Ray Chase is a classically trained actor, studying at the University of Southern California. He went on to voice-over 150 audiobooks and numerous commercials. He is the winner of the 2014 Voice Art Award for Best Audiobook in Fantasy. His anime repertoire is impressive with such titles as, One Punch Man, Hunter x Hunter, The Seven Deadly Sins, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky, Justice League Dark, and the video game Final Fantasy XV.
Here is my interview with him from Anime Weekend Atlanta.
Is this your first convention?
“This is my third convention. It’s still very new to me. My friends Max (Mittelman) and Robbie (Daymond) have given me the gist of how it is for voice actors going to conventions and how to make a habit of it.”
Have you had any memorable fan encounters?
“(laughs) The weirdest one was during our improv show Loud Annoying and Very Annoying, and a fan we brought up on stage, he was a big guy, gave me a bear hug, and he picked me up. I was like ‘oh my god, I hope he can take care of me,’ but he put me down very gently. That was really out of nowhere.”
What was your audition process like for Final Fantasy XV?
“It was sent to everybody who had an agent. I was sent Noctis, Ignis, and Gladiolus. I auditioned for all three, but my Ignis was terrible (laughs). My Gladiolus was pretty good, but they went with Christopher Parson. I spent a really long time on Noctis. It was such a unique character, and I wanted to get it right. I did not know who the character was, because I wasn’t following Final Fantasy at that time. I found out more at the callbacks when I looked up the character’s name and found the Wikipedia page. I was like ‘oh crap, what have I got myself into?’”
How does the audition process differ for live action acting?
“I wouldn’t know (laughs). I tried it for like a second, but most of my work has just been in voice.”
What was it like winning the 2014 Best Male Voice Art Award?
“They’re very new; I think it’s the third year. Some audiobook companies submitted me for some awards, and I got a couple. They are some really nice trophies. I went to ‘The Audies’ too in New York, done by the Audio Publishers Association. I’ve done so many audiobooks that I guess at some point some of them were bound to win something.”
Is it an all day session for audiobooks?
“Oh yeah. I did 150 of them in a two-year period. It was really not fun (laughs), but it was how I paid the bills and how I got started, and got my technique down. I would do these twelve-hour days. Sometimes they would all come in a batch from a couple of different companies, and they would all have the same due date. I would rent out a studio because it was too hard to do it at home for that long, just due to noise and buses and stuff. So I would walk into the studio and just sleep (laughs). I’d rent it for the weekend and just sleep with my dog, and wake up the next day and record over and over again, and not leave the building. I’d only leave to walk my dog, but I just needed to focus and get it done.”
That sounds so tiring.
“It was exhausting and lonely. Doing the audiobooks you’re not with anyone, but doing animation and video games you have people with you.”
So there was no director to give you notes or help guide the process?
“There was no one to engage with you; that was the most important thing.”
What kinds of books did you voice for?
“Every genre was done. I don’t think there is something I haven’t done. If you go on my audible page and look up my pen name, Evan Greenberg, everything is right there. There were a lot of space marines (laughs).”
What do you nerd out about?
“There are a lot of things. Video game music. My playlist is almost entirely soundtracks and remixes. I was listening to this guy Blen, but he does remixes of Gameboy/GameCube era games, which a lot of people kind of ignore. I was listening to a remix of Ricco Harbor he was from Super Mario Sunshine; I love that. He’s really, really good. I love pixel art. I grew up with DOS games, so I love that era. I love A King’s Tale, the new Final Fantasy thing for GameStop exclusive. It plays so beautifully.”
What’s your dream voice role or a voice you’d like to recreate?
“Some day if the crown is ever passed, I would love to do Mario, Luigi, or Wario. That would be awesome.”
Have you thought about getting into the more technical side of animation?
“I am no artist (laughs). I can’t draw anything. I absolutely can’t do it, but writing for sure, love to do that.”
What would you like to write?
“There is a YouTube channel that we made a long time ago called Funsplosion. We did tons of sketches, like 100 vines in a day. We just did crazy challenges all the time, and lot’s of absurdist kind of humor.”
I know you studied theater at USC. How helpful was that in creating different voices for your roles?
“At USC I learned voice technique. Fitzmaurice was the name of the method we used. My teacher, Paul Backer, taught it, and that’s how I really learned. I took that seriously, training your voice, getting the vibrations correct and developing the proper breathing technique. I remember spending a couple of summers every day doing the regimen of breathing and enunciation. They started a voice acting program the year after I graduated, so I never got the benefits of those lessons.”
Maybe you should go back and teach a course.
“I actually talked to the dean now, who was my favorite teacher, David Bridell, who was a clown teacher. I took all of his classes. Clown is a huge part of where I come from as an actor. Lecoq is the style of acting, and it’s about falling flat on your face and being out there. The best acting exercises were when we had to go up on stage, and we had nothing. We had to be there in real time and be terrible and embrace everything you were feeling and put it put there and fail terribly.”
That sounds so cathartic.
“Yes! I talked to him about doing some workshops and stuff, and we’ll be starting that next year, so it’s going to be fun.”
You’ve advocated voice123.com for beginning voice actors, what is it about the site that’s so helpful?
“It’s the best. I recommend it so much because anyone can do it from anywhere. So many people say what you should do as a voice actor is to move to LA, Dallas, or New York, and if you’re not there, it’s going to be a really hard time. The voice123 model gives you an opportunity to start making money quickly. It took me six months to book my first thing. It was a one hundred dollar phone app and I and one other guy submitted for it. But I’ve been hired so many times over the years by the developer, Dmitry Kuzmenko. I still talk to him all the time. And you meet these people like Dmitry, who’s from St. Petersburg, and he’s not going to care if you’re from LA or Akron, Ohio. He’s going to care if you have a microphone, and a setup, and the ability to do it and the talent to do it. Then you meet this whole other setup of the industry that you don’t have to be in Los Angeles for and make money at the same time. I used that money to buy a microphone, and then eventually to upgrade my setup. You need the money for demos, studio, advertising, and all that sort of stuff. It is a costly endeavor, especially at the start.”
What upcoming projects do you have coming out?
“That’s the problem with voice acting, you can’t say. At the end of the year, I’ll have two more things coming out that I’m excited about. There’s a ton of stuff, but you just can’t talk about it.”