DJing from just 13 years old and being an Red Bull Music Academy grad have served Kornél Kovács well in a musical career which has quietly gone from strength to strength. Co-founder of one of Sweden’s foremost dance imprints – Studio Barnhus – much of his output as a producer has stayed close to home, with the exception of a 2015 EP with Numbers, another label that enjoys outsider status on the geographical fringes of European dance culture. But geography is no obstacle for KK, who’s building musical bridges across borders with an abundance of talent and an affable approach, whether he’s sampling a guy singing about pants in Spanish or fooling around with his Barhus buddies behind the decks.
We’ve been trying to pin him down for a mix for a while and the wait was worth it: “this mix is all groovy, all Studio Barnhus – old, current and future”. We also caught up for a few quick questions below.
First, our usual ice-breaker. What’s your first musical memory?
My mother blasting Kraftwerk’s Computer Liebe album while vacuuming the house. Cool huh?
Being of Hungarian descent, what’s your favourite Hungarian traditional that we might not be familiar with?
Tagliatelle with ground poppy seeds and sugar. An acquired taste for non-Hungarians, I would imagine.
We hear you were a singer when you were younger. If you got forced into auditioning for X Factor, what song would you choose?
I do a pretty strong ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’. Diana style, not Phil.
What’s your favourite thing about running Studio Barnhus with Axel and Petter?
You’ve spoken about how ‘Pantalón’ was made with Axel and Petter in mind. Given that you share you spend so much time together, do you find yourself making music as much for them as yourself or other listeners?
Yep, I’m constantly trying to impress the boys. They’re both much more accomplished producers than I am, so having them around is as intimidating as it is helpful.
You recently put together a playlist for us, focusing solely on music from 1996. Why was this such a golden year for you?
Cause I was young, easily impressed, and popular culture just happened to peak right around that time.
What movies or books have inspired you recently?
Books: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant and Tripprapporter by Tone Schunesson. I haven’t been watching any movies recently, just Adventure Time and Rick & Morty.
Let’s play a quick Desert Island Disc. What three records would you take with you to cover the all different moods, tastes and occasions?
Tim Hecker – Radio Amor. Three copies of that, just to be sure.
Aside from the music you guys put out, Studio Barnhus has won fans for being a little mischievous and not taking yourself too seriously – quite the opposite from your home country, which you’ve admitted is “well organized” and “a bit boring”. Have there been any funny examples of Swedes just not really getting Studio Barnhus and what it’s about?
Well that was refering to Swedish nightlife specifically, not the whole country! I think we’re pretty well understood on our home turf. We were even featured in Sweden’s biggest and longest running cultural TV show recently – they filmed us playing at Sub Club and all. Of course, the whole Swedish House Mafia thing might have skewed the perception of what we do among our less musically-specialised countrymen and women, but that can’t be a bad thing, can it?
You’re a big supporter of the home scene. What new, young DJ and producers are you excited about at the moment?
Do you think being in an outsider city for dance music has impacted on the way you do things as a producer, DJ and label?
Yep. With a lot of UK and German producers, for example, you can really hear they grew up around healthy, large club scenes. That sort of functional sound is super impressive to me, but maybe my music is more of a long distance approximation of what club music is or could be.
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us?
This mix is all groovy, all Studio Barnhus – old, current and future. the way it turned out is there are three tracks off the new Lukas Nystrand 12” on it, also one from my forthcoming album The Bells – world premiere! I like to do all Studio Barnhus mixes every now and then to remind myself what a luxury it is to be able to release music by all these amazing friends!
What’s coming up on the horizon we should look out for?
I just finished my debut album, it’s called The Bells and it will be released on Studio Barnhus end of summer 2016. This year I’m also doing a 12” for another favourite label of mine, which is still a bit secret, as well as remixes for Mule Musiq, Riverette, Doumen, Crosstown Rebels, Karlovak, Decca, Warner Music and Argot. I’m DJing all over EU as well as in Brazil and China over the next month. Plus releasing tons of great records on Studio Barnhus of course. Happy, exciting times!