ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT
We all have our secrets. Whether we’re ready to face them or not, each and every one of us has something buried deep down inside that we desperately keep hidden away from the prying, judging eyes of the rest of the world. But sometimes those secrets become so powerful that they can no longer stay buried, festering and gnawing at our souls so much that they can stop us from living life to the fullest. He didn’t realise it until recently, but Philip Strand was harbouring one such secret for the longest time.
Now, the Normandie singer is ready to open up and share his true story for the first time, and the band’s propulsive, incendiary recent single Jericho represents the first chapter in that tale. “When we first wrote Jericho I was actually singing about something else,” he begins. “It was originally about a relationship where the other person was very cold hearted and they didn't really give away any emotions. So that was where the line, ‘I want to burn it down, watch it fall apart’ came from, but it became increasingly clear that something else was driving the song. Writing became like a therapy session for me, all of a sudden,” he explains, “I felt like there was something deeper I wanted to touch on. I wanted to really go into this emotion. Something was driving me down there, into myself. So I made a conscious decision to write about my personal experiences for the first time. I felt like it was time. I went back and I switched some words around so that the entire meaning of the song shifted. It became about breaking down the old to give way and form something completely new.”
Soon, the wider world will bear witness to this something new in the form of Dark and Beautiful Secrets, the band’s forthcoming album, set for release on Easy Life Records on February 19'th. It’s the third full-length from the Stockholm trio – completed by guitarist Håkan Almbladh and drummer Anton Franzon – following the incredible success of 2018’s White Flag, which has amassed over 24 million streams. In reality though, this will be the first opportunity for fans to hear the band as they truly are. Buoyed by the thematic seeds instinctively sown into Jericho, Philip felt compelled to dig deeper than ever before and poured his heart out, tapping into a wellspring of personal experience to create each of these 10 new tracks. Facing up to the things that he’d kept hidden away for so long made for some uncomfortable and difficult self-analysis, but that reflection was necessary to produce a record that can really resonate and mean something to people.
“This is a really dark album to me,” the frontman admits, offering an insight into how raw the songs are. “We wanted to make an album where it was less chewing gum pop, but still poppy as hell. So we aimed for a really dark vibe – because it is so personal. I have been carrying this load and this lie for so long. The reason it’s called Dark and Beautiful Secrets is because darkness doesn’t necessarily have to be ugly or negative,” he explains, delving deeper into the layered meaning of the title. “A secret that comes to light can be a beautiful relief. It doesn’t have to be something that people judge you on. If you’re coming clean it should be the opposite, because you’ve gone through this healing process. Finally being able to speak up about secrets is something that people should be encouraged to do, and if there is a thread throughout the record it’s about how we all need to talk more. I started looking back on my childhood and realising that it was kind of messed up in certain places. Issues that I couldn’t see at the time were now vividly clear…”
So what exactly <are> these intriguing secrets? Exposing who he is to the world for the first time, Philip writes with unflinching candour about everything from panic attacks (Hostage) to his fractious relationship with the internet (Atmosphere), and how the need to dig deeper into yourself can make you lose track of reality (Babylon). He writes about love and lust, and how confusing the two can lead to learning harsh lessons about your personal worth (Chemicals). He examines who he was as a child and how much his life and his values have changed in adulthood (Mission Control). Underpinning all of these personal revelations, however, is the moment his life changed forever, aged 14, when he turned his back on the church he grew up in (Holy Water, Bury Me Alive, Renegade). “I still believe in something, I still have my faith and that's what's kind of crooked about it,” he explains, revealing the ongoing process that comes with attempting to make sense of the complexities of the past. “It was a very poisonous vibe to be in that environment as a teenager. I look back at that time and I wouldn't wish it upon anybody, but it doesn’t have to be about religion. It’s about breaking free from the path that was chosen for you, to start carving out a new one.”
Though its rooted in the private rites of passage that helped shape Philip as a person, the potency of Dark and Beautiful Secrets lies in that unifying thread about finding the strength and courage to make your own stand in life, and to seek out that which is true for you. It’s about being brave about the person you once were and reconciling that with who you want to be.
“The bravery doesn't necessarily have to be that you have two options, A or B,” the singer stresses, zeroing in on the message of the songs, “but it could be that you have grown up only knowing one option. When you decide to leave, even if you don’t know what's out there, you have to throw yourself into it. It’s about walking into the unknown.”
In a way, stepping into the unknown is what Normandie have done with this album. It required something of an artistic cleansing to get there, but in the spirit of making peace with the past, the hope is that the record can inspire a similar sense of freedom among the audience who welcome it into their lives.
“There are probably hundreds of thousands of kids out there who have had the same experiences as me,” the frontman accepts, “but I want to make sure that everyone finds some common ground to relate to on this album and not just think, ‘Oh, that's Philip story.’ Some songs are like traumas for me, but I want people to think, ‘What do I have in my past or my childhood?’ and take them in that way.”
Into another great unknown Dark and Beautiful Secrets will soon take its first steps. Where it lands and what happens next is one secret yet to be revealed, however. But for Normandie, the hardest part is over. The process of letting go is the reward.
“I’ve just gone with my gut on this,” Philip says proudly. “This is our sound, it’s my story and we’re not trying to copy anybody else. I can see us playing arenas with this album, but I could also see us going under with it. This album does not play it safe.”
He need not fret too much about that though, because nothing great ever really does…
'Dark & Beautiful Secrets'
HIGHWIRE MAGAZINE - 5/5
SQUARE ONE MAG - 4/5
BRING THE NOISE - 9/10
3 SONGS & OUT - 4,5/5
NOIZEE - 9/10
Normandie - Hostage
Normandie - Jericho
Normandie - Babylon
Normandie - Holy Water
Maria Janzon - CMG
Mark, Easy Life Records
Jamie, Easy Life Records
PR Radio (UK)
PR Online/Print (UK)
PR Radio (Germany)
Booking - Europe
United Talent Agency
Booking - Sweden & Norway
Harald Barrett - CMG
Booking - Finland
Carolin Büttner - Nem Agency
Booking - USA
Philip Barrett - Artist Group International