There is a kind of vibe, an energy that only certain people have, that sense of inexplicable uniqueness. Young actor Aliocha Schneider could boast of being one of these artists whose presence, beauty and charisma are inescapable but on the contrary, he just takes all his magnetism and turns it into honest songs and performances that have proved that he is not only a great actor but also a talented musician. 2020 was a great year for him, he premiered the Netflix hit show Vampires and a released new album called Naked, we talk with him about his new projects and the great challenge of handling his two biggest passions: music and acting.
You started as an actor for film, theatre and TV, but then got into singing as well. When did you realise you wanted to be an actor? And when did music come into play?
That’s a tough question. I think when I was 9 years old I thought I wanted to be an actor already. At 17 I quit school because if I wanted to pursue school I would had had to quit acting, and so I did. At the same time, music was starting to become important in my life and I wanted to make my first album. The movie-making process depends on many other people, you do auditions, you meet a lot of people… But music – it’s all up to me. As an actor, I can choose between different roles but as a musician, I feel freer.
Vampires has been your first experience on television. How was shooting this series? Have you noticed differences when shooting a series compared to a movie shoot?
Television is changing. I made TV back in Montreal when I was a teenager, I did soap operas shooting one episode per day at the same time that I was presenting movies in festivals. Vampires was a fat tape, it was a great production. The directors and the cast were great but the process was faster than movies.
So you’ve been working in television shows and movies at the same time, and an actor do you feel comfortable being attached to one character for a long period o time?
No actor would like that. The fun part of working as an actor is being able to be different people. My characters have been different. I know sometimes I’ve been typecast as a blond, soft and romantic love interest. I’m trying not to do that all the time. I like to play the bad guys, I don’t know why but I feel the bad guys are more complex.
In Vampires, you were bad and good at the same time.
Yes, that is what I like. In the beginning, when I read the script my character seemed very bad but then the main character falls in love with him, so I thought that he could not be that bad. That was the challenge. My goal is to make the audience love a character that seems not very loving.
So would you like to play like a real evil character?
Of course, but even if the character is pure evil I would try to understand him. Not if I’m doing a psychopath because that is not understandable but yes when you get an evil character you have to reach his human side.
What’s more fun to play, the evil one or the kind-hearted ones?
I mean it’s more complicated than that but I would say the bad ones.
Do you think you choose characters that are far way more different of who you really are?
It's a challenge. You have to make your version and that is the whole thing of acting. I’ve been shooting a movie where I play a guy who is going to get married in the 19th century and I could have never been able to live something like that in real life. I was somebody else in a different period of time.
Are you a fan of vampire stories?
I do not watch a lot of vampires movies but I do know some really good ones like Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark or Let Me In, the original one.
Your character in Vampires is Ladislav Nemeth, an immortal who lives at night. If you could choose to be immortal, would you? Is Aliocha more of a nocturnal animal or does he prefer the warmth of the sun?
That is a tough question. I would not choose to live forever but I think I would like to live forever for a while. Sometimes I’m up all night partying or working, other days I’m an early bird waking up at six in the morning.
Don’t you think people feel freer when the sun goes down?
The energy is different, the city changes. I really like the morning energy when you wake up very early its a really moment to get inspired, the city is slowly waking up, everything sounds different. It’s a very special time of day.
Previously, you starred in the queer horror film Closet Monster. What interested you about that project?
It was a great script. It was a personal story and the director was very young and the message was very liberating. At that time, I was 19 and some friends were going through the process of coming out and the movie resonated with me so I thought it was the perfect time to do it. The place where we shot was very beautiful with a lot of beautiful colours and little houses.
Do you think more queer representation is needed in less common genres like horror or science fiction?
I think more stories like that are being told. An example is the TV show Euphoria.
But that is not inside the horror genre...
Vampires had queer characters also. But yes I think art and movies should reflect reality and queer community need to be represented.
What is scarier, a vampire clan or a closeted monster?
I think a vampire but both can be cool, think about Monsters, Inc. In that movie, the closeted monsters were very cool.
During your career, you have played genres such as horror, drama and comedy, in which genre do you feel most comfortable and why? Any other genres you’d like to give a try?
It’s hard for me to do comedy because It’s hard for me not to laugh when I worked along with a very funny actor. So. I think I would say drama because I’ve done a lot more of drama but I like to do both. Doing a science fiction film would be amazing, just the experience with green screens and everything should be awesome.
Would you be up to do a Marvel kind of movie?
It’s not my dream but I would love to do it.
You have worked with great names such as Monica Bellucci or Suzanne Clément. What have you learned from those actresses with established careers?
The passion for what they do. They are people who are very down to earth. You can feel they’ve been working hard.
Your brother, Neils, is also a renowned actor in France, has he ever given you advice or guidance? Is the world of cinema less hostile having a brother by your side?
Yes. We talk a lot, there is a dialogue for sure. He is my brother and he is amazing. I can’t tell you one specific advice he has given to me but yes, we talk all the time about acting. In the world of cinema what counts is my art and what I do by myself.
Does the idea of working in Hollywood appeal to you? What directors draw your attention in the movie industry?
Yes, eventually. But if I wanted to do that I would have to move there, and do a lot of auditions, it could be crazy. If life wants that to happen it would happen but I hope it’s not through the tough way.
Tell me about movie directors that drive your attention.
Great questions, I would like to work with Paul Thomas Anderson. He is one of my all-time favourite directors. Leo Carax or the Safdie Brothers are amazing too.
As we said in the beginning, you’re also a singer. Tell us about how your latest album, Naked, came about. What was the starting point, and how was the creative process like?
I really wanted to to do something different. My first album was very influenced by folk singers like Patty Smith or Bob Dylan. I really wanted to go somewhere else. I had a couple of songs that sounded a lot like the first album, so maybe a month before going to the studio I said no, this is not what I want, so I started working again and I came up with ten new songs. I wanted to do something more modern, less folk.
You released the album back in March when the world was starting to get into lockdown. How did you experience releasing such an intimate work when the audience was secluded at home? Do you feel quarantine might’ve contributed positively to the album’s reception?
It came out during the first week of confinement. People listened to it during the quarantine and I could not do any concerts or promo, and I supposed to but the album did reach the public in a deeper way. I could have postponed the release, even if I had done that, the future is still very unclear. So, I’m happy with the release because now I’m already working in new music.
What differences would you say there are between Naked and Eleven Songs? What did you learn from your first album that you’ve applied to the second one?
It’s more modern and I feel like I had more fun doing it. Recording the music videos were super fun. We went to a lot of places to run naked. We visited countries like Spain and Italy, and maybe you could say that I have learned about the life of the songs after recording them. I felt more free thinking that not every choice is decisive and I could work feeling less pressure and more creative.
How would you define your musical style? Who have been your main influences?
Both are really hard questions. I think my last album is a mix of many styles of music but I could say that is pop with a soul or electro vibe, but mainly pop.
In the music video of your song Naked, we can see you running bare in a field. How was the experience of recording that video?
It was super fun. For five days we travelled to Italy and Spain and visited beautiful places. It was a challenge, not just because of the cold weather, also because I needed to hide to avoid people seeing me running naked.
We can say you are not physically shy…
In real life it is different. It's crazy because as an actor I hate running because the first take it’s OK but then you have to do more and you ended exhausted and another thing that I hate is to get naked on camera because is pretty uncomfortable. When I came up with the idea for the video at the time of filming it I ended up thing “What am I doing to myself?"
Does it worry you that your naked body could get all the attention instead of the music and lyrics?
No, I’m far from the camera, the naked factor is really soft. There is no sexual nudity.
What is more difficult to get naked physically or emotionally through film or music?
Of course, emotionally, it's harder to achieve. At the same being naked physically is also linked to the emotional nudity, they are not opposite things.
Can you choose between acting or singing?
I would choose singing but I’m happy not having to choose between acting or singing.
You’ve just released C’est tout, c’est rien, a very beautiful, melancholic song. It’s the first time we hear you sing in French. Did you feel it was more true to yourself somehow? Even though you were born in Paris, why do decide to sing in French just now?
Yes, somehow. It was very hard for me to sing in French but I felt so proud to be able to do it. I loved it and I’m working on more songs in French. I want French to have more space in my music. With the confinement, I needed a challenge and that was singing in french. I tried before but I don’t know why I got it now.
As you released already an album this year, will C’est tout, c’est rien be part of an upcoming 2021 album or EP? What can you tell us about your future plans?
It shares the melody with one of the songs of the album. I’m starting to work in new songs but I’m also shooting a project at the same time so I can’t say when I'm going to release or if it's going to be a whole album, but yes I’m working on it and also I’m working in a tv show based on the novel Germinal by Émile Zola.