In The Middle with Kornél Kovács

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Ahead of his set at Headrow House on Friday 22nd March, we caught up with left-field house producer and DJ Kornél Kovács to chat all about his upcoming album and the prospect of taking up dance classes…

You released your sensational EP ‘Metropolis’ in 2018; in one sentence could you sum up how the year was for you?

Thank you for calling my EP sensational – as for the year 2018, I’d rather not talk about it. In one sentence: Time to move on already!

So, coming from Stockholm and having Hungarian parents, what got you into music? Have you got a particular musical childhood?

Yeah, I would say so – I grew up with my Mum and she would play everything from Kraftwerk and Velvet Underground to jazz and old Hungarian folk stuff in the house. I played the piano and the drums and was part of a children’s opera troupe for years, eventually scoring the lead role in Benjamin Britten’s The Little Sweep. I also went to special music schools for elementary and high school. So yeah, musical childhood for sure!

2019 has just started, have you got any new tracks being released soon?

Yes, an album. Eight new tracks. Released in April.

You were once known as “Stockholm’s youngest former jungle DJ” at the age of 14. What influenced you to pick up your headphones again after your early retirement?

My first go at djing was before I could actually get into clubs myself. I didn’t really have many friends so I kind of lived in this dream world of music and raves, all experienced through the comfort of my own room. It was a pretty normal childhood – but with a stack of British music magazines on my nightstand instead of like comics or that sort of thing. I’d memorise Metalheadz catalogue numbers instead of football scores or whatever. Anyway, around the age of 14 I started getting more friends and stuff and my childhood obsession kind of faded away for a bit, but a few years later I was able to sneak into clubs using fake IDs and then the whole djing thing was suddenly connected to my actual life again, which made it a lot more exciting of course.

What inspired you set up the Studio Barnhus? Do you have any future plans for the label?

In 2009, myself, Axel Boman and Pedrodollar contracted a medium-sized market analysis firm here in Stockholm to assess the possibility of successfully launching a new Swedish dance label. Their findings concurred with our hypothesis of there being unexploited market shares in this business and we quickly acted to fill the gap. In the future we plan to further develop our business, satisfying shareholders and customers alike.

You’ve played at a few festivals, including Lost Village; you fit perfectly with the summery house vibe. Do you prefer festivals or smaller sets like our venue Headrow House here in Leeds?

Honestly, I love doing both. I’m happy when I get to play music for people, doesn’t really matter too much if it’s 20 or 2000 of them. As experiences, both can be equally fun, relaxed, hard, nerve-racking, cathartic, repetitive – the size of the crowd or stage or whatever is probably not even in the top 10 list of things that affect what a gig feels like. 

How have you seen this music industry change and evolve over the years?

Wow, big question. Looking at these past 10 years – if we’re talking industry, not art, things have actually changed less than I’d expected them to 10 years ago? Streaming was the next big thing back then and, well, it still is, I guess? Vinyl is still around as a niche thing. Maybe the death of the download has been the biggest change in terms of the “music industry.” Mp3s are so retro now!

Your album ‘The Bells’ was recorded with the assistance from Matt Karmil in 2016. How do you choose who to remix or produce with?

I believe in working with the people closest to you, be it in geographic or spiritual terms. There should be a connection beyond the music.

Have you got any other plans for 2019?

Apart from releasing my album and touring the world, I’d love to become an even better dancer this year. Might start taking some classes.

I wish you all the success with that. So finally, what is your ultimate goal? Where do you want to be in 5 years?

I’d like to have a full set of gold teeth in my pie-hole and at least one more album under my belt. Would be good to marry a wife and make some children. I don’t know, just normal human stuff please!!

Caris Dollard

(Main image: BBC)