Creativity can be found in the strangest of places.
For singer-songwriter Sophie Payten, better known as Gordi, she was on a long-haul Etihad flight from Australia to Europe in late 2017 and experiencing a terrifying panic attack.
"I'd never really experienced that level of anxiety before, to be honest," she says.
"I felt like I was spiraling down a well and the light at the top was becoming smaller and smaller.
"I was sitting in the window seat and the people next to me were asleep and I was alone with my thoughts. I had that sensation of being trapped so I climbed over the other passengers and escaped to the bathroom."
Twenty minutes later, after returning to her seat, she had penned the lyrics to Aeroplane Bathroom which would become the first single from her much-anticipated sophomore album Our Two Skins.
"I guess writing about what was happening to me was my way of regaining control over it, because I could describe exactly what was happening, and there was something very empowering in that," she says.
Payten had just completed her medical degree at university and was struggling with her sexual identity against the backdrop of Australia's marriage equality vote and her Catholic upbringing.
It was a turbulent, unsettled and isolating period in her life.
Upon arriving home, Payten recorded a single vocal at her parents' farm in Canowindra and these original parts were teased out to add soundscape.
If you listen closely to the track, you can hear elements from the farm shining through - gates and chains, creaking doors, and a revving car engine.
Bon Iver production duo Chris Messina and Zach Hanson flew from Wisconsin to Canowindra with several cases of gear and set up a temporary studio in an old cottage on the farm. This stripped-back approach to the recording process was applied to the album in its entirety, with all 10 tracks laid down at the farm using minimal equipment. Eager to bottle the isolation and emptiness she felt during that period of rediscovery, the remoteness of Canowindra proved the right location.
Our Two Skins is the result, chronicling this intense chapter of Payten's life as she renegotiated who she was and how she fit into the world.
"I made my first record [2017's J Award-nominated Reservoir] while I was travelling the world but with this record I really wanted the way it sounded and looked and felt to mirror the story of the record," she explains.
Planting ourselves in the middle of nowhere in drought-stricken territory that was basically like another planet seemed like the perfect place to get all this stuff out.
"Sometimes you write a record and you look back on it and you go 'OK, what's the story I'm telling here?' but with this record I was so aware of what that story was, the whole time I was writing it, so I wanted all the processes to be quite sensitive to that.
"Planting ourselves in the middle of nowhere in drought-stricken territory that was basically like another planet seemed like the perfect place to get all this stuff out.
"Also, there was something really beautiful about going back to where I came from to tell the story because I went through this year of having breakdowns and looking at questions of sexuality and realising I don't have to change at all, I'm still me and I still am who I am but now I have this broader scope with which to look at life, which was really cool."
Payten has overcome any trepidation she may have felt about baring her heart and soul on her second album, and is now excited to be sharing it with Australia and the world.
"Part of coming to terms with being comfortable sharing all that stuff is the thought that the world is better off with stories like this in it," she says.
"For the queer community and the young kids that are part of it, coming to terms with who they are, if they hear this record they might think 'OK, that's happened to someone else' and it makes who they are more OK for them.
"I was definitely searching for those kind of cultural references at one time and was looking at artists like Harry Styles and St Vincent who would talk about sexuality in a way that resonated with me and was not about categories or binaries - it's just about people being people and finding their own people and making connections."
As for giving up her medical career to pursue music, Payten is philosophical. She spent a year working as a junior doctor and is still "on call" in the event of a COVID-19 hospital outbreak occurring.
"It's like a first responder team - if a hospital department goes down we'd go in as the substitute team," she explains.
"There's been no action but that's a good thing for all of us. Me not getting work means Australia is doing well.''
Payten is scheduled to tour the US with Of Monsters And Men later in the year, and in 2021 she will tour Australia with Bon Iver.
"I think we're going to do some live shows with a full band in the next couple of months that will be streamed, and I'm optimistic that the Australian music scene will be back by the end of the year," she says.
"Overseas touring will be more challenging, but I'm hoping for a headline tour here."
- Our Two Skins was released on June 26 via Liberation Records.