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I’m standing outside a record store in Brooklyn when Kristian Nairn walks toward me, his entourage in tow. Nairn is the mountain of a man who plays Hodor on
(HBO), the loyal protector of Bran Stark. Bearded, smiling and casually dressed, his 6’10” frame is as massive in person as it is on TV. He puts out his hand—and what a huge hand it is—and smiles. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
Nairn, who worked as a DJ in his native Ireland long before playing the gentle giant Hodor, is promoting his debut single, “Up” feat. Leanne Robinson (Radikal) from his
. He’s also going to spin at Rave of Thrones, a traveling dance party he headlines. Nairn plays his favorite underground tracks and takes fans on a musical journey while living out one of two musical dreams (the other is to play guitar in a metal band).
“It’s a party for the people. Fans do come dressed. I do my normal set. I don’t do anything different. It’s very much about the music.”
As for the name Rave of Thrones, he can’t take credit for it. “It was more of a managerial type decision from the promotions company. They thought it might be fun; I initially disagreed.
. But then people started to come. They had a great night and it got people’s awareness.”
When you get the opportunity to meet an actor from one of your all-time favorite TV shows, you can’t help but fire off a slew of burning questions: Why weren’t Hodor and Bran in Season 5? What can people expect from Season 6? Is Jon Snow
author George R.R. Martin would approve. “I can’t say,” he says politely. “It will probably become public knowledge soon. I know Bran [Isaac Hempstead Wright] has broken the fact that he’s back, but it’s fairly self-explanatory that if Bran is back, then…
The conversation switches back to music. Nairn mentions how fortunate he is to be able to make a living as a DJ, an up-and-coming producer and an actor who films his scenes on
person who DJs. Finn Jones, who plays the Knight of Flowers, DJs. He’s quite a good DJ. Esmay Bianco, who plays Ros, has started to DJ. Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy, also DJs. I actually haven’t heard him, but I know he has great taste. He’s into minimal [electronic music]. A lot of people on the show really like their music: Natalia [Tena, who plays Osha] is in a band; the person who plays Melisandre [Carice van Houten] is a singer; and Emilia [Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen] sings as well. We’re quite a musical bunch.”
The next night a sold-out crowd has packed into Manhattan’s Irving Plaza for Rave of Thrones. Super fans dressed in
cosplay are in attendance, and the sound system is turned up to 11. Around 9:30 p.m. Nairn takes the stage and the club erupts. As he positions himself between a pair of decks and a projection screen, a chant of
rises from the din. A few songs into his set, Nairn, who is clearly having the time of his life onstage, raises his arms in the air and slowly folds those big hands into the shape of a heart. The love is indeed mutual.
, Nairn’s heated performance at Rave of Thrones was epic, thrilling and left me wanting more. Winter is coming, but definitely not tonight.
Record shopping with Kristian Nairn He spins dance music, but loves rock ‘n’ roll.
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