Meet The Band: Molotov Jukebox

After a summer of festival appearances, Molotov Jukebox are touring the UK with an exclusive six date tour showcasing their forthcoming second album Tropical Gypsy. Having already hit their Pledge Music album target and sold out their London and Bristol shows, the London based six piece will be stopping off in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Brighton across November and December and will be joined by special guests The Church, who will guarantee to start each event off on the right foot with their all singing, all dancing, party church service.

They play Bristol Lantern this evening (December 5), Andy Howells put questions to actress and Molotov Jukebox lead singer Natalia Tena. Natalia not only fronts the band but is a familiar face to fans of the Harry Potter movies in which she played Tonks and Game of Thrones in which she plays Osha.

How did Molotov Jukebox come together?
Sam and I met in another band and decided to run away and create our own musical circus. Over the years people have come and gone, we’ve had 18 different musicians pass through but the Molotov team you see now is a year and half old and it’s the one that is going to stay.

How would you describe your style of music?
The clue is in the title of our next album Tropical Gypsy. Through the eyepiece of our London roots, we have tried to fuse together a Balkanesque gypsy sound with the Latin tropical one.

What’s been your best live experience so far?
Playing our first big show in Brazil when we all went as a band to Rio for the first time. We’d done a smaller guerrilla tour a few years earlier that got us in the door on that side of the world. When we came back the second time, we were put in Circo vador, a massive space that on night, which was filled twice over with the most enthusiastic dancing and clapping I’ve ever experienced.

Can you tell us about Tropical Gypsy?
In the vein of both Balkan and Latin music, we wanted to borrow their devise of putting lyrics that tackle big subjects, like betrayal, loss of all faith and death combined with music that propels the fans to the dance floor with a riot of sweat and wiggle.

Who has inspired the music you make most?
Wow. Tough one. Really it’s no one person, it’s a step-by-step aural discovery propelled by that first musical love, which for me at 5 was Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Chuck Berry. I musically lived in the 50’s and 60’s till puberty and with my hormones rushing around, I discovered the female legends; Carla Thomas, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Etta James.

You’re also well known for your roles in Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones – how does been in a band fit in with being an actor?
It’s a battle because their timelines clash so often and lead to having to make very tough decisions. Sometimes it’s seamless and I can juggle both if I work hard enough but when it’s an either or situation, it’s incredibly hard to pick.

Do you have any more roles in the pipeline?
Watch this space…

What was the first record you bought?
Ha ha ha ha ha, it’s awful! At 12 I saved up and bought one of the Now… something albums. Probably Now 10 it was so long ago. It’s had Baby Come Back on it, which I listened to on repeat.

Where can we see you live and what we can expect from the show?
Well we are finishing our UK tour on the December 6 but next year, with our release of Tropical Gypsy on April 1, that’s when it will get interesting. We are looking at a bigger UK tour and potentially Europe too, followed by the chaos of the festival circuit in the summer.

  • A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on December 4, 2015.

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