Game of Thrones actress and Molotov Jukebox frontwoman Natalia Tena interviewed

Natalia Tena of Molotov Jukebox. Photo: Drew Cox

Natalia Tena of Molotov Jukebox. Photo: Drew Cox - Credit: Archant

Entertainment writer Wayne Savage talks to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter actress Natalia Tena about her new tour with the band Molotov Jukebox. If you’re hoping for news of Jon Snow, you’re out of luck.

Natalia Tena as Osha in Game of Thrones

Natalia Tena as Osha in Game of Thrones - Credit: Archant

Tena and the rest of Molotov Jukebox have just filmed the video to new single Pineapple Girl. She describes it as very tropical, the kind of song you’d dance to on the beach with a pina colada in your hand. It’s a far cry from her wintery adventures north of the wall as Game of Thrones wildling Osha.

“I’m with you man. Other than our video, in fact with all filming, I’ve had one good year where I didn’t feel cold. It was the year I filmed 10,000 Km my first Spanish film which is on Netflix and you should definitely watch it, it’s brilliant.

“That summer was boiling and it was the first time in my life where I thought ‘oh my God I’m filming and I’m hot. Usually part of the hardship is waiting for hours so cold in a costume that isn’t meant for just standing very still in the rain. I’m thinking ‘why am I not in Croatia (where many scenes of GoTs is shot), why am I not with the other lot that are in sunny Spain?’ Sexy? No. We get mud. Thanks.”

Known to a generation of Harry Potter fans as the witch Nymphadora Tonks, she loves fantasy. It allows a lot of scope to develop whatever character she’s playing and, she laughs, it’s great fun. Like anything, once you’ve done one thing you crave something different.

Molotov Jukebox play Norwich on April 20

Molotov Jukebox play Norwich on April 20 - Credit: Archant


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“I’ve done a lot of fantasy now, I’d quite like to do something very domestic.”

Does that mean she’s not returning for season six of the hit HBO series Games of Thrones, returning to Sky Atlantic later this month?

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“I unfortunately can’t divulge any of that information, but I can tell you... I’ve read the book, have you? I think the sixth season is going to be absolutely incredible. I’m so excited. I binge watch, I can’t do that thing of waiting once a week. It’s usually when we’re back from a big festival stint and we’re a bit tired, we just stay in with a nice bottle of red and watch all 10 hours.”

Right now Tena and the rest of Molotov Jukebox - Sam Apley, Adam Burke, Tom Wilson, Angus Moncrieff and Rami Sherrington - are excited about touring second LP Tropical Gypsy.

Molotov Jukebox's new album Tropical Gypsy is out now

Molotov Jukebox's new album Tropical Gypsy is out now - Credit: Archant

I confess I didn’t know she was even in a band. Music was her first love. She started the piano aged five, moving on to theatre with incredible companies like Shared Experience and Kneehigh which involved a lot of music.

“I’d given up on the idea of a band when I left school and I’d broken up with my musician boyfriend. Then I met Sam in another band and we fell in love and ran away from that band and created our own - our dream was refuelled and we’ve just carried on kind of fuelling it,” laughs Tena, who sings lead vocals and plays the accordion.

The band’s origin is fantastic.

“It was seven on a Monday morning at the Chai Wallah festival, all the music had been turned off and there was just a few like crazy people left. All the bars had closed and we were busking for booze and the woman who opened it or one of the staff came over and asked ‘what are you guys?’ Sam in this strange, lucid Monday morning moment just went ‘we’re Molotov Jukebox’. She was like ‘okay get a band together come back to us - I’ll remember you’.

Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks, alongside Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter.

Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks, alongside Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter. - Credit: Archant

“You think ‘yeah, yeah you’re going to remember me from a Monday morning’ but she did and gave us our first festival slot at Secret Garden. It’s a weird combination of stuff - luck but luck coming to you at the point you are prepared, that’s the thing. Being an artist you have to be on fighting fit. We weren’t but this woman could see the potential. That’s what’s amazing, that there are people out there that can see it clearly. A lot of people would just go ‘oh my God, I’ll buy these guys a beer but can they shut up first’.”

Tropical Gypsy is their fruity follow-up to Carnival Flower. It’s a riotous whirlwind of Latino influenced horns, accordion and violin; tightly bound together over guitar, bass and drums. Incorporating newly-found sounds collected first-hand on a South American tour last year, the band have added flavours of samba, fohó and cumbia to their existing Balkan influences.

“I’m really excited about the new album. We approached it really differently to last time. That was a learning curve but it was also ‘yay first album, there’s everything on it that we like’. This time we’ve been more considered; an album is like a book and the chapters have to relate to each other - you can’t have a chapter from a sci-fi thing then some sort of sexy romance; that’s kind of what we did with the first one. The tour is going to be amazing.”

Tena, mad at having to turn down an amazing role because it clashes with said tour, tries to take everything she can job offer-wise and praises the people around her for their patience and organisational skills. In the world of self-employment it’s nice to be in demand.

“You get moments when you’re so in demand by about 10 different angles. Then are moments when it’s like ‘oh my God why is no-one giving me a job, why don’t we have a gig, why don’t we have a tour?’ It’s got that yin and yang. You have huge extremes of emotions, self doubt. With music and acting you’re just like ‘is what I’m doing rubbish?’,” she laughs.

She’s picked the two most insecure professions going.

“I know, it’s awful,” she laughs. “I’m incredibly lucky that so far it’s been relatively good. There are peaks and troughs but at the moment, especially with this album coming together and a great tour, people are talking about it, great festivals... It’s a case of ‘I hope it continues this well’.”

Tena says life’s too short to pick between your passions in life.

“We’ve never got to the point where we’re on tour constantly, I need a second job. That second job is my passion, luckily, so it would always work hand in hand for me.”

Back to the tour, which she describes as like a mini holiday for the audience - hot, sweaty and it will be sexy.

“This album especially, an element we took from all these parts of the world is they do big things like death, which is going to happen to all of us, betrayal and just how hard stuff is; how lost people can be and time slipping away. They put all those concepts to very upbeat, celebratory music and that’s what we want to do. I want them to have a holiday really with us if you will.

“We’ve made this album with a lot of passion and pulse, while using every artistic bone in our bodies to develop and focus our style and sound from the past album.

“We are incredibly grateful to be able to do the thing we love for our fans that understand what our music is about and where we are going with it. Get your dancing shoes ready.”

Molotov Jukebox play Norwich’s Waterfront Studios April 20. Tropical Gypsy is out now via Pause For Effect Records.

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