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Talking Numbers With: Kornél Kovács

Talking Numbers With: Kornél Kovács
Alex Rennie

Needless to say, Sweden’s been doing big things in the dance music cosmos for quite some time now. One man riding the crest of this delectably Scandinavian sound-wave is Kornél Kovács, a DJ-producer who’s been enraptured with all things electronic ever since he unearthed his parents old Kraftwerk tapes as a kid.

Not one to take a back seat, the Stockholm-based spinner kick-started his career at the tender age of 13, immersing himself in his hometown’s club scene whilst playing extracurricular jungle sets after the school-day was out. Building on the talent he honed during his formative years, Kovács opted to cross over to a more house-driven path and began carving out a name for himself with a stint on Swedish national radio’s now defunct P3 Dans show.

After bagging a couple of collaborations at Stockholm’s Red Bull Music Academy, he launched Studio Barnhus, a homegrown label co-founded alongside Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvist. For the last five years the trio’s endeavour has gathered a prolific momentum, amassing a catalogue of over 40 releases and a roster including the likes of HNNY and Matt Karmil. In October, the label teamed up with Rinse FM, with Kovács and co. now hosting a weekly two hour jamboree of the label’s output and affiliates.

Aside from cementing the status of his homegrown label overseas, Kovács recently branched out with an EP on Jackmaster‘s Numbers. The record in question, entitled ‘Radio Koko’, was the Swede’s first departure from his Barnhus posse.

Stylistically speaking, it’s a sleek collation of four standalone tracks that each embody Kovács’ playful approach to production. Highly danceable and downright funky, it’s well worth a listen if you’re a bit of a stickler for detailed synth-work and sumptuous piano chords.

As Kornél gets prepped to play Numbers’ takeover of Studio Spaces this Saturday, we got him in for a very numerical chat to hear about his longest ever set, favourite era in music and how many lessons it took him to pass his driving test. That one might be a trick question..

How many records have you got in your collection?

1 fully packed 5×5 IKEA Expedit shelve plus about 5 or 6 milk crates.

How many hours was your longest set? Do you have a favourite length of set?

13 hours, from 2pm to 3am at Trädgården in Stockholm a few years ago. Divided into two sets on two floors, but with just a five minute break between sets.

What’s the longest time you’ve gone without listening to music?

Does sleeping count? If so probably around 14 hours.

How long does it take you to produce a new tune?

Anywhere between five hours and five years.

If you had to chose, what would be your favourite BPM and why?

160 with a half-tempo bassline usually gets my body moving.


How many different countries would you estimate you’ve visited this year? Discovered any new favourite spots?

My estimate is 20. I’ll check my calendar and see what’s correct. OK, so it was 17. My favourite new spot this year would be Brazil, if you can call that a ”spot”. Sao Paulo and Boipeba Island both amazing in very different ways.

What’s your favourite era for music and why?

The 90’s because I just happened to be young and easily impressed during the very era in which pop culture peaked – what a great coincidence!

How old were you when you got your first job and what was it?

12, paper route. I conned the distribution company by stashing the papers in my Mum’s basement.

How many driving lessons did it take to pass your test?

Zero – don’t have a license, I’m ashamed to say.

How much did you get paid for your first (paid) DJ set? Where and when was it?

I think it was probably something like 500 SEK (About £40), at legendary Stockholm indie club Metropolis.

Do you have a lucky number? Does it work for you?

I like 7 for some reason. It’s a pretty number. It just makes sense to me!

Who’s your number one fan?

This guy that I’ve never met before came up to me during a gig in Stockholm last Friday and requested a track of mine that literally only exists on my hard drive. Then he proceeded to tell my girlfriend that he felt like the Mark Chapman to my John Lennon. Charming!

Kornél Kovács plays LWE & The Hydra – Numbers takeover at Studio Spaces this Saturday. Tickets available via RA.