Michael Malarkey had everyone’s attention from the moment he entered the hit CW drama The Vampire Diaries. Good looks, amazing acting skills and then there’s “that voice”. Everyone’s favourite blood-thirsty vampire is about to make his mark on the music world with his recently-relesed EP, Feed the Flames.
How has the transition from vampire to solo artist been?
Well, they’re happening simultaneously really. I’ve been playing music for a long time and it’s always been a huge part of my identity, so I don’t consider this a new venture. The only thing new about it, I suppose, is that it’s on a much larger scale. My goal and challenge now is maintaining the acting and the music as two separate entities.
In Vampire Diaries your character Enzo was resurrected, if you could resurrect a musician from the past who would you resurrect?
Kurt Cobain. I wish I could have heard their next record…
You have previously played the part of the King of Rock (Elvis Presley) in the musical Million Dollar Quartet. Do you think anything of the King has influenced you and comes through in your new E.P?
I played Elvis for a whole year and quite obsessively delved into Country, Gospel, Blues, etc. whilst on the show, so I’m sure there is influences there somewhere. One thing I definitely took away from it was that you don’t need to try and be too clever or even too talented, you just need to just give your gift with honesty – however simple it may seem – and let it grow from there. That was how it was with all those guys on Sun Records. It was raw and it was true. I hope to carry that sentiment on forever.
Your music is very much a collage of different cultures. How would you describe your unique sound?
Oh God, I don’t know. It’s definitely very influenced by growing up in the Midwest. It’s narratively-driven and at the risk of sounding wanky, I like to paint pictures with my songs. I suppose it’s in the vein of folk music, but I hate genres. I think most artists do. They’re restrictive. I grew up on a steady diet of punk and hardcore so there’s probably a bit of that in there too.
Across the whole E.P you express a lot of passion for life and love. Do you live your everyday life this passionately?
I’m very reflective on life experience and appreciate the poetry of it all. So, yes, in a way…but there’s also a dark underbelly to everything that becomes apparent when you scratch the surface. As much as there is a sense of hope, the EP is also quite melancholic at points. I find it equally important to investigate the beauty and the terror…
Which do you prefer- acting or singing?
I like both for different reasons, though songwriting is arguably more personal. My acting career has always taken precedence, but I’m at the point where I feel like music is not just a hobby for me anymore and I feel like my songs may have a place in the current climate. Songwriting seems to be taking a backseat to music production nowadays and what I love the most about music is the storytelling aspect. I’m not a ground-breaking guitarist by any means. I’d even go as far as to say I am a mediocre guitarist. I am a lyricist first and foremost. I remember reading an interview with Sam Shepard recounting a time he was encouraging Patti Smith to start playing guitar. He said to her ‘Guitar is just a back-up for your voice. You’re not going to be Jeff Beck, don’t worry about it. Just learn these chords and you’ll be able to back yourself up.’
Interview by John Vallis
Photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Grooming by Gloria Penaranda
Clothes: leather jackets by ARTEKL, shirt by ALL SAINTS