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Illustration by

Georgia Haywood

Sophie Payten also known as Gordi, is a musician from Sydney who has released 2 critically acclaimed albums, played an NPR Tiny Desk show and supported the likes of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. She is also a trained doctor.  She tells Hook about balancing the two careers below.

I think what I categorise as my “side hustle” changes with each calendar year. I am a musician and songwriter and I’ve been putting out music as the artist, Gordi, for about six years. I am also a qualified doctor. 


I went to med school for seven years and worked as a junior doctor last year in a hospital in Sydney. I rotated across cardiology, psychiatry, emergency and general surgery and it was one of the most stressful and rewarding years of my life. The incline of the learning curve was so unbelievably steep and being thrown into a busy 16 hour day at work almost gave me an adrenalin rush equivalent to playing a live gig (almost). When you’re an intern in a hospital it is common to realise after 8 hours that you haven’t eaten, drunk water or been to the bathroom since your day started. I often found myself thrust into situations where I felt completely out of my depth - telling a patient they had cancer, trying to revive someone and coping with death. The level of responsibility felt sometimes like a burden but often like a privilege. 


I miss that job all the time. I miss my colleagues and my friends there. I miss being so implicitly trusted by a stranger to deal with the most private details of their life. It is strange now releasing a record about the most private details of my life, as if I’ve swapped places with the patient and my doctor is a global audience. That is the common ground between music and medicine; the swapping of stories from one party to another.


For now, medicine will take the position of side-hustle in my life while I put out a record and hopefully tour it. Though if the COVID-19 situation escalates in Australia, I’d say I’ll be hustling on all fronts.

To Terry Gilliam
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