Swedish quartet Normandie are currently making big waves throughout the UK on tour supporting Dream State. Despite the announcement of the departure of bassist Lucas Englund, they’ve been smashing every show and making Englund’s last tour with them one to remember.
Leaving to pursue his career in photography and stating that it’s been the hardest decision he’s ever had to make, “Especially knowing what the band has in the works,” it’s safe to say Normandie are a band still on the up – regardless of lineup.
We’re bidding farewell to Lucas by taking a look back on the last time we caught up with the band back in March on their UK headline tour.
How’s it going?
Philip: He’s [Lucas] in a sticky situation. He left all of his camera gear in Cambridge, and he’s flying out to a Russia tour with Adept tomorrow or two days from now, and he needs to get his bag.
Lucas: I need to get it here tonight. I gotta get it. A friend’s cousin is driving here for 150 quid. It’s either that or stay sober and try to drive on the wrong side of the road for four hours-
Philip: With the wrong side of the car as well!
Lucas: -After the show. And I would probably kill myself, so I’d rather pay 150 quid.
Philip: And you’re already drinking!
The last time I interviewed Normandie was in December 2016. A lot has changed since then. What has been the biggest thing for you?
Håkan: Two new members!
Anton: The rhythm section!
Philip: Instead of saying two new members, I’d like to say we found symmetry. We found home!
You seem very proud of White Flag, as you should be. What song off of it would you say you’re proudest of?
Philip: I’d say ‘The Bell’ because it fits so good. When we started writing it, we thought it was gonna be a one-off and might not even fit the record, because the record is quite hard but still pop-y. But ‘The Bell’ has a Swedish verse and it’s far-off. And we released it, and it was accepted the same way as ‘White Flag’ was. So yeah, I’m very proud of that one actually fitting the bill.
Håkan: I’m proud of ‘Enough’. There’s some fun parts on that one.
Anton: I can’t say I’m proud of any song in that sense because I haven’t written much, but I love ‘Fever’. It’s a great song, and I never get tired of it.
Philip: Worth mentioning, is that Anton joined the band a week before the drums were supposed to be delivered for mixing, and we postponed the mixing two weeks, and Anton learned the whole record and actually re-wrote some of the parts. Almost every single fill. We sat down for three days and just went through the whole record, me and him, in his studio, and he re-wrote almost every single fill that we had on record, and it came out a better record than it was supposed to be. So it was a really tight time schedule, and he nailed it.
That’s amazing! Congratulations. So, where did you draw inspiration for the lyrics on the album?
Philip: So, Inguz was very positive, emotional, and very… I tried to inspire on that record, and for this record, I just wanted to tell stories, basically. Just different stories throughout my life, and some of them are real, and some of them are not. I won’t say which are which [laughter]. It felt like most of these versions just came from actual time spent with the melodies – I write melodies first, then lyrics. So I just spent a lot of time with those melodies and trying to figure out what they wanted to say, instead of looking elsewhere for lyrics. I think the lyrics are a reflection of the melodies and the way that the melody sounds. So the lyrics came out of the melodies, I think.
Making an album the second time around, do you feel like it was better having experience, or did you feel more pressure to live up to what you’d already done?
Philip: The pressure was really bad. It was so bad. Because Inguz took like, two months writing and it came out a really good album, and the momentum we gained from Inguz was too big compared to the amount of time we spent on writing the album. Now we had two years to write an album. And that also had to reflect the momentum we were gonna gain after this release. Inguz gained this much attention, and then having written an album over two years was gonna gain 10 times the attention. So the pressure was really, really, really big. It was way harder, but also easier because we had more time to do what we really wanted to do, so we could start writing more from the depths of our heart instead of just going for what we wanted to hear. Because Inguz was more of, “What do we like?” and White Flag was more of, “What do we wanna hear that’s not written yet, and what do we think that we can bring to the genre that we’ve never heard before?” So yeah, it took more time, and it was easier and also harder.
Do you feel like releasing White Flag has given you more confidence as a band? It seems like you have more confidence now.
Håkan: I think so actually, because we’ve seen people like it and that makes us happy and more confident about it.
Philip: Yeah, it feels like the new record has a deeper connection to the people. Instead of just being a party album, it feels like people [have] a connection to that album in a deeper way, if that makes any sense. They get more engaged. As soon as we play a song from the new album compared to playing a song from Inguz, it feels like the crowd- it’s kind of a relief. Like, “Oh, here comes a song from White Flag. I have a better connection to this song.”
You put out re-imagined versions of ‘Fever’ and ‘White Flag’. Do you have any plans to release any more re-imagined versions of songs?
Philip: We have seven weeks of the re-imagined versions. One is really being released this Friday, and it’s kind of an EDM version. Ish. I have a hard time labeling EDM [and] pop music, but I think it’s like EDM. And then after that, we have a version of ‘The Bell’. It’s gonna be a more chill track, and then it’s going to be a drum and bass version of ‘Dead’. We’re trying to touch all the genres that we enjoy listening to. Everything from dark pop to folk, to drum and bass. We just wanted to do something different, and not just do acoustic versions. Because it’s nice, I enjoy listening to it, but it’s also plain boring. I’ve never heard a band in our genre release a drum and bass version, for one of their tracks. So that was a real challenge. And I produced for the tracks, I did the drum and bass version, and I did- we have a synth-wave version of ‘(Don’t) Need You’ coming out with a video as well. So it was a test for me, and it’s gonna be a test for our audience to see how many of our fans actually enjoy the different genres we’re gonna release.
Håkan: It’s gonna be interesting because so far we’ve just released the re-imagined versions, so people are kind of expecting more songs we re-imagined, but now it’s becoming remixes instead. It’s gonna be interesting to see the reactions.
Philip: So far, it’s been dark pop and folk pop, basically, and in two days we have an EDM version, which is really, really good. A friend of mine remixed it; he’s doing the ‘White Flag’ remix as well, and he’s a really good DJ [and] producer, so I’m very, very stoked on that. And it’s nice to hear our music being reflected by somebody else, because I produce the records that we do, and I produced for these ones. But now we have an external producer as well. Two actually, for these remixes. So it’s very nice to hear their take on the songs and what they wanna push forward. Because they have all the stems, they have the guitar stems, they have the drums and everything. And they could do anything they want. It’s very nice to hear what they’re gonna do with these songs.
Kind of like putting a jigsaw back together in different ways.
Philip: Yeah. And the DJ who mixed ‘White Flag’ – he put some guitars in the remix as well. It’s very cool to hear an EDM remix with guitars and stuff like that.
What Swedish music would you recommend right now?
“Zara Larsson!” is shouted out in perfect unison by all members of the band.
Lucas: Yeah, she’s putting out a new song tomorrow! I’m so stoked for it!
Philip: And she’s touring with Ed Sheeran throughout Europe. It’s gonna be massive. Robyn is very big.
I love Robyn!
Philip: Yeah, I love Robyn, too.
Håkan: Magnus Uggla!
The whole band start singing a very loud vocal rendition of a Magnus Uggla instrumental – all in perfect unison – without a promt, as if the mention of the name alone was signal for them to start. “Pom pom pom, pom pom pom pom pom, ba-da-da, shoo-be-doo-ah. Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, na-na-na, whoa-oh-oh.”
Anton: Yeah. That’s it. That’s Magnus, the owl.
So, you’ve only got tonight and then one more day left of this tour. Have you learned anything on this run? About the band, about life, about anything?
Philip: We’ve really learned that we have a crowd. That we have our own crowd, because instead of having a local support for every gig, like in Germany having a German band. And instead of bringing a band who’s released [many] albums or toured Europe already, we chose to bring out bands that we believe in. Because when we started touring, there was an Austrian band called All Faces Down who brought us on a European tour with 350/500 cap venues every night. And we didn’t understand why they picked the Swedish band who’s obviously not gonna pull an audience in Europe because we’re a Swedish band [and] unknown. We got the chance to tour with them, and we feel like we wanna do the same. And at the same time, we have a chance to play shows where we are the only ones who [are] gonna sell tickets, because the other bands have never been in Europe. So it feels like, to me, the thing we’ve gained the most on this tour is seeing who our fans are. Like, if we play in Cologne and it’s sold out, we know it’s sold out because we [did] a good job with White Flag and it’s only Normandie fans there, basically. I’ve gained a lot of respect for where our crowds are and what we could do as a band, because we’ve been supporting for like, three years, and we’ve been co-headlining with Ryan Key from Yellowcard, and it’s very hard for us to determine who our fans are. But now we know. It’s very good. It’s very surprising.
What are your plans moving forward?
Philip: We’ve started writing the third album. We’re like five/six demo tracks in, and we’re just trying to figure out where we wanna go from here. We don’t wanna be one of those bands that just keep writing the same album. The next one is gonna come out different. Maybe better – hopefully better. And it feels like we’re just getting started to find the path and actually do an album that is 100% what we also wanna listen to. Because [I], for example, don’t listen to a lot of rock in my spare time. I listen to more pop music, or folk music, or anything, really. Instrumental EDM or instrumental electronic music. So it’s nice to bring all those elements into the next record, and we’re trying to see if our fans are ready for it. It’s going to be very nice to see with these remixes who is gonna be like, “Oh, this is really bad, I like rock music,” and who’s actually accepting it and finding it an experience to listen to. So that’s gonna be a test for the next record, I think. Not that we’re gonna go far off, but it’s just finding the right elements and the right guitar sounds and synths, and everything’s gonna be 100% Normandie. White Flag is still 90% Normandie, but we didn’t have enough time to really find the roots of what we like to listen to and write. So I think the next record is really gonna be pure. I’d say pure. Yeah, that’s the word I’m gonna go for. Pure Normandie. Puremandie!
Håkan: We’re also gonna tour a lot. This is the first tour since we released the album. So we will tour a lot. We don’t know where and when, but there will be some tours!
Last question. What is your favorite English phrase that you don’t say in Sweden?
Håkan: Shrimp on the barbie!
Philip: We’re taught English from the age of 11, and we’ve watched a lot of UK shows and movies and everything, so you kind of get used to the English language, and as soon as we get over here, we start using your language as our own. So it kind of blends together. We don’t translate it in our heads while we’re talking. So it’s very hard to determine what’s Swedish and what’s not.
Anton: It feels like it’s more of the other way around, though. We have Swedish words that [don’t] exist in English.
Philip: Yeah. We’re trying to find the English words for some Swedish things.
Anton: We have like, three different words for every English word.
Philip: Which is weird because the English vocabulary is way bigger than the Swedish one, I think.
Håkan: Let’s go with ‘innit’.
Philip: Or just ending a sentence with ‘yeah’. “Are you here, yeah? You going to the mall, yeah? Gonna have nachos, yeah?” I spent a good amount of time with a band called GroundCulture from Newcastle, and they say ‘yeah’ every single sentence. We probably pick up on every single accent. So if we’re up north, we just start speaking Glasgowish. It’s terrible.
You can say goodbye to Lucas when Normandie support Dream State in Swansea on November 1st, and London on November 2nd. Tickets are available here. Keep up to date with his music photography by following his Instagram – @lucasenglund. Watch the band’s live session cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’ below: