Behind Kornl Kovcs’ lies half a lifetime’s dedication to dance music, club culture and straight up hustling.
Born in Sweden, growing up listening to his Hungarian parents’ Kraftwerk tapes while taking drum, piano and singing classes he fell in love with jungle at the age of 10 and started djing professionally three years later.
Fast forward through his formative years as a DJ including a spat on the highly influental P3 Dans show on Swedish national radio, Red Bull Music Academy ?participations and the formation of his own Studio Barnhus label with Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvis and you’re nearly up to date on where this Swedish wunderkind is at… but let’s discuss all that with Kornl…
Hi Kornel, first off lets talk about your love of Jungle. How much of a scene was there in Sweden when you were growing up? Here in the UK it never really felt like it went properly international during its initial 90s heyday?
I think in the mid-90s there was a healthy scene in Stockholm at least. Of course, I was very young and easily impressed so I might not be the best authority on the subject, but I remember there were a couple of regular nights and a bunch of local djs doing the rounds that means something for a small city like Stockholm. I was too young to get into clubs back then so I spent my afternoons hanging around the older guys in record shops instead.
I think the only Swedish jungle/drum’n’bass producer to really make it internationally has been Seba. He wasn’t a part of the crew I was hanging around back then, and I guess being a Good Looking Records artist he was kind of an outsider in the international community too. But he made some amazing music back then, still does.
It’s a bit weird that in the 90s Sweden had so many drum’n’bass parties and so few active producers. It’s the opposite of the techno/house situation, where there’s always been a shortage of parties considering how many great producers we have! I wonder why. Of course, I might be misinformed.
Favourite Jungle track of all time?
HAHA that’s a good one. Today it’s Lick Back Organisation – Ruff ‘N Rugged but tomorrow it’s going to be something else.
How did Studio Barnhus come together, how did you meet Axel and Petter?
Someone introduced me to Petter when I was djing in Stockholm. I used to put the Renegade Master acappella over his Some Polyphony ber-hit, I don’t think he approved. Axel I also met in a club a few years later, actually it had to be July 2008 because I remember he was playing Koze’s I Want To Sleep which had been released that week.
We started the studio in 2009, I was looking for a new place to make music and do my radio show and I somehow I found out A & P were on the lookout for something similar. We didn’t really hang out or anything back then. I found this basement on Barnhusgatan (Orphanage Street) and asked the guys if they wanted to share it. It’s been true love ever since.
Whats the best and worst thing about running the label?
The label is the best thing in my (professional) life. I’m proud of almost all the tracks I’ve produced and of my dj work but whenever I feel like a piece of shit I try to remind myself that I run this label together with my besties and that we released some amazing records and actually managed to make a small but beautiful dent in this dance music world I’ve been obsessed with since my teens. It means a lot to me. The worst thing about running the label is the stress, I’ve been in few heart attack type of situations where things have gone wrong or been delayed but it’s all worth it in the end!
?You were accepted into RBMA, is that right? How was it as an experience and how do you think its effected your music career?
It was super nice and kind of weird being there. It was in 2008 and I had been djing full time for years but was really just beginning to get my head around production. Sometimes I wish I’d gone a few years later when I could have made more out of the workshops and lectures. I met some friends for life though, people with similar mindsets from different parts of the world that I probably wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for those two weeks in Barcelona.
I’ve since kept on working with RBMA in Sweden and around the world, it’s been really fun. They’re doing God’s taurine-fueled work.
Whats your current studio setup and what did you start off making music on?
Ableton Live is the only DAW I’ve ever used. I’ve been tempted to try other softwares but I’m too lazy to start over from scratch. I can get things done fast with it so I stick to it. My favourite VST plugins are from Fabfilter, D16 Group and Soundtoys. Hardware-wise it changes a lot, sometimes nothing, sometimes a bunch of stuff. Lately I’ve been using the Juno-106 and the Moog Minitaur a lot for synth sounds. Also a bunch of effect units like Jahtari’s Monotron Delay, the Memory Boy and Petter’s old Monacor delay. I like to fuck around with noisy delay units, basically.
If money was no object, what would your studio setup be?
A nice, spacious and acoustically treated cabin on top of a hill in the French alps, a private jet parked near-by, the best monitors money can buy, a great chef and a team of professional masseuses working around the clock and all the time in the world.
Youve played at most of the big clubs around Europe – Panorama, Fabric, Trouw, Space etc. Which is your favourite and why?
I don’t want to name one because I’m afraid the other ones won’t book me again, haha. But Trouw is the one I’ve played the most and it’s always been amazing. The Dutch have a unique talent for combining high culture with trashy hedonism and Trouw is a perfect example of that.
Your parents are Hungarian, do you retain links to the place? Are you in touch with the growing house and techno scene coming out of Budapest at the moment?
I used to spend entire summers in Hungary, now I go back once a year or so, sometimes for gigs, sometimes to see family. Last time was in January for a really nice gig with the Lavalava crew, who seem to be running tings in BP at the moment. Big up Mat Tollner and the guys!
What have you got coming up for the rest of 2014?
Szikra, my first solo release in two years, is out this Monday! Then there’s remixes for Tevo Howard, House Is OK, Sonar Kollektiv, Jenny Wilson and Lakosa & Rick Grant out now or soon. Right now I’m putting the finishing touches to a four track EP which will probably be released on Barnhus again, though I might try sending it to a few other labels. Over the summer I’ll try to finish something longer and more cohesive if I can find time between gigs and hanging out in the Stockholm archipelago. Also I’ll release stuff on Puss, the label I run with HNNY, and a new label, Fixation, that I’ve started with Rudolf from Karlovak. So a lot of stuff I guess!
Kornl Kovcs’ Szikra is out on March 24th on Studio Barnhus.