After the monumental success of her EP Clever Disguise in 2016, GORDI has finished off her medical degree and has just released her first full-length album, Reservoir.
Hailing from Canowindra in New South Wales, Sophie Payten, better known as GORDI, has travelled the world while creating her ethereal and blissful album. From a studio in LA, to the frozen landscapes of Helsinki, GORDI’s Reservoir boasts both variety and cohesion.
“I think the biggest challenge for me was making sure the record was a cohesive body of work while still kind of having variation, because it’s a pretty fine line to walk…I went for variation by working with different producers on the record, and tried having the cohesion by making sure the way vocals were recorded was consistent throughout the entire record. So that served as an anchor point,” she says.
GORDI’s album reflects her journey, and current point in her life. Each soulful track shows listeners varying elements of her existence. The album has taken years to perfect.“Half of the songs, about five or six, were written last year in 2016. The other half of the songs were written between 2013 and 2015.”
As for the song writing process, GORDI uses her spontaneity. “Usually when I wrote a song I don’t really work on it for years. I would either write it in a day or come back to it the next day, but the actual song writing wouldn’t take more than a week.”
The album’s title, Reservoir, leaves room for a lot of interpretation. Yet its namesake ultimately mirrors the intimate and personal feelings of the artist. “The idea of a reservoir is that’s it’s kind of your innermost place where you contemplate things, and where you go when you want to reflect on something or put a painful memory away. It kind of holds all those things.”
While the album explores GORDI’s own reservoir, she wants listeners to consider their own journeys and feelings while listening to the album.
“‘What’s in my reservoir? What do I keep in there?’ I think that’s a really nice way to think of it. This is kind of me, showing you mine. So, for other people to reflect on their thoughts is kind of the best outcome of it, because it makes it seem pretty real.”
The album’s tracks have a variance in pace. While ‘Aeon’ and ‘Can We Work It Out’ gather a faster tempo, songs like ‘Heaven I Know’ and ‘Something Like This’ showcase a more mellow beat. Still, each track distinctly exhibits GORDI’s melodic and eerie vocals. Her music is reminiscent of artists like Bon Iver, yet she embeds her own femininity within the tracks.
On Reservoir, GORDI collaborated with a mixture of producers to ensure the individuality of each track. Despite her young age of 24, she also independently produced some of the tracks. ‘Heaven I Know’ was the first track GORDI produced, and is the one she is proudest of.
Opening with underlying chanting of ‘1,2,3,’ layered underneath her soulful vocals and melodic piano, ‘Heaven I Know’ builds towards a ruminating chorus while exploring the end to a platonic relationship.
“Across the board I’m probably most proud of my involvement in the production side of things because it was really new to me. When I made the EP I was kind of intimidated by the whole process, and I think I wasn’t as confident…This time I felt like when I finished it, it really belonged to me. Every element, every instrument, every kind of layer that we added was something that I had considered and wanted to put in it.”
International experiences contributed to both the variety on the album and its distinctive sound.
“I think travel is such a great inspirer and going to these places really influenced me and I met a wonderful array of people…Also the landscape surrounding me, especially Iceland, really influenced the sound which I think is a cool by-product. It’s not like we went in there thinking let’s make really wintery tracks. But standing there looking out the window, where there’s a frozen lake in front of you, that’s going to inspire different kind of thoughts than it you’re in a studio in LA. Or in spring in Sydney or whatever. There a lot of nice by-products of having it so international.”
‘Myriad,’ is undoubtedly a standout track from the record. It sounds oddly distinct from the rest of Reservoir, and the vocal loops reverberate against the minimal instrumental work.
“‘Myriad’ is my favourite track. I feel like we resurrected it. It was really dead and I recorded it in LA and we had done a whole lot of stuff to it, but there was no spark. Something was really missing from it…I came to the studio and I just wanted to give ‘Myriad’ one more go…By 2AM, we were really stoked with it. It’s a cool thing that it was not even going to be on there and it’s become my favourite song. Because it was so unplanned – a lot of the other songs I went in with such a blueprint idea of what I wanted – this was such a spontaneous and creative thing.”
Creating a brooding, multi-layered hybrid of electronica and pop, it is GORDI’s lyrics that make the record so personable to its listeners. Now that GORDI’s long-term goal of finishing an album is complete, she intends to tour.
“Going from one venue to a bigger venue and to see how the record is impacting. It’s always a tricky thing trying to build it up in all different territories of the world at the same time because you can’t be everywhere at once… I think trying to get around as much as we can and tour the record, and I’ll start writing again and plan another one.”
Reservoir is on a grander scale to GORDI’s EP Clever Disguise, yet at its roots the album still has the same intent.
“This time I got to get a whole lot of great people to come play on the record…Overall it kind of has a richer, bolder flavour. It’s definitely the same kind of feeling and the way I write songs hasn’t changed, but I think those sorts of richer flavours come through on this record. It kind of sounds like I’m describing ice cream flavours,” she laughs. “Like it’s like a chocolate versus Belgium chocolate.”
Throughout the album there is a common thread of loss. An element that makes GORDI’s writing so unique, is that she draws some of her greatest inspiration from platonic relationships, and not romantic ones.
“It’s a lot harder to define platonic relationships in your life and the roles that different people have, and the way those roles change. Especially in your early 20s it’s kind of trying to work out who’s going to stay in your life and who’s not. It’s a tragic process. People move away and your priorities change. It’s not as much of a cataclysmic break up, it’s like this slow kind of drift… Someone’s heart isn’t broken, its more kind of in a turmoil. I think it produces some really interesting writing.”
Reservoir also has a very specific track list, as GORDI wanted to convey her journey as clearly and coherently as possible. ‘Long Way’ opens the album, and signposts what is to come on the record through its moody and unearthly aura. “It’s kind of the start of all these meditations and thoughts and feelings.”
The final song, ‘Something Like This,’ reflects GORDI’s final message, which scopes beyond her life and extends to her audience.
“Amongst all this stuff that you go through, and amongst all the relationships that are building and breaking down, you kind of just have to get to a point where you’re okay with it and you’re content with it. You’re aware that that’s kind of what life is about, and that you’re going to be alright anyway.”