Label Love #32: Studio Barnhus


"We release very nice records by ourselves & friends!"

Aside from their Muppet chefs, we're not entirely clued up on all things Sweden. Fortunately we do know that there is some brilliant music coming out from the Scandinavian North and the chief proprieters of this are the folks behind Studio Barnhus run by the great Axel Boman, Kornél Kovács, and Petter Nordkvist

With one third of the label's head honchos; Kornél Kovács, set to release his debut EP via the label, we thought it was time to show them some love. We asked Kornél and Axel Boman a fair few questions to help us get to grips with what exactly the label is about;

Can you tell us a little bit about Studio Barnhus and what the label's original blueprints were?

Axel – We still apply our initial thought on seeing every release as an original, not related to prior releases, that's why we have quite diverse artworks. Apart from that we just think we represent some kind of modern eclectic house/pop.

Kornel – Axel was doing his last year at art school, Petter was enjoying life as a former techno child star, I was doing a radio show and stuff, feeling a bit lost. We were all djing around Stockholm a lot and our paths kept crossing – it's a small city, everyone knows each other. Anyway, I was looking for a new studio and I found this basement space near Stockholm's central station. It was big enough for three people so I invited Axel and Petter to share it with me. We didn't know each other that well back then but the vibe was there right from the start. So the studio space started it all, we were soon crashing each other's dj gigs at places like Kruthuset and Morfar Ginko, then people started booking us as a unit, then we started talking about a release, a 12'' compilation EP with our own music. The plan was to only release our own music for a while but right after that first release we started getting these beautiful demos from Shakarchi & Stranéus, two friends in Gothenburg, which led to them doing the second Barnhus release. So now we had a label rolling.

What sparked the idea and kicked it into gear?

A – All the good music from friends that wasn't getting released.

What are some of the label's formative musical influences?

A – Thomas Brinkmann, The Doors and Suge Knight.

K – DJ Rush, bob hund, DJ Screw, Vangelis, Lukas Nystrand, 80's dub & dancehall, DJ Koze, the list goes on…

Is there a particular framework/concept you work to with the releases on the label?

K – Well, not really. It's hard to talk about. What we do is very much based on our personalities and taste in music/art. We share many traits and preferences but also differ in interesting ways. There has never been a masterplan or grand concept. We talk sometimes about only releasing weird noisy 7-inches for a year, then we might switch it up and only do full artist albums for the next year. I like to think that the label will live to go through many different eras, these first five years are just one of those.

A – No, but we are lucky to have some amazing artistic friends that we trust to do some timeless and brilliant art for us.

There seems to be a very strong aesthetic presence on Studio Barnhus, the artwork is often a great accompaniment to the music. Does this come about by sitting the artists down and clearly discussing what you'd like to see, or do they have more freedom?

K – We work with several close friends who are also great visual artists – Makode Linde, Malin Gabriella Nordin, Theodor Johansson and Johannes Brander to name a few. The design firm Rob Lowe did our first release and Axel's album. Some artists, like Lukas Nystrand von Unge, do their own artwork, I think Baba Stiltz is doing his next release. We might go "ah, this is a Makode release" or "this sounds like Malin, innit?" but once we've made that connection it's very important not to disturb the process too much. We really trust these people.

A – We love to have a dialogue with our artists, both the music and the visual ones, but of course we trust graphic designers to do graphic design as much as we trust footballers to have sex with prostitutes. 

How do you source material for the label?

A – Between the three of us we have a lot of friends making music, sometimes we ask them for some stuff and sometimes they send us. Very rarely we release demos from strangers but it happens. Our release with young talent Naphta was one of those. 

K – Only once have we accepted a demo from someone we didn't know personally or musically beforehand – that was the Henry Rodrick EP. He's a good friend now of course. We talk to people at home and on the road, we send emails to old heroes asking what they've been up to lately, we visit musical youth centers in Stockholm and see what the kids are up to.

How much more of a challenge is putting an album out in comparison to an EP?

A – Approx. 15 times more challenging to put out an album. So much stuff has to come together at the right time, so many e-mails and decisions. But it's the most fun and rewarding experience.

K – Actually I think our most challenging releases, as far as workload goes, have been EPs. With the album releases we've made sure to get the best help we can from trustworthy friends and lovers in the music industry.

In the age of the 3 second attention span, do you still listen to albums?

A – Yes. 

K – I sure do! A few every year that I spend a lot of time with. 2014 it was Felix K – Flowers Of Destruction, Matt Karmil's debut album, the Lorenzo Senni Boomkat thing and the Edward album on Giegling. And I listen to old albums of all types all the time, looking for a good time and the occasional sample.

How do you think you stand out from the crowd given the current wealth of independent labels operating?

A – I think that question is better answered by others, we are too close to our own assholes to smell the flowers.

K – I think we're somewhat unpredictable, which goes a long way these days.

What has been the label’s happiest accident?

K – The whole endeavor is one big happy accident 🙂

A – All those Pedrodollar songs that we have but aren't released because of… because of.. yeah, because of what Petter?

What's the best thing you've heard this year?

A – All those Pedrodollar songs that we have but aren't released because of… because of.. yeah, because of what Petter?

K – Couple of things come to mind. My latest synth, the Korg DS-8. Baba played me some mindblowing stuff when I visited his studio the other week. Migratory birds returning to Stockholm.

Which record labels have been the most influential in your own musical journey?

A – Warp, Good Lookin', Strictly Rhythm & Death Row.

K – Def Jam, Metalheadz, Svek, Kompakt, Perlon, Hyperdub, Sex Tags.

How do you as an individual ‘consume’ music most? Is it at home on speakers, on your headphones on the move or something else?

A – In the studio while searching for samples.

K – At home on the old hi-fi or in bed with laptop and headphones. Not really into listening to music on the road, never owned an iPod or anything like that.

Which track made you feel the happiest when you first heard it?

K – So hard to say, I get this feeling almost everyday, so blessed. I guess what comes to mind as a really strong first-listen-experience was Sophie's Bipp. So proud to be releasing on Numbers soon! 🙂

A – Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You.

If IKEA made barns, how long would it take you to build one that was 30ft tall?

A – You don't build barns! they happen when mummy and daddy are in bed together and love each other extra special much.

K – You know "barn" means child in Swedish, right? 🙂 "Hus" means house so "Barnhus" means orphanage, our studio is on Orphanage Street (Barnhusgatan) in Stockholm. So I guess the answer here is 9 months. 

Who let the dogs out?

A – Bill Cosby.

What's something that you do that you don't think anyone else does?

A – My girlfriend.

K – When too many strangers leave their jackets in the DJ booth I purposely step on a few of them. The jackets that is, not the strangers.

Can you lick your elbow?

A – I wish.

K – I'm not even gonna try.

Describe the label with 5 words and/or images.

A – Karotte hates all our promos.

(See the images throughout)

If you could release any record from musical history, what would it be? Is there anything that you'd like done differently with the record?

A – Last Christmas by Wham! 

K – All of bob hund's early records which I wouldn't dare to alter in any way but I would pressure the guys to do more instrumental releases in between, in the style of Thomas & Jonas' "Lågsäsong" release.

If money was no object to the label what would you do with it or are you happy with the trajectory thus far? 

K – If money wasn't a thing we might do more really expensive, exclusive packaging. Might be more of that in future if funds increase. 

A – We are happy! The future looks good!!!

Upcoming in the world of Studio Barnhus?

A – Amazing EP's by Usio, Tiger Stripes, Lukas Nystrand, Pedrodollar, Matt Karmil, Talaboman and my new sub-label BarnBarn.

K – Subject to change but:

BARN 027 – Kornél Kovács – Nincs EP
BARN 028 – Tiger Stripes – Twilight
BARN 029 – V/A – Dubbeldubb
BARN 030 – HNNY – Good
BARN 031 – Usio – Kuwa Jasiri

Plus 12'' hotness from Pedrodollar, Carli, Matt Karmil and Baba Stiltz and albums from HNNY and Shakarchi & Stranéus.

Anything you'd like to add?

K – Share the groove, don't share the needle!

Kornel Kovacs' Nincs EP is out on 23rd March via Studio Barnhus.
Studio Barnhus are also helming their very own and rather fine boat at the final Garden Festival this year. They can be seen elsewhere on dry land and in a discoteque near your soon.