Any Vampire Diaries fan will be excited to hear that Michael Malarkey, aka bloodsucker Enzo St. John, has plans to release his debut album Summer 2017. So the world isn't ending after all since there’s something to look forward to after the long running beloved show finally comes to an end in the spring.
It is no surprise that Malarkey had an interest in music with his previous EP releases Feed the Flames and Knots. His appreciation for music came at an early age, listening to The Beatles, Paul Simon, and Mickey Hart cassette tapes his parents had and played piano for about five years. He recalls having a "massive crush" on a girl named Michelle as a child and of course, the Beatles hit song just had to have played in his head at the very thought of her.
As Malarkey got older, he developed quite the eclectic musical taste listening to Wu-Tang Clan, Reel Big Fish and later having an intense hardcore, punk, and ska phase in high school. He was a big fan of Minor Threat, Fugazi and Rancid while naming Operation Ivy's album "Energy" the soundtrack to his high school days.
Discovering new music was always a risky treat to him saying, "There weren’t any streaming or pirate sites back then so you had to take more of a chance on new music,” he says. “I always enjoyed the gamble of a random record, the thrill of ripping off the shrink-wrap, the very specific smell of the booklet and the joy of that first listen. I wouldn’t do anything else while listening. I’d just sit there and take it in".
After high school, Malarkey and a few buddies created a screamo band where he served as the lead singer although troubling nerves left him playing with his back to the audience leaving the impression of being dramatic when stage fright was the real jam. Later, he joined another band that toured and recorded with until teaching himself how to play the guitar and started creating his own music. He describes it as narratively-driven moody folk music.
Malarkey carries a low, glossy register with a clean and wide vibrato over cool tempered tunes. It’s no wonder people have compared his voice to Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen. He says, "I suppose I am drawn to melancholy, not in a sad way, but in a philosophical way. There’s nothing wrong with a little darkness. It’s where much of my creativity stems from." The inner yin within Malarkey is not only present in his music but also in his role as Enzo on The Vampire Diaries.
Enzo made an addition during the show’s fifth season, later became a regular during the sixth, and will continue onto the show's final season. His character is considered an anti-hero in the beginning, possessing unfriendly qualities that distances harmony from himself and those around. After a long history of imprisonment and torture, Enzo grows cold and begins to kill people and seek revenge. Later on, as Enzo falls in love with Bonnie, he adds a kinder and benevolent affection to his identity, but goes dark again in season seven’s finale.
Malarkey describes Enzo as an outcast and it being easy for him to understand this complexion because when he was younger, his family moved a lot. He had attended many different schools. He refers to himself as always having been a stranger and says Enzo’s rootlessness and tenacity allows him to easily adjust to any environment.
Speaking of adjusting, when it was time for college, Malarkey decided to attend school in England, where he has a dual-citizenship, at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. No wonder Enzo’s accent is so good. Even if he spoke with his head cocked back, cracking and slurring every word he spoke, Malarkey’s well-sculpted, arresting look would redeem and capture every fluttering heart of the strong and the weak like he does now.
As for the final season, he's excited to help close the show and work on other film projects. He's been working on writing and recording his debut album as well as balancing the always adventurous ride of parenthood with his wife, Nadine. Malarkey describes his son, Marlon as a smart and active hurricane and tries to find family time during work, while exercising or sorting meals. You wouldn’t know by looking at him, but the guy who casually snapped a lady’s neck on late night TV says he can make a mean chili. "Secret ingredient: Marmite", he says. Sounds delicious.
Fortunately, Malarkey does not live up to the dictionary definition of his last name when he talks about what issues in our country he wants to see change, stating education should encourage social aspects, independence and community. In consideration of his son’s future, he believes educators have a crucial job in shaping that outcome and schools should be more selective.
Regarding the presidential election coming this November, he tries to bypass what he calls the pageantry and celebrity of American politics and focus on real issues Americans face. Although recognizing the difficulty in avoiding the dramatization the media has stirred up so far he says, "I suppose all we can do is encourage people to think for themselves and work on what they can do to better their own lives and those within their circles. That’s where the real change happens."
Despite all the hoopla surrounding our nation's election, Malarkey’s media literacy helps keep his head clear when it comes to the entertainment industry's expertise of making their talent into full blown celebrities on their social media platforms. Even having over a million followers on Twitter and Instagram combined, he identifies that artists have a tons of pressure nowadays to build their own brand and how that could potentially be dangerous where it compromises a performer’s artistic integrity.
"The best actor doesn’t always get the job, I’m afraid. I suppose the trick is to play the game and not let it be your ruler.” The guy knows how to avoid all the wrong turns. “And always be gracious and appreciative of your fans. They are who you are making the shows for after all!"
This upcoming and final season of The Vampire Diaries is one Malarkey is definitely going to miss, especially the cast and crew he has grown close with over the past three seasons. "I’m definitely ready for the next stage in my life creatively, but it has been extremely rewarding as well as a challenge to live in the same role for almost three years now." Surely his fans can't wait either for his upcoming film projects he wishes to accomplish. Oh yeah, and that album of his.
Be sure to catch the final season 8 of The Vampire Diaries premiering tonight Friday, October 21, 2016 at 8 PST on The CW.
Photography by Easton Schirra
Written by Betsybelle Camacho
Grooming by Christina Guerra @ Celestine
Styled by Chanel Gibbons
Creative Direction by Heather Seidler