Editors’ Notes “I was going through a time of great change in my life,” Gordi—Sophie Payten—tells Apple Music of the period that led her to begin writing Our Two Skins in 2017. “I'd finished university, I'd come out of a long-term relationship and entered a new one. I was 25 and for the first time in my life contemplating questions of my sexuality and how that affects your identity.” The singer-songwriter felt the added turmoil of dealing with personal revelations—and the loss of her grandmother—at a time when Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite was occurring alongside the country’s wider conversation about LGBTQ+ rights and identity. “I’d upended my life, we were suddenly in a relationship, and then the country's voting on whether I have the right to get married,” she says. “And you're watching politicians onscreen saying things like we shouldn't teach about bisexuality in schools because it encourages abnormal behavior.” Her second album, which was recorded with Bon Iver producers Chris Messina and Zach Hanson in her remote hometown of Canowindra, speaks as much to the issues in the world surrounding Gordi’s own life as they do her personal journey. “When I was writing the record I thought, ‘Oh my god, how am I going to ever talk about this?’ but I kept thinking back to watching those politicians. I was thinking, ‘Imagine if I was 10 or 11 or 12 and coming to terms with sexuality and watching that.’ It was enough for me to be like, ‘You know what? This is an important story to tell, and it's one more story in the tapestry of the queer community that leads to more visibility for those young queer kids.’” Here, Payten delves into the stories behind each track on Our Two Skins.

Goodwin’s (Intro)
“We made the album in this little cottage on my parents' farm. It was built in about the 1860s, and my family have lived on that farm for over 100 years. This family called the Goodwins used to live there, and the little farm track that runs up the side is called Goodwin's Way, so we've always just referred to the cottage as Goodwin's. There's a very distinct sound of walking into the cottage and the old, rusty door that has a fly screen on it. So, that's basically the beginning. It's at the end of the record, too, the sound of that door shutting—it would signal another day in the studio.”

Aeroplane Bathroom
“I got on the plane to fly to Europe for two months to tour and I just started a new relationship. I’d been running away from all of that stuff and I was faced with a lot of those questions as I was sitting on this flight for 24 hours. I was incredibly emotional, so I got my notebook out. I escaped over the people sitting next to me to go to the bathroom, thinking I could take some deep breaths and splash some water on my face. Then you close the door, the lights automatically come on, and they just make you look like 100 years old. I felt like absolute shit. And that was the start of that song, like, ‘Do you see yourself?’ Because I'm looking at myself thinking, ‘I feel like I'm just spiraling out of control.’ I went back to my seat and basically just turned all those words into a poem, which turned into ‘Aeroplane Bathroom.’”

Unready
“I actually wrote this song at the end of making my first record. So it was before this whole experience in my life happened. I wrote it about this sensation I was feeling, like my life's about to start. But I didn't really know what it was going to look like. I felt like I was about to go through a period of great change, but I had no idea just how much change. It sits a bit separately from the record, both musically and lyrically, but I grew to love it. I'm glad it's on there.”

Sandwiches
“I'd written this about my grandmother passing away. We were extremely close; she was like another parent to me when I was a kid because we lived next door to each other. She was 95 when she died. I’d been overseas so much and by total coincidence came home after this period that the record describes. I had a conversation with my grandmother about all the things that had been happening, and she was so full of acceptance and love, which was pretty impressive given she was a Catholic woman born in 1923. And by coincidence, the last six weeks of her life were those six weeks I could be in Canowindra. I was at the hospital with my mum and dad and all of his siblings. My mum and I realized no one had really eaten all morning, so we ducked down the street, got some supplies, came back, and started making sandwiches. There was like 15 people there, and in the moment that we stepped away and had a break and had something to eat was the moment that she passed on.”

Volcanic
“‘Volcanic’ was a real study of that feeling of a panic attack. I wrote the verses in really quick succession. I was in Berlin at this music festival which was run by Bon Iver and The National; the idea was that 70 to 100 musicians collaborate there for a week. I found this little piano in the back of the hotel behind the kitchen and started playing this piano solo—I wanted to make an effort to make the music really echo what the lyrical content was, which was about the sensation of totally spiraling out of control.”

Radiator
“I think of ‘Radiator’ and ‘Volcanic’ as a little duo, because I wrote them in the same day, at that piano in Berlin. I just started playing this little riff on the piano; it reminded me of an Irish church or something. I grew up singing in the Catholic Church most Sundays, and there’s something so familiar about that music. It basically describes the night that I realized I was totally in love with my partner and that sensation like your skin is on fire.”

Extraordinary Life
“I like the idea that the ultimate expression of love is that you want to make someone feel exceptional and make them feel like their life is going to be special and extraordinary and above average. I started writing this song at the end of 2017. We played in Belgium and stayed in this miserable hostel in Ghent. I was buzzing after finishing the show, so I couldn't really sleep. I went and had a really long, hot shower and started to hum. It was reverberating around the bathroom, and I took an iPhone note down and gradually built the song on top of that.”

Hate the World
“I wrote this song after watching Hannah Gadsby's Nanette in New York. It was probably six months after ’Aeroplane Bathroom’ and that acute period of change, and Donald Trump was the president, and I had a real sense of this deep and ever-deepening divide of the world. But it did have a new meaning to me, listening to Hannah talk about growing up gay in Tasmania, where it was illegal. I came out of that with this kind of naive response, like, ‘How is there so much hate? How do you grow up just hating groups of people? And how do you then have a kid and raise them to hate those groups of people as well?’ I felt really mad about it, and even though same-sex marriage got through, there was such a large percentage of people that voted no, which was just really heartbreaking. So I think this song was a polite ‘fuck you’ to all those people who voted no and who perpetuate all the prejudices that Hannah Gadsby was talking about.”

Look Like You
“I think of ‘Hate the World’ and ‘Look Like You’ as a bit of a pair as well—‘Hate the World’ is looking outwards, criticizing people who have the point of view. ‘Look Like You’ is the effect that those views have on me. The shame that comes with whatever you want to call it—coming out, a realization, coming to terms with the spectrum of sexuality. I had no one close to me who was going to have a problem with it. And I'm very lucky in that sense, but you still feel like you're totally drenched in the shame and embarrassment that comes from people looking at others who are different to them, being like, ‘You don't look like me, so there's something wrong with you.’”

Limits
“There’s always one song on an album that breaks your balls a little bit. It had lots of different forms, though the words stayed the same. It describes the night that I met the person that would become my partner and wanting to accelerate through that initial phase and wanting to jump straight to the really intimate parts, living together and having that person know you really deeply.”

Free Association
“Every day [in the studio] we'd walk in and be like, ‘What song are we going to do today?’ We’d light some incense, listen to some different stuff, and work out what mood we were in. I felt like playing the harmonium, and as I was playing it, Chris and Zach were setting up a microphone, started running it through some pedals and amps, mic’d it up, and then I hit record. In parallel to all the bigger issues [on the album], like the queerness and the same-sex marriage and the rest, this was probably, more than any other song, about just falling in love and being like, ‘Oh, man, I'm no longer in control of my feelings and if you hurt me, you'll really fuck me up.’”

1
0:19
 
2
5:44
 
3
3:42
 
4
3:58
 
5
3:13
 
6
2:55
 
7
3:41
 
8
3:44
 
9
3:54
 
10
3:31
 
11
4:00
 
12
3:49
 

Music Videos

  • Volcanic
  • Unready
    Unready
    Gordi
  • Sandwiches

More by Gordi

Featured On