From her beach shack in WA, Vikki Thorn of the Waifs finally found a solo groove

Vikki Thorn, one-third of The Waifs, has taken a long time to find her wings as a solo artist.

Thorn, 48, has been transformed into ThornBird, with heartbreak, ecstasy and adventure in 12 country folk songs. It was now or never, she says.

“I’m going into my 50s in the next few years and I’ve been in a band that’s been around for 30 years, and I felt like stepping out of that a little bit. Donna and Josh feel the same, it just feels like the right time to try some other things we like,” she explains, overlooking Cozy Corner Beach on the coast of Western Australia.

Solo finally: Vikki Thorn transformed into ThornBird.Credit:Toni Wilkinson

Thorn was 16 when she started playing the guitar harmonica with her sister Donna and formed the bluesy duo Colors while still in high school. In 1992, Josh Cunningham joined to create the Waifs and began a slow, steady growth to success (their biggest hit, London Stilland most successful album, Up all nightcame a decade later).

In December 2018, Thorn, her husband, and their three boys (ages 17, 16, and 10) left their 12-year-old home in the wild canyons of Utah to return to a one-room beach cottage in Cozy Corner, 18 miles west of her hometown of Albany. Her family spent three months a year there on the beach, fishing and swimming.

“We packed our bags as a family and came to Australia because that was my struggle [Utah] wasn’t LA or Nashville. There were very limited musical connections and I traveled regularly to Australia which is such a long way to commute… we had a loose plan to stay for 12 to 18 months and see if we were ready to go back. ‘

They were ready to board the plane back to Utah, having packed their gear and bikes for shipping, when COVID-19 forced a turnaround. Three years later, they converted that beach shack into a house and Thorn is about to go on tour with the album she started working on in Utah back in 2008.

“I have the line in a song I wrote ‘she ended up in Utah, not even New York or LA’. That’s where my husband is from, that’s where we met. When he suggested we move there, we just threw it out into the universe, you know?’

When they came across a farm in the middle of nowhere, Thorn recalls, “I took a deep breath and said, ‘Okay, I’m up for an adventure, let’s do this.’ Those were the best 12 years of my life, I think.”

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