We had a chance to sit down with a singer-songwriter, actor and all-round great guy Michael Malarkey, on his tour in Germany and chat about his calling for telling stories.
Having acted Enzo in the American supernatural teen drama Vampire Diaries, Malarkey is a familiar face to many. Not only is he a charismatic character on the screen but he is also in his element as a musician on the stage. As a matter of fact, Malarkey calls to mind that singing became his primary creative outlet before his acting career took off. In an interview before his gig at Bi Nuu in Kreuzberg, Malarkey opens up to indieBerlin about the traumas of his very early acting career and reveals which banger you would most likely find him singing to in a karaoke bar!
indieBerlin: Thank you for joining us today, how are you Michael?
Thank you. It’s always a pleasure to be back here. Every time we come back to Berlin it’s a great show and nice turn out.
indieBerlin: Firstly, you’re also an incredibly well-known actor, are there any parallels between the worlds of music and acting?
Well, they are both storytelling and they are both ways of communicating. I feel like my work in music helps me in certain ways with acting as well: I think about things in terms of audio and rhythm. But they are two very different things at the same time – they are both exploring different elements of myself.
indieBerlin: Is it easier to tell a story as an actor or as a musician?
As an actor you obviously have someone else with their script to help tell the story, you just have to say the words – some people make it a lot more complicated than that. As far as music goes the storytelling is less direct, it’s more of a poetic form. The joy I have in making music is the fact that it’s not saying exactly what the story is. It’s about hinting at it, it’s about creating little pictures, paintings and imagery, I suppose, that are strung together to in order to create emotions and feelings in the listener. It’s a lot more open to interpretation.
The joy I have in making music is the fact that it’s not saying exactly what the story is.
indieBerlin: How has the reception been on your music, especially here in Germany?
Great, I mean the crowd here is fantastic. Like I said, I love coming back to Germany. We just have a good time here and the response to the record has been fantastic so far!
indieBerlin: if you could collaborate with anyone in music, who would it be?
I don’t normally think like that. I don’t think about people I could collaborate with – I just carry on doing my own thing.
indieBerlin: What is your go-to song in karaoke?
Karaoke?! I don’t do karaoke! (laughs). I think it has something to do with when you do this for work you think about it differently… If I had to do choose a karaoke song, I would probably do Loser by Beck.
If I had to do choose a karaoke song, I would probably do Loser by Beck.
indieBerlin: Have you ever embarrassed yourself on the stage?
Oh yeah, for sure! I did some plays as an extra-curricular activity when I was a kid, before I even wanted to be an actor. There was this one time we did a Greek myth… a spoof kind of a thing. The chorus in a Greek myth tells the story. Our version of the chorus was a chorus of frogs. We were wearing these little frog masks and doing all the motions – and then I realise I have forgotten to put the mask on! There were like twenty other people in this chorus and I was the only one who didn’t have a mask. I was absolutely mortified!
indieBerlin: What is the most touching response you’ve had to a piece of your music?
I am always touched when people respond and care to share it with me. It is always touching when someone takes the chance on doing that – it’s a difficult thing to do. I would find it difficult to do that. There are a lot of people that are responding to a song – a lot of songs to be honest – but Scars gets a lot [response] from people who are going through a difficult phase. They say that it has helped them to be strong and to overcome something. And that’s awesome.
indieBerlin: Have there been any particular highlights on the tour?
Uh! It’s all just one big blur – and I don’t mean that in a bad way! The tour kind of feels like one entity, you just move along and it’s a one long day. It’s a one giant highlight! I mean I am sure that when I go back home afterwards, I’ll be able to remember more specifically. But I very much live by the day – my highlight today is getting here and doing a good show, that’s all I think about.
Having recently released his new album ‘Graveracer’, Michael Malarkey is currently touring in Europe and starring in season two of historical drama television series Project Blue Book.
Photography: Lotta Tolpo
A freelance journalist and photographer based in Berlin.