Posts Tagged ‘Chris Messina’

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Pacing around the stern of an Etihad flight from Sydney to Europe – at a point in her life where everything was ending, Sophie Payten – the folk-pop singer and producer known as Gordi – chose to begin her new record, ‘Our Two Skins’. Payten had recently completed her medical exams after years of studying to be a doctor, and began the process of ending her “nice, safe, but stagnant” long-term relationship. Coming to terms with a new truth in her identity – which played out against the backdrop of the same-sex marriage vote in Australia – led to an isolated internal state, further fuelled by distance, trying communication and lost love ones.

Written in 20 anxious minutes on that lonely plane to an isolated six weeks in Europe, Payten penned album opener “Aeroplane Bathroom”. “It’s like all the adrenaline of the last two months just dropped away and I had a little nervous breakdown, “says Payten, “thinking about all these big changes. I was seeing my life that I thought was evolving in one direction is now evolving in this other direction.” The song and record open with a question: “Do you see yourself unravelling?”

‘Our Two Skins’ chronicles the intense and impossible time Payten spent renegotiating who she is and how she fits in the world. Payten was eager to bottle the isolation and emptiness she felt during this period of rediscovery of her identity, and the remoteness of Canowindra, the tiny town where Payten’s family has lived for over a century, proved the right location. Here, her internal state – one she describes as being alone and fearful, and with “a galaxy of space” around her – could be seen, felt and recorded. She called upon her friends Chris Messina and Zach Hanson – the producers and engineers responsible for much of the music that comes out of Bon Iver’s April Base studio amongst other things – to help her achieve this sonic goal. No phone reception, no wi-fi, and an outhouse located in a nearby shearing shed. “It was very removed, very isolated,” Payten says. Payten, Hanson and Messina each selected their favourite few instruments and studio tools, and restricted themselves to just those resources while making ‘Our Two Skins’. “We cut ourselves off from all things, including choice, forcing us to be a lot more minimalist in the way that we can create stuff. I find I’m much more creative when I’m surrounded by nothing than when I’m surrounded by lots.”

Gordi shares her new single, “Sandwiches”, a soaring, post-new wave anthem. “Sandwiches” is Gordi’s first new recording since her 2017 debut album, Reservoir. Since then, Gordi has collaborated with Troye Sivan, toured with Sam Smith, Julien Baker and more, performed at Eaux Claires alongside The National, Bon Iver and Big Red Machine, and finished her medical degree to become a qualified doctor.

‘Volcanic’, my new track from ‘Our Two Skins’ is now available in all your favourite places. At the heart of the record sit a pair of songs, Volcanic and Radiator. The twin ballads fizzle with the urge to be close to a person – a bittersweet truth knowing Payten was far from her partner and reckoning with the love of her family as she made them. “I wrote Volcanic that night. It was a kind of exorcism.” Radiator is similarly loaded with stakes, a resignation and a great letting go: of course I have to love you.

At a piano in a warehouse on a river in Berlin beside the old East Germany broadcast centre, I finished writing ‘Volcanic’. I had written the lyrics while I was in Stockholm about the warring states I sometimes find myself in; shutting down and exploding. I thought of a volcano – sitting dormant, appearing as though all is calm while ferociously bubbling to the surface and spilling over before you have time to process what has happened.

I recorded this song with Chris Messina and Zach Hanson in a small cottage built in the 1860s on my parents’ farm outside of Canowindra, along with the rest of the record. The video for ‘Volcanic’ was made in Canowinda, too. My talented friend Madeleine Purdy directed it on a 43-degree-celsius day. Go check it out to see me diving in a pool repeatedly as a dust storm rolls in.

‘Our Two Skins’ due out June 26th.

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“A big theme of the record is: there’s nothing to hide behind. We didn’t have all the bells and whistles. You’re just standing there, with your hands in your pockets going: this is me. This is it. This is all I have.”

Released June 2nd, 2020