Credit: House Music With Love
Stockholm based producer, DJ and label runner Kornél Kovács has been building a real rapport in dance music since 2011, blessing the dancefloor, faithful to his own eccentric blend of House music. He cemented his legacy in 2016 with his debut album The Bells, an album of joyous abandon that elevated his playful approach into the mainstream. Along with Axel Boman and Petter Nordviskt, Kornel has cultivated Swedish House into what it is today through Studio Barnhus, the label that they have co-run for the past eight years. Fresh after his show in Leeds we talked to Kornél about label duties, the state of UK nightlife and his short time as a 12 year old Drum and Bass DJ.
Quickly after playing his show at HiFi in Leeds, Kornél is quick to comment on the vibe: “it’s a great club, one of those places that really seem fine-tuned for music and fun”. The conversation quickly switches to British nightlife in general, Kornél again full of praise states, “even the smallest cities always have a scene going!”. After establishing his love of the British scene, he champions a bunch of independent venues, pinpointing Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh where he’d recently played. Reminiscing, he describes it as "one of those clubs that's really special". Out of curiosity I ask about nightlife in Sweden, wondering how it compares to the likes of Leeds and London. “In my opinion you can’t even really compare it, modern rave culture was born in the UK, plus you guys have a few hundred years of pub tradition to lean back on”.
Above: Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh
He learnt his craft as a DJ in Stockholm, nurturing an early love of Jungle and Drum and Bass from an early age, playing his first set at the age of just 12. He was Stockholm's youngest former jungle DJ, stopping at the age of 14 for a few years. He then found his way back on the decks, this time playing House records. Kovács has made quite the transition in regards to his sets over the years, to now be deemed as a seminal figure in Swedish House. His endless ability to switch between genres is displayed in his stylistic diversity when it comes to production. Kovács' debut album The Bells was recorded during an intensive two-week session in Gothenburg, with Matt Karmil on production. Tracks like Szirka and Urszusz expose a maturity in Kovács' music that many people had not yet seen, balanced perfectly with tracks like Dollar Club that act as a reminder of his youthful side.
Credit: Amsterdam Deep House
Studio Barnhus is swiftly becoming one of Stockholm’s most valuable musical assets. Kovács, Boman and Nordkvist are in demand all over the world, whilst managing the label. When asked about the issues of touring whilst running the label, Kovács reacts calmly saying “I mean it is tough, but the work can be done from anywhere. Luckily we have some brilliant Stockholm based people helping us out with day-to-day stuff.” Talk of the label excites Kovács, who is quick to tell us about the labels latest release, YOUNGMAN by Your Planet is Next. “It's a stripped-down, breakbeat acid banger with a genius sample, it is one of the tracks I've played the most over the last 18 months.”
Above: The Track YOUNGMAN recently released on Studio Barnhus
The conversation swiftly turns to his recent release ‘House Is OK”, which inspired an Annie Mac mix. When talking about the release Kovács says “'House Is OK' is a Frankfurt based label run by some friends of mine. I did a remix for them a few years back and for their fifth anniversary release they asked everyone who ever did music for them to contribute a track. I was a bit stuck for ideas until I realized "House Is OK" is a pretty catchy slogan and easy to stitch together from one-shot samples of people saying those words. Turned out a nice little theme song for the label.”
Above: Matt Karmil Credit: Fresh Mag
As the conversation comes to an end, I ask about any new releases this year both from him and the label. He reassures me by saying “There is going to be the Shakarchi & Stranéus album, Matt Karmil and Bella Boo EP's coming before summer and then it's time for our biggest project yet, still a bit secretive about that one I'm afraid...” In regards to solo stuff, "Yes, at least two full EP's this year and a few remixes and one-off bits here and there".