From Phonk to Netflix's “Rebel Moon,” Kordhell Unravels the Mystery in Rare Interview

Kordhell leads the charge in the phonk revolution, and it’s an unexpected development by his admission. If it’s true that great leaders are born, not made, then it’s only right that Kordhell represents the genre on a global scale.

Kordhell sits at the war table with select artists enlisted for the official companion EP of Netflix’s Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver, a sequel to director Zack Snyder’s 2023 epic space opera. Kordhell joins Black Coffee, TOKiMONSTA and more on a new EP, which features five tracks inspired by one of the characters in the film.

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Kordhell is a lifelong musician under various aliases, but his influential foray into phonk music is musical symbiosis at its finest. Both the genre and Kordhell, one of its early flag-bearers, rode an unforeseen tsunami of popularity in the early 2020s. It’s rightly earned him a reputation as a genre pioneer; however, he owes just as much to phonk as phonk owes to him.

We picked Kordhell’s brain following the release of “Revolution” from Rebel Moon – Songs of the Rebellion in advance of Netflix’s Rebel Moon sequel premiering today. Kordhell and phonk’s recent rises are synonymous with each other but you’ve been an active musician for decades. It reminds me of the trajectory of one of my favorite artists, Run the Jewels. What benefits—professionally and personally—do you incur approaching this heightened success as a music industry veteran? After all, we’ve seen many young artists blow up and struggle to adjust to pressures.

I come from a background in metal and punk music. I think that taught me that you have to constantly be working and evolving to keep up with the music industry. Everything changes so fast, so you need to evolve and work hard to keep on top.

Since the Kordhell project blew up, I honestly haven’t changed in the way I apply myself to working at all. In fact, I probably work harder now on music than I ever had before. I’m getting a lot of demand now too so the work keeps piling up. It’s hard to stay on top of it all, but it is fun and I enjoy it a lot. What’s the inspiration behind the name “Kordhell?”

Originally I played in a metal band and each member had a serial killer theme. My character was supposed to be some corrupt cop like the character in Maniac Cop. His name is Officer Cordell, so I just took that as a starting point. But there’s really no meaning behind any of it at all. I didn’t really intend it to get popular or expect this to blow up as crazy as it has! It’s really quite mind-blowing. We’re seeing drum & bass explode on the electronic festival scene but phonk is making waves globally. How much do you expect phonk’s presence to grow in the coming years?

Honestly, the phonk scene is really unpredictable. The genre has evolved a lot over the past few years, from more Memphis rap-style beats to house and EDM style. Brazilian style has been a primary influence over the past year and now we are hearing the Memphis sound on mainstream songs like Kanye West. Even Beyoncé used a Memphis sample. I’m just going to keep experimenting with all styles and see what happens next. I came across a screenshot attributed to you on August 18, 2023. It reads, “I’m quitting next year anyway.” If it’s authentic, what compelled you to write that and what does the future look like for Kordhell?

I was just winding up the fans in my Discord server. How did you react when you learned you’d be contributing to the soundtrack of such a big film? Where does it rank among your career highlights?

It was awesome, I was super pumped. I thought it was for a trailer, to begin with, and although the song isn’t directly featured in the movie, it’s still a really cool thing to be a part of the film’s official companion EP. Walk me through your creative process for this song. Tell me about the character you were paired with and what goal you set out to accomplish musically.

The film paired me with Anthony Hopkins’ character, who is responsible for providing the voice of “Jimmy,” a sentient robot designed for combat with a humanoid body design. I’m already a fan of Zack Snyder’s movies and know his style, so I watched the Rebel Moon film and just tried to create something in my own unique style that I thought would fit the movie. Was it mind-blowing to learn you’d produce music inspired by the man who portrayed Hannibal freakin’ Lecter?!

It was awesome! He played my favorite character in Rebel Moon and he’s one of my favorite actors! I’ve always been a fan since I saw The Elephant Man as a kid. There are many vintage gore film elements in your body of work. Name three gore flicks: a good introduction for the trepidatious horror fan, the most uncomfortable gore film you’ve watched and the one you’d rank highest in quality.

I actually don’t like gore movies that much even though I’ve used them a lot in my videos! The aesthetic really fits the older O.G. phonk sound. I prefer more psychological stuff like The Shining, The Omen or Alien. But if I were to pick three of the most brutal films I can think of, probably Street Trash, Cannibal Holocaust and Brain Dead. What are your three favorite movie/television/video game scores? Have any of them had a particular influence on you?

I really don’t watch regular TV at all. I’m always too busy, so I mainly just watch YouTube. I’m kind of a nerd so I prefer to watch content I can learn something from. I play video games when I’m taking breaks from music. I like the Battlefield games a lot, with Battlefield 1 being my favorite, but Battlefield V is also amazing. I’m hoping the next game they make is even better.

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