This year has already been a big one for the Canowindra-born-and-raised singer-songwriter, Sophie Payten – better known by her moniker, Gordi. Her tracks are regularly on rotation as part of Triple J Unearthed, and she’s been touring with other folk acts such as Winterbourne, Timberwolf and most recently, Ben Lee. She has a headline show in the works for August and September. Her singles, Nothing's as it Seems and Taken Blame, signal good things for the release of her EP later this year.
Last week it was announced that she is Josh Pyke’s pick for his JP Partnership, which includes a $7500 kick-start grant and mentoring from Pyke himself. “It was extremely tough to judge, as always,” Pyke wrote on his Facebook page. “But Gordi’s music stayed with me from the moment I heard the tracks in her application, and I’m expecting big things for her in the year to come.”
When asked how the 22-year-old student of medicine is handling it all, she says, “There are definitely times when I feel I’ve only just got my head above water.” She says the growing support makes it all feel tangible, something that is so important, “when success in the music industry can be intangible at this early stage.”
Music is second nature to Payten, who began tickling the ivories from a young age with her piano-teacher mother, and was soon performing at her local church. Payten sold out her debut headline show at Newtown’s Vanguard in 2013.
Aside from the classical training, Payten grew up on a diet of folk classics such as Paul Kelly, Carole King and Billy Joel, and is now taken with contemporary counterparts Asgeir Trausti, Laura Marling and Josh Pyke. “Music has always been a huge part of my life,” she says. "It’s the way I express myself and deal with emotions.”
Payten’s candour is reflected in the rich emotional spectrum that her tracks span – from wistful heartache to spirited jubilance. Nothing as it Seems, the track that caught Pkye’s attention, is deeply nostalgic; an acoustic guitar-driven song with some light electronic elements and vocal harmonies that are nothing short of celestial.
As for that prize money, Payten is “stoked” and says she plans to release a debut album early 2016.