Sophie Payten is certainly rising up the ranks of the Australian music scene, going by the stage name Gordi, she has established herself as an upcoming artist to watch. Her folk electronica sound is a refreshing change from the heavily saturated market of pop in today’s music scene. Instead Sophie said that her music aims to try to “push through the kind of boundaries of those normal styles and combine it with beautiful instrumentation.”
In Brisbane last week to support the band Gang of Youths, SheBrisbane chatted with the artist about her newly released album, and her hectic life on tour as well as being a medical student with exams just two weeks away.
Discovered by Triple J’s Unearthed music platform back in 2014, Sophie signed a record deal with American label Jagjaguwar early last year. Travelling to the United States and Iceland among other countries to create her album, she had a range of musical talent play on the record, including S. Carey from Bon Iver and Tim Anderson (Solange, Banks).
According to Sophie, “compared to the EP I put out last year it’s a richer, bolder sound and uses a lot of light instrumentation. The kind of themes and lyrical content are of a personal nature and reflect on the whole idea of reservoir, which is sort of like a figurative innermost place where you contemplate everything.”
Coming from the small New South Wales town of Canowindra where the population is only 2,258, Sophie said she gained a lot of support from the community growing up.
But in establishing her musical career in Sydney, she said that “moving to a big city always helps, kind of just playing live and getting on that live circuit really opened up my life to a lot of different people. A lot of great musicians started playing with bands and I think that was kind of the beginning of it all for me.”
Sophie also got the chance to perform backing vocals for Bon Iver on the Jimmy Fallon show, an experience which she called incredible. “It was a pretty surreal moment just meeting Justin Vernon and meeting them all, I rocked up for the first day of rehearsal and I was so nervous, but they were so kind and welcoming. I actually finished the album in their studio and they’ve been real great support in getting me over to do all those things.”
In between recording her album and touring both nationally and internationally she is also currently in her last year of her six-year medical degree.
“That for me was a bit of a hurdle, getting the album out, but I kind of learnt how to balance it with my hospital placements,” Sophie said.
“If I had national tours I would just try and schedule them so I wouldn’t miss my placements and get a red eye from Perth to make sure I was there by 8am the next day. If I had to do international tours I would ask faculty for time off and then renegotiate my schedule so I would meet all the basic requirements. It’s been a logistical nightmare.”
In regard to her future in medicine, she said, “I don’t really know what I want to do with it, maybe go into general practice or do another speciality. To be honest for the moment that seems quite far off, my plan is to just do as much as I can to not totally forfeit the degree and to focus on music for the foreseeable future.”
The advice Sophie wished she could give to her younger self was to “just be patient, I think you always want everything all at once and you kind of wonder why it’s not coming.”
“Even though from the outside of the music industry it looks like things move quickly, but it really moves slowly most of the time. So, I think just be patient and actually just enjoy the ride because I think when I look back on it all that will be the best part.”
Interview By Emily Facoory