Barry can’t swim, but he’s flying to the top!


The vibrant new EDM producer has gone from strength to strength providing so many of us with this summer’s soundtrack.

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The London-based DJ Barry Can’t Swim (real name Joshua Mannie) is without doubt one to watch in the electronic scene. Barry‘s groovy samples and jazz-infused melodic house tracks have already built him a sea of fans desperate to see his sets and I am certain this is just the beginning.

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The Scottish born producer blends a variety of dance music sub-genres, including disco, garage and jungle. Barry‘s sound has a unique feel, as he is heavily inspired by traditional jazz music. Interestingly, his appreciation for jazz music started from an early age, as he learnt to play the piano at age 9 and then worked in various jazz bars during his teenage years, purposely surrounding himself with the more traditional style of music.

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Barry Cant Swim started creating his own dance hits in 2020, working hard to produce a number of extended projects and singles and he has been unstoppable ever since. His newest EP ‘How it feels‘ is currently on repeat for me with it’s emotive feel, colourful samples and refreshing energy.

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2023 has already been an incredibly successful year for Barry Can’t Swim. This year, the producer has massively increased his exposure, attending a number of festivals as well being invited to do a set with the notorious Boiler Room in his hometown of Edinburgh.

Barry can’t Swim – Boiler Room – Edinburgh (2023)

Despite his newfound fame, Barry seems to be remaining humble, telling 10magazine that the greatest highlight of his career so far is simply “seeing people you’ve never met before in places you’ve never been before singing along” telling them “it’s still so surreal”.

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Barry‘s rise in popularity is not surprising due to the EDM scene in the UK booming in the last couple of years. A report by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) revealed that electronic music is the most popular genre at UK festivals overtaking rock – which has dominated for decades. In the last year, similar British EDM artists have had wider global success for example Fred Aagin.. and Fourtet have quickly risen to the top even headlining the iconic Coachella with fellow producer Skrillex.

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Barry is set to release his debut album ‘When Will We land?‘ on the 20th of October.

“it’s a huge personal milestone for me, after 10 months of solid writing plus a whole 20+ years of dreaming about it. I’ve poured every thing I have into it, and really hope yous like it”

– Barry via Instagram on his upcoming album

Personally, I’m very intrigued about the new album as the young DJ has recently taken his sound in a new direction by releasing more chilled, melodic downtempo tracks for example ‘Sonder‘ and ‘God is the space between us‘. So, I’m excited to see what it will be like and how it will be received.

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Check out his music below and please comment any other underrated similar artists.

‘Quest for Fire’ by Skrillex – Flawless mixing, versatility and UK scene influences


The dubstep king, Skrillex, has returned with his first solo album since 2014 with ‘Quest For Fire’, an album that really embodies the versatility of the EDM genre!

Perhaps Sonny’s newly formed friendship with the two Brits, Fred Gibson (Fred Again..) and Kieran (Four Tet) has not only effected his popularity but his music too. The first of 2 albums to be released in 2023 feels heavily influenced by UK garage culture as well as drum and bass. This is emphasised by the choice of features for example grime rapper Flowdan on both ‘Rumble‘ and ‘Hydrate‘.  Similarly, third track ‘Tears‘ features the underground British grime and dubstep producer Joker, an odd but fitting choice that highlights the array of different sub-genre influences Skrillex wanted on the album.

The 15 song album is very well-curated and the mix of genres keeps the listener guessing. The majority of songs are either 2 or 3 minutes and in such a short time they all manage to pack a punch.

Despite ‘Quest For Fire‘ being extremely energetic and almost hectic, the tracks themselves are not overproduced. In an interview with Radio 1’s Jack Saunders, Skrillex said that when first producing fan favourite ‘Rumble‘ with Fred Again.. he nearly did too much and overproduced it. The pair joked about kicking fellow producer and friend Kieran (Four Tet) off the track and him being an honorary producer, “his biggest role in ‘Rumble‘ was the most important role, which was to make sure we didn’t overproduce it and fuck it up”. I think it is clear that Skrillex has carried this advice when finishing the production of the album.

Personally, I very much enjoyed the lack of major pop star features on this project in comparison to some of his previous work that featured the likes of Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran. This adds to the authenticity as each feature seems specially chosen, which brings something unique to the song.

 

Standout Tracks

  • RATATA‘ is one of the more commercial and mainstream tracks that definitely belongs to the dance pop category. It features the iconic Hip Hop artist Missy Elliott‘s great vocals that mix perfectly alongside the sample of ‘Positif‘ by Mr Oizo to create a high-energy feel-good tune.

 

  • Hydrate‘, the brother of viral track, ‘Rumble‘ is in my opinion just as good if not better. UK grime MC Flowdan appears for the second time on the album with an excellent verse that really catches the listeners attention. Flowdan himself sums up the clean production of this track: “it’s simple, not complicated”.

 

  • Supersonic (my existence)‘ was already a fan favourite when Skrillex released it in 2021. This is probably due to its nostalgic feel as it’s very old school Skrillex with a dubstep-led sound. The slow atmospheric intro paired with eery vocals really helps to build the song up to the hard and bassy beat drop.

    Skrillex and Porter Robinson at Sky Fest (2019)

     

  • The final track ‘Still Here (with the ones that I came with)‘ is the perfect close to an emotional journey of an album. The title is pretty self explanatory with Sonny reaching out to those in the music industry he started out with, perhaps trying to reassure fans he has not changed despite over a decade of fame. This is illuminated by the collaboration with Porter Robinson a producer he has had many years of friendship with.

 

The album as a whole shows off Skrillex‘s flawless mixing and creativity with an unbelievable blend of tracks with a fitting list of guest features. Although I can see why people may find it too chaotic and lacking a clear narrative, personally I enjoyed the experimental element of the project. I think the multiple sub-genres included especially from the UK scene were used successfully and highlighted his innovativeness and versatility as an artist.