On Tuesday morning, 23 February, Verity, the editor of the Canowindra Phoenix interviewed musician Sophie Payten, known professionally as Gordi, ahead of her performance at the Country Education Foundation Fundraiser in Canowindra on Saturday, 6 March 2021.
Below is their conversation.
Verity: I will just jump into the questions; how has the past year been for you?
Gordi: The past year has been…not the year I was expecting. Most people can probably say the same thing. I was supposed to be touring in Europe and the States for most of last year and obviously that didn’t eventuate. I ended up in Melbourne for a lot of the year, using my medical degree to work as a junior doctor in hospitals. It was all rather unexpected, but it’s been nice that in the last month I have started to return to shows and touring and other things that being a musician involves. It’s been really nice.
Verity: I have to ask you because personally I am interested. Being a doctor and a singer is quite the collection of jobs. How did you come to both of those careers?
Gordi: I have always played music my whole life, but I never thought it could be a career. I was pretty intent on studying medicine, so I started studying in 2012. But I really missed playing music so I started getting gigs in pubs and bars and wherever I could while I was writing music. I uploaded a song to Triple J Unearthed and it got added to Triple J’s rotation. From there it was a slow snowball and before I knew it, I had music as a career rather than just a hobby. I was still doing medicine and I didn’t want to give that up. It is an act of toing and froing. Luckily, music comes in waves. You have periods where there is downtime between albums and touring cycles and then there are periods where you are absolutely flat out. At the moment, I try to fill the down periods with medical stuff.
Verity: Is there a connection between medicine and music for you?
Gordi: I’ve thought a lot about this. I think the main connection between the two things is the aspect of story in each. In music, I’m telling my own story or I’m trying to craft a story into a song through lyrics and melody and create some kind of meaning through that. In medicine, I am sitting across from someone who is telling me their story and I need to repackage it and process it back into something that is meaningful to them. There are some nice common threads there.
Verity: What are you looking forward to about your performance in Canowindra?
Gordi: I am looking forward to spending some time at home. It will be nice to hang out with my folks and see everyone I miss in Canowindra. The actual show will be a really good time. There is lots of other local talent performing and I think it is such a great cause to get together for.
When I first heard about the Country Education Foundation a year ago, I thought what a great initiative. Coming from a rural area, sometimes you do need that extra bit of support to take you where you want to go, particularly beyond school. If you are are looking for other education opportunities, I think it is really important that your community rallies behind you, so I am stoked to be a part of that.
Verity: Do you feel that you had good opportunities growing up in Canowindra?
Gordi: I do, yeah. Absolutely. Without question. But I have also really keenly felt the support from the Canowindra community, so I am keen for other people to feel that too.
Verity: Why should people attend this event?
Gordi: People should attend this event because it is great coming together to see live music after the year we have just been through, but also to come to support the Country Education Foundation. There are a lot of kids that can directly benefit from this initiative, so it is really important to get behind it.
Verity: What do you miss most about Canowindra when you are away?
Gordi: My family. Being away for long periods of time, I do really miss seeing my family. I miss the space. When I got home for Europe last year in March, when the whole year fell apart, I was back in Melbourne and was in the depths of lockdown and I felt myself going a bit insane and I managed to get back to Canowindra and isolate there. Just having that space to walk around in, I felt so lucky to be there.
Verity: How do you see things moving forward in this post-COVID, vaccinated world for you personally?
Gordi: I don’t know is the short answer. I think Australia has been pretty incredible. When we look at the news, people around the world are in really bad situations and we are incredibly lucky that we can go out and go to a café, go to a restaurant, go to a bar or go to our friend’s places. We can do all of those things and all of life’s simple pleasures. In terms of my music, I think it will be another 12 months at least before it feels normal again. I can’t imagine that we’re going to booking big overseas tours while there is still such a risk that it won’t go ahead. We will just have to wait and see.
Verity: Thank you so much for taking time to talk to me. I really appreciate it.
Gordi: No worries. Thank you very much.
Grab your tickets to CEF Fundraiser here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/country-education-foundation-of-canowindra-fundrai-tickets-130545614447