Gordi is the moniker of Sophie Payten, who grew up in the tiny Australian farming town of Canowindra. Her story, which has only truly just begun has already taken Gordi from this remotest of rural outposts to performing alongside her new friends and collaborators Bon Iver on US television, and now clutching this remarkable debut collection of shimmering leftfield pop songs.
Gordi’s first foray into songwriting came in the form of performances at her school’s weekly assembly. She’d tell her friends they were written by other artists to ensure they gave honest feedback – though given she was pulling lines from One Tree Hill for lyrics about experiences she was yet to actually have, that feedback wasn’t always glowing. It wasn’t until she started writing about what was happening around her, the friendships she was building and, as is inevitable in the tumult of growing up, breaking, that the chrysalis of the music she’s making now – a brooding, multi-layered blend of electronica and folk, with lyrics that tend to avoid well-trodden paths – began to form. “I often find that writing about platonic relationships,” she says, “can be a great deal more powerful than writing about romantic ones.”
“The name Reservoir, it's that thing that you can't describe, that space that anxious people would probably live their life in. It's actually an expression my friend and I use. If I'm really down one day, I’ll say, ‘Oh I'm a bit in the reservoir today’. You're mulling everything over, and you're sitting in all these thoughts and feelings. In order to be able to write a song I need to go to that place, but I couldn't live a functional life if I spent all my time in there.”
Writing music, in fact, is the way Gordi lifts herself out of the Reservoir. “Writing music has always been and will remain my therapy, my process and my way of communicating,” she explains. “I don't write songs by someone else's prescription, I write to fill my own need. I get this tightness in my chest, and nothing will make it go away other than trying to write lyrics or sitting down at a piano and playing it, and it’s like a medicine. If I have a good session of that, then that tightness and that weight just totally lifts. It just centres me, and gets the things that are riddled through my mind out on paper. And then I can leave them there.”
Gordi’s voice and her music very quickly caught the attention of her label-mates Bon Iver who asked her to perform backing vocals for them during their performance of 8 (Circle) on the Jimmy Fallon US tv show at the tail end of last year. Gordi returned the favour with a quite breathtaking acapella cover of 00000 Million which you can listen to here. She has also toured with the likes of Asgeir, Tallest Man on Earth, Highasakite, Local Natives and Of Monsters and Men.
As an opening statement, Reservoir is a compelling listen that challenges textural limitations and explores with leftfield rhythms, but crucially, at its very heart is melody in abundance.
Reservoir follows the Spring release of Gordi’s debut EP, Clever Disguise.