Kornl Kovcs (Photo by Hjalmar Rechlin)
“Respect to Avicii! He’s like the Omar-S of EDM,” says Kornl Kovcs over Skype from Stockholm. He explains that he once spent months trying to make a balls-to-the-walls, big-room track as a personal challengebut gave up after several failed attempts. ” were all starting to get proper careers, while I was still just DJing all the time in Stockholm. I felt like I was stuck in a rut. What if music wasn’t going to be my career? I actually was fantasizing about becoming a doctor.”
In 2008, just as his anxiety was reaching a zenith, Kovcs applied to the Barcelona edition of Red Bull Music Academy, and was accepted. “That was super-inspiring,” he says, “not so much in what I actually learned, but in terms of meeting young, like-minded people who felt the same aspirations and frustrations as I was.” When he returned to Stockholm from Barcelona, Kovcs decided to look for a studio and found a space that was big enough for three people. He decided to get in touch with a pair of Stockholm acquaintances, Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvis, whose music he admired. “I had been a big fan of the stuff that Petter had done with James Holden’s label Border Community a few years before, and I was also digging Axel’s new tracks that he was just starting to put out,” Kovcs says. “I asked them if they wanted to do itand we ended up becoming best friends really quickly.”
Kornl Kovcs, Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvist at Beats in Space (Photo via Studio Barnhus/Facebook)
In 2009, Studio Barnhusnamed after its location on Barnhusgatan, or “Orphanage Street”sprang into being. Clubs began to book the trio under the same name, and in 2010, the crew took the next logical step: putting out a record of their own music, “just to see if it could be done,” Kovcs says. The fledgling Studio Barnhus label’s first release was Good Children Make Bad Grown Ups, a mini-compilation featuring one track each by Kovcs, Boman, and Nordkvist, as well as a fourth by a mysterious producer named Gino Bomino, who Kovcs claims is “a friend who hails from the old, traditional Italian edit-maker family, the Bominos.” Kovcs’s contribution “Baby Step,” with its syncopated rhythms and sampled pop-song vocal, is a relatively straightforward deep-houser in comparison to The Bellsbut it was quirky enough to hint at the ebullience of his later productions.
In the ensuing six years, Studio Barnhus’ steady output has cemented the imprint’s rep as a home for the kind of dance music that’s both fun and functional, with slightly wonky, fully wonderful releases in the past year from the likes of Your Planet Is Next, HHNY and Baba Stiltz. Label co-founder Boman says The Bells represents the reason he dreamed of starting a label in the first place, calling it “one of our best, most innovative, and creative releases to date.” “The fact that one of my best friends has managed to do this on the label we share together makes me so proud that I want to cry,” Boman says in the album’s press release. Apparently, crying is a thing among the Studio Barnhus crewKovcs makes light of his labelmate’s high praise, saying, “Whenever I play something for Axel and Petter and they say, ‘Yeah, this is super cool, man,’ I’m still kind of convinced that they’re just being nice and don’t want to see me cry.”
As for the near short-term future, Kovcs has a packed schedule, with gigs in Australia, Brazil and throughout Europe filling his calendar for the next few months; if all goes well, he’ll be hitting the States this autumn. Kovcs also says to expect “brilliant stuff” coming soon from a mix of newcomers and usual suspects on Studio Barnhus, speaking of Baba Stiltz in particular with an admiration that approaches awe: “He’s just getting started; he is going to blow people’s minds pretty soon.” But when asked if he feels like a mentor to Stiltzor any of the label’s artistsKovcs demurs. “I feel like I’m still starting out myself,” he admits. “I’ve always been ‘the young kid’ doing this, and I still kind of feel that way.”