Australia’s Gordi (Sophie Payten) was high on my list of artists to catch at CMJ, and I was finally able to do it on the last night of the festival at Leftfield on the Lower East Side. And do you know what? THE PERFORMANCE DID NOT DISAPPOINT! It’s not hard to see why Gordi was recently nominated for the J Award for triple j Unearthed Artist of the Year; she and her band gave a REALLY solid live presentation of songs I’d heard before and grown to love, plus songs I’d not heard that I would like to hear more of ASAP! (More shows like this, please!) After the set I got in a few questions to find out how Gordi’s CMJ had been, what we can expect next, and (of course) which song of hers Celine Dion should cover should she get the urge anytime soon. Internet-eavesdrop on our full conversation below, and then be sure to follow Gordi on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news. HERE WE GO:
So how’s your CMJ been? Have you played a ton of shows?
This was like the fifth show we played this week!
Wow! And how was the Aussie BBQ earlier today? That’s usually my favorite showcase, but I wasn’t able to make it over there this time, which I’m bummed about.
It was awesome, really cool! Such a good turnout. But the whole thing’s been really good; a lot of musicians will tell you to have low expectations for showcases, and I did, but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised! The gigs have been great, the venues have been good, the crowd’s been really great…
And have you been to New York before?
No, never! So it’s been partly difficult because I’ve been trying to do touristy things as well.
Okay, so what touristy things were you able to do so far, then? Anything good?
Yeah, we went to an ice hockey game at Barclays Center, a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden…
So ALL OF THE SPORTS, basically.
[Laughs] Yeah. And theater! We went to see a play on Broadway.
Okay, good! Well-balanced!
It’s been really good, but usually if I played five shows in five days I’d be resting during the day, but instead I’ve got my foam fingers on and am in the crowd cheering the Knicks. [Laughs]
Yeah, it’s a really full-on place for a festival to happen if you don’t live here; I can’t even imagine trying to cram in sightseeing alongside multiple shows, so good on you! And when do you actually leave? Because that’s a pretty brutal commute back to Australia, yeah?
Yeah, it’s a thirty-hour transit. I’m going from New York to Dubai and then to Sydney, all tomorrow. And then back to life!
That’s insane! So what does like, an “average” day look like for you?
Well, I’m actually at school because I’m twenty-two, and I’m full-time at university.
Did you have to ask your professors to take off time for this?
I did! I put in an application and I got time off, but I have to do all these extra-credit assignments. So I’ll probably be doing those when I get home.
Yeah, or just do them on the plane. I feel like you could bang out a lot of extra-credit over the course of thirty hours. Okay, but so that’s really ambitious, though! To be full-time in school and to be going at music as hard as you are. So when you’re not doing schoolwork, I’m assuming you’re writing songs; what is your process generally like?
It’s kind of different, but it’s very much like I get this surge of…I can’t really describe what it is; it’s some sort of feeling that if I don’t use it then I lose it, and it always comes from some deep-down, emotional place. So something will inspire me, and then I’ll either get words stuck in my head or some sort of musical line, and then I just try to sit down and really flesh it out. But if I lose inspiration with words, then I’ll go and read a lot of stuff; interesting words will stick out at you, and you can kind of pinch things from literature. [Laughs]
Good strategy! Now, tell me about the music you’ve released so far; you don’t have a full-length out yet, right?
No, not a full-length, but I’ve released some singles, and then I’ve got an EP coming out. And we’re just kind of working out the timing on that, but it’s looking like it might be January. That’ll be a four or five track EP, and then we’re looking to a full-length in 2017 or something, so I’m excited about that. I’ve got some songs ready to go, but I think it’s important to take your time with stuff like that.
Oh for sure. And you’re obviously a multi-instrumentalist, so how long have you been playing music? Was it a family-encouraged development?
A little bit. My mum’s a piano teacher, so she’s really musical. And when I was growing up, she’d put on a CD in our stereo, and she and I would work out by ear what the chords were as a little bonding activity. [Laughs] But I learned the piano, and then I picked up the guitar and a few other instruments in high school. And I’ve always sung since I could talk.
Amazing! Now, I don’t want to take up too much more of your time since it’s your last night in the city, BUT, to leave this on a funny note, I want to ask: if Celine Dion were to cover one of your songs, which one do you think would be the most epic?
That’s awesome, that’s such a good line. I’ve always wanted to cover Celine Dion at one of my shows, it just hasn’t happened yet. But you can let her know that she can cover my new song that’s yet to come out called “So Here We Are”. Maybe she and I could do a mashup.