IN CONVERSATION with Game of Thrones Actor TOM WLASCHIHA
On top of his game, the breakout German star, TOM WLASCHIHA describes life after Game of Thrones, and his top reasons for living in the capital of cool, Berlin.
Tom Wlaschiha has uncovered a lot of truths in his riveting career as an actor for stage and screen but his sudden stardom international stardom following his breakout international role on Game of Thrones hasn’t changed his pragmatic lease on life. A minimalist at heart, he finds pleasure in simplicity and the casual pace of life in Berlin, his chosen home of almost twenty years. And despite amassing throngs of adoring fans, he considers himself lucky to have been given the opportunities that came his way.
Adventurous yet unassuming, Wlaschiha grew up near Dresden in the former East Germany until the fall of the wall led to instantaneous opportunities for personal growth. Mastering perfect English, while studying abroad as a teenager, his penchant for travel and experiencing new things has led to a series of accomplished roles both in Germany and in international productions. But growing up in communist East Germany, he didn’t always have his sights set on international fame and celebrity.
Reminiscing about this not-so-distant past, he recalls how “it was completely different than it is today. We only had one television channel, so I didn’t watch much TV when I grew up. So, for some reason, when I decided to become an actor, I was only thinking about stage, I didn’t think of becoming a TV and film actor.”
International audiences might have first fallen in love with Tom’s mysterious character as Jaqen H’ghar Game of Thrones and thanks to his part on the global megahit he has landed a number of juicy new roles that bring him back to both TV and film in Europe and abroad. “Initially, I did German television and the roles became bigger and bigger. I would say my first major break was Game of Thrones. Or at least everything has pretty much changed since I got that part.”
Despite having throngs of adoring fans and being one of the most sought-after German actors today, Wlaschiha has a humble attitude when it comes to his success. “I don’t know what a celebrity is other than that you get recognized on the street sometimes and you get some things for free (which is nice!). I’m quite okay with my career going the way it did. I started out in theatre and success didn’t hit me immediately. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given but I also know that luck is playing a very important part.”
Wlaschiha just wrapped filming in Prague for his role on season two of Das Boot, where he plays Hagen Forster, Gestapo Chief and Criminal Commisioner in La Rochelle, a troubling and conflicted character who is tasked with quelling the resistance in the small but strategically important French town. Speaking about the nearly 40-degree heatwave that he had to endure, “Last week, I was still in full winter uniform. I just finished filming in Prague for Das Boot season two. Winter clothes in summer is still better than summer clothes in winter, though, so I’m not complaining.”
We put this theory to the test, asking Tom to join us for a fall/winter photoshoot at our studios in Berlin. Luckily for us all, Berlin turned out to be giving us nothing other than a moody overcast day to fit the relaxed and dapper styles that make up the editorial.
This tracks quite well with his own approach to clothing and to design in general: “I’m quite minimamalistic. I like clear colors, straight lines. The things you surround yourself with should bring out your character, rather than cover it up,” he says, referring to both his individual sense of style and his personal philosophy of living an uncluttered life in his apartment in Berlin.
And when it comes to eyewear, it’s no surprise that Tom Wlaschiha’s great taste and eye for the finer things is apparent here as well. Not having yet had the need to wear reading glasses, he refers to his go-to sunglasses for the summer. “I’ve got a few pairs. Some of my favorite pairs are from Prada. And Barton Perreira, they are really great.”
With his busy schedule that keeps him away much of the time, Wlaschiha enjoys the casual nature of his neighborhood here in Berlin, a neighborhood that he has seen change around him in the nearly twenty years that he has lived there. “I really like the area I live in, Kreuzberg, because of all the water and the canals and all the little cafes and the general atmosphere. I really enjoy Berlin in good weather. Since I travel a lot with my job, whenever I’m in Berlin I’m really enjoying the city. I think it’s a great place to be based.” And that’s something we can all agree on.
Tom Wlaschiha is Hagen Forster on Sky TV’s Das Boot, one of Germany’s most successful recent TV shows with a second season due this fall and appears for the first time as Max Schenkel on Amazon Prime’s hit actions series Jack Ryan, also with its second season expected soon.
Context is important and when it comes to accessories there is no better way put yourself in a whole new frame of mind with a style upgrade for your bags and glasses. Be bold, mix and match, try out new patterns and color combinations until you find the perfect fit for you.
Our pick for the Artist Profile this time is Emily Thomaswho recently graduated from the prestigious Chelsea College of Arts in London and in just over a year since then has been touring the world, incorporating influences from many different cultures into her colorful, geometric sculptures. Her research-based practice takes architecture, history, and our urban environment as a starting point—basically the built objects that make up our sense of place—and through a process of abstraction and metamorphosis, turns these ideas into new gestures, colors, and geometries, that still retain a signature sense of space and place.
Having recently completed artistic residencies at both GlogauAIR in Kreuzberg, Berlin and Soulangh Cultural Park in Tainan, Taiwan, Emily Thomas will set off to Barcelona in early 2020, winning an award for a residency at La Escocesa from La Memoria Artistica Chema Alvargonzalez.
In 4SEE Artist Profile, we were able to meet up with Emily Thomas to see where she previously worked and was inspired during her residency at GlogauAIR, Berlin.
Interview from October 2019
Name Emily Thomas Age 23 Nationality British Medium Multidisciplinary (Sculpture, Painting, Photography, Collage, Installation) Based in Somerset, UK Recent/upcoming exhibition (projects)
Shapeshifter (9 July – 31 August) Soulangh Cultural Park, Taiwan
Birthday Exhibition (27 June – 3 August) La peau de l’ours, Brussels
London is Open (31 August) Global 12 Festival, London Find more atwww.ethomasart.com / instagram / Facebook
Did you always know that you were going to be an artist?
Not exactly, although I was exposed to creativity from a young age. After I was born, my mum became a child minder so she could spend more time at home. She is a very creative lady herself, and although she was never exposed to the ‘artworld’ as such, she spent most of her professional career as a primary school teacher where her natural artistic talents came out in art lessons and displays at school. We spent a lot of time painting and drawing together and with other children at home. We covered the kitchen walls with the artwork that we made. This included drawings, paintings and prints done with vegetables and polystyrene shapes!
I was always fascinated with colour, and building things out of wooden blocks and lego. There are actually a few visual similarities to be seen in things I made as a child and my sculptures now! My parents built and designed a lot of their house themselves. I grew up with this, and I think it definitely inspired a certain way of thinking. It showed me how to be resourceful and to solve problems through building and inventing. Although I wasn’t exposed to any art exhibitions from a young age, I was immersed by a different kind of creative practice through my parents. I think this was a genuine way to develop creative skills and interests, and this is something that I really value.
Both my parents are also classical musicians, and my father works mainly as an instrumental brass teacher. When I was nine years old, he set up a sort of music exchange with a close friend of his who was a woodwind player. The deal was that my dad taught his friend’s son the trumpet, and my dad’s friend taught me the clarinet. I began learning classical music very seriously, and was awarded a bursary to study the clarinet at a specialist music school at the age of fourteen.
At this point, I thought I would probably become a musician. However, the school I attended was very high pressured and rigorously structured, and it sadly sucked the fun out of music for me.
Meanwhile, I adored my art lessons and visited my first art exhibition with school in 2012: David Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts London. This was an amazing experience for me as I had only ever been in a city a handful of times, and never before had I stepped into an art gallery. Hockney’s exhibition definitely nurtured my love of colour and inspired me to take this further in my practice.
At the age of seventeen, I found myself skiving lessons and skipping music practice to go and paint. It was at this point that I knew I wanted to be an artist. I switched my focus from preparing for music college auditions to building my portfolio for art school.
Do you find the art world (creative world) cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something in between?
I think you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of common comforts and everyday social norms to be an emerging artist, but this allows you to be more genuine and less materialistic as you naturally discover what is important to you and in life. For me, it is the people that I surround myself with that make my own ‘art bubble’ so wonderful. Meeting and working with like-minded artists and practitioners with similar questions and curiosities removes the competitive side of the artworld from my immediate experience and everyday life. In this sense, the artworld can be what you make of it. I love that feeling of who/what/when/where/why in relation to my future, it’s exciting.
What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
Earlier this year I participated in a three month artist residency program at Soulangh Cultural Park, Taiwan. With support from the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Tainan City Government, I was able to produce an outdoor solo exhibition for the first time. One of the most insightful moments of this experience was when young families gathered to watch me working with wood and power tools outside of my studio. It struck me that you don’t often see women working in construction, particularly outside of Europe, and I felt both honoured and empowered to be setting this example.
I also made valuable friendships with my neighbours. I visited many places with them whereby I felt fully immersed within Taiwanese culture. I met many local people and had enriching
conversations about their life experiences, as well as their knowledge and experiences of different architecture in Taiwan. I also had the opportunity to collaborate with 林 書 杰 Lin Shu-Jie, a very talented technician and maker who taught me many new and valuable skills.
Categorised somewhere between architecture, object, painting and sculpture, my final series of work presented a timeline of architectural history within Taiwan. I combined the variety of architectural styles I discovered there in order to demonstrate the cultural fusion within the country and it’s rich political history. The exhibition aimed to uncover how architecture has previously served and will continue to serve as a literal and metaphorical ‘Shapeshifter’ of place identity through time.
Whilst I consider this residency and exhibition to be my biggest professional accomplishment so far, it was also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences I have ever had.
Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?
I think that art can be anything. It is more the definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art that is a constant point of controversy, as it is of course subjective. Even if you tried to make art that is irrelevant to our society, it would automatically become relevant through it’s opposition. So in response to this question, no I do not think that art needs to be relevant, although it is very difficult to achieve complete detachment from everything through art, as it is such a personal form of expression.
I am personally more interested in artwork that is conceptually intriguing and tells a story through its aesthetics, however I do think that there is also a place for pure aesthetic indulgence.
Growing up in a small village with a population of just 300 people, I became fascinated by the city when I moved to London in 2014. During my studies at the University of the Arts London I gained an interest in the current housing crisis and gentrification. This triggered many questions which I am still exploring in my work now.
My work is inspired by architecture as an indicator of historical, social and cultural characteristics of a place. I identify these aspects by analysing the thematic, repetitive features of buildings, as well as their structural forms and materiality. The process of walking as research in order to take photographs of buildings and discover new places is the underlying foundation of my work’s creation. I carefully select photographs to communicate my ideas, taking both conceptual and aesthetic concerns into consideration. Collage informs and aids these decisions, as I am able to visualise the possible outcomes of my photographs as three-dimensional abstract forms.
What topics have got you inspired at the moment?
In January 2019 I began a three month artist residency at GlogauAIR, Berlin. It was here that I discovered the present housing tensions within the city. Walking as research around the local districts of Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Friedrichshain drew my attention to societal differences, indicated by contrasting building facades and gentrification. This led to my further studies of social housing and the history of Berlin’s urban infrastructure, whereby I discovered Bruno Taut’s Hufeisensiedlung, Neukölln (1925-1930). My final exhibition at GlogauAIR demonstrated my preliminary research of this housing estate.
I am currently developing my studies of the Hufeisensiedlung and five other Berlin Modernism housing estates built between 1919 and 1934. These include Gartenstadt Falkenberg (Treptow), Schillerpark-Siedlung (Wedding), Wohnstadt Carl Legien (Prenzlauer Berg), Weiße Stadt (Reinickendorf) and Großsiedlung Siemensstadt (Charlottenburg and Spandau). The aims of these building projects, including the Hufeisensiedlung, were to solve Berlin’s housing shortage after the industrial revolution. In 2008 they were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I would like to investigate what made these architectural projects so successful and whether similar ideologies and infrastructures could be used to improve contemporary urban development and society now that Berlin is once again a growing city. This idea was originally inspired by the designer and writer Ben Buschfeld.
What is it like to be currently living and working between Somerset (UK) and Berlin?
I have spent most of this year living at artist residencies in different countries, where I have been developing my own projects. I am currently moving between the Somerset countryside (UK) and Berlin and hope that I will eventually be based in Berlin on a more permanent basis. Somerset is very quiet and I am mostly surrounded by fields. There is a really cosy local pub and small quirky characteristics such as a library telephone box and a friendly community shop. I enjoy seeing my family everyday and walking the dogs, and I am able to focus on my work without many distractions. I usually spend my time in Somerset catching up on admin, writing applications and collecting my thoughts. I lived in the countryside for 18 years growing up and it became a normalised way of life. I believe that I will come back to it in my practice and research for sure, it just doesn’t excite me to the same extent as the city right now.
Berlin is very different to Somerset and I enjoy this contrast. I am still discovering the city and it is always full of surprises.
What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?
I am very happy to announce that I will be heading to Barcelona for three months in January to begin an exciting new project and develop new research at La Escocesa. The exhibition dates for this project will be released on my website when they have been confirmed.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your (art)work and at what scale?
Part of my love of being an artist is that I don’t know what is going to happen. I have many ideas and many dreams, but nothing is ever set in concrete. I am happy for my future career path to twist and turn – it keeps me on my toes. In that sense I don’t see myself anywhere in particular in ten years time. I have thought about the possibility of doing a masters degree, and I also like the idea of running my own artists residency program. One of my dreams from a very young age was to build my own house. I love the idea of creating a semi-transportable home just outside of the city. I sometimes get very excited about this and begin to imagine having on-site studios for artists, a co-working woodshop, a jazz club etc. Maybe I’m getting a bit carried away, but who knows what the future holds!
For me, it is not about where my artwork ends up or on what scale. I enjoy travelling and hope that I am able to visit as many countries as possible. Carrying out exhibitions abroad whilst being immersed within different cultures and collaborating with other artists and practitioners has been both inspiring and rewarding. I hope that I am able to continue doing this as much as possible in the future, and I am excited about the opportunities and collaborations that could emerge.
Sydney artist Caitlin McGregor is no stranger to Australia’s independent music scene. Previously recording under the moniker Caitlin Park, HANDSOME has featured on Sydney songwriter/wrapper Urthboy’s 2016 album (The Past Beats Inside Me Like A Second Heartbeat) and collaborated with BANFF to produce the honest, brooding, and unapologetically groovy single ‘My Love My Lover’. With more experimental, melancholy-folk influences on early work, HANDSOME is a reclamation of direction and identity, both personal and creative. HANDSOME is straightforward, pop-influenced ‘tomboy pop’ with an electronica flavour; casual yet crafted, catchy hooks with lyrics that speak of relationships and regrets but also for seeing and accepting things for what they are.
4SEE caught up with HANDSOME to talk about her forthcoming EP (SOPHOMORE, 2020), her musical influences, and future ambitions.
Band / Artist Name HANDSOME Genre(s) Tomboy Pop Member(s) and Instrument(s) HANDSOME (writing / producer) Based in Sydney, Australia Playing together since 2 years First album releasedI dropped my debut EP last year (2018). Freshest album Sophomore EP is coming next year (2020) Listen to us on Spotify/Apple Music/SoundCloud
Describe your band / music / style in three words. Powerful, Meaningful, Fun.
What did you listen to when growing up? I listened to heaps of music growing up; I walked around my parents house and sung to Lauryn Hill, I learnt to be gritty from the Eels, I loved Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Miss Otis Regrets’, my heart broke when I heard my first Cat Power song, and I feel buzzy every time Patti Smith’s ‘Free Money’ chimes in. My body turned on when I heard Robyn at a gay party in Sydney. The Books and Joni Mitchell have always been my biggest inspirations, but there are many.
Music icon(s) and the reason why. Cat Power – she is vulnerable and honest. Robyn – she is anthemic, she writes sad bangers like no other. Christine and the Queens, she is truly herself, being herself is her gift and that is power.
Who are you listening to right now? June Jones, Arlo Parks, Sui Zhen, Wafia, Kid Heron, Dominic Fike.
What is the craziest / funniest thing that’s happened on tour? Touring is made up of weird and intimate moments when you’re off stage. I remember touring in Brisbane (north-east coast of Australia) with my bandmate Shan, and we got caught in a food fight at the local Charlie’s (late night cake shop), icing in all the right places…
Favorite performance venues or music festivals? And why? The Red Rattler in Sydney, because it feels like home.
Three words to describe your fans. Resilient, Graceful, Fierce.
Favorite eyewear brand? Right now, I wear a Jon Lee pair – but I like to switch it up.
What is next for you, an immediately upcoming tour or EP/Album?
A new EP next year! And hopefully more touring overseas next year also.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your band / music and at what scale? Albums under the belt, touring the world, soundtracking contemporary ballet, writing film scores and composing for theatre. I basically want to be Jamie xx.
Philophobia is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of falling in love. Through their third studio release, Nottingham 3-piece Amber Run explore the fear and elation of the universal emotion, from piano-driven instrumental opener ‘Leader Countdown’ into power-driven anthem ‘Neon Circus’, Muse-like guitars take the band through soaring rock and sober contemplation. Forming in 2012 whilst at the university of Nottingham, Joe Keogh (vocals & guitar), Tom Sperring (bass) and Henry Wyeth (keyboard) released their first album within the first year of playing together as a band, debuting with an album produced by Mike Crossey of Arctic Monkeys and Foals production fame. The influence remains, and album number three envelops the listener like a wave as the band asks, What Could Be as Lonely as Love?
4SEE met the boys from the midlands to find out more.
Band / Artist Name Amber Run Genre(s)Indie Rock Member(s) and Instrument(s)Joshua Keogh (vocals & guitar), Tom Sperring (bass), Henry Wyeth (keys) Based in Nottingham, UK Playing together since 2012 First album released“5am” in 2015 Freshest album “Philophobia” in 2019 Listen to us on iTunes/Spotfiy/YouTube
Describe your band / music / style in three words. Dark Anthemic Post-pop.
What did you listen to when growing up? All sorts – from Bowie and Queen to Led Zeppelin to Sonic Youth.
Music icon(s) and the reason why. Radiohead and The National – they are timeless acts who have stuck around in the industry for a while and still making some of their best music to this day.
Who are you listening to right now? Lots of podcasts. Noah Gundersen and Djo.
What is the craziest / funniest thing that’s happened on tour? Henry tells constant jokes – he’s really funny.
Favorite performance venues or music festivals? And why? Colours of Ostrava is probably the coolest festival we’ve been to – really beautiful setting. Rock City in Nottingham, it’s a hometown thing and an iconic venue, the shows are always phenomenal.
Three words to describe your fans. Owe them everything.
Favorite eyewear brand? Persol.
What is next for you, an immediately upcoming tour or EP/Album? We’ve just released our third record and are currently on tour in the UK, then heading out to the states in a few weeks. Hopefully more music soon!
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your band / music and at what scale? We’d love to still be making music and touring. Hopefully we continue to evolve as we have so far.
Despite their celestial namesake, PLANET are undeniably down to earth. An emerging 4-piece recording independently from lead singer Matty’s home studio in Redfern, inner-city Sydney, PLANET are circulating both locally and internationally, bringing Australian alternative rock influences together with instantly-appeasing and familiar elements of Brit-pop. Comparisons with the vocal stylings of UK indie legends Oasis as well as fellow Sydney-based wave-makers DMA’S further compliment the band’s musical merits. Theirs is the music of a modern nostalgia; sweeping melodies and chords rooted in the fabric of earnest musical dues that take their cues from icons from Johnny Marr to The Lemonheads to Ringo Starr and Chrissie Hynde. PLANET are sure to continue drawing in a solid following.
4SEE caught up with the band with the ‘loyal, passionate, loud’ fan-base and found out about some of their greatest escapades and lessons learned along the way – why Sydney to Adelaide and back again by car is a bad idea – and not one they’ll be repeating any time soon.
Band / Artist Name PLANET Genre(s) Alternative Rock/Gaze-pop Member(s) and Instrument(s) Matty Took (Lead vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Tom Peppitt (Lead guitar), James Weaver (Bass), Harry Stewart-Weeks (Drums) Based in Sydney, Australia Playing together since 2015 First album released in 2018 Forthcoming album release TBA Listen to us on iTunes/Spotfiy/YouTube
Describe your band / music / style in three words.
Energetic, Honest & Dreamy
What did you listen to when growing up?
We each grew up listening to different music, but I’d say we all definitely listened to our fair share of Australian ‘80s & ‘90s bands.
Music icon(s) and the reason why.
Tom: Hans Zimmer – I’ve always wanted to compose for movies like he does, the way he can turn an emotional or physical feeling into a complete sonic experience blows my mind.
Matty: Chrissie Hynde. Great vocals and always super raw.
Harry: Ringo Starr. ‘Cause he’s Ringo Starr, man.
Jimmy: Johnny Marr…his ability to adapt and change whilst still remaining quintessentially “Johnny Marr”. A statement not only true musically, but in terms of personality – rockstar to producer to true professional. Also (he is) the essence of cool.
Who are you listening to right now?
We’re listening to quite a lot of local Australian acts because the quality of music and songwriting has just been so on point over the past couple of years. To name a few Sydney bands: The Buoys, Sunscreen, Clews, Egoism & 100. (We have) also been drawing inspiration from Smashing Pumpkins, Ride & Dinosaur Jr. recently.
What is the craziest / funniest thing that’s happened on tour?
We were driving from Adelaide to Sydney after a show supporting The Charlatans. Matty was behind the wheel, making good time, but pushing the hire car harder than any Kia Carnival should reasonably be pushed. We were getting close to the SA/Vic border when the noise started. Nothing too hectic, but we figured we’d stop in the next town and check there. All of a sudden there was a huge bang and we all felt something drop out of the engine and rattle down along the undercarriage.
The engine cut and we cruised with hazards on and smoke coming from the hood over to the side of this highway. The tow truck driver, upon inspecting the engine, simply remarked “it’s fucked.” So we get a lift into a charming country town called Ouyen. The local mechanic confirmed the car was, indeed, fucked.
With a 7-hour wait for a replacement car from Melbourne, we headed to the local pub. All in all, it ended up being a really nice day, drinking middies and playing pool, but when it got to knock off time, the vibe of the pub shifted from charming country establishment to bundy cola cans. Feeling we’d overstayed our welcome, we were grateful to see a brand new Kia Carnival on the back of a flatbed truck rolling into town. Making the switch to continue our drive to Wagga, where we would stay the night before continuing to Sydney, the particular stretch of highway was notorious for kangaroos. We lost count on how much roadkill we’d seen. When we finally made it to Wagga, it was perhaps the coldest room we’ve ever slept in.
Safe to say that’ll probably be the last time we do Sydney to Adelaide and back again by car.
Favorite performance venues or music festivals? And why?
We really like playing at The Lansdowne in our hometown. It’s an awesome venue that’s semi-recently had a complete facelift. It’s got an awesome PA, and every show we’ve played there has been pretty crazy. Talking about dream venues, I think we’d all love to play the Enmore Theatre in Sydney one day.
Three words to describe your fans.
Loyal. Passionate. Loud
What is next for you, an immediately upcoming tour or EP/Album?
We’ve got a new single coming out in October. It’s the second single off our forthcoming EP.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your band / music and at what scale?
To be honest, we just want to be touring as much as possible, and writing/releasing as much music as we possibly can.