When talking to Josh Thorne, one gets the sense of a tornado sweeping through life. However, instead of causing destruction everywhere, Josh causes production – literally, since one of his many hats is that of film producer. But he’s also a musician, fisherman and chairman of an English football team right here in Sweden. Only happy when he’s busy and learning something new, it was my privilege to talk to this extraordinary expat of Stockholm.
Josh hails originally from London, where he was pursuing his love of film as a producer before his life changed dramatically. Demonstrating the impetuosity and enthusiasm that would mark out his future life, Josh met a Swedish girl in Greece and married her 10 days later. Later still, they moved to Sweden to start a family there. Josh’s first move in his new country was to learn Swedish:
Most people try to cram as many words and as much grammar as they can in as short a time as possible. I was more interested in the sounds of this very sonorous language. I spent a good week just getting to grips with the pronunciation of öl. You see, I work in communication and I know that a really good grasp of the language allows you to get closer to the culture, humour and the way in which the Swedish mind works; what makes a Swede laugh or cry.
Inpsiring for anyone trying to learn this difficult language, but also a great way at looking at language in general. But becoming a father meant an increase in living expenses; Josh needed to focus on work:
Prior to my move to Stockholm in 1989, I had been working as a film producer in London where I had produced many UK TV commercials. When moving to Sweden, I used my background to open up the very first agency producer company in Scandinavia, servicing all the larger agencies such as Saatchi and Saatchi, Grey Advertising, and DDB Needham. The workload soon became too much for me alone and around two years into the company’s life, I needed to look for help. It came in the form of Mark Baughen and William Hicks who had both come from the film/ advertising industry in the UK. Both had moved over to Sweden for the same reason as me: love.
The company went from strength to strength and even though other individuals tried to copy the business idea, Josh’s company held its own. They were involved with one of the very first commercials on Swedish television for ‘YES’, won the Swedish equivalent of a Cannes Lion and ended up producing films for Colin Nutley (a well-known expat director), Richard Petrelius and Joakim Eliasson, to name but a few. With all this going on, the company couldn’t help but grow and soon Thorne Film AB found itself 11 strong, which for Swedish standards, was a good-sized company. But when Josh and his wife decided to split up, it was a turning point for him in many ways. Josh folded the company and worked for another, Strobe Film and Design, where he was responsible for setting up the communication agency for Absolut Vodka. Later still, he started up his own animated short film company againstallodds, which is a thriving concern at Södermalm.
Film is just one of Josh’s many passions and it was when the divorce was final that he felt able to pursue his other interests in a serious way. Football had always been part of his life and, true to form, he decided to go all guns blazing and set up an English football team right here in Stockholm: Albion FC. It was an enormous success with both Swedes and expats; over 12 different nationalities are represented in the first and second teams. They started to attract some really good players and lived up to their aim of having fun whilst winning. After 2 years of being chairman, manager, coach, secretary and treasurer of a football team, Josh wanted to focus on something else close to his heart: music.
From a brief conversation with a drinking buddy in the old town sparked a funk band. Ambitious as ever, Josh’s band JBC, was a grand affair of 13 talented, excited and fun-loving individuals who played regularly in Gamla Stan and featured at Fasching, the jazz club par excellence in Stockholm. Initially covering tracks from ‘Average White Band’, Josh was suddenly placed in front of an audience instead of producing behind the scenes, since he was the vocalist. Lots of fun was had, but organising 13 people to be at the same place at the same time was tricky, even for this most intrepid front man. They’re ready to come together at a moment’s notice if a gig comes up, but JBC was disbanded and Josh is now focused on his new musical venture, Easy Riders. I have no doubts that it will be as successful as everything else that Josh has focused on.
Whilst listening, slightly breathless, to this human dynamo who juggles being a father of 4 with front-lining a band; owning a short film company with chairing a football team, I wonder if Josh ever has any down time. I’m relieved to find that he does, but am inspired by the way he chooses to do it. Josh finds peace and calm by fishing in Sweden’s beautiful lakes.
It’s so true, you don’t fish to catch anything, although that’s part of the process. But sitting in beautiful surroundings with your hands occupied, your brain is allowed to rest. It’s a retreat.
That retreat is available to everyone here; from the über-cool vibe of the urban city, we can also explore the beauty of nature in a city that is also composed of 1/3 water and 1/3 green space. Josh’s story is another reminder of what one can do and achieve as an expat in this country: to be successful, to follow your passion and to find peace.