- 24 Aug 17
Not many people release an album and then sit their medicine finals the following month, but Australia’s Gordi (aka Sophie Payton) no doubt has her nose stuck in a book for her September exams. On the occasion of our recent meeting, however, it was her musical endeavours that were under examination. The Antipodean is on the cusp of releasing her hotly-anticipated debut Reservoir, an enchanting collection co-produced with a bevy of impressive names such as Tim Anderson (Solange/Banks), Ali Chant (Perfume Genius/PJ Harvey) and Alex Somers (Sigur Ros). It follows on from last year’s lauded Clever Disguise EP.
The 24-year-old grew up in the small town of Canowindra in New South Wales, her career choice almost inevitable given the fact her mother is a piano teacher. Indeed, music was to be heard around the clock in the Payton household.
“I guess I didn’t really watch TV!” laughs Gordi. “All we did was play music. My mom would put on a CD and we’d work out how to play it by ear on the piano, so that was my foundation. She used to listen to lots of Billy Joel and Carol King.”
Gordi’s early songs were championed by Aussie station Triple J, but soon she was gaining airplay worldwide, and signed with US indie Jagjaguwar early last year. Relentless touring and some notable supports followed. “I’ve played with Bon Iver and Of Monsters And Men,” she says, “and those shows have been real career highlights. Like most people I’m a huge fan, so to be sharing a stage with those artists is amazing. Also, they are more worldly and have shared great advice and wisdom. They’ll be the fondest memories I think I’ll have for life – meeting these people and touring with them.”
Gordi recently wowed the crowds at Forbidden Fruit, where she played on the Bon Iver-curated Monday line-up. The US folk singer also called on her services when he appeared on Jimmy Fallon last year, when he asked Payton to provide backing vocals along with The Staves.
“If you pause it at one spot you can see me in the back right corner,” she smiles. “It was pretty insane, I flew over from Sydney to New York for it and my parents were like, ‘It’s a long way to fly for one song.’ I was going, ‘Trust me, it’ll be worth it!’ And Jimmy Fallon was as animated offscreen as he was on – a bundle of energy!”
Payton made her Irish live debut in Whelan’s last year, and hopes to revisit the venue soon.
“I love Irish audiences,” she enthuses. “I find that often when you talk or joke between sets, it can get quite lost in translation, whereas I think your humour is not dissimilar to Australians’. I really loved Whelan’s and the crowd were great, so I’m sure we’ll be back there again.”
In addition to the guidance of her mother, Gordi has also spoken about the influence of film soundtracks on her work, highlighting Once as one of her favourites.
“I love its brutal honesty,” she states. “You can feel the raw quality that comes through in the lyrics, production and instrumentation. When people tell a story in an honest way, there is nothing more powerful.” So for readers who may only be familiar with the EP, what can they expect from the new album?
“I think it’s a more sophisticated and in-depth look at the same kind of textures,” says Gordi. “Overall, it’s a much richer sound. There’s also a lot more variation in terms of live instrumentation, with a lot of brass and percussion. On the EP there are a lot of moments of restraint, but I haven’t held back on this record!”
Reservoir is out now on Jagjaguwar.