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Please find a selection of interviews with pros and fans from the VA world all saved from our old site
MasakoX ( 2009)

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Hey everyone! I'm Masako-kun more commonly known on the internets as MasakoX and I am from the United Kingdom! I am an editing graduate with a penchant for voice acting and anime.

2. How did you get into voice acting? Well, I was always interested in voicing characters but I never really knew where to turn. But I came across a voice actress (Rina-chan) who told me about the Voice Acting Alliance and it sorta built from there - I owe where I am today to her.

3. What are your main inspirations? My main inspirations are the actors Sean Schemmel and Yuji Ueda. Both actors have impressive ranges and have lots of power in their voices. I think to their performances over the years and implement them in my acting. It allows me to make sure I am doing the best I can.

4. What software and equipment do you use at home? For recording, I use a Samson CO1U microphone along with Audacity to record. AS for editing, I use Adobe Premiere for basic editing and After Effects for more complex dealings. They all work together and allow me to potentially have a 'one-man band' production workflow which I find extremely satisfying.

5. You're well known for your work in parody series like Naruto Abridged how did you get involved with that? It was simply an exercise between me and Hideki to see whether the abridging format could work with the series Naruto as it had done with Yu-Gi-Oh. As the internet has proved, it does!

6. Have you ever felt like giving up? A couple of times, mostly related to real-life problems which impeded my ability to record. However, I would then remember that I have too much fun recording and have made dozens of friends over the years; so how can you give up on something like that?

7. What's the best experience you have gotten out of voice acting? Again, making so many friends that are either fellow voice actors, producers of fans of Naruto Abridged. I have met many people and managed to get to work with some of them allowing me to explore my range and come up with some new ideas.

8. Do you have any other hobbies or interests? As of now, my hobby is looking for work in post production! Despite this, I am into cars. I do like looking at cars and would love to drive some of the fastest cars in the world one of these days, but I would doubt that the insurance companies would like that!

9. What are you working on now? I am trying to catch up on a backlog of recording I need to get done as well as some personal projects which I have been working on over the last few this space.

10. What are your aims for the future? I do hope to become a voice actor, but I know that you can't run a career solely on that. Thusly, I wish to become a TV/film editor enabling me to make media contacts and promote my acting credentials at the same time. Two birds and all!
Harabek ( 2009)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Sure, my name's Michael Johnson, I'm originally from California and now I live in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I served a few years in the US Air Force and got out to pursue a career in writing. Right now I'm going to school at the University of Northern Colorado for Film and Literature. How did you get into voice acting? I first was interested in voice acting when I saw other animations and machinima works posted online. After a few personal attempts at voice acting I realized how horrible I was at it. I checked out forums like Voice Acting Alliance and the Voice Acting Club and just read on how some more experienced actors/actresses did their work. I've met a few people that would take some time out and actually listen to some voice samples and offer suggestions on breathing, inflection and emotion. What are your main inspirations? I watch a lot of random flash animations, especially stuff by EgoRaptor and LazyBoy. My biggest influence in actually writing and creating machinima would be the show Fire Team Charlie, which was almost like RedVsBlue but featured a crazier plotline. I play a lot of older games like Final Fantasy 7, Mortal Kombat, and Sonic and they definitely make it into the show in one form or another. My BIGGEST inspiration is music. In general I spend a lot of "dead time" listening to music and certain songs can inspire me to write good high points of comedy (for example the song "Love Rollercoaster" inspired the rollercoaster in episode 7.) Random songs on the radio or Pandora can set the mood for a scene or an entire episode. What software and equipment do you use at home? Right now I'm stuck with capturing video and editing video with Pinnacle Studio 11 Plus. I hope to upgrade to Sony Vegas with Adobe After Effects. Tristen and I record on a $30 dollar pod casting microphone with Audacity. Again I want to upgrade our microphones, but that would all come whenever I get a new computer. I use a laptop: HP Pavilion dv8000. You're well known for your work on Pre-game lobby, can you tell us how that got started? PGL basically started with me just being the guy always saying "I wish we had a camera to show how stupid we are." On XBL I talked to several friends about the idea about a show about "nothing" on Halo. Where there's a constructed storyline about real people and each episode could stand alone but still be part of a story arc. They threw out ideas (character and story ideas). When I told other friends offline about it, they offered random situations (like the Hannah Montana idea, Walmart, etc..) and we basically went off from there. I was originally going to call the show "Matchmaking" and I typed the word in google search to make sure no one else had the same title. Unfortunately there already was a show with the same premise. I thought about scrapping the idea but we decided that our series, although similar, was different and unique enough that people would be able to enjoy our show. How is an episode of PGL put together? Usually it starts with me in random places, XBL, friend's houses, Walmart, school, etc.. and I jot down little things that I think I need to remember. I take all of those things and put them into an outline and eventual script. Each first draft usually starts at 15-20 pages and I send it out to personal friends to critique it. They usually delete "unfunny" or irrelevant ideas or add new ideas and situations, the script is re-worked and it's then sent out to all the voice actors and actresses. Meanwhile, I go on Halo and capture the necessary video and edit as I go along. Once I get all the video and audio in, I add in ambient sounds, music and SFX. This whole process usually takes about two weeks but with so many people involved it can take longer. The whole "real life" thing gets in the way… Since PGL is based heavily in the gaming community does to cause any problems? The only main problem is that I have to be careful what I say and do with the show. There are certain things that I know we would be crucified for saying. I'll probably say them anyways in an episode but I know that we'll receive some sort of retaliation in the form of a video by our peers. I know we're watched by some high key figures and other machinima directors and there is always some psychological pressure to prove our worth to them or at least outdo ourselves with every new episode. Where do you see the Machinima community going in the future? I would hope to see the Machinima community moving forward to actual broadcast stations like Adult Swim. I think the guys at Red Vs Blue are popular enough to do that and introduce the world community into this genre of filmmaking. It seems more likely that there will always be a smaller venue for machinima fans while a bigger distributor uses some of the more well known machinima directors for their own goals. I suppose there's a huge difference between what I want to see and what will actually happen. It seems that money is a key factor for the exposure for machinima. Most, if not all, small directors are doing their shorts with little to no money and unfortunately they'll have to give something up to get the exposure they want. Have you ever felt like giving up? Only once to be honest. Episode three was the first episode to feature live action scenes and re-iterated the idea that these characters were real gamers, not faceless players. The episode received so many bad reviews that some of the voice actors and people who helped with the video capture were disappointed with what I had done. A lot of people we're telling me to basically stick with machinima and not try anything different. I was frustrated and almost trashed the project until a friend noticed that out of every hundred positive comments, only two or three were negative. With his encouragement I decided to keep doing what I wanted to do with the show but I refrained from using live action until I bought a new camera. Since then our true fans have realized what the show is and appreciate that there is live action within the show. What's the best experience you have gotten out of voice acting? It sounds dumb but I'm normally a reserved, monotone kind of person but ever since I started acting and writing the show I've become much more open in life. People that I know personally may know nothing about the show, but they know that I produce "something" and they can tell that it makes me happy. There really hasn't been one particular experience so far that sticks out, but the entire realm of voice acting has been a great growing experience for me. Do you have any other hobbies or interests? I barely get to do anything other than write but in the summer I enjoy skydiving and glider flying. For the most part I'm a city person and I usually go out to places where most single guys in their mid-twenties would go, though I don't drink nearly as much as I write/say I do. I have an obsession with film so I spent a great deal of my time watching old movies, either for fun, for work or for school. What are you working on now? I have been working on a very dark script for a new machinima. I had planned it to be slightly controversial but thanks to YouTube's new Standards and Practices act there is a fear that the series would never be shown. I am also gathering thoughts for the next season of PGL. I know that there will be slightly more live action (at least some in every episode) and it will become a little more serious and answer some character questions as to why certain people behave the way they do. Each episode will go a little bit more into character development and have side characters that compliment them. After episode nine I plan to stick more to the realistic and be less involved in the whole "conspiracy" idea. One of the original thoughts that was brought to me while writing the first episode came when I was talking to an XBL friend. He basically mentioned that he didn't have very many friends and it was hard for him to talk to others at school. His family life wasn't pleasant and if he was grateful that he had XBL as a means to escape and relax. Since PGL features real players and their lives, the series will start to dive into some of the darker elements of being a gamer who lives in an environment where none of your friends or family play games. What are your aims for the future? I actually hope to move forward with actual short films, in my spare time I work on several short scripts simultaneously. Within the year I hope to actually film a few of them and eventually either send out my full feature script or film it myself (if I'm able to find the necessary resources). I will always continue to do machinima; it's always been a means to express myself and experiment with different techniques but I hope to break out into mainstream media and worker on bigger projects.
Mippa ( 2008)

1. Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into voice acting?

Well I'm not particularly interesting...I got into voice-acting as a result of my tween-age fandom for a cartoon series "Sonic the Hedgehog" produced by DiC, and my obsession/relation to the character Sally Acorn. I loved her voice-actress, Kath Soucie, and dedicated myself to sounding as appealing as her.

My interest grew as I started hearing familiar voice-actors such as Rob Paulsen and Jess Harnell in Animaniacs and other Warner Bros. cartoons that were popular at the time. Eventually I moved on to other interests, anime such as Sailor Moon, Ranma 1/2, and Tenchi Muyo! filling the gap Sonic left. I still loved to imitate voices, but my interest for voice-acting waned as I moved on to other interests, such as Japanese and writing.

My biggest hobbies have always been writing, Japanese studies, online roleplay, and studying. I returned to voice-acting after I got the part of Haruhi in Marianne Miller's Ouran High School Host Club fandub, and my friend Kei McCarthy suggested I try out for a few fandubs by Kira Buckland. It just took off from there, and my interest was revived.

I lived in Tokyo at that time, and found myself rubbing elbows with Japanese seiyuu on more than one occassion...I will always love voice-acting though, although it sometimes has to struggle with my other interests to get its due time.

2. You have professional as well as amateur experience, were you always aiming to go pro?

"Going pro," albiet in a minor sense, is a great accomplishment for me - it's one of those things I dreamed of doing, but never believed would happen. I'm still not an outright professional voice-actress - or actress in general full-time. As much as it would be fantastic to do so, I have other things I find more important, and voice-acting still remains a hobby - that isn't saying that I wouldn't jump at the opportunity should it present itself. I'm just not willing to put the rest of my life on hold while waiting for my big break. I wish I could, but I'm getting too old and I've worked too hard to get where I am at in other areas of my life.

3. What equipment and software do you record with at home?

I have four computers - each of them with a different Windows OS. I did my earliest working on my Japanese laptop with Vista. However, I also have my tablet I currently record on mostly (since I can do it in bed before going to sleep! XD) with XP, and I have a new gaming computer with Windows 7. All of those use Adobe Premiere. I use Audacity on my Mac, though I'm still not familiar enough with it to do much.

As a Microphone, I use a Snowball USB.

4. What are the hardest challenges you have had to face as a voice actress?

There are so many! I think the biggest one for me was detaching myself from my work. Sometimes you take your work so personally, so seriously - it's easy to get things out-of-perspecitve, and investing too much of your emotions and pride into your work. I had to remind myself (and sometimes others) - that this is what it is - it ain't brain surgery, we're not saving lives. We're giving noise to cartoon characters. We're enriching our world, perhaps, but we need to remember that we have no true ownership to the final product. We're a key part of that final product, but we're no more or less important than any other member of the team. We need to work together and appreciate what each member of our voice-acting community brings to the table, be it a writer, producer, actor, actress, critics, and most of all the audience.

On a more shallow side - screams and being type-casted as big sister/mother types at inconvenient times.

5. You produce your own projects as well as voice act for others, does being an actress yourself help with your production technique?

I have produced a few. As far as being an actress helping - I've learned that constant reminding of your cast does wonders for productivity. We're all busy people with outside lives. If we haven't done our lines, it's most likely because we forgot or are busy. Follow up and ask if they want to relieve themselves of the work.

It also helps me a lot, as a producer, to know what works and what doesn't for actors and productivity. I guess it's a personal preference for each user, but for example - Skype sessions, while fun, are impractical to expect from people working full-time jobs and supporting themselves. Additionally, I typically like to stay away from recorded "how-to's" with delivery, unless it's referring to pronunciation. There are rare occassions that I'm cool with it, and even prefer it, but usually I will ask.

I also plug-and-play when it comes to video clips. You can't do this with audio dramas really, but with video clips, timing and what-not is already in place for you...and the sooner to get stuff adjusted, the less daunting it is when it comes to complete that clip.

6. What are you working on at the moment?

Production-wise, not much. Global Conflict episode 3 is dragging along, and should be done soon. That's about all I have for the production front at the moment.

Voice-acting wise, more than I can remember! The most exciting of projects for me are some flash animations, a few fandubs...I think the Fighter4Luv Sailormoon fandub is the one that has gotten me the most attention, oddly enough. You'd think that with all the Stars fandubs around there, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but even the old Sailor Moon voice actors are talking about it.

As for the project I am most excited about...hmm, that's a good question. Twin Stars with Kung-Fu Action Theatre is really fun, and I'm hoping that Morgan Barnhart's "Dodging Raindrops" will be reaching its conclusion soon. I'm really looking forward to seeing how that wraps up.

7. Finally do you have any advice for other voice over artists?

I think what I mentioned earlier is the best advice I would like to see taken to heart. Also, accept help when it's offered, and cherish it. Had I not gotten the attention from others I had received in my earlier days, I would not be doing what I do, nor would I want to. There is a bit of competition, but there is a place for everyone in voice-acting, be it rising to the fame of Rob Paulsen or whoever, right down to using your skill to read to the elderly and children. You have been given a gift, use it selflessly.

Mippa has voice over demos available at her and can be e-mailed at mippachan[at]
Julie Hoverson (2009)

We conducted this interview earleir in the year but sadly the internet had other ideas and ate it. Thankfully though Julie found it so we can share it with you. Julie is the mind behind the excellent .

I've always been creative - constantly making, writing, drawing, or building something. A few years back I studied screenwriting and wrote several scripts, even placed in a contest or two, but got bored with the "trying to sell it" process and decided to move on to something I can get completed - from start to finish - all by myself.

What attracted you to audio drama in the first place?

I've been listening to Old Time Radio since high school, and have been part of American Radio Theater (ART), a group of OTR fans who re-created old episodes. Then I started writing my own, and when I got cast in a friend's show "The Unspeakable and Inhuman" I talked my way into using their studio to record, it all sort of fell into place to make a show.

Your productions tend to have a horror theme, is that a genre you're particularly fond of?

Yes. I like mystery and comedy and other things, too, and they all show up in my show at one point or another, but horror is particularly suited to a short format, since it's not a surprise to have a new set of characters every episode...

Who or what are your biggest inspirations?

For story and writing, Lights Out and Quiet please are some of the best OTR horror serieses, while there's also the TV shows Twilight Zone and Tales and the Crypt.

On the other hand, for sound quality and production... When I started making my show, I honestly hadn't yet listened to a single on-line audio drama, so I started in aiming for the quality level of my top favortie audio dramas - the BBC Lord of the Rings and the Sapphire & Steel audio dramas from Big Finish - in other words, I set my personal bar VERY high, and I've done pretty well in keeping my quality up.

You perform as well as produce your own productions? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?

Well, depends on if you're any good....
One advantage is I always know I can take on "that part I can't find anyone to do". Plus, I always get the parts I want - since I'm the casting director, and luckily I can play pretty much anything and be good at it. On the other hand, there's no one to clue me in if I don't do a good job, or to replace me if I flake off.

Truly, the hardest thing about acting in your own show is the very real possibility that you are a better writer or producer than actor, and no one will tell you, since they don't want to be tossed out of the show.

How do you cast your productions?

Most parts that I write fall into two categories - parts I specifically hear one of my actors in, or parts I could hear anyone in. This just means that either I already have someone in a mind for a part, or I'll cast whoever's handy (I have a pretty huge pool of actors to draw from). VERY seldom do I hold actual auditions, since I really hate the audition process (mostly the part where I have to tell people they didn't get the part), though I am happy to consider new people who get in touch with me.

I also record WAY in advance, so I always am working on two or three projects at once. Gives me options (since I occasionally get completely sick and tired of something I'm working on and want to take a break on some other project for a while). For instance, I've got almost everything for my shows for the rest of the year recorded already.

What software and equipment do you use?

I use Audacity primarily, though I import tracks into Goldwave for certain SFX, since their preset effects are sometimes just what I want. For single person hardware, I like the Podcast Factory by M-audio, but it's no longer made. I keep picking up extra ones on ebay, so I can pass them on to some of my actors. For group recording I have a nice little Tascam unit that has two mike hookups, which is plenty, even with a large group to record.

As well as drama, you also make a podcast about audio drama. What prompted you to start it?

I like the sound of my own voice....
Actually people would ask me questions, about how I do things, and I decided "wow, I seem to be good at this, why not share my wisdom...?"

Plus, I like the sound of my own voice.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I follow a few shows - a bunch of stuff from Brokensea audio (, Tales of the Extraordinary (hilarious adventure serial), 1:18 Migration (zombie show), and other ones. There's links to all my favorites on my site ( I also like to recruit actors from these other shows to be in mine - particularly some of the people who produce them, like Gwendolyn at Gypsy Audio, Michael at Tales of the Extraordinary, and Bill at Brokensea.

What productions are you involved with right now?

Other than my own? I've been in a few - I'm still acting in Unspeakable & Inhuman (, did some voice work for Brokensea's upcoming Kolchak project, read a story for Fear on Demand, and have done some work for Lightning Bolt Theater. I'm happy to act in anything, though it mostly depends on what kind of time I have.

For production, though, I keep that to my own shows. As I tell people, I'm a writer and actor who learned to produce specifically to showcase my own writing. I'm producing two half hour episodes a months of 19 Nocturne Boulevard, have a special event coming up for the Halloween season (since that's the show's anniversary), and in November will be debuting a second series, Bingo the Birthday Clown (I've already recorded nearly all the voices for the first entire season of Bingo).

Any last thoughts or advice you'd like to share?

The hardest thing to do, particularly when starting out, is to take your time - it's very easy to fall into the "I want to get this done RIGHT NOW!" Also, tough as it is, you need to find someone to give you real critiques, since you won't be able to be objective about your own work unless you set a piece aside for months and then go back and listen to it. Seriously.

The biggest thing, though, is whatever you're doing - keep doing it. Learn everything you can and get better each time. Always learn from your mistakes. But keep doing it. If you want to be a writer - write. Keep plugging away until you've honed your skills.

It may look like I just popped into Audio Drama and started with awesome shows from day one (if i do say so myself...), but that's only because I've been writing and acting for years and years and years. In fact, I have an actress who is graduating from high school this year, whose parents I introduced when we were in high school. Experience helps a lot.
Vic Mignogna 2012

How did you get into voice acting?

Quite by accident actually, I'd been doing a lot of acting since I was young, but voice acting? I'd never really thought about that, or put it together. I was a big fan of a lot of shows as a kid, but it never occurred to me that there were people doing the voices of those characters.

Then about thirteen years ago I was working on a video production in Houston, and one of the guys on the production said "Hey, you got a lot of acting experience right? There's this place in town that buys all these Japanese cartoons and they dub them into English and they need actors."

So I thought that sounded like fun, and went and auditioned and got cast, ADV films was the name of the company. At the time it was just a tiny little group of people like us ( he gestures to the interviewers present), and the first show I did was Vega in Street Fight 2. I didn't know what they did with the shows once we'd recorded them, how they were sold, how they were distributed, how they were made; I would just go in record characters and leave.

Then it grew from there, after having done 15 or so shows with ADV I got invited to an anime convention, I never even knew they did those. I used to go to pop culture conventions like these ( MCM Expo), and dress up in my best Captain Kirk uniform or Obi-Wan or something. So I went to this anime con and was blown away. There were all these people dressing up as characters I'd played, or had toys, or action figures or wall scrolls. I was just blown away, I didn't even know this stuff existed.

Then I met people from FUNimation at a convention, and started working At FUNimation doing more and more snows, then I met people from Los Angeles and started working in Los Angeles. It just snowballed, I was just overwhelmed by how it took off. I never planned it, I always make sure to give credit to God. I didn't plan for it, I didn't study for it. A door just opened and I just hazardously stumbled through. It was a really good door.

You've started to dub a lot of songs for anime running on TV, a few years ago it seemed most changed the songs completely. What changed?

There isn't really a set time that they started dubbing songs, a lot of times the Japanese companies that owned the original music won't grant the licence to dub the songs, because they want to sell CDs of the original bands. Like Full Metal Alchemist, they wouldn't let us dub any of the songs. They wanted to promote all the bands that sung all those songs, they were all very popular bands over there (in Japan), so they didn't allow FUNimation to dub all the songs.

Then you come to One Piece or Dragon Ball Kai, then they got permission. I have a very extensive background in music; I've been singing, writing and producing music twice as long as I've been voice acting. I got the chance after ten years of not being involved in the music of anime at all, I just did voice acting. It was kinda weird, I did so much music, but they never asked me to do anything music related until I was asked to sing some One Piece songs, and there was the GT song, and the Kai theme. Since then I've done songs from DNAngel and Ouran High School.

It's just up to the Japanese companies what they allow to be dubbed.

What role are you most proud of playing?

Without question I would have to say is Edward Elric. I had no idea I'd be so impacted by that show and by that character. I remember when I was young, there was an actor named Yul Brynner, and he played the King in 'The King and I', he did all kinds of stuff but he was most known for playing the King in the King and I. He did that show for almost every night for thirty years on Broadway, thousands of performances. I realised that out of all of the characters I'd played, that as much as I loved Full Metal and that character, I'd played it longer than any other character I'd played. When you consider the original series, the OVAs, the movie, video games and Brotherhood ( which was longer than the original series), then the movie from Brotherhood and OVAs from Brotherhood, and then suddenly I'd played this wonderful character in this amazing show for something like 140 episodes.

There are a lot of roles I'm proud of; Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club, Zero from Vampire Knights, and there's a show airing at the moment in the States called Kekkaishi, and I play Yoshimori the lead in that show, there's also Fai from Tsubasa, Ikkaku from Bleach; there are so many great shows, but it's so hard to top Full Metal.

Are there other voice actors that have inspired you?

No not really, but there are other voice actors that I have a great amount of respect for, and in many cases I've been doing it longer than they have, but they're really good at what they do. Laura Bailey is amazing, Lucy Christian is fantastic, Troy Baker ...they're just stupidly talented people. Laura actually plays opposite me in Kekkaishi, and of course she was Lust in FMA. So not so much as inspired, as much as admire and respect them.

...a lot of people suggest Mel Blanc

I think they say that because everyone knows him as the Warner Brother's voice actor, he's amazing but when I was a little kid watching all those shows I never thought of being a voice actor. It never occurred to me to be a voice actor, so it never occurred to me. I remember being young, something like 13 or 14 and me and my friend loving Speed Racer. Now I didn't know it was anime, I didn't even know what anime was. I just knew it didn't look like Scooby-Doo, it didn't look like all of the other Western Cartoons. It looked different, the voices were different, the delivery was different, they way they were performed were different. So me and my friend ran around all the time imitating Speed Racer, so who could have known that fast forwarding thirty years that I'd be in the middle of anime, which Speed Racer was!

Have there been any roles you've auditioned for and not gotten?

There are always those yeah. But worse than that was the roles that I was cast in, then the company went down and they lost the licences and it went to another company. I don't know if you remember Sergeant Frog? I love Sergeant Frog, I got cast as Sergeant Frog, (Keroro) we did fifteen episodes; we were well into doing that show, and I loved it so much. Then ADV went under and all the licences went to other companies, and FUNimation got it and started over with it casting actors that lived locally. Suddenly it was gone. Same thing with Gurren Lagann, I was playing a great role and ADV went under and it went to a company in Los Angeles, but I wasn't living in LA at the time. I wanted to be involved in Death Note, but that went to a production company in Canada and you won't find any American voice actors in their productions, because that's part of the deal you have to use their people.

There are plenty of those, if you do anything long enough they'll be roles you really wanted to do or were gunning for and that's part of the business, there's rejection. You've heard that before. For every role you get there's ten or fifteen you audition for and didn't get. There was a particular role in Hetalia, and there was a role I was really gunning for. It came down to me and one other guy, but that other guy's voice was a bit higher than mine was and that was why he got the role, and that'll happen a lot.

But I will say I'm extremely grateful, and humbled for the opportunities I have gotten. I've played a lot of great roles, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

Otaku News and would like to thank the following...

Vic Mignogna for agreeing to be interviewed and taking his time out of a busy event schedule.

We'd also like to thank everyone at London MCM Expo for arranging the interview.

This article was a joint effort between Otaku News and
Braid Swaile 2013

Last August thanks to the convention committee we got to spend lunch with voice actor Brad Swaile. It's taken me a bit of time to get the interview written up as Brad made a lot of interesting points and I didn't want to miss anything.
How did you get into acting?

I got into voice acting by accident, I got into acting mostly because of my sister. I have a sister named Tracy and she's a year older than me, so we're really tight. She got bit by the acting bug and I saw what she was doing and I was very impressed and I got jealous. So I followed her footsteps.

I started off doing theatre, and I then I got involved with a company called the Vancouver Youth Theatre. So that was theatre that was geared toward a cast of kids, so they would put together a troupe of kids and we'd playbuild a show and then tour it around. At some point me and my sister got on the same touring production and there was an acting agency right across the street from the theatre that would watch the kids that would come to the theatre and so thy approached me and my sister and asked if we would like to join their agency. They said they'd start sending us out on auditions for movies, TV shows and things like that, so we said yes please. So that got me into on camera acting, so then I started doing commercials and movies and local TV shows. Through that I had my first audition for a cartoon which was My Little Pony Tales and I got it, and I fell in love with voice acting right there. It was a good fit for me, I felt very comfortable with it and loved every aspect of it. That led me to some other voice projects, and then a few years later I had my first audition for an anime series which was a show called Ranma ½, and I got it, and that was the first time I'd really seen anime since watching Akira, back in the day.

So that got me back into anime a little bit, and it's kind of gone from there. When I ended up in college I realised the on camera work I didn't enjoy as much, and I loved being on set but I didn't like the whole audition process. I found it very challenging, where as with the voice side of things I didn't mind the auditioning and I love the people and I love the work. I also get to enjoy a huge perk in the form of conventions like these [ Amecon]. Which when I first got into voice acting I didn't know these kind of things existed.

That brings us up to date I suppose.

The fandom seems to have changed over the years, when did you start to get involved with conventions?

I didn't get invited to a convention until Gundam Wing, I think that was what did it. Because of Ranma I got my first fan mail, I got a call from the agency saying ' we've got a package here for you, it's fan mail.' I was so confused, so I went down to the agency to pick it up, and I'd have people sending me these amazing drawings , and letters talking about how much they enjoy the show and if they liked specific characters and it really blew my mind.

So then Gundam Wing came out and I got invited to a bunch of conventions, an anime convention will have one of two effects on actor. This is just from my point of view, it will either open up a new world that someone like me can embrace, as an art guy who has several interests including music art acting, all that kind of stuff , a convention like this is really inspiring to me. For some actors going to a convention can freak them out, and I can understand that for sure. I've been freaked out a couple of times myself .

What's the strangest line you've ever had to perform?

This is a two part answer, the strangest one I didn't find so strange at the time we recorded it. The animation around it made it a little interesting, but then coming to a convention after the show was released really bumped it on the list of interesting lines and it's quite simply;I take a potato chip and eat it. So now when I go to conventions people force feed me potato chip and ask me to read a line. At the time I didn't think too much of it, but it's become a pretty funny thing.

Another line was in a series called 'Black Lagoon' , where the characters that I play are sweet unassuming hero types who tend to say the right thing, then Black Lagoon comes along and there's some filthy language that show. So I'd read the scripts for the episodes and I'd start to get jealous, as many of the cast got to deliver these really outrageous lines and then finally because of black lagoon I got to deliver my first F-bomb. So that was great fun, I must have recorded that line a thousand times, for me it was therapy.

Do you find a lot of voice actors pull funny faces when they record?

Absolutely you have to, if you're not enveloping your character in some small way it's a much harder thing to do. But there's also limitations within that, a good example from that is X-men for example Scott [McNeil] if he's in battle as Wolverine watching him perform you believe he'sin battle. But you have to confine your movement so you don't go off mic or get clothing in the way. So it's a delicate balance between getting the performance you want to portray butalso making sure your technical techniques are in check.

Do you enjoy performing attack yells etc?

Depends on the show, in Dragon Ball Z it's all screaming you scream over three commercial breaks. That was hard but fun.

Pre-lay animation [ recording for new animation rather than dubbing over a foreign show - Azure] when you record fights you have to separate it out, but that can be a lot of fun playing off the other actors so they can overlay it after.

Now for anime series how I like to work is watch a series of sequences, you can record one sound at a time but I like to record the whole sequence for flow. You can get the peaks and values otherwise it can sound a bit static. That's something I really enjoy, convincing the director to let me do the whole sequence, watching it then making mental tabs of what's going on in the battle and then just running it. Then sometimes you'd do a great run, sometimes if something is a bit off I can do in and do that little bit again but sometimes I'll run it again.

How many times have you been to the UK?

The first time was MCM Expo, and when Amecon first invited me I jumped for joy to get the chance. When they contacted me again I was really surprised and honoured. I really didn't expect to get another invitation, I think I said yes before I'd read the e-mail!

When I got here I decided to have an adventure because of the Olympics and I hopped on a train to Coventry and attended the women's football bronze medal match. When Canada my country was playing France, and we won and that was cool. The last Olympics was in back yard in Vancouver, and I got to see the Summer Olympics here!

Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to go into voice acting as a career?

My tip is explore all aspects of acting. Sometimes I get that question phrased as how do I get into anime voice acting, don't limit your opportunities by picking something so specific. Most voice actors I know that have been doing voice acting for anime, it was just something they got into and had a knack for it that they could peruse. The majority of voice actors do other forms of acting as well in theatre, on camera. The most important part of the phrase voice actor, is actor. Sometimes, you'll have people that so reasonable interpretations of characters from the Simpsons. Well, that show's already been cast and been running a very long time. If you can do a decent Krusty, well there's someone that can do it better and he's been doing it for sixteen odd years.

So that's the only sound advice, I can give explore acting the voices come secondary.

As far as how to get into voice acting, it's different for every person and depends on where you live. If you don't live somewhere where they do voice recording it'll be tougher to get into paid voice acting.

That gets me into another topic, with the way technology is going allowing people to display their entertainment projects there's more of a demand for voice acting. So working on someone's web series is a great way to get practice and get yourself out there. It may not pay anything but it's work, most people who love voice acting love the work. Anime doesn't pay that well, contrary to some people's belief, it's the work that drives you.

There's lot of opportunity out there you just just have to be diligent and pursue it then find out what works for you. One thing being in Vancouver in terms of professional voice acting, because I also do video games and radio commercials, Tv spots,and things like that. With me in Vancouver having an agency if a new project comes to town usually they'll contact the agencies in the area and I'll get an audition for that show. One great tool is use research skills, figure out what's going on in the industry in your area. Many agencies have voice departments and they didn't when I started out. So there's ways to contact those people and ask them, you don't have to be part of an agency to get work it's your decision. As much as an agency interviews you to get on their roster, you have to decide if it's right for you.

It's a privilege to work in this industry, but it has to be on your own terms. It's a really brutal business. The entertainment industry is very ruthless no one steps around your ego, you have to have a thick skin. This is all in my opinion, it's why I don't like working on camera jumping through all those hoops, it was no fun .

Everyone has their own story how they got in. It's not like other careers where you take certain qualifications and there's an entry point to get in Even within other industries there's divergence as to where you end up...

Thanks to Brad and Amecon for giving up their lunch to help us. This interview is a joint project between and
First of all can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm Managing Editor of Entertainment News, a division of UBC Media, with a team of multi media journalists who provide rolling showbiz news and videos to more than 140 commercial radio stations around the UK and other online clients.

Over the years I've won awards for my work, including gold at the European Radio Awards, as well as being a finalist at the prestigious Sony Radio Academy Awards.

My career has taken me across the radio industry, most notable as a news presenter on London's 95.8 Capital FM and Capital Gold for 10 years, as well as a DJ on Capital FM London. Running parallel to this, and which I still do, is voice commercials, front many corporate presentations and can be heard as the 'voice' of many on-hold telephone systems.

You're a journalist as well as a voice over artist, how well do these two fields integrate?

On paper these two areas, journalist and voice over artist, are poles apart - however as a radio journalist it does give me a greater understanding of writing scripts and voicing them too. When I receive a script to record it helps me greatly to understand what the client is trying to convey through the use of the words in the script and the style they want to achieve - coupled with the brief they have given me.

Can you think of any advice for someone looking for a career in the media ( specifically voice over)?

Media is a 'can do' industry - you'll find many people who can't be bothered to start on the bottom of the ladder and prove themselves as they progress. With this, it leaves the door wide open for those who can be bothered and get stuck in! Be persistent - but don't follow any job or role in media. Know what you want to do and get involved in some way, in that area.

Never give up, be polite, engaging, willing and work your socks off. It'll pay off eventually, if not financially then through job satisfaction!

b) If someone is looking to take any training or courses in voice over how would you recommend they go about picking a course?

The biggest piece of advice for someone looking for a career as a voice over is know your voice! It sounds either obvious or silly - but it's the third one, it's true! Know your voice's strengths and weaknesses. Know its high and low capabilities - just like a singer. If you know all its parameters, then you can manipulate your vocal range to achieve the tone, texture and pace of a script you are reading.

Always listen to other people's voices in commercials, narration, on-hold messages, etc, and listen to how these voice artists achieve what you hear. Try it yourself - not necessarily in a studio, but for fun as you're going about your day when you're alone. Think of what they are saying, how they are saying it. Sure, in post-production a voice can be slowed down or sped up (for example in the terms and conditions part at the end of a commercial,) but just practice!

Do you have any particular warm ups you use before you record?

Yes - talk very low before you go in to the studio! Silly low, as low as you can go - and high, stupidly high - as high as you can speak, and then everything in between. It's all about loosening your vocal chords.

Have water with you in the studio - my top tip is hot, not boiling, water and drink this before and in between takes. Never drink coffee, tea, or soft drinks - these build up excess saliva in the mouth, not good if you're about to do a read or a long session. Likewise, never eat before you go in the studio or have a meal before hand. If you don't believe me - go against my tip and you'll see how it is when you try to voice a script!

Can you tell us a bit about your recording set up?

I haven't a home voice studio of my own, however I do all my editing and audio production at home before sending a voice session back to the client. I ensure I take out any mistakes and send off the finished article.

I'm fortunate to work in an environment where I have access to one of six self-op voice studios. Should I be out of the office on a particular day, I'm just a 5 mile drive to a studio - this suits me perfectly and has done for almost 20 years now.

Do you have any advice on recording demo reels? When should an aspiring voice over artist think of recording their first one and what should it contain?

A voice reel should be no more than 2 minutes in duration overall and contain a variety of different voice styles. Now with everything being online, an overall demo isn't required. Instead you should use individual demos, one per style, to showcase your range of styles.

When is the right time? You'll know - just remember practice makes perfect and always get a copy of anything you voice so you can self critique yourself.

Do you have any final advice you wish to share? Or projects you're working on that you'd like to let us know about?

Aside from running Entertainment News (, presenting music shows on Time 106.6 (http://www.Time1066.comWink and voicing various projects, I also help coach and produce up and coming voice over artists and their demos. Every person is a fresh challenge, which I enjoy. And in between all of that I'm about to start work on my own website to show case my own work and coaching and consultancy services. In the meantime you can get in touch by following me on Twitter, @PChryssikos.

We want to thank Philip for his time, be sure to check out his twitter account!

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