Watch a Molotov Jukebox music video on youtube and it will become instantly apparent that this is a really fun and creative band. I had the opportunity to talk to lead singer and accordion player, Natalie Tena (also known for her roles in Harry Potter and Game of Thrones) about their new album, Tropical Gypsy, released in spring 2016, and upcoming UK tour.
The band has a very distinctive sound with an eclectic mix of accordion, trumpet, violin, bass, guitar and drums, adding to the also distinctive Latin influence to their music. According to Tena, the album is “a mission statement. It’s the definition of our genre. That’s how I would describe [our sound] really: ‘Tropical Gypsy’.”.
The album was partly funded by a pledge campaign. Tena said that this was extremely important to her because “you and your fans have a symbiotic relationship where you’re both feeding each other, helping each other do exactly what the other one needs. You can donate to us and with that money we make an album that’s created for you. It’s really beautiful and really humbling that people bother to give you money and time and have faith in you. It’s better than a label just saying “here’s a hundred grand. Make an album! I mean, people’s hard earned cash is funding the album so we better fucking deliver!”
Tena said she was “really looking forward to playing with the band again, because we haven’t done that since Ukraine actually”. The band did a multi-national tour this Summer. Tena’s highlights were The Secret Garden Party, Madrid and Ukraine.
She is, evidently, a very busy woman, having had success not only in the music industry, but as an actress as well. When talking about the balance between these two passions she said “recently, I’ve just been focused on filming- that’s what I’ve been doing. But now I’ve switched back to music because I’m focused on the tour and I’ve got to get ready for that so I’m more on the music side at the moment. Then when it comes to January I’m going to go to America and do a pilot season and do some meetings. I switch it. It’s equal. I love them both very much. The difference is that acting, financially, is what feeds me whereas music, for all of us, is a labour of love. And that’s a very big difference when it comes to choosing certain things.”
In the band, Natalie Tena does not only sing, but also plays the accordion. When I asked her what made her want to play it she told me that “I always played the piano but I gave it up because I was sick to death of grades. I worked for this amazing theatre company called ‘Kneehigh’ and they were the ones that had an accordion. The director Emma Rice just said “right, everyone pick up an instrument” and I looked at this accordion that she had in her attic and I was like “that’s my instrument. Where the fuck have you been all my life?” So it was love at first note if you will, no, squeeze- love at first squeeze. And that was it.”
She encouraged fans to “watch out for our next video that’s coming out and the new single and I hope they join us on our UK winter tour”. The video for their new single ‘Just the Thrill’ should be out soon and the tour starts on 24th November at The Ruby Lounge.