Naïve and careless: Kornél Kovács makes house music from the heart - Features - Mixmag

Naïve and careless: Kornél Kovács makes house music from the heart

The Swedish artist's debut album will soundtrack the rest of your summer

  • Words: Patrick Hinton
  • 22 August 2016
« Read this article from the beginning

Did you have a vision for Studio Barnhus when you set out?

We never sat down and decided a plan or anything like that. We always allowed it to grow organically. The label should be a representation of me, Axel and Petter. We like to keep people guessing. All the artwork looks completely different. If you see a new Studio Barnhus record in a record shop you shouldn't have a clue what it's going to sound like. Now that we're a bit more established that eclectic approach could become a cliché in itself, so now we're trying to counter that in different ways too. No plan, no big vision, no nothing, just the three of us and our friendship and our music.

Among the releases on Studio Barnhus there’s a Mariah Carey edit, a track that covers a Cher vocal, and earlier this year you gave away a dancehall remix of Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ on SoundCloud. How much of an influence is pop music on your work?

Pop music is amazing and I can get the same enjoyment out of commercial pop music as I can out of the most avant-garde experimental stuff. I was definitely never a purist, and I don't think Axel and Petter are either. Although I think that sort of anti-pop purism is more a thing of a past, it was prevalent in dance music around the time we started Studio Barnhus, and back then that was definitely something that we tried to comment on and play with. Happy music is good music just as well as angry, complex or sad music is good music.

I find the interplay of textures and sounds on a track like ‘Josey’s Tune’ from your album really exciting. It’s immediately catchy in a pop-like sense, but also sounds slightly unusual and off-kilter.

I wrote the melody around the first year we moved into Studio Barnhus, seven years ago. I think I was just toying around with synths, trying to understand new machines and effects. I had this very naïve and careless approach that's a very good thing to have I think, which you start losing the more established and familiar you get with your equipment. I'm very happy that I've saved even these super crappy old sketches, melodies and beats that I did back then because it's a very fun process to go back to them and see if you can put them in today's context. Try to understand what you wanted to do back then, but now maybe you have the tools to get closer to the sounds you had in your head seven years ago.

I like that you say that it's catchy and off-kilter because that's something that I really like in music, when it has this sort of uncanny aspect. One of my great inspirations is Omar S, I'm such a fanboy. In his music you have these really simple, naïve melodies. No one can do them but Omar S, even though they sound so simple. That's something that really fascinates me. I like that sense that something is a bit wrong, a bit off, but you can't really place what. A friend of mine says that he thought my music was straddling the line between cute and menacing and I thought that was a good explanation of it because that sort of contrast and that uncertainty is something I try to convey in music, and also with the label and my DJ sets.

Next Page »
Newsletter 2

Mixmag will use the information you provide to send you the Mixmag newsletter using Mailchimp as our marketing platform. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us. By clicking sign me up you agree that we may process your information in accordance with our privacy policy. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.