Since its launch in 2009 Studio Barnhus has grown into something more than just a normal label and studio. It is foremost a social place where friends Axel Boman, Kornél Kovács, and Petter Nordkvist hang out, run a bohemian label and play music while having lots of fun. Petter, who also releases music on Studio Barnhus under the alias Pedrodollar, has already been famed in the mid-noughties for two acclaimed EPs on James Holden's label Border Community. Kornél Kovács is known as the presenter of Sweden's most popular radio show for electronic music, P3 Dans. And as a notorious nighthawk that deejays, throws parties, and produces music that he can use perfectly for his activities in the dark of night. The most prominent figure of the label is currently Axel Boman. He is famed as a friendly character that plays DJ sets far beyond the average and that produces music that enters your heart straight away. Just some days ago he released his first solo album Family Vacation - a musical trip that goes beyond club rhythms with a lot of musical sense and gentle moods that are good for anything in life except grieving. Beside the trio the artist roster of Studio Barnhus contains of producers such as the mysterious Usio, Stockholm native Baba Stiltz, Boska from Tromsø, Norway, as well as renowned names like Jesper Dahlbäck or Slg. For Carhartt Radio the Studio Barnhus head honchos held a B2B2B DJ session that dives deep into their label catalogue while melting some older hits with some unreleased tracks of up and coming acts like Henry Rodrick and Simon Haydo. To accompany the show we talked to Axel Boman about the label, the everyday in their basement vault, his new album, and some more things beyond music.
Hey Axel – can you introduce yourself for us a bit? Where are you coming from, what is your occupation?
Axel Boman: Hello, my name is Axel Boman, I am a producer and DJ from Stockholm, Sweden.
How did you end up doing what you do?
Axel Boman: I was interested in music for as long as I can remember but it wasn't until I went to an art school before I started to make music. The school had this very basic music studio and I used to spent all my time in there.
What was your musical intake when you were younger?
Axel Boman: I listened to everything. Guns 'n' Roses, Michael Jackson, and so on. And of course my older brothers 12inches. He was very involved in the early days of the rave and the Acid House scene. He used to travel to London to party and he always brought records back with him.
And where and how did Studio Barnhus finally start?
Axel Boman: Around the end of 2009. We all needed a new studio spaces. My friend Kornél Kovács found this space on Barnhusgatan in Stockholm and asked if we wanted to share it. The rest is, as you say, history.
Can you describe a bit how the Studio Barnhus "office" looks like and what an "average" day at the office might be?
Axel Boman: The studio is in a basement in central Stockholm. It’s shaped like arches and very old. It is both messy and in order somehow. But not "dirty". I'm usually the early one there, followed by Petter. Last in is Kornél. But he is in general very irregular in. I'm more of a person with habits. We make music, play music, laugh at "masterclass sessions" on youtube, and drink coffee. On Fridays it's the most stress since the three of us usually preparing for gigs on the weekends. So everyone is blasting music and there might be heavy drinking involved. Fun but really hectic.
What process do you follow for getting new artists?
Axel Boman: Fortunately, most of the people we release are pretty close friends. We ask them for new music or they ask us. A very natural process.
Do you have a "wish list" of musicians you'd like to see on Studio Barnhus?
Axel Boman: Laurie Anderson, Maurice Fulton, Christopher Rau, Neneh Cherry, and Vangelis.
On what future projects is the label working on now?
Axel Boman: We are getting all the pieces together for new releases of Kornél, Baba Stiltz, Henry Rodrick, Pedrodollar, and Simon Haydo. I feel so blessed to have these great people on our label!!!
Can you give some advice to someone who is interested in starting his or her own label?
Axel Boman: Don't let money stop you! Work with what is near to you. And get in contact with people you admire. The are chances they could be nice and happy to work with you.
Do you think that Stockholm has a strong influence on your work - as a musician and as label runner?
Axel Boman: No, not really. For me to function well I need friends, family and my girlfriend close to me. Anywhere that gives me that would work. I've suggested many times that everyone I know, and me, should move to Rome. Much better climate and food!
You just released you first solo album Family Vacation. How does it reflect the Studio Barnhus vibe and what do you want to accomplish with it?
Axel Boman: I hope the album in some way will be something to take out and play every once in a while. Not only a trend of the moment. I think the music is pretty timeless. Some tracks date back to early 2010 and some are brand new. I really can't hear that much difference. But maybe that means I have not evolved at all. It could be bad, haha.. But what I want to accomplish.. hmm.... maybe some distraction?
What was on your mind when you produced it?
Axel Boman: The death of the Soul legend Sam Cooke. The night he was murdered. I've had that story in mind for a long time. Erik Lavesson wrote a story where that topic is presented. It will be printed on the inner sleeves of the vinyl edition.
What was your creative process like?
Axel Boman: Narrowing a lot of music ideas down to a reasonable small collection of potential songs and just getting to work with it. Track by track. Not so romantic maybe. I didn't drink my own piss and had some exorcism, like with the last release.
How does the album reflect your weekends between airport, clubs, and ravers?
Axel Boman: I'm not so sure it reflects that at all. I'm not so interested in autobiographical work. Unless you are Brian Wilson maybe. I'm more of a dreamer. More interested in fiction than reality.
Whom do you want to impress with it the most?
Axel Boman: Neneh Cherry, Ralph Lundsten, and DJ Koze.
What was your biggest hit so far?
Axel Boman: Purple Drank.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Axel Boman: At the moment I listen to a lot of old Calypso, Caribbean music, and West-African vinyls.
Are you cautious about being put into a box?
Axel Boman: No. Box me away!
What kind of music would you make in a world without electricity?
Axel Boman: Samba music.
Can you remember where you first started DJing and the kind of music you were playing?
Axel Boman: Yes, it was early nineties and I played HipHop and Techno, depending on the party.
Can you name three perfect records to start a party?
Usio: Hadithi Fupi (Studio Barnhus)
Kornél Kovács: Baby Step (Studio Barnhus)
Ex-Pylon: Hupiter (Studio Barnhus)
How do you think your generation is going to leave its mark on electronic music?
Axel Boman: By not inventing anything new. We only re-used old ideas, that the computer revolution in fact didn't give us more but less variation and that we changed the meaning of all genres. What is House, Deep House, Electro, IDM, EDM??? I have no idea anymore. And it doesn't really matter!!
Please recommend two artists to our readers which you feel deserve their attention.
Axel Boman: Matt Karmil and Marvin Horsch.
What is your favorite music video of all time?
Axel Boman: The video for my track Fantastic Piano !!!
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt Radio Show?
Axel Boman: I asked my label partners Petter and Kornél what tracks from our and their respective catalogues of music they wanted to contribute with. After that we tried to find a logic solution for a mix. Pretty standard I think.
What is a typical weekend like for you?
Axel Boman: I usually DJ somwhere. If I have a night off I take my girlfriend to a restaurant called Barbro in Stockholm for some amazing spicy tuna. After that we will take some drinks at Morfar Ginko and end the night at Under Bron or Berns 2.35:1. Sundays are holy and spent at our home in Gröndal. I cook the food while Clara chooses the movie.
If you could be in any band, living or dead, for a day which band would it be?
Axel Boman: I would be the worst percussionist in the The New Power Generation.
What old albums you rediscovered lately and what makes them special?
Axel Boman: The reissue of the music by William Onyeabor is absolutely stunning.
What are three albums that you'll absolutely never get tired of listening to?
Glenny # 417: Find Out What You've Been Missing (Ageema Music Club)
Massive Attack: Protection (Wild Bunch Records)
DJ Koze: Kosi Comes Around (Kompakt)
What’s something you’ve learned through music that has helped you in life (and vice versa)?
Axel Boman: Acceptance for strange behaviour!
What was the last track that sent shivers up your spine?
Axel Boman: Some track from Neneh Cherry's new album. I saw her live yesterday it was very sublime.
What can music which all other art forms can not?
Axel Boman: Make you extatic or make you cry. Well, other art forms can do that also. But music taps in to those emotions with an almost brutal force!
Where is heaven on earth for you?
Axel Boman: Öland in Sweden in the summer.
What are five words that would describe your personal fashion style?
Axel Boman: Accidental, old-oldschool, rugged, fancy, and rock.
If somebody give you a million quid and you had 24 hours to rinse it, what would you do?
Axel Boman: By some clothes for me and my girlfriend, buy some new toys for the studio, buy a vacation to Bali and give the rest to my brothers.
What superpower would you like to have?
Axel Boman: To wake up early in the morning.
Which celebrity would you like to bed?
Axel Boman: Jessica Rabbit.
You are located in Stockholm. What are your favorite spots and secrets in your hometown that you would recommend to somebody that comes around for a visit?
Drink: Morfar Ginko.
Dance: Under Bron and Berns.
Records: Snickars, Record Mania, Skivbörsen, and Fade.
...and why not get some ACNE clothes at the outlet?!
Studio Barnhus discography