Sophie Payten has had quite the year. Between releasing her stunning, stark, and deeply moving second album Our Two Skins, the 27-year-old musician — who we all know as Gordi — returned to work as a doctor in hospitals around Victoria in the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic put Gordi’s promotional plans on hold. She was scheduled to be touring the US in May but has been locked down in Victoria instead. Though she’s been anything but idle.

When the coronavirus took a stronghold on the healthcare industry, Payton returned to the medical field as locum work as a junior doctor without hesitation. Over the past month, she’s spent her time working around the carious emergency department, general wards and coronavirus clinics in inner-city Melbourne.

I’ve kind of been the medical equivalent of gap filler,” Payton explains. “Victorian hospitals are having huge numbers of staff being furloughed – meaning because they’ve had exposure to COVID-19, they have to go and isolate for 2 weeks. This means huge staff shortages so I’ve been filling the gaps where I can

In a perfect world, Gordi would be celebrating the release of her triumphant new album by touring international waters. Instead, she spends her days changing in and out of coronavirus personal protection equipment, an experience she has described as “pretty awful.”

“Every time we enter a ward we have to put on full PPE which is really unpleasant to wear,” Payton details. “It’s hard to have a drink bottle with you because it can’t remain sterile so you’re constantly dehydrated. Usually doctors are supposed to wear smart casual attire but everyone is just in scrubs all day or scrub shirts and jeans and sneakers because you’re covered up anyway.”

It’s a tedious routine.

“Every morning after I park my car I put my own personal mask on and wear it to the hospital foyer, then I sign in, get my temperature checked and exchange my mask for a hospital mask, wash my hands. Then I get to the doors of the ward, I pack everything I don’t need into my backpack, get out my stethoscope and clean it with sterile wipes, wash my hands, put a single-use very hot plastic gown on, wash my hands, put safety glasses on, wash my hands, and then go into the ward.

“If there’s a patient we see who potentially has COVID-19 then I put on an N-95 mask, safety glasses, a face shield, a new gown and gloves (washing my hands between each new thing I pick up) – and then take it all off when I exit their room; and the cycle continues!

Watch ‘Radiator’ by Gordi:

A routine that she has, by some miracle, found a way to marry with promoting and touring her latest record. Gordi recently announced a series of intimate Our Two Skins shows, set to kick off next month. The socially-distanced gigs saw shows in Sydney and Brisbane sell out instantly.

In addition to touring and working as a practising doctor, Gordi has found the time to self-direct two lyric videos for album singles ‘Radiator’ and ‘Look Like You’. Two videos that document the musicians own tender earmark of fortitude, of resilience. Gordi’s strength as a songwriter lies in the power of her awareness. She is an acute dissector of internal and external calamity. She is a master of sympathetic realism.

Gordi helmed Our Two Skins after experiencing a nervous breakdown whilst on an Etihad flight from Australia to Europe in 2017. A breakdown spurred by an acknowledgement of her own identity — the identity of a queer woman.

This revelation was not uncomplicated. Born into a religious family, and working through complicated sexual identity all whilst Australia undertook a marriage equality plebiscite left Gordi feeling isolated.

Isolation that manifested in the musician calling upon friends and collaborators Chris Messina and Zach Hanson, who took to Payton’s remote home town of Canowindra. To set up a studio in an old cottage where Our Two Skins was born.

Watch ‘Look Like You’ by Gordi:

Gordi
Our Two Skins Australian Tour

Thursday 15 October
​​The Triffid, Brisbane (early sitting)

Thursday 15 October​​
The Triffid, Brisbane (late sitting) [SOLD OUT]

Friday 16 October​​​
Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle

Wednesday 21 October​​
The Factory, Sydney (late sitting)

Wednesday 21 October​​
The Factory, Sydney (late sitting)

Thursday 22 October
The Factory, Sydney  (early sitting) [SOLD OUT]

Thursday 22 October​​
The Factory, Sydney (late sitting) [SOLD OUT]

Friday 23 October​​​
Altar, Hobart