Growing up on Seymour Street in Mira Mar, a young Vikki Thorn could often be found sitting in front of a record player with a set of headphones on, listening to old vinyl records and trying to emulate her musical idols. Fast forward to the present and the Albany singer-songwriter never expected to be where she is today — one-third of famous folk rock band The Waifs. Formed in 1992, the trio involves Thorn, her sister Donna Simpson, and Josh Cunningham, who they met while touring WA as a sister duo called Colours. The Waifs struck nationwide success in 2003 with their fourth album, Up All Night, which went double platinum with hit singles London Still and Lighthouse. “I think you’re born into music and the one who inspired me to do it as a living would have to be my sister,” Thorn said. “I probably would have been happy singing around at home for the rest of my life but she has this wandering, wild spirit that made her want to leave and do something. “She took me under her wing. “We left Albany in a camper van, she would call ahead to all the little towns, get us gigs, and that started the whole thing, “No way we ever thought back then we would be doing this 30 years later. “I think music is in you as an artist — it’s how often you feed that desire and spirit. “A lot of people don’t see the worth in dedicating a lot of time to it but I think Donna was brave enough to do that right from the beginning. “I don’t know that I ever would have dived in as deep as she did, I was just along for the ride and it worked out great.” A singer and guitarist, Thorn also learnt to play the harmonica as a teenager. “My grandfather used to play it so I always had one to muck around on, but when I was a teenager I started listening to old blues records and just started playing along,” she said. “It was fun, easy to carry around, I thought it was cool and a good friend taught me some tricks.” When COVID-19 reached Australia, Thorn found herself hunkered down for six months at her beach shack in Torbay after a cancelled US tour. She reached out to her neighbours, Simon and Tammy London, about getting together to sing on the front porch. Overlooking the bay that has shaped their creative endeavour, the three Albany musicians found solace and inspiration in these front porch sessions, forming a new collaboration — Vikki Thorn & The Red Tails. Having just completed a 12-song recording, the new band have decided to step off the front porch and into the Albany Entertainment Centre to sing their lockdown tunes on September 5. “I think when the three of us sing we’re still at that point where we are really excited about what we do,” Thorn said. “It’s very uplifting, we love creating this harmony and I think it’s very powerful for the audience to see how much we’re enjoying it.” Thorn only returned to WA last year, after more than a decade spent living in rural Utah with her family. “Utah of all places is actually a line from a song I’ve written... ‘Utah of all places, not even New York or LA’,” she said. “My husband Mathew is from there. We have this crazy story where we met on a boat in Indonesia in my early 20s and then ran into each other when I was at a gig in America eight years later and we fell in love and got married. “He suggested this place in rural Utah out in the desert, canyon country. “I think I was ready for adventure. I’d been touring since I was 18 and I was ready for something different ... it was the best experience of my life. “By leaving Australia I really found who I was. “So much of my identity was wrapped up in what I was doing, you’re the girl in the band, in The Waifs and you start to think that way too.” As a mother of three boys, Thorn has learnt to write songs in some less-than-ideal circumstances. “My creative process has to come out of every moment I can. I’ve written songs with chaos around me,” she said. “I think creative people remain open and aware of things, almost like you’re looking for inspiration all the time, even if you go down to the bakery or walking through town doing mundane things. “I’ve eavesdropped on people because I’ve heard a phrase and the phrase has a rhythm to it.” Spending her career in a touring band, Thorn said the sacrifices families made were often not talked about. “It’s difficult setting up a home and a base. I think that’s why I write about it. It’s hard to have a place and maintain it when you’re leaving all the time,” she said. “All my music is done away from them, so that’s not something they’re involved in or get to see. If I go on a huge stage — like in Canada, about a year ago we played to 25,000 people by candlelight — it was an incredible experience ... the sort of thing you want to share.” So what’s next for one of Albany’s most beloved and talented musicians? After Vikki Thorn & The Red Tails have finished their local shows they will head to the South West. As for The Waifs, they have a tour booked in April for the Byron Blues Fest. Thorn also plans on doing some solo gigs in the Kimberley, where she will work with Indigenous communities. And when she’s not singing, she enjoys being in the country. “I love being in the bush, gardening, growing food, trying to live in gratitude,” she said.