Phantogram released a poignant new single, “Someday,” as part of a mental health initiative. All proceeds from sales and streams of the track – and its B-side, an atmospheric cover of Sparklehorse ballad “Saturday” – will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“Someday I’ll find you; I’ll meet you, complete you/ Somehow I’ll dig out my eyes,” singer-keyboardist Sarah Barthel croons over jazzy keys and breezy sax tones. “It’s all a painting, a brand new Mercedes/ Crashing and burning alive.”
The cause resonates with Phantogram on a personal level: Barthel’s sister Becky (also a close childhood friend of guitarist Josh Carter) died by suicide during the making of the duo’s most recent LP, 2016’s Three. The singer recently spoke with the AFSP about Becky’s lifelong depression and anxiety, the lingering stigmas of mental illness and the profound grief that results from a suicide.
“I did have some friends growing up who attempted suicide or who died from suicide, so I had an idea of how much pain it could bring into others’ lives,” she said. “But this has been the hardest death I’ve ever had to deal with – and I’ve had a lot of close people in my life pass. Suicide is really complicated, because in a way, it’s like an illness people blame on themselves. Mental health conditions are just as powerful as physical illnesses. What’s dangerous is that people aren’t as educated about it.
“We never learned about this subject in school,” she added. “Even our parents, or friends, might have a tendency to brush ‘mental illness’ under a rug because of a sense of shame. This kind of stigma can lead to discrimination and judgment. Sometimes, the discrimination can even be obvious and direct, like someone making a negative remark about your mental illness or your treatment.”
Barthel ended the interview with a message of empowerment and optimism, telling readers, “You are only capable of changing yourself. Nobody else. Put the work into every possible corner of yourself. Your brain is the biggest, most important muscle in your body; take care of it. Talk to someone about your feelings.”