When the day is done, most of us crawl into bed and turn off the lights. Not Landon Barker. And definitely not his creativity. Both are wide awake, thriving while the world sleeps. The 20-year-old musician explains: “I feel like I get my most brilliant ideas at nighttime. People have probably created amazing things that we use every single day in the middle of the night.”
Waking up with a flash of inspiration, Landon jots lyrics in his Notes app and records song segments via voice memo. He doesn’t have a routine when it comes to writing music: “It’s more of a mindset.” While creating his debut single “Friends With Your EX,” Landon experienced that looming and infuriating feeling: nothing you make will be good enough.
Landon grew up surrounded by music. His dad is Travis Barker, the pop-punk icon and drummer of blink-182. While most children were on playdates, Landon was internalizing heavy bass at shows. He always knew the stage would someday be a home. “Seeing [my dad] perform hundreds of times has definitely been a huge inspiration for me and made me see what is possible with creating music,” Landon shares. “Making music is one thing and that’s what everybody falls in love with, but there are all these other things like fashion and even my dad has a wellness company.” In 2020, Travis asked Landon to collaborate on a cover of the Misfits’ classic “Skulls.” This may have been the moment it was realized that musical talent is the Barker family’s most precious family heirloom.
Up until recently, Landon had been writing songs about fictional experiences. But how do you write about heartbreak authentically if you aren’t going through heartbreak? That’s when Landon fell in love with someone who he says he wasn’t supposed to fall in love with. It would make a hell of a song. Barker recalls: “In the session, the writer knew exactly what was going on, and he was like, ‘Dude, write about this!’”
I was friends with your ex. You were with him when we met. Guess he hasn’t found out yet, but I know he’s gonna kill me when he sees me with you. It takes guts to release a song that could cause tension in real life. Landon finds the whole thing cathartic. “If one person loves a song and 100 people hate it, that’s fine for me, you know?” While Landon flaunts a gothic constellation of tattoos and heady vocals, what makes him pop-punk might be his honesty.
The “Friends With Your EX” music video is a nostalgic grunge dream. It succeeds in capturing the rebellious streak of youth with a DIY garage band show and a bloody fight scene at a teen pool party. “All of the actors in the video were pretty much all my friends, I feel like that’s why we were able to push and show how authentic it really was,” Landon explains. To make the experience as organic as possible, the video features Landon’s real-life girlfriend and social media personality Charli D’Amelio.
When asked where Landon feels like his best self he responds: “on stage.” No hesitation, and no further explanation. Watch a video of Landon performing and you’ll understand. Despite his pop-punk output thus far, Landon does not want to be contained. He reflects on his experimentation with genre to this point: “I started out making rap music and now my first single was a pop-punk song. I don’t think my old self [and] my new self would get along today, you know?” His hope is that when people think they have him figured out, he releases a song in a completely different genre.
Landon went on to collaborate with one of his own idols, Machine Gun Kelly, on “die in california.” The album it lives on received a Grammy nod and a #1 spot on the Billboard 200. He was in awe of MGK: “The joy that I felt from that experience, it’s unexplainable and very once in a lifetime for me. I feel like that can’t even be replicated.” The two made history performing in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. Later, Barker starred in MGK’s viral film Downfalls High.
The Landon Barker fan base is a lucky one. “Dude, we have a group chat on Instagram where we talk all the time, it’s great honestly, I can’t complain at all.” Maybe “fans” isn’t the right word. “Friends” seems more appropriate. Barker has proven extremely compassionate about those who have been there for him during his comeup. And it’s evident when he performs with the crowd instead of for the crowd. “When you’re at a concert in front of 1,500 people and they’re all singing the words to your song it’s insane, you feel unstoppable.”
In recent years, Barker has leaned into his love for fashion. What started out as a hobby is now a large part of his career: fronting campaigns for Vans, attending events with Tiffany & Co., walking for Amiri during New York Fashion Week, and introducing his own collaboration with boohooMAN. Landon explains, “As I got a little bit older, I started experimenting with fashion and looking into stuff that I really liked.” Although Landon has dozens of tattoos, he doesn’t pick favorites. However, he does show off a new one on his rib that might take. “It shows these two individuals and they’re both angels and it just says love like 100 times around it.” Landon looks at his tattoo with confidence, “It represents love in general and the power of it.” At only 20, Barker has limited real estate left, but he promises that the next tattoo he gets will be one he designs himself, a nod to his love for creating art.
As the year comes to an end, Landon reflects on what exactly it is that keeps him up at night, what makes Landon Barker, Landon Barker. After a moment, he responds: “Seeing my ideas, dreams, and things I’m passionate about come to life, seeing things that I’ve done live their full potential.” The nighttime often symbolizes endings, but for Landon Barker, the moon and its many phases only represent new beginnings.
Photographed by Andi Elloway
Written by Eloisa de Farias
Flaunt Film: Isaac Dektor
First Styling Assistant: McKenna Matus
Styling Assistant: Tamra Pesqueira
Production Assistant: Cassey Ayala