Barry Can't Swim is back, and with festival season just around the corner, it's time to tap into last summer's conversation with the DJ-Producer.

To celebrate the announcement of his debut album, Barry Can’t Swim discusses current musical musings, making tunes with live intentions and Glastonbury do’s and don’ts.


Having built up a reputation for blissful house productions and gloriously groovy DJ sets, Barry Can’t Swim’s intentions remain the same. Luring listeners into his cosmic world, where everyone’s invited to the dancefloor, the maestro’s records insight a wholesome hedonism that feel both hypnotic and introspective. Equally fitting in headphones or on the soundsystems of festivals worldwide, the Edinburgh-born Ninja Tune affiliate is gearing up to release his debut album, ‘When Will We Land?’, later this year. 


His most sonically diverse offering yet, the project’s title asks an important question. But it’s one that will never be resolved by Barry Can’t Swim’s interplanetary discography. Pumping up the core emotions of his sound into something far more grandeur, lead single “Sunsleeper” has been doing damage on the clubbing circuit throughout 2023. The infectiously fun track leans on a Spanish vocal sample akin to the previous hit “Blackpool Boulevard”, but the piano keys and swooning synths feel more celestial than ever before.  


Expanding on the album’s early promise, “Woman” is an intricately devised shoegaze-house crossover. Featuring vocals from Merseyside-hailing Låpsley, the new single embraces three-dimensional aspects of Barry Can’t Swim’s songwriting, moving away from energy-inflicted club tracks and towards music for a brooding spectacle. Earlier this year, the London-based artist performed his debut live show, cramming immersive bangers into a fervent set at the Islington Assembly Hall. After a summer packed with festival appearances behind the 1s and 2s, he plans to take his live show up a notch, intensifying the fluidity and flow his productions have always channelled. 


To celebrate the announcement of his debut album, Barry Can’t Swim discusses current musical musings, making tunes with live intentions and Glastonbury Festival do’s and don’ts. Tap in below.  

Congratulations on the release of “Woman”, it’s a slightly mellower affair compared to your previous track, “Sunsleeper”. How did this one come about? The vocals from Lapsley are stunning…
Thank you! I have so much new music to share this year and kind of held off a bit last year, so I really wanted to kick it off with a bang. It felt like it had been a while since I released a party tune with an eye on DJ sets.
Coinciding with the single’s release, you’ve announced a forthcoming debut album on Ninja Tune, which has been described as your most “diverse” piece of work to date. Where have you been drawing inspiration from for the project? And how do you feel now that it’s finally been announced?
 I just announced my debut album ‘When Will We Land?’ I’ve put everything into it and been inspired by so many artists recently. The Avalanches on repeat, Khruangbin, and Little Simz’s last couple albums too. I’ve tried to move away from writing club tracks based around energy, and focusing on more three-dimensional songwriting with a focus on emotion and melody.
As well as DJing around Europe, you’re currently working on a live show. At the start of the month, you played it out for the first time at Islington Assembly Hall. How did it go?
It was unreal. I was honestly blown away by the reception, it’s the most bizarre feeling hearing a room full of people sing along to some tunes you made in your bedroom. As soon as I came off stage I had so many ideas on how I could make it even bigger.
Does playing live impact how you think about making music now? Did you have any major takeaways from your debut performance?
It was the other way round for me actually, I’ve always planned to take it in a live direction so the music I’ve been writing has been with that in mind. I think the main takeaway is just thinking of ways I can bring even more energy. I feel really good about where I’m taking it.
Festival season is well and truly upon us. Is there anywhere you haven’t played before that you’re excited to visit? I saw that you played Flash Festival in Tuscany the other day, which looked fab…
I’m buzzing for Glasto. One of the first tunes I ever made was called “Sunday at Glasto” so to be playing there, on the Sunday, yeah that’s gonna be mad. Flash Festival was amazing man. Homemade Tuscan food, beaut location, loads of wine, mad crowd. I was living my life out there.
That’s some serious manifestation. Who are you excited to see this year?
I spend so much time at dance festivals I love getting the chance to see more live acts and different genres. I’m definitely gonna see Candi Staton, Ezra Collective, Chemical Brothers too. And I see Gok Wan is playing Glade?! That’s exactly the kinda random shit you end up at somehow and have a belter for absolutely no reason.
What are your Glastonbury Do’s and Don’ts?
Do: Make sure you have a hand signal agreed with your friends you can raise in the air. Everyone is gonna get lost at least once, you have no idea how handy the finger wiggle will come in.
Don’t: Fall asleep in the sun, miss my set.
In March you embarked on a four-date tour of America, playing everywhere from Austin to San Fransico. What were some of your highlight moments from the trip?
I love it over there. With US fans in my experience at least, if they’re into you, they’re really into it. There’s no middle ground. It makes the live shows really special.
Barry Can’t Swim rules the world for a day, what’s going down?
Higher taxes for the richest; renationalise the railways; a four day working week; three hour working days, and the only jobs are food critics.
Also Duncan Ferguson’s birthday becomes a national holiday.
To wrap up, what’s next for Barry Can’t Swim beyond festival season? Any secrets you’d like to let us in on?
The debut album is the main one. Coming out 20th Oct, it’s a huge personal milestone for me, a moment I’ve been waiting my whole life to share. And couple of tours I’m buzzing for, US in 3 weeks in September/October and then UK/Europe in November.

Stream "Woman" below: