Gordi, real name Sophie Payten, is a singer-songwriter from Canowindra, Australia. Her first EP, Clever Disguise (2016), was met with critical success, and she is set to release her debut album Reservoir this August.

We met up with musician Gordi at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles to record an ISSUE House Arrest and discuss her forthcoming debut album, Reservoir. Gordi, whose real name is Sophie Payten, is gearing up for her album release in August while studying for grueling medical exams. She has played with the likes of label mate Bon Iver while maintaining an international roster of shows following her well-received EP Clever Disguise. Gordi discusses the inspiration behind Reservoir’s tracks, how she blazed a trail as a new musician and what’s next for her.

Where are you from?
Sydney, Australia.

When did you start making music?
When I was about 12, but I probably started playing as Gordi when I was about 19. I’m now 24.

Billy Joel
American singer-songwriter Billy Joel has sold over 150 million records worldwide and his Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2 is one of the best selling albums in the US. He his a six-time Grammy Winner and a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Carole King
American composer and singer-songwriter Carole King rose to fame in the 1960s, writing over two dozen hits for numerous artists with husband Gerry Goffin. King’s sophomore album Tapestry (1971) launched her to fame as a solo artist, and she became the first female recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2013. King is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

James Taylor
Born in Boston, American singer-songwriter and guitarist James Taylor went on to fame following his move to California in 1970 at the age of 22. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

What was it like growing up in Canowindra and what impact did that have on your musical development?
It’s a tongue twister. Most people say “Cano-win-dra” but it’s “Ca-nown-dra.” It’s a town of about 2,000 people, and I grew up on a farm about 20 kilometers outside. I guess the biggest way it influenced me was that there was a lot of like free time and space to create stuff in. It was a really supportive community, so any time there was a performance opportunity I really felt the weight of the whole community behind me. Even now, any time anything happens, it’s on the Canowindra news. They are still very supportive which is important to me, but yes, I think growing up there listening to my mom’s records like Billy Joel, Carole King and James Taylor, that was probably the biggest influence that stayed with me.

“The way I felt coming out of that show
was the way I wanted to make people feel.
I was going to write music no matter what,
whether as a career or otherwise.”
— Gordi

Missy Higgins
Australian sing-songwriter and actress Missy Higgins is best known for her award winning albums The Sound of White (2004), On a Clear Night (2007) and The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle (2012). Higgins has sold millions of albums and has won multiple ARIA Music Awards.

How did you decide this is what you’re going to do?
In 2011 I went to see Missy Higgins, an Australian artist, playing in Sydney. I remember walking out thinking, “That is kind of what I have to do.” The way I felt coming out of that show was the way I wanted to make people feel, and I was going to write music no matter what, whether as a career or otherwise. I missed performing. You get to perform all the time at school, and the performing part of my life had stopped. It felt like this thing that I had to do, and going to that live show really reaffirmed it for me.

How did you get started?
I went home that night and uploaded a demo to a website called Triple J Unearthed. If you’re a non-commercial artist in Australia that is sort of your big ticket, getting a song on Triple J, the main alternative radio station. The Unearthed program nurtures young emerging artists, so I put a song up on that and got an offer to play a show. I got a band together and kept playing shows for a number of years until I eventually recorded a track and uploaded it to Unearthed at the end of 2014, and it got picked up by the Triple J. I kept putting out music, and it kept being supported by Triple J and got picked up elsewhere.