Q&A with songstress Sophie Payten (aka Gordi)

Sophie Payten (aka Gordi). Photo: Savannah Van der Niet.

Sophie Payten (aka Gordi). Photo: Savannah Van der Niet.

2015 was a big year for the Canowindra-born-and-raised singer-songwriter, Sophie Payten – better known as Gordi. Her tracks are regularly on rotation as part of Triple J Unearthed, and she’s been touring with other folk acts such as Winterbourne, Timberwolf and most recently, Ben Lee.

As if that wasn’t enough, Gordi was also one of 25 regional NSW young artists to be awarded a $10,000 scholarship under a major Government scheme to develop emerging artistic talent.

The Young Regional Artist Scholarships (YRAS), available for all art forms, fund activities such as mentorships or internships with arts organisations, short-term courses and other training, national and international travel and creation of new work.

Gordi discusses her YRAS journey below.

Name: Sophie Payten
Region: Central West (Canowindra)
Artform/practice: Songwriting

Why did you apply for  the Young Regional Artist Scholarship?

I needed financial assistance in order to record a full length album.

What regional activities did you undertake as part of the scholarship?

At the moment I’m involved in a local activity called the Silos Project which aims at bringing together all art forms in my hometown of Canowindra. It has commenced already with a series of workshops and fundraising events and we are working towards one performance night which will be based at the old silos in the town of Canowindra.

What has receiving the scholarship meant for you as a regional artist?

It has meant that I have been able to make music. In the first few years of my music career it was costing me money to play music, sort of like an expensive hobby. Scholarships like this are crucial to young artists getting the chance to really give the industry a crack.

Did you experience any challenges along the way that changed your original plan? If so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Definitely. Music is an ever changing timeline – there are so many things to consider and so it is almost impossible to stick to a 12 month timeline though I do try my best. I found it a frustrating process to wait to record or release music when I had it sitting there ready to go. But a lot of success in the industry can be attributed to good timing so it’s crucial you don’t waste your time, efforts and money on rushing a release or tour.

When you submitted your application, which aspects did you find difficult and how did you work through them?

The most difficult part was formulating a very specific plan and estimating costs because plans can change and costs can be more than you anticipate. I had to draw on the experience of people I know in the industry to get accurate estimates for how much things would cost and explore a few options for the recording of an album before formulating a plan.

Do you have any advice for potential applicants applying to the YRAS program?

Even though it is difficult, try to make your proposal as detailed as possible. If someone is going to invest in your career, they want to know that you have a good idea where it’s going and I think the same rule applies for scholarships and grants.


The YRAS program will see 100 scholarships valued at $10,000 each awarded over four years and 25 scholarships will be awarded in 2016. 

Applications are now open for Round One, closing 27 June 2016. For more information about the YRAS program click here.

Listen to a sampling of Gordi’s tunes here.

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Published: 22 April 2016