Kristian Nairn made it as a local DJ a long time ago. He found his niche (house), he found a residency (The Kremlin), he acquired some facial tatts (stars, above his right eye). Now, he’s travelling the world – as Game Of Thrones’ gentle giant Hodor, as a ComiCon guest and enthusiast, and as himself, hosting a string of GOT-themed parties. ZOE KILBOURN has a chat to Nairn before he brings Rave Of Thrones to Villa this Saturday, August 30.
Maybe it’s the distance and the two-second delay, but Kristian Nairn has a phone presence eerily like an articulate Hodor.
He talks about his prime passion with deep love and innocent enthusiasm – “I’m a great DJ,” he says, with honesty and humility. He also plays World Of Warcraft, so there’s that.
“The Kremlin’s an amazing club, the first of its kind, really, in Belfast. Also a time when Russian themed clubs were something different, 16 years ago,” Nairn says of his 16-year residency at the Belfast gay nightspot.
“It was a really underground club – it was in a bunker – and it was all about the music. It’s gotten more commercial these days, but I think that’s a sign of the dance scene as a whole. It’s really where I cut my teeth. We had a difficult crowd, and that’s a really good way to learn. You have to learn how to react to the crowd and not.”
His mixes elude the Top 40 and exude a cool, distanced elegance you could expect from an impressive nightclub. “I’m very much a house purist. Everyone’s all about deep house these days, but I’ve loved deep house for 15 years,” he says. “House is a very big, broad – from EDM, progressive house, right down to broken beats, really commercial stuff. I don’t see why you can’t play a bit of everything in your set. My sets very much pan across house, but they very much work together – it’ll go from piano house to EDM, to deep house, to everything, really.”
He’s an incredibly capable musician, having studied DJing at music college (with drama as a second major). He hasn’t used real instruments in sets for a while, though. “I used to do vocals, and sometimes I had guitars,” says Kristian. “I used to add extra basslines in there. I haven’t done that recently.
“I was a mad heavy metal fan, and I studied guitar for years and years and years – that was my first goal, I wanted to be a heavy metal guitar player. Truth be told – if someone offered me that now, I’d drop everything. Poison or KISS get in touch and say, ‘We need a guitar player,’ I’d just say ‘Screw this’, I’d be straight on stage.
“I was a very shy kid, very introverted,” he says. “My mother started me on piano when I was three years-old, so I’ve always had music in my life. Being so shy, I really learned how to express myself through my instruments.”
Hodor, too, is a particularly vulnerable member of the Game Of Thrones universe. Is Nairn’s portrayal of Hodor drawn from real experience?
“Very much so. I definitely fall back on when I was a younger kid. It’s funny you pick up on that, it’s definitely a resource for me. It’s quite emotional in many ways.
“No one really knows who he is or his backstory. I like that about him. I hope one day people will find out. He’s a pure reaction character. He doesn’t have any motives. He doesn’t have any self-interest, he’s purely giving.”