the first songs he, Carl and myself wrote called On My Mind. It was a long song and never really got completed until this tour. Also Snake was in the set which features Jays violin prowess. See old recording excerpt of Jay tearing it up on violin:

Finally I wanted to present one of my favourite rock tracks I have written but never recorded properly called “Give Your Love To Me’. I had a hidden agenda to record the band either in China or back home.

Right until we left, I was dealing with one line emails from my contact in China ‘Robert’. The biggest email of the itinerary which includes a 'lecture' I was to do is below. The details of said 'lecture' are outlined in another 'chapter' but lets just say it was more than a "lecture' - it was in a huge auditorium seating 500 Chinese students complete with coloured balloons written in my name. This became the theme for the trip. What you expect may not arrive but won't you don't expect will arrive in spades. Email example here:


I was also getting random emails from other Chinese people, ‘Mark’ who said he works for Mr Lin. They spoke of this lecture I would do. But no real details whatsoever. For example suddenly the concept of B-boxing just appeared in an email:

The final hurdle happened for me just 3 days before flying out. I face planted on a new skateboard I had just bought and I was in Tweed hospital emergency getting treated. Given the water issues in China, I am thankful no infection happened but it remains a blemish on all photos and footage form the trip :-)

Remarkably we all got our visa’s, and there we were at Ghuong Zhou airport in the humidity and throng, meeting as a group for the first time. Bonding began whilst waiting in the queue at immigration and on the plane to Chongqing (Deepening through music, good times, laughter and a few hotpots).

When we landed the big question was : would my contact Junia be at the airport to get us to Heshuan (1 hour out from Chongqing airport). We had genuine trepidation based on the communications trail.

Our thoughts were answered as we came around the gate to collect luggage. A smile that would guide and support us throughout the whole of the Chongqing trip. Junia was here.

Bags loaded, dark night, on the road. No idea where we were really, nor where we were going. Finally end up at the hotel which was pretty amazing to retreat to. Huge separate rooms (that would end up being a saving grace for us to have our own ‘retreats’). Drinks overlooking the streets of Heshuan and marvelling at the artistic nature of the printed language - Hanzi. We had arrived. (Stay tuned for Part 2 ).



Made In China Part 2 - 2016 Tour

cheynne murphy

PART 2 - Made in China

Waking up in a country so different as China is strangely exciting. You know that feeling when you wake up and it takes a few seconds to remember that you are actually in another country, half way around the world. The thing about travel is it gives you such perspective. Insight into a bigger picture. The sign on the floor acts as subliminal programming to keep the population 'happy' (or just good vibes)

Sitting on the toilet and contemplating (as you do) not really sure which button to press to maximise my happiness:

Quick shower, mindful of my skateboard injury (see blog 1) not being exposed to too much water (I was told there are issues with the health of the tap water). I had left home in such a hurry and didn’t get a chance to book my travel insurance in. That came back to haunt me many times on the trip. But that’s another story. Time to jump in a lift and sample the breakfast buffet. 

There was very little on this buffet I could recognise. I saw something that resembled chicken and rice and some noodles and a few veggies. I was actually thinking about how many mouths there are to feed in China and where all the meat comes from. It was everywhere but I had question marks on its farming and origins. What was the process? Where are these big animal manufacturing plants based? My suspicion was that blending of animals in some kind of mass factory meat processor may have been happening?  This clip opens with my good friend EJ and some of his band members from Areef.

We all meet in the lobby and we were presented with a range of possibilities of how to fill the day in. As excited as we were there was one objective for us as a band. Rehearse. Our new China friends didn’t know that as a collective we had not played a note of music. That in itself was intriguing to me. I love risk and music. Ben our bass player quite directly explained to the lovely Junia, “not sure if you understand but rehearsing is the number one priority”. The look in his eyes conveyed his seriousness and cemented his place as a serious musician on the team


I had been told by my smiling assasin, EJ that there were in fact rehearsal rooms over somewhere (he pointed toward a shopping centre and gives some kind of vague direction). As we took off with some student translators it became apparent they were not really clear about where this rehearsal room was. We ended up climbing the stairs into what seemed like a deserted building and were shown some rooms that had floor to ceiling mirrors, gym pads, table tennis tables but importantly no musical instruments. We were told that for each gig there was a ‘backline’ of music equipment provided for the band. So we restated nicely “we need things like drums, microphones, bass amps, guitar amps. this must not be the place because our friend (EJ) assured me there were rooms full of gear ready for bands”. There were a lot of puzzled looks and the students seemed somewhat distressed about the situation. It was interesting to note that despite being translators, most of the students only had very basic English. We didn’t know that. It became a process of deduction. I decided that I would go looking based on EJ’s earlier instructions. In China you always get confronted by scale. What appeared like a local shopping centre suddenly became Dr Who’s tardis with escalators everywhere, levels upon levels of shops and I quickly realised I was looking for a needle in the haystack. Eventually after hours of running around a message got through about the mysterious rehearsal studio location.


We were led past some graffiti walls into a bunker. When the room was pushed open we were greeted with checkered walls and a whole range of gear complete with tags on it. It was that new! So we began setting up to play music. After some ‘lost in translation’ moments we had a set up happening and started jamming.

Music has this liberation possibility or alternatively it can be excruitiating if it doesn’t gel. From the first few songs it became apparent that the gamble had paid off and there was some inherent music chemistry happening. Coming into the trip I was aware of each individual ingredient for the ‘band’ but still not sure how it would come together ( given we were playing a basket ball stadium show first up on the Wednesday  had some concerns). It was great reconnecting with old band mates, new musical brothers and after 3 hours we had the makings of a show coming together. We even had new chinese friends continually standing by the door and taking in this very different brand of musical expression. Needless to say we established very clearly that another rehearsal tomorrow would be crucial again. Upon walking out we wandered into another room where we found out we would be playing on the second night. It was the live house. We were greeted by the sound engineer who promptly offered us cigarettes in a polite but serious fashion. He was mixing the sound for this local band. Apparently the singer sings in a rural southern style. Facinating but unique with some very interesting melodies and this strange chinese trumpet??? Short Clip:

Later that evening, we bonded over some beers and a sumptuous traditional chinese feast.

Everyone opted for an earlier night on day 1.....except Ben and I. We were ready to sample some Heshuan nightlife. We wandered up just three doors from the hotel and went into the first bar. The Chinese don’t really drink that much so there are not a lot of choices. As soon as we walked in we were greeted with stares of amazement. There were no westerners in this bar. In fact there were almost no westerners at all in Heshuan (we saw less than 5 in total through all our travels there). Upon finishing our first beer, we were surrounded by a whole crew of local drinkers. Whilst we had no english communication whatsoever it was clear that having a good time was on everyone’s mind and we laughed away together not quite sure what anyone was saying. In fact I found everything so bizarre I just kept giggling. Almost hysterically. After we put down our first beer, there was a table of drinks and it seemed like all the night club patrons had moved around our table. There were a few well dressed younger Chinese men and we had thoughts they were part of some Chinese mafia. they started getting quite serious around having our attention:

They were harmless enough but they were really focused on getting some social leverage out of Ben and I. Suddenly one grabbed my arm and took me up to the Karaoke stage where an androgynous local singer was performing and requested I dance. "When in China"…so I danced in a sea of neon lights, chinese phonetics and a growing beer buzz. This became known as the bunny dance because at one point I pick up a big bunny side of stage and cuddled it. Why was the bunny sitting there?

At one point, one of the ‘bosses’ as Ben and I had called them even held onto me for some kind of Chinese waltz. Or was he gay? We had no idea what was happening. I kept giggling. Ben tried to leave and he kept getting stopped and ushered back to the table. We were drinking beer from thimble size glasses. Overtime our glass was empty, our friends would ensure a quick refill. At one stage they even placed two cases of beer next to me.

I went to sleep in a haze of Chinese faces, a cacophony of foreign sounds, some karaoke and dreams of pink bunnies. Like Alice and wonderland I had fallen into the rabbit hole. 





Made in China Part 3 - 2016 Tour

cheynne murphy

Day three rubbing has me rubbing my eyes and deciphering last nights trip down the rabbit hole. This day marks the start of the tour official with a gig at the local basket ball stadium. After the obligatory morning lobby meeting, we take off with the hoots and honks of a cab run through Heshuan. The driver actually had to tie the boot down with Jay’s violin hovering precariously on top. We make it through the haze with no accidents or damage and head toward the main stage with a light grey mist and feelings of trepidation and excitement.  It becomes apparent very quickly that the sound guys don’t speak English. In fact we have not met a person (including our translators) who speak anywhere near fluent English. Paul has a hard time getting his laptop set up happening.  Ben and Jay are rather enthused by their big ‘amperage’. Big stacks for both of them. 


I was spun out by the three tiered stage and glad I brought a big lead. I had visions of leaping up the stages to jam with drummer Carl aka the Gunners. Or maybe not. The thought crosses my mind does the band actually remember the songs? I am also slightly concerned with my mini-maton acoustic being slightly out of tune. Ben on bass has a very good ear for pitch. In this case out of pitch. Seems the new environment is playing havoc with the little guitar (later a new set of strings seemed to resolve things at the next gig fortunately - but not after asking another band to borrow their guitar, only to find out, just before the start of this set that his battery was flat forcing me to limp through the set with my battling acoustic!) Ben you know what I am talking about!  I finally get to meet Robert who booked the band. He has a cool swagger. Leather jacket. Man of few words. He would later agree to sing /record Chinese to one of our songs. We hope he is happy with the show. Sound check done we return to watch a few of the bands early. They were actually pretty tight. Very eclectic sounds happening. Definite leaning toward rock. I even got handed a flag in amidst a sea of smiling faces and instructed no the right technique.

The gig was awesome. First in ChongQing. Bright lights big sounds. Kind of rocked it in a loose way. So much fun! Ans so much more to come!

Made in China Part 4 - 2016 Tour

cheynne murphy

Microphone Man and the "Lecture"

Perhaps one of the most craziest experiences I had on the 2016 China tour was when I received this email. It was to deliver a "lecture" and this was the detail provided.


I even received a request for beat boxing?


So this was the level of detail provided. So we set off for the appointment. Down the University Boulevard. I started chatting to Ben about his fear of public speaking and joking that he will be getting up for the ‘lecture’ (which we thought would be in a small classes room) when I looked over and saw a bunch of these posters with the Horse Called Freedom band! Hell they had grabbed the image off the net and turned it into a poster. They were pretty damn big also. Starting to think this quick talk maybe a little more? 


As we neared the lecture room there was a line of Chinese students either side standing to attention. I was getting pretty spun by this stage and Carl,Ben and Jay were laughing in that crazy kind of way.


We walked in to claps and a 500 seat theatre nearly full.

My name was in neon lights. Even more remarkably they had blown up about 50 balloons and written my name on one balloon in Chinese and in english each alternate balloon. 

My name was in neon lights. Even more remarkably they had blown up about 50 balloons and written my name on one balloon in Chinese and in english each alternate balloon. 


We were whisked to the back. They had a whole show planned. Dancers, performers.

Do you ever get the giggles? Because of the whole situation and knowing that Carl and Ben (after our earlier chat on public speaking) were in the audience. When I was asked to walk out on stage you can see in the footage I was cracking up. I didn't think I could get it together.  The whole situation was just so bizarre. I am even wearing my silver hotel slippers which were way to small and blistering my feet. I was interviewed and had to give more responses slowly as each line was translated. I thought it would be a short interview 10 mins maybe. I kept asking is it finished soon. I had the microphone thrust into my face to continue. An hour later I had finished! I was asked about Australia, our animals and music. I used an analogy of the famous Chongqing hotpot to describe the process of producing music like cooking.

In another twist they invited students down to ‘interact’. No-one came down at first but then one and then about 10 others. One of the boys was visibly sweating and shaking. They had met very few westerners! They even asked me to compare Byron Bay girls with Chongqing girls for prettiness. I used all my skills of diplomacy to nebulously answer both are beautiful. Just different! Here is a movie mashup of the concert they put on in my honour and the bits and pieces mentioned above!

After a crazy few hours Jay and I got to perform on stage. They had no microphone stand so to improvise they elected an upstanding student to hold the microphone to my mouth and as I moved he followed.

Absolutely bizarre experience and to this day I don’t know why I was the only person out of the 100 international acts to talk and share. No idea why this happened. That night was capped off with an intimate performance in one of the university ‘live-houses’ as they call them. A two tiered box like room. It was crazy performing close and personal to these students. They seemed to love it. 

The obligatory selfie - Chinese love the selfie!


Obligatory hotpot. Some cheap Chinese wine. Signing out!!




Made In China Part 5 - 2016 Endings

cheynne murphy

This final blog ties up all the final aspects to this epic journey to China!

So the final show on the first 2016 tour was the last gig at the Bingo theatre which is one of the premier venues at the University at Chongqing. We took a quick band pick before we left.

Band Lobby.jpg

We headed off to the gig. Some venue pics here:

This video shows a bit of sound check earlier and a few quick clips from the night. We had a thumping bass drum which distorted audio but we had a really good show in a really good venue. 

Through The Hills Of Inishmore (Inis Mor)

cheynne murphy

The origins of this song were based on a bike ride around the Aran Island of Inishmore off the coast of Galway Bay Ireland. Spelt Inismor in gaelic I was told a story of how the people’s of this island originally colonised the ‘rock’ in the middle of the Atlantic by planting seeds into the seaweed. I believe the original inhabitants were of Celtic origin and were seeking some refuge from the Nordic peoples otherwise known as Vikings. The high cliffs on the island would provide good security from raiding parties. The island is also famous for its Aran wool and Aran sweaters. I stayed at a little B & B near the wharf, visited the fort ruins and happily had a cleansing ale at the nearby pub. The people here still speak Gaelic as an interchangeable language with English and when I sat down at the local pub everyone was speaking in ‘another language’. One of the ladies in a retail shop even shared that she had only been to the mainland a few times in her life. I thought of the connection of the people and this unique island and when I did the song Through the Hills of Inishmore came through. The footage is a combination of material I downloaded from the net as well as my own footage travelling around the island. I have overlayed some footage from my own hills behind Cabarita north of Byron Shire. Second video I’ve made on I-movie. Like a roughly made home made cookie I hope you enjoy the crumbles. I just wanted to try and connect some of the ideas or visuals I had in my head to the song. Bless.

In Honour of Samba Blissta Paul Barrett

cheynne murphy

Last week I was  saddened and upset to find out that an old musical and work acquaintance Paul Barrett passed away suddenly. I first met Paul in a work for the dole project called Musicoz I was running in Mullumbimby. He had just moved to the area and was trying to establish his colourful community drum project called The Samba Blissta's on the North Coast. He was a lovely man and we ended up sharing some music at his little house in South Golden Beach and made this recording together spontaneously. A shame his drum parts aren't louder. Its a song I will now call 'the voice', originally written at a time my sister was very sick during child birth and I will now also dedicate it to the spirit of Paul. I love you mate. 

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September News

cheynne murphy

Location of the writing of Celtic Heart - Abbey Glenn Castle

Location of the writing of Celtic Heart - Abbey Glenn Castle

Been busy as a mad hatter, managing three jobs , a gaggle of kids, bills etc., You know the usual. But I have to say inspired as hell. Collecting the new album Celtic Heart today from the printers. Only did a really short run, minimalistic artwork but very environmentally friendly and sounding I believe authentic and heartfelt. I had some lovely feedback from a musician who plays at this old castle Abbey Glenn where Celtic Heart was written and performed for the first time in a couple of memorable late night sessions with a motley Irish can checkout the scene here ( )..same guys there as when I was there but that's Ireland. Music is the source. It's entwined with their spirit and mine too. Yours as well.  


A couple of big things happening on the live front. First is a tour to Bellingen starting Oct 14 at an incredibly intimate and amazing sounding live performance space in Sawtell, Coffs Harbour called 63 First Avenue, then to Bellingen Markets, Federal Hotel Bellingen and home via Harbourside Markets. Here is a quick peak of a new ad they are running with one of my songs:


Also heading to China in October. My co-producer of the first Firesongs For The Soul EP recommended me to this University in 20 million strong Chongqing and I got the gig. The boys for the Bello tour were originally going but after some cancellations I rang up my very first band from 1992. They all thought about it but again two declined but my incredible guitarist /violinist Jay Kong said yes. A sequence of synchronistic events then led to Dave Atkins (Resin Dogs, Wolf Mother) agreeing to play drums, Ben Brennan (whom I haven't yet met but have passport photo :-) on bass (Seven) and Paul Pilsneniks keys and backing vox. So we are reinterpreting some songs from A Horse Called Freedom and also presenting a bunch of new songs in this kinda epic rock band thing!


Finally people, as I know you are all busy and may not get this far. This is the second track off Celtic Heart. It's called Through The Hills of Insihmor (also known as Inis Mor in Irish). Inishmore is an Aran Island off the coast of Galway and I cycled around this small rocky island smashed by the atlantic sea and winds, listened to the tourist speel in the old castle ruins, spoke to some gaelic/Irish fellows in the pub and constructed my own version of the spirit of the place here:

(with some help from Matt Connely Irish Pipes, Chris Aronston on Mandolin, violins)


Thanks for your support.


Adious. Be good. 



p.s Last time I asked people to send in songs inspiring them. Please do so again. This one had great spirit for me me:

Celtic Heart Journey

cheynne murphy

So last year (2015) I journeyed over to Ireland. My Pa Murphy was born there and moved over to Australia and joined the Australian police force at the ripe age of 40 living in Randwick where dad grew up. Life was tough. He was born in a small pastoral farming area called Knocknageehe. One of 7 hungry children, his Mum Catherine died when he was a boy. In traditionalist catholic sects the father was not allowed to marry again so his father had to bring up all these kids alone in the cold pastures during the famine. The intro to my home made video captures the moment me, my Dad and two brothers found the house using I-phone sat nav. The song Celtic Heart accompanying the video acknowledges my Grandads story and also my ancestral link to the peoples of Ireland. 

We also visited one of my Grandad's sisters Sarah who is still alive (90 something) and living alone in a cottage on a family farm in Mullingar / Multyfarnham (with the support of her daughters and grandchildren) . Here we are catching up with Sarah:


Here is a pic of my brother speaking to Jim Murphy about the future of the family farm and the possibility of turning it into a whiskey distillery. A reflective moment.

My brother and I reflected on this church imagery. About exorcising the demons that may travel through the ancestoral linage. An inner struggle from dark to light. Its in the Murphy line for sure and comes out in much of my music

I ended up playing with Buddy Holly's distant Irish relative on the streets of Galway until the early hours was really roots stuff. I snuck out from the house and got home 5am. Only had one more night on the streets and then the Irish flu smashed me!


A big night out with my happy go lucky brothers sampling Galways finest in some pub with some rollicking music

I then contracted an Irish flew that literally floored me and I recovered by the fire of my good family 'god mother' Ena in Cork. She actually got a role in the home video of Celtic Heart as Pa's Mum "Catherine". Ironically I visited a doctor in Cork named Shane who diagnosed that I was indeed very sick.

I was still recovering but I ended up visiting the Aran Islands off Galway. A lyric to a new song called Through The Hills of Inishmore was inspired by these "cliffs that dropped to nowhere, black oceans deep" ...soon to be recorded

I must have started recovering at this point because I went for a swim in a bay on this island to sample the Atlantic Ocean.. twas cold as ice!


Finally I caught a bus feeling lonely but happy and sad at the same time...listening to 'Into the Mystic' by Van Morrison and Astral Weeks had me in tears looking out at the countryside and thinking about Van writing this music in this country. 


Had a happy ending, landing in this old castle I visited firstly with my Dad and brothers in Clifden. I met these very lovely old Irish ladies on the bus here who assured me I would have a wonderful time here. They had been visiting this place Abbyglen for 30 years which is now a hotel of sorts. It was a great coming out of the darkness after being so sick. I ended up playing Celtic Heart by the Piano one evening with resident pianist Barry Ryan with a throaty voice after writing it in the afternoon.. 

To be sure this journey will continue

I felt completion as I arrived at Dublin airport to head home and looked at the Horse Called Freedom on the wall. A full circle.


The song Celtic Heart now appears on a new album dedicated to the spirit of our Celtic brothers and sisters. 

Through the Hills of Inishmore - recording notes

cheynne murphy

I am on the final stage of finishing a track call Through the Hills of Inis Mor. Last week at  SCU university where I work I met a fellow called Chris Sullivan who is doing a PHD on the Australian folk music tradition. Any way I asked him what he played and he said button concertina. When I left the conversation this song which I wrote about an island off Galway jumped into my head with the a concertina playing in it. I walked straight back got his number and we are doing it next week.! Here is a pic of the place.

Spinifex - dualing vocals....the 90's

cheynne murphy

Really enjoyed my creative journey in this old band Spinifex where I often share vocals with the drummer Carl and we used to write music as a band. You can tell because its not that commercial but I really like the feeling. Even the name of this track is weird: "Serengetti Feeling" because when I heard the music I had a vision of Africa and animals roaming the plans. The expansive feeling related to the music. 

Burnished Gold - Before and After

cheynne murphy

This was one of the first demo's of Burnished Gold (off A Horse called Freedom) with English ex-pat (and neighbour) Adrian on flute

This was the final demo emailed to the band and production team. We actually grabbed some of Toby's guitar form this take and put it into the final mix.

This is the first mix no edit...longer intro and lead break

Final album version 


cheynne murphy

Feel free to add your own reviews or thoughts in comments. Some big words used but in the end of the day its just music :-)

Review Publication: Rhythms Magazine

Date: Jan/Feb 2015 edition

Author: Marty Jones




roots rock

Northern NSW local Cheynne Murphy delivers on the promise of his two EPs with a debut album that focuses on earnest singing and songcrafting. Remaining firmly within the boundaries of contemporary roots-rock, Murphy isn’t aiming at breaking new ground. He’s simply presenting the sounds and ideas as he hears them in his head with the help of some adroit playing from the likes of guitarist Toby Andrews, bassists Maurice Cernigoi and Matt Bone and drummer Mat Akehurst.

The album peaks early with smouldering centrepiece ballad, ‘Burnished Gold’, showcasing the shimmering production and instrumentation (consistent throughout the entire album). While Murphy occasionally wanders into prosaic territory lyrically, the arrangements and performances are accomplished and should appeal to fans of the Powderfinger and Pete Murray school of song based rock. Martin Jones

 Review Publication: Country Update Magazine

Distribution: 25,000

Date: Feb 2015 edition

Author: Gareth Hipwell


The first full-length release from Byron Bay’s Cheynne Murphy, A Horse Called Freedom is a narrative record of sorts, loosely charting the travails and epiphanies of an introspective everyman as he makes his way in the world. Produced and engineered by Paul Pilsneniks (Angus Stone, Powderfinger) and featuring Matt Bone of Starboard Cannons on bass, A Horse Called Freedom is the evolutionary endpoint in a process begun with EPs Firesongs For the Soul I and II. Cheynne has embraced a full band here, and the resulting sound is true to the spirit of acts such as Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and America. Across the record, Cheynne engagingly clothes the meat and bones of a folk animal with the skin of a rock beast, pulling together folk-like lyrics, gentle percussion, and frequently chiming lead guitar to gently soaring effect. At once ambling and cinematic, the nostalgic ‘Burnished Gold’ is a wistful tale of a cowboy encountering a beautiful maiden (‘there’s an echoe in the canyon from a time long ago…’), while ‘Until It’s Gone’ is a portrait of loss painted in ashes, overgrown wildflowers, and misty rain. Title track ‘A Horse Called Freedom’ is inspired by the mythology of the First Americans, and combines uniquely Australian imagery with a building blues-rock mix: ‘I see a black cockatoo cross the sky, I’m gonna move my camp up a little higher.’ While his lyrics are consistently engaging, Cheynne is at his best when giving flight to an engaging vocal hook scaffolded by a pop-informed rock arrangement (‘Firebird’, ‘Good Feelings’). An impressive debut that captures a strong sense of movement and reflection. Gareth Hipwell


Review Publication: Fender Newsletter

Email subscribers: 3000

Date: October 2014

Author: Fender Australia


 Classic Aussie folk rock – soulful stories backed with big acoustic guitars, uplifting melodies, driving rhythms, and tasty guitar work.

In the tradition of other timeless homegrown artists – from Paul Kelly to Pete Murray, the Black Sorrows to the Waifs…catchy, original and unmistakably Australian.

Source: Fender Australia


Review Publication: Courier Mail

Date: Jan 31, 2015

Author: Noel Mengel


Total audience 693, 000, Circulation: 215, 000, Qld/NSW

Online: 3.2 million readers,  National




A Horse Called Freedom (Independent)


AUSTRALIAN songwriter Murphy knows music can be a tough game: He threw in a corporate career to pursue his music and after signing an international publishing deal saw it all come crashing down. He found peace in the foothills of Byron Bay while teaching university students about the pitfalls of the biz. His rediscovered love of songwriting has resulted in this 10-track album, which reveals a mature folk-rock style with a tight band including his long-time guitarist Toby Andrews. Lyrically, the focus is on surviving to fight another day in a philosophical song cycle which celebrates the joys of a simpler life. Subtext: you better do this because you love it, because it can tear you apart. Burnished Gold is one of the best tracks with its imagery of an old coin uncovered in a canyon and the title tune takes inspiration from the warrior imagery of the Richard Harris film A Man Called Horse. Elsewhere some overused metaphors slip through, but songs like Good Feelings, a powerful folk-rock track with sighing harmonies and evocative guitar from Andrews, show how deep the fire still burns.

Noel Mengel