MOLOTOV JUKEBOX return with their much-anticipated second album, Tropical Gypsy, set for release via Pause For Effect Records on 15th April 2016. 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. Led by actress/singer/musician Natalia Tena and famed for their ferocious performances around the globe in both English and Spanish, none of the band’s undeniable live energy has been allowed to escape during recording.
To celebrate the release of their astounding record, Molotov Jukebox will be taking their music on the road, and they visit Southampton, Talking Heads on 23rd April 2016. They return to the south in July with a slot at Blissfields Festival near Winchester.
We caught up with Natalia Tena, the lead singer of Molotov Jukebox (also known from her roles in Game of Thrones as Osha and Tonks in Harry Potter) to have a chat about their upcoming album Tropical Gypsy as well as their upcoming tour.
OTS: For those who have missed your first album – Carnival Flower – what can your fans expect from your new album – Tropical Gypsy?
Natalia Tena: I think they should expect, basically, a more focused album. We’ve done it once before and now it’s that kind of second time, thinking about it. The reason we call it the Tropical Gypsy is because it gave a title to what we always knew to do. We started writing a song that wasn’t tropical gypsy – we stopped, and having that title gave us a kind of a key to the genre we were trying to make.
We absolutely love the design of your new album, and your merchandise. We think it’s very bright, it’s very alive. It just makes you want to dance. Do you think that it’s an accurate representation of your brand’s image?
Yeah, we’re all trying to put across that image. I’m glad that that’s how you see it. I think that’s the kind of style we were trying to do, kind of not having just the black and white dull, and kind of the tropical vibe behind it. I hope that fans will like it.
You’ve found a way of bringing two worlds together by incorporating South American sounds with your already existing Balkan influences. Is that a successful fusion, and how do you think the fusion is going to be welcomed by your fans?
Umm, I don’t know, I really hope they’ll love it. I mean, I really love both of these types of music because, what I LOVE about tropical music, and also about Balkan music is that the lyrics, usually, deal with big themes such as loss and death. In South American and East European music they have very deep lyrics, but they have music that makes you want to dance. We don’t have it.
We know that you write your own lyrics, can you tell us a little bit about the process of writing your lyrics?
It’s very weird that sometimes it’s very easy, and sometimes it’s really hard. So, the process is like maybe one of us will have a theme and an idea, and maybe we’re like okay, this is the theme for this particular song, our atheist song for example. It usually starts with either an idea like – let’s write something about this, or it starts with maybe a musical idea like a reef – or a bridge that someone’s already started to write, and then we kind of develop that. So, it always comes to one small thing that we all kind of agree on, and then we build on it.
If you had to categorise your music, what genre would it be?
It would be Tropical Gypsy. It would be that mix.
In an interview back in 2011 you said that your plan is world domination. Where do you think you are at this stage?
That would be amazing. I think world domination in the sense that all we want to do is getting to play everywhere. I didn’t mean to be made successful everywhere in the world, but if we would be able to travel everywhere with our music, it would be amazing.
Your recent tour – Tropical Gypsy – is set in the UK, but you have shows lined up in Amsterdam in May and Barcelona in June. Is the tour planned for other countries as well?
I hope so, we’re still working on it at the moment, because our album, there are so many people that need to listen to it and lots of festivals that need to listen to it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get it in many places.
So, you’re now preparing for your new tour. Do you have some kind of a special routine while preparing for it?
For going on tour? Yes, you kind of get really fit physically, as a singer there’s food you can’t really eat. When you’re singing you can’t really have any dairies, so that’s no cheese, or chocolate, or milk. You can’t really eat heavy meat, so I’m kind of a vegetarian for a bit, we just eat fish; you got to be very fit, healthy really.
You are supporting Womankind Worldwide Charity Organisation for women and girls. Could you tell us why you are very passionate about it?
Because it makes me angry that in the world, because you’re born with a vagina you still don’t have the same rights as someone born with a penis, and that’s unacceptable in the 21st century. It just doesn’t really make sense.
So, as well as a musician, you’re an inspiring actress too. You have been a part of successful projects such as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Now, you are the leading role of the TV series Residue, how do you make it work? How do you balance your work?
Well, it’s a balance between having an incredibly patient band, an incredibly patient agent, people that really allow me to try and do both, work around me, and try and help me. It’s basically a lot of amazing team work.
We just have to ask, because we are both huge Game of Thrones’ fans, how does it feel to be a part of something as huge and as successful as Game of Thrones?
It’s a massive honour. I love it, I love the books, and I’m a really big fan of the books and the series. I love being part of that world.
Are you excited for the new season?
I can’t wait. I always wait till they all come out, and watch them all in one day.
You’re coming to Southampton on the 23rd of April. What fans can expect from the Southampton show?
They can expect, hopefully, a lot of sweatiness, a lot of dancing, and hopefully, they will all go home with a massive, massive smile on their face.
We will have a full review of Molotov Jukebox’s upcoming Tropical Gypsy album coming soon.
Tickets for The Talking Heads gig can be bought from their website.
Words/Interview: Mihaela Dobra and Laura Šamonskytė