The Skinny On... Barry Can't Swim

After racking up plays on BBC Radio 1 and gaining firm fans in Annie Mac and Jaguar, Barry Can’t Swim releases his debut EP, Amor Fati, this month. Before that, we find out about his fear of wrists, his favourite festival memory and more

Feature by The Skinny | 05 Jul 2021
  • Barry Can't Swim

What’s your favourite place to visit and why?

I’m based in London but originally from Edinburgh and I love going back to visit as often as I can. It’s a beaut city. I appreciate it more now that I don’t live there. My favourite place I’ve one-off visited is probably Lebanon – food was quality, really nice people too.

Favourite food to cook in lockdown and why?

I was cooking a lot of fish until I saw Seaspiracy and that just ruined it for me. I can never look at a prawn the same way again now. A lot of curries – easy to throw together with what’s in the cupboard.

Favourite colour and why?

Purple. No real reason, just a really nice colour. Regal.

Who was your hero growing up?

John Lennon / my dad. Lennon because he’s the greatest songwriter in pop music history. My dad cos he’s a class joiner and a really good dad.

Whose work inspires you now?

I’m loving Aleksandir – unreal musician. His production is on another level. There’s so much space in all his tunes but it never feels empty. Big fan of Khruangbin too. Still got Skee Mask’s last album on repeat as well.

What three people would you invite to your virtual dinner party and what are you cooking?

Marcus Aurelius, John Lennon, then a toss up between the Buddha or Tim Cahill. Might get a bit too deep and serious having both Marcus and the Buddha so probably Tim Cahill. Meat and two veg.

What’s your all time favourite album?

Really hard question. I can’t overlook Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by Arctic Monkeys. That was an absolute gamechanger for me growing up. Astral Weeks and Channel Orange are up there too.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?

Meet Joe Black. Don’t listen to people who tell you it’s a classic, nothing even happens.

What book would you take to a seemingly endless period of government-enforced isolation?

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius would keep me stoic and sane.

Who’s the worst?

The worst? Hmm. Priti Patel has to be up there, right? There’s something uniquely dislikable about someone who wears their ignorance as a badge of honour. James Corden too. He’s just a bit of a knob, isn’t he?

When did you last cry?

I cried at Queer Eye the other day. It’s the scenes with Karamo man, he always gets me. I’m a big crier.

What are you most scared of?

Murderers. As stupid as it sounds, I’m not a big fan of wrists either – far too exposed and vulnerable. I don’t like seeing the underside of people’s wrists – all the veins, horrible.

When did you last vomit and why?

Probably on a night out.

Tell us a secret?

Chopper dyes his pubes ginger.

Which celebrity could you take in a fight?

Mary Berry.

If you could be reincarnated as an animal, which animal would it be?

In an ideal situation, I would like to come back as a monkey. They look like they have a good time. But I took one of those online spirit animal quizzes a few months ago and it said I was a butterfly, which was a bit annoying.

How do you stay inspired by the world when you are isolated from it?

I’m not sure really, it’s not something I proactively try to do. I think there’s still a lot that can inspire you at home. As dark as this past year has been it’s definitely given me time to reflect, which has been good. Just trying to find the time to do basic simple things like exercise, eating well, checking in on friends – so, so important.

What’s your favourite festival memory?

Sunday at Glasto two years ago was one of the best days of my life. There’s something about the last day at Glasto. It’s just pure escapism. The real world just seems to disappear for 24 hours. I even wrote a tune about it, called Sunday At Glasto.

What’s your worst festival memory?

I met a random guy in one of the tents at Houghton a couple years ago who was Ainsley Harriot’s nephew and we tried to call him but he didn’t pick up. That was a pretty bitter sting.

Amor Fati is released on 9 July via Shall Not Fade
Barry Can’t Swim plays FLY Open Air, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, 17-19 Sep