For those in the know, Sweden has become something of a hotbed of cutting-edge electronic music. To start with, some of the finest hardware companies around, Elektron, Nord and Teenage Engineering, as well as a host of smaller ones, are native to the Scandinavian nation. In recent years, eschewing their reputation as a land of metal and pop, Swedish electronic labels have also been pushing limits and creating diverse, brilliant music across the spectrum.
From Drumcode, who have become a behemoth of techno led by Adam Beyer, to the minimalist leanings of Northern Electronics to the deep cuts of Karlovak Recordings, the Swedish scene has been growing in stature and international reputation. Amongst the plurality of labels that have been putting out excellent records, one that truly stands out is Studio Barnhus.
Started as a studio on ‘Orphanage Street’ by three upcoming DJs with a similar aesthetic and vision back in 2011, the label seems to have come about organically, with the trio describing it in interviews as ‘one big happy accident’. Axel Boman, Pedrodollar and Kornél Kovács, each of whom are excellent producers and DJs in their own right, have also shown a knack for top-notch curation, playful rhythms, collaboration, memorable artwork and more.
While Studio Barnhus initially began as a platform for the productions of Boman, Kovacs and Pedrodollar, all of whom are now internationally known, their knack for releasing new Swedish artists is equally impressive. They have released records from Baba Stiltz, who blew our minds in India earlier this year; Art Alfie and Mr. Tophat, who are known for chunky, memorable house music; HNNY, whose pop samples and swirling melodies are matched only by Axel Boman’s own powerhouse productions and various others including Mount Liberation Unlimited, MliR and Harald Bjork.
I’ve been stumbling across Studio Barnhus records in sets from DJs around the globe over the past few years, and their influence only seems to be growing. But what sets the label apart is the unpretentious, fun way in which they don’t seem to take anything too seriously. From the samples to the artwork to the way in which they present themselves, the trio is committed to having a great time and making jokes throughout the process. But the things they are serious about, like beat matching and production, are apparent in the records they put out.
Every Studio Barnhus record has a vibe of its own, experimental sampling and a relaxed mood often giving way to dance floor madness. Axel Boman’s productions have been making waves since 2013 or so, and last year Kornel Kovacs album, The Bells, was a feature of most of the best of year lists around. And yet both Boman and Kovacs insist that it is the third member of the crew, Petter aka Pedrodollar, who creates the wildest stuff. This not only reflects the togetherness of the label but also their confidence in each other. Together, they’ve played at the Red Bull Music Academy, Trouw and many of the biggest clubs across the world, starting from ‘crashing each other’s sets’ in Stockholm’s small but thriving scene.
Axel Boman is arguably the best known of the three, though that is changing fast and he would probably joke about it if you asked. I was fortunate enough to catch his collaboration with John Talabot, Talaboman, at the Dekmantel Festival a couple of years ago. It was a perfect late evening set, building the crowd up into a frenzied and frantic state while maintaining a smooth and melodic rhythm, setting the stage for acts to follow and showcasing the expertise of two of the finest DJs around right now.
It also reflected what Studio Barnhus strives for – from sharing a studio to stumbling into running a label to playing at each other’s sets and collaborating with some of Europe’s finest, the Barnhus journey captures a crew that have the right attitude to electronic music, honing their craft while having a great time. We can’t wait to party with Axel Boman and Pedrodollar this weekend, and we’re sure you won’t want to miss them either.