Gordi - Northcote 1 LR

Gordi: “I try and keep it fresh, not like a rehearsed routine.”

Alongside studying a medical degree at university, Gordi has been slaying the electronic music scene with Nothing’s As It Seems and Can We Work It Out. This J Award nominee’s music has also been featured in hit show Vampire Diaries, where they have been heard by an international audience. Since she’ll be playing a few shows over the next few months, we had a chat with Gordi about maintaining the balance between medicine and music, her on-stage banter, the transition from online to a live stage and her upcoming EP.

How has your morning been so far?

Yeah, been good, been good. I live near Centennial Park so I just went for a run in there, had my breakfast and I’m ready for the day.

Congratulations on your J Award nomination!

Oh, thank you!

How are you feeling about the ceremony tonight?

Yeah, I’m feeling excited. I mean, it’s such an honour to be nominated among all the artists in every category. They’re the best of Australian music at the moment. I’ve got a couple of good friends and family members coming along with me. I feel like it’s a nice way to end the year and a good chance to think about all the stuff that’s happened over the past 12 months.

Definitely! What are you doing to prepare?

Unfortunately, I’m in the mist of uni exams and I’m actually studying in the hours before, so I don’t know. I’ll spend a little bit of time getting myself beautiful, but yeah, pretty low-key day.

Aren’t you finished uni yet (for the semester)?

No, no, unfortunately my exams are next Monday and Wednesday. It’s a bit of a bugger and next Wednesday night I’m playing at the Triple J Unearthed Party. My exam is like four o’clock and then my soundcheck’s at 6. So it’s going to be a tight schedule for the day, but it will be good.

Yeah well, good luck with that.

*laughs* Thanks.

I can’t wait to see your show in Sydney on December 10. You’ve been said to have great banter between songs. What kinds of things do you talk to your audiences about?

I try and sense the mood, whatever is happening. Whenever I go to shows with other artists that I love, the ones that I always remember are the ones that give a little bit more than just their music. I always think it’s good to engage with the audience. Often if I tell a story it will be about my misfortunes at some shocking gig or getting a speeding fine on the way, lots of different things like that. It means that every time something goes wrong, we always say it’s good banter for later.

So, do you just come up with things off the top of your head? You don’t plan them before?

More or less, yes. I mean, I’m always got a few things going around in my head, maybe stuff that I can say. I try and keep it fresh, not like a rehearsed routine. It is a really nice way to connect in between songs and also give people a little breather because this sort of music can get a little intense and emotional and overwhelming. So it’s good to have some little breaks.

Yeah, exactly. As someone who came to attention online only, is it challenging to suddenly transfer to a live stage?

Yeah, that’s an interesting question. Yes, it would have definitely have been a situation where we’ve been trying to match the live show up to the online presence. But I feel like it’s taken 12 months to get there. I feel like we are finally there, but it’s taken a lot of hours of rehearsal and a lot of refining the sound. I guess a lot of electronic acts would find that transitioning to the stage isn’t as seamless as being in a band, because there’s a lot of sounds you can create from computers and electronic stuff. It’s important that I work hard to replicate that onstage rather than press a button and it all comes through the sound system. So yeah, it’s been a process, but a really enjoyable one. In the September just gone, we played a set at Bigsound in Brisbane. I feel like we kind of hit our stride there. It’s a good time to do it because there are some good shows coming up.

What about in terms of nerves?

I love performing, to get up there and play songs that I’ve written in my bedroom for people I don’t know It’s more exciting than nerve-wracking. I only get nervous about things that are unprepared, but we spend a lot of time preparing. I just feel ready and excited when I go onto the stage and you know, I can only do what I can do. It’s up to the audience to enjoy it. So I just do my thing and hope they like it.

Well they seem to from the things I’ve read online.

Yeah, there’s lots of nice stuff going around.

You’ve said that music helps you to express emotions. So when you sing lyrics like “With the dark, comes a harsher light” // And you can’t shake the shadow above” (Nothing’s as it seems), were you having a bit of a hard time at this stage?

Yeah, I think so. With that line, “when the dark comes so harsh to life”, during the day you get on with stuff, but then the day finishes and you come to the night. There’s not as many things to distract you from things that are going wrong. I was just going through a bit of a rough time and was very much in the situation where I’m usually pretty business during the day, I’ve got uni or I’ve got other stuff on. You get to the end of it and you just get the chance to catch your breath. Sometimes it’s good, but sometimes it’s not because it means you’re thinking about all the things you’re trying to avoid.

A lot of people with depression think that way. It makes it so relatable.

I feel like the whole idea of that song, Nothing’s As It Seems are those sort of issues. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but you know, you put on this face during the day and when you’re on your own at night and you’re not as easily distracted, you have to face reality a bit more.

Your mum is a piano teacher. What kind of an influence did she have on your sound/ passion for music? 

She had an enormous influence. I mean, she probably wouldn’t claim the electronic aspect of it. But she has definitely influenced the way I write songs in that all the artists that I’ve loved growing up, like Billy Joel, Carole King, James Taylor, Eva Cassidy, are all the people she played to me, and they’re all just great song writers. I think these days it’s more common to focus on the soundscape than the actual song. And don’t get me wrong, I love soundscape and things like that, but I think the most important thing for me is creating a good song. She’s really impacted me in that way; the lyrics are just as important as the melody and the chord progression. As a little kid, she started teaching me the piano, we’d work out chord progressions together and things like that. So the foundation, all of that, really come from her. But above all I guess the value of writing a good song. The rule of thumb whenever I write songs is, I like to write them as if they would still stand up on their own if I just sang them and played the guitar or sang them and played the piano, as if they didn’t need that extra stuff, but that extra stuff boosts it to another level.

I think mums have that kind of effect on us. Actually, all the artists that you mentioned, I was wondering what the connection was there because they’re all so different.

They’re all great songwriters, and it’s like the lyrics are very important to me, and often a lot of my songs can get a little bit wordy sometimes. With all those artists, I think the words tell a story from the earth, because the earth gives that connection from the central themes and stuff. So, I think that’s what draws me to all of them.

Which is exactly what it’s supposed to do. You mentioned that you are studying medicine at uni. How’s that going for you?

Yeah, it’s going alright. It’s just that the busiest time in the Australian music industry is also my exam week, which is a bit unfortunate. But yeah, it goes alright. It’s just that a time period like this is more crazy than others. I get a lot of help from my team and my family and stuff like that. So it’s doable, but it gets a bit scary sometimes.

What year are you in?

I’m in fourth.

Oh wow, and you’ve got two years left?

Two more years. Yeah, it’s kind of a balancing act. I’m getting better at it.

How do you maintain that balance?

I’ve gotten better at mentalising stuff, so if I need to concentrate on uni I can turn off the music stuff. Also, my manager is an enormous help and stuff. He’s awesome, he deals with a lot of it. We try and plan my gig schedule around, so there’s not massive gigs the night before exams and things like that. I do all of it with a lot of help. I think I’m not at the stage where it’s all consuming. It’s not occupying me 24 hours a day. So I do have some hours in the day when we can fit in some lectures and things.   

It’s good how you have that help. Have you given that any thought in regards to your future? Surgeon by day, artist by night?

*laughs* Yeah, I have thought a lot about it. I’m still sort of working it out. I think in the short term, like next year, I’ll go back to uni and I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing this year, which is just balancing it. And then, the year after that if I had to do some international touring, I could defer for the year. I think ultimately I never want to give medicine up, but maybe I’ll go through it a bit slower than I would have liked if I wanted to make the music thing work. We’ll see. In 10 years I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, but if I can make it work like I won’t be a doctor forever for five days a week. Once I get through my degree if I work part-time, if I can take time off to go to the touring and stuff then, in an ideal world hopefully that works.

Can We Work It Out was used in a recent episode of the Vampire Diaries. What I really like about the song is that it can be interpreted in so many ways. On the surface, it sounds like you’re singing about putting a broken relationship back together. But Verse 3 alone looks like it could be about growing as a person, reflecting the idea that it’s about mending the relationship you have with yourself. How would you interpret it?

That’s the best thing about that song. There are lots of different ways you can interpret it. I did start off writing that song about a relationship, but as I progressed through it, it did become more about me personally working it out. That’s the thing about writing songs even after I’ve written them they don’t stop changing in their meaning. I actually wrote that song three years ago.

Oh, really?

Yeah, which is quite funny. I finally recorded it this year. It’s funny because it means something very different to me now than it did when I wrote it. But yeah, I think the core idea behind it is just making the best of a situation and figuring out what you can do with what you’ve got.

So how did the show get a hold of it?

I have a sync agency in the US. Sync is just about getting your song on TV and ads and things. The guy over there has been pitching for a whole lot of stuff and we were quite excited when he told us about the Vampire Diaries thing, even though I’m not an avid watcher. But a couple of my friends were watching the episode the other day and sent me a message being like “oh my god, you know your song’s on the Vampire Diaries!” I finally watched the episode the other day. It’s funny hearing it on something like that.

Yeah, it would be. But it’s really good that they’ve taken it because a lot of those girls that watch these shows go on forums and go “oh, that was a really good song, what’s the artist’s name?” and then they look you up and find you. So people from all over the world will hear your song now.

It’s really great. If the shows as big as that go for indie artists because that makes such a difference. It’s a really good thing.

Yeah, it is. Just to wrap things up, you’ve mentioned that you are working on an album to come out next year. How’s that coming along?

Yeah so, the EP will come out in February. That one, we’ve pretty much finished work on, so that will come out in February. I’m really pleased with where its at. The songs that I’ve released so far will be on that, plus a couple of other tracks. And then, we’ll probably be looking at that album more like 2017. I’ve got a lot of songs in the pipeline so the next 12 months will be about making demos and fleshing them out and deciding on the best 10-12 to put on the first full length record.

Tour dates:

Thursday, 3rd Dec: Shebeen, Melbourne w/ special guests.
Tickets here

Thursday, 10th Dec:  Goodgod, Sydney w/ special guests.
Tickets here


Wednesday, 25th Nov: Triple J Unearthed ARIA Week Showcase, Sydney
w/ Vallis Alps + Airling + more

Sunday, 10th Jan: FBI Smac’s / Sydney Festival, Carriageworks, Sydney
w/ Cosmo’s Midnight, Vallis Alps + Tuka + more