When Will We Land?
“I set myself certain parameters,” Joshua Mainnie, aka Barry Can’t Swim, tells Apple Music about his approach to creating his debut album. “I don’t like albums which are too long so it had to be around 10 tracks. And every track needed to flow and blend nicely with the one before. But I had an idea of what I wanted it to sound like before I began and it actually ended up being something completely different.” Building a reputation for creating deeply emotive dance music which pulls at the heartstrings as much as it moves the feet, the Edinburgh-born, London-based producer might have set out with self-imposed limits but his debut pushes further at the boundaries of his sound. Taking influence from everything from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon to Dev Hynes’ drum sounds, When Will We Land? moves effortlessly from the cinematic title track to the Sébastien Tellier-esque balladry of “Woman” via the joyous piano house of “Sunsleeper.” “Releasing a debut album is the pinnacle of things so far for me,” says Mainnie. “You only ever get to do it once so you really have to put yourself into it. There’s loads of voice recordings of my family and friends in there and I hope it works as the perfect snapshot of me as an artist right now.” Here, he takes us through that portrait, track by track. “When Will We Land?” “This started with me wanting to write a tune in an odd time signature. I was inspired by Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon on the album and there’s a lot of odd time signatures on that. Most dance music is in 4/4 but this track’s in 7/4. There’s also little nods to space and interstellar stuff on the samples in there.” “Deadbeat Gospel” (feat. somedeadbeat) “This has quite a mad story. I was playing a show in Dublin and a friend from uni, who I hadn’t seen for a few years, came along. After the show, we were sitting by the canal having a wee drink and he just started reciting this poem about our time going clubbing during uni. I was like, ‘Wait, stop!’ I got my phone out and recorded it straightaway thinking it would be brilliant to use as a sample. I chopped it up and put it over this beat which is a bit more upbeat than the opening track. I was inspired quite a lot by the Arab Strap track ‘The First Big Weekend’ and I think both songs are about how your early clubbing experiences can be quite religious.” “Sonder” “‘Sonder’ is on my More Content EP from 2022 and it’s probably my favorite tune I’ve made so I really wanted it on the album. It’s a really emotive track and one people seem to get quite emotionally attached to. I didn’t want to fill the record with loads of music that had already been released but I felt this really needed to be on there.” “How It Feels” “This track was originally intended to be a short interlude but when I played it to the record company, they felt it was one of the strongest tracks and asked me to flesh it out. It came together effortlessly. I started it and it was finished in two hours, and there’s a certain magic when a track comes together that easily and just clicks.” “Sunsleeper” “‘Sunsleeper’ is the first single from the album and I feel like it’s the one people want to hear when they come and see me play. It gets a massive reaction. I went into it with the intention of making a big, bouncy, piano house tune—and that’s exactly what I ended up with.” “Woman” “I started this track with a vocal sample but it became difficult to clear. So I got in touch with Låpsley and she recorded this amazing vocal which sounds 10 times better than the original sample. It’s quite downtempo and chilled and I’d been listening to a lot of late-’90s electronic music. I think an album needs these more chilled, reflective moments to break things up.” “I Won’t Let You Down” (feat. Falle Nioke & Blackboxx) “This is another track where I wanted to incorporate elements of my friends into it. I sampled a good friend of mine called Blackboxx, who I studied music with at uni. He had this tune with a really beautiful opening section and I sampled it and put some breakbeat in there and ’90s-style drums. I’d been listening to things like Moby and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Then Blackboxx pulled the sample so we could feature him on the track instead. I’d been sent some a cappellas from an artist called Falle Nioke who’s from [Republic of] Guinea in Africa but lives in Margate [on England’s Southeast coast] now. I chopped one of them up and it just worked beautifully over the beat.” “Always Get Through to You” “Originally, this track was going to feature a sample of ‘Nobody Knows’ by Pastor T.L. Barrett [& The Youth for Christ Choir]. I’d been sitting on the sample for four years and by complete coincidence, on the day I sent the track to Ninja Tune, Loyle Carner released his track ‘Nobody Knows (Ladas Road),’ which features the exact same sample! Obviously, I couldn’t use it after that or everyone’s going to think I’m just copying him so I recorded something similar with a choir and reworked the whole track. Originally, I was going to use a rapper on the track but once I’d recorded with the choir, we ended up with this amazing lead vocal instead.” “Tell Me What You Need” (feat. just lil) “This tune started during a session with Biig Piig. I came in to write some music for her and we wrote this tune together. By the time it came to think about releasing it, she’d already done a lot of collaborations so it didn’t quite work out, but I reached out to [UK artist] just lil, who did a brilliant job of rerecording the vocals. Stylistically, the track’s quite influenced by Dev Hynes. I’d been listening a lot to ‘Everything is Embarrassing,’ the track he did with Sky Ferreira. He does an amazing job of sampling these old drum loops from the ’80s, but then layering them with effects and textures, so they have this amazing modern sound that harks back to music from an earlier era.” “Dance of the Crab” “This track samples a song called ‘A Gira’ by a Brazilian group called Trio Ternura. I’ve been a fan for ages and played it in my sets loads. Originally, I just wanted to sample it and make a track to play in my DJ sets but it turned out really well. My manager [tracked] down the writer’s granddaughter on Facebook and we managed to get in touch with him to clear it through that. It’s amazing because they’re all guys in their eighties in a tiny village in Brazil somewhere, but now they know their song has this other life. I was listening to a lot of amapiano at the time too, which fed into the track stylistically.” “Define Dancing” “This is the first track I wrote for the album and indicates what I originally intended the album to be. In the end, it generally went in a different direction but I wanted it to be a bit psychedelic but also have this really emotive, floaty darkness underpinning everything. The Dark Side of the Moon and In Colour by Jamie xx were key touchpoints for this track. I put this as the final track as it feels like a really rewarding, emotive moment and ends the journey really nicely if you’ve come all the way to the end.”