Interview: How Gordi managed to not kill Bon Iver's cats while making her debut album
The 'Reservoir' tour wraps in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane this week.
It’s hard to interview sometimes when you get to an artist a little late to the party, not that Gordi hadn’t been on my radar for a while it’s just I didn’t know how badly I wanted to talk to her before I had heard her whole album (this year's debut LP, Reservoir). So, she had already done a bunch of interviews, and one topic that seemed to spring up the most is that she had almost killed Justin Vernon’s cats. But we'll get back to that.
First up, let me introduce to you, Sophie, a girl who grew up by her mother’s piano, and who’s just finished training to be a paramedic. A girl with a big voice, and a boarding school teenage memory behind her. A girl who almost killed Bon Iver’s cats.
“I’d definitely try and cover it up if I had of killed them,” she laughs down the line just before her Australian album tour kicked off a couple of weeks back. “Like I wouldn’t own up. I’d try cover my tracks. It was like a week I spent in this place, in this house was just me and these two cats and we didn’t get along. And one scratched me but the other one was locked out for like a week and I didn’t realise it, so not that it deserved to be outside but the break was needed. I was scared that it was going to attack me in my sleep.”
Did you write better when the cat wasn’t around?
“Yes! It made me nervous, I was always worried it was lurking and would attack me. Flow and Melman were their names.”
So, Bon Iver has evil cats?
“Yeah, though I’m painting them in a harsh light,” she jests.
The album hit a stage of finalisation late in the piece when Sophie arrived at the effervescent April Base in Wisconsin, home to Bon Iver, to find some clarity.
“It was like the last week of the record there, so everything was tracked but it was like the last week we took to bring everything together. I recorded it in a lot of different places with a lot of different people, so it was about making it cohesive. I met this guy while I was
touring with The Tallest Man On Earth, Zach Hanson. And he suggested having a week where we just go over the whole record and make sure it’s how I want it. And pull it together and make be one big thing instead of a bunch of songs.”
And turns out that week ended up being a busy one. “S.Carey came in, and a bunch of guys from The Tallest Man On Earth's band etc. - played some drums and little things like that. By the end of the week I felt for the first time that I had a cohesive album.”
And the proof is in the pudding with Reservoir, an album with tracks that hold hands like a paper cut out school girl. Cohesion and flow has been a staple of Bon Iver releases over the years too, and Gordi herself has been dubbed once or twice before the female/Australian Bon Iver. And while the comparisons are obviously nice, perhaps it goes towards her maturity somewhat when she remarks, “It is nice, but yeah you always want to make your own mark.
“The biggest thing I try take away from some of the Bon Iver guys is the fact that they make music that sounds really original. They create their own sounds and I can’t think of anyone else that sounds like them and I think that’s the most inspiring thing I take from them.”
You don’t need to be a genius to know that Gordi has done exactly what she set out to do. Reservoir is a great album, it's original and recognisable all at once.
For this humble writer, Myriad is the song on the album that really stands out. Strangely enough it wasn’t even going to make the record according to Gordi. It was only once the drums had been dropped and a few other changes made, that it got new life to become
what it is. “Myriad is about the kind of situation of like hopefulness at the start of a relationship that never begun. The main chorus line "I hope I won’t go and give it all for nothing" is like that point where you realise you are really invested in something before it begins. The first step of realising you are a bit vulnerable. It's ended up being my favourite song on the record, even though we were going to cut it. It is my favourite song to play too."
The album itself was a long multi-national journey, with writing taking parts all over the world. The scenery affects music the same way it affects life in real life. “Making it all different places was a really great experience for me, I went from being clueless at the start to the end where I helped produce some of the songs.”
The travels themselves lent to even more new music. "I started writing new songs as I was travelling, it was super inspiring, and got me writing. So, I’ll be spending the next little while churning out as many as I can.”
Wed 6 Dec - Mojos, Fremantle
Thu 7 Dec - Jack Rabbit Slim's Perth
Fri 8 Dec - Ed Castle, Adelaide
Sat 9 Dec - Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
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