VAM 048 | Interview with Steve Blum, Part 3

VAM 048 | Interview with Steve Blum, Part 3

Welcome to episode 48 of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

http://www.voiceactingmastery.com/podcast

This week, I bring you the third part of my interview with the amazingly talented Steve Blum. In the past two episodes, Steve has told me how he approaches voice acting as well as his rather unconventional story about how he broke into the business. For this episode, Steve graciously shared some of the greatest challenges he faced as a voice actor. Actors are not always comfortable discussing when they’ve had difficulties pursuing their career. It can be a sore subject. So I’m especially grateful that Steve was willing to be so honest and candid about what it took for him to overcome some of the obstacles he faced. I found it incredibly inspiring and I’m sure you will too.

If you’d like to learn more about Steve, please visit his website: www.SteveBlumVoices.com

Thanks for listening!

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #48 Here (MP3)

 

38 Responses to “VAM 048 | Interview with Steve Blum, Part 3”

  1. Eric Rivera says:

    It’s always great to hear the comradery between voice actors. It reminds me of Rob Paulsen’s podcast, how you get to work with these great people who you all choose to be your friends. Even in the dvd commentaries at Funimation you can hear it.

    I understand that there will be tough times ahead. Anything worth chasing in life will be difficult to get, but for the sake of my dream, my future, I’m willing to take that risk.

    Even if the universe tests me and I quit, I know I’ll be back twenty minutes later.

    • James 'StarRunner' Rolls says:

      Ah! Another fellow aspiring voice actor that listens to Talkin’ Toons! You also certainly sound like you’re on the right track!

      • Terance says:

        Sounds like you feel the same way I do Eric. I’ve always thought, “If the pros made it, then so can I.” It will be a long road, but the destination will be sweet. I listen to Talkin’ Toons as well and it’s very interesting how two podcasts about voice acting can be worlds different. Crispin’s is very informative and educational while Rob Paulsen’s is more about the comradery between the pros and how much of a good time they have with each other. I find Talkin’ Toons fascinating because we generally don’t hear much about the voices behind Western pre-lay animation. We hear and see anime dub voice actors all the time at conventions and other places. I’m glad Talkin’ Toons gives us the chance to hear from the voices behind some of the greatest cartoons ever.

        • Eric Rivera says:

          I wish for the best for both of us, Terance.

          It used to be that we couldn’t find out ANY information on any voice acting. It was all hush-hush. If you weren’t a part of their secret club, you weren’t allowed.

          • Crispin Freeman says:

            I don’t think it was being kept a secret, I think there simply weren’t enough people interested in the topic for mainstream media to find it worth their while to interview voice actors. Even now, do you see any voice actor interviews in major publications? Most of the media covering voice actors these days is web based: either blogs, podcasts, fan pages or other avenues of content that aren’t through the major news corporations. I certainly wasn’t trying to keep anything secret. I’m always happy to talk about voice acting, but it was only in the last year that CNN actually contacted me to ask about voice acting.

        • Stacey Bertran says:

          Terance, you are very correct. Rob P. Podcast and Crispins are very different takes, on the world of voice acting. But I’m so happy the curtain has been pulled back on this very intriguing form of the Arts. Maybe I can do it myself sometime. I hope both will continue to share with our community. Because every episode is fascinating. I met Rob, I would live to meet Crispin too.

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          If you would like it to be a long road, you can certainly make it a long road, but I’m not convinced that it has to be. I think the road will be as long as you make it. If you decide it will take a long time, then I’m sure the universe will accommodate you. However, if you’re committed to improving as an artist, you probably won’t notice time passing since you’ll be so involved in your process. Then it might not take much time at all.

          It’s also nice to hear how you think of mine and Rob’s podcasts differently. I’m glad you enjoy them both.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m not convinced that something worthwhile has to be tough to get, but it will most likely be challenging. If you want to make challenges tough, that’s your prerogative, but it’s also possible to make challenges exciting and invigorating!

  2. Kalyn McCabe says:

    Lovely podcast as always.

    One has to get back to basics before something can occur. Like in Legend of Korra, Avatar Aang said, “When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.”

    Can’t wait till the next episode!

  3. James 'StarRunner' Rolls says:

    “It was if the universe was asking…” My next immediate thought on hearing that was, “Is that your final answer?” 😛

    Learned quite a bit about the both of you in this episode. I had no idea Steve had a day job while working on Cowboy Bebop. Didn’t know about your deep computer experience either. Not that you would ever give up voice acting, but what do you excel in with computers? Website design, programming, graphic design? I ask since I’m a big computer nerd as well (and I say nerd with the utmost kindness and respect). I myself have put computers together, programmed in BASIC and a bit in C++, made my own website, used much of the adobe suite for graphic design, a pinch of 3d animation, and putting together spreadsheets and databases.

    I’m looking forward to the bonus episode! Take care Crispin!

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      In college I majored in Theater and minored in Computer Science. I was a computer nerd long before I became a theater geek.

      I did basic object-oriented programming in college, but switched to the minor when they wanted me to take classes on linear algebra and compilers.

      Most of my computer expertise now is associated with audio and video production. I’m not nearly as good with mail merges as I am with video encoding and audio mixing.

      Hope that helps explain.

      • James 'StarRunner' Rolls says:

        Indeed it does! I remember having to do a special math class for programming too. Basic math in hexadecimal and binary was rather interesting.

        I was starting to just feel like a code monkey though, typing what others wanted. I prefer the creative side.

  4. Madeleine Jayne says:

    This is the first podcast of yours I have heard because I just found this website. It was awesome and I loved it! Normally my concentration is lacking in..well.. everything but I didn’t get bored once!!! I even made my mum get out of bed and watch it! Wasn’t that hard though, I just had to mention the words Orochimaru and Itachi and she was on her feet. OH DEAR I’m rambling.

    • James 'StarRunner' Rolls says:

      Yeah, I find Crispin crams a lot of interesting stuff in his podcasts! And if you think you ramble, you should see some of my comments on here. XD

      But it’s good that you found this site! You should try to listen to all the episodes. There’s a trove of riches within!

      • Crispin Freeman says:

        Thanks so much James! I’m glad you enjoy my podcasts.

      • Madeleine Jayne says:

        yh I’ll check out some of the others.I like rambling though, especially in real life 🙂 Although people can never tell what I’m saying because I speak so fast and because of my English accent but I don’t mind.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Welcome to the website. I’m glad you didn’t get bored while listening. I do my best to make my podcasts both informative and applicable. Thanks for listening.

  5. Fran says:

    Hey guys! I just joined this community and so far I think it’s amazing! The first thing I noticed is how he sounded like Kyon in his recordings. It keeps me listening every time again and again.

    I do have one thing I want an answer to though. I haven’t seen all the podcasts so I don’t know if this has been answered yet, but if you do still rely on your family to give you financial support in your endeavors (I’m still a university student), what’s the best advice you can give to someone whose parents basically don’t believe in a career in arts being a respectable job? They want me to take something else since they came from the corporate field, and it’s gotten to the point that they’re so set on leading me to a field they want that I can’t practice at home.

    Is there any advice someone can give me? Thank you, guys!

    • James 'StarRunner' Rolls says:

      Well, I’d say you’re lucky that you get financial support. I have to pay my own way and it doesn’t leave me with much to spend on my hobbies.

      But if you’re dependant on your parents still, it may not be a good time for you yet. Before being able to compete with the big boys, you need to invest a lot. Classes and demos don’t come cheap. Even when you first start, most voice actors have had to find another source of income until they could survive being a full time voice actor.

      But I’m not saying to give up completely. Here’s what I’m doing;

      -I got myself a relatively inexpensive condenser microphone (about $200). If you haven’t already, you should listen to episodes 11 and 12 and look at the resources provided.
      -Look for projects in the ‘Voice Acting Club’ and ‘Voice Acting Alliance’. There’s people of all skill levels there and could be a good place to get your feet wet and practice, practice, practice. Luckily, this doesn’t cost a dime.
      -Listen to Crispin’s podcast and others (I also listen to Rob Paulsen’s ‘Talkin Toons’ and find lots of resources from other voice actors).
      -Keep studying and get more experience until such time that I can afford classes, better equipment, and ultimately get a demo done.

      It’ll be a hobby more than a career, but if your parents won’t support it as a career and they’re the ones footing the bill… You may want to stick with school… for now. Many voice actors had other jobs before they got in the voice acting field. Lawyers, techies, healthcare workers…

      Eventually I’ll be able to invest more in my voice acting, but it’s not the best time for me either to think of it as a career. But I’m still practicing so that when I am ready, it won’t be a giant leap. This may not be what you want to hear, but I hope it helps.

      • Fran says:

        Thank you for answering! Thanks, it was a really big help and eye-opener. I definitely have a plan now thanks to what you’ve told me. I think that without that advice I might have jumped into a huge mistake. Thanks for your advice!

        • James 'StarRunner' Rolls says:

          I’m really glad you found it helpful! I hope I didn’t discourage you. I hope your plan leads you to success!

      • Crispin Freeman says:

        Thanks so much for the great advice James. It’s wonderful to hear your story and your strategies for pursuing voice acting.

        Can I ask what microphone you’re using? I’m always curious to hear what people are using. Is it a USB mic, or do you use a USB interface to record into your computer?

        The Voice Acting Club and the Voice Acting Alliance are great resources. Thanks for recommending them!

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      It sounds to me that your first priority is getting out on your own so you are no longer subject to your parents directives. As a university student, I’m sure you are still financially dependent on your parents, and I’m sure it’s frustrating to have authority figures in your life that have control over your financial well-being.

      The solution then seems to be to satisfy their requirements as long as it takes to become more independent financially so you can pursue your goals regardless of their approval or lack thereof. I’m sure your parents are acting this way because they feel that they are looking out for you and they want you to be financially stable. That’s a noble sentiment. But there are many paths to financial stability and if your have to obey only their vision of fiduciary responsibility, then you have lost all free will and can no longer determine your own path in life.

      Be grateful that they have supported you this far. Do your best to create your own financial independence so you can pursue voice acting without needing to care what their emotional response might be. After all, Steve was working a full-time job while he was pursuing his voice acting career and voicing one of his most iconic characters.

      Hope that helps.

  6. Kirby says:

    Love hearing you and Steve interact in these last few interviews! Steve is so wise and approaches his work from a very peaceful place. That’s inspiring.

    I also have a question for you Crispin. I didn’t know if I should comment on a earlier, more relevant episode or not but here goes:

    I had my first anime ADR session this week playing a minor recurring character in a 24 episode show. It went really well but the main thing I felt I was struggling with was as the day progressed, I felt my character’s voice changing slowly. Perhaps becoming lazier or sloppier… Possibly lowering in pitch? My character’s voice was very unnatural from my own, so I was worried that some episodes would have a completely different voice because I had changed from what I originally gave. The director said he didn’t notice it so I suppose it won’t be a problem. However, are you familiar with this? How do you go about keeping your voice focused?

    Again, loving the interviews and thanks in advance for any advice!

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m not quite sure. The more specific you can be with what actually happened to your voice over the course of the session, the more accurate I can be in assessing your situation. Was your voice becoming lower in pitch over the course of the session? Then you may have pitched your voice artificially high early on in your recording session and then found that the strain of doing that tired out your vocal folds, resulting in your voice getting lower and lower as your voice tired.

      If the director didn’t notice, then you’re probably well within the tolerance margin for error. However, if you noticed it, then it may behoove you to take some actual vocal training, like singing or acting vocal classes, so you can become more familiar with your voice and have better control over your instrument.

      If a character voice of yours does not hold steady over the course of many different scenes, that means you don’t really understand or identify with the emotional core of that character. I gave this advice earlier that one way to truly see if you’ve internalized a character voice is to try singing as that character. The act of singing is usually so technically demanding, that you don’t have brain space to “think” about playing that character voice, you have to just “be” that character in order to sing as them. That’s a good litmus test.

      Internalizing a character takes practice speaking and thinking like that character, in any way you can. Read the newspaper aloud as that character. Have that character read a story to imaginary children. Go to a restaurant and spend the entire evening ordering food as that character. You’ve spent your entire life internalizing the character that is Kirby, now give some hours to the characters you’ve created.

      So glad you’re enjoying the interviews!

      • Kirby says:

        Thanks for the reply and advice!

        Basically the character had a split personality with two different voices so I’d have to jump between those voices throughout the session. I didnt feel any strain on my voice or anything like that. I guess the main thing that worried me was coming back the next day to finish up my character. I was worried if I had forgotten the voice I had given at the beginning of the session the day before. I did have the audio producer play me back some of my beginning takes to ensure I had the same mindset for the character. I might’ve been too critical of my own performance as I do have that tendency. It’s all about trusting the directors and yourself with the character.

        I’ll definitely take your advice. Especially about internalizing the character! That’s what we get paid to do after all! 😀

        Thanks again, Crispin!

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          All of us need to hear a vocal reference to make sure we’re getting back into character before we start voice acting. That’s perfectly normal.

          If the director was happy with your performance, I’m sure you were just fine.

  7. Leesha says:

    Crispin:

    This group of podcast is really encouraging. The honesty of your guest as he outlines his real efforts to achieve success as a voice actor is wonderfully refreshing. Great episodes and thanks so much to you and Steve!

  8. Perry King says:

    I appreciate the part 3 interview podcast with Steve Blum it was very decent and it had some good advice. I can learn a thing or two from Mr. Blum he’s probably one of the greatest voice actors in the Anime industry.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I would agree. He certainly inspired me to come to LA to pursue voice acting.

      • Perry King says:

        Is there any chance that you might do more interview podcasts with perhaps other Anime voice actors after Steve Blum?

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          Yes. The podcast will always alternate between educational episodes and interview episodes.

          I choose my interview subjects based on whether or not I think they have something unique and useful to share about the process of voice acting.

          Why do you ask? Is there a specific person you were thinking of and if so, what is it that you’d like to learn from them?

  9. Meg says:

    Hi Crispin 🙂 This episode is like a big story with Steve Bulm- I almost felt sad how Mr Steve had a very hard life that he been through. Like Steve, I’m trying to be happy with a difficult income how I was born and raised, but I’m still very empty. My dad told me there’s an theatre/acting class around in Mississippi that I can raise and approve myself – but the problem is that I never been through acting at all and I feel uncomfortable with my voice and my image, especially in high school- I felt much more comfortable of modeling/ Fashion show. I have a question, do you think the acting is much more helping confidence and be more independent person? Or no-there are more than just one way to help my confident level? Thank you for your time and thank you for sharing amazing episode 🙂

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m sure there are many ways to improve your confidence level. I found acting to be very helpful in that regard in my own life. However, you have to do what you feel is right for you. There is no one solution that will suit everyone. If someone felt confident being a musician, I wouldn’t necessarily force them to put down their instrument and act instead.

      You have to find your own path based on what feels right to you.

    • Matthew says:

      Hi Meg. I live in Mississippi so I can give you an idea as far as acting is concerned. Listening to Crispin’s podcast has been an overwhelming inspiration. Episode 9 explains how to build your confidence but I learned that the best way is to tell yourself “I can do this” and put yourself out there. I have no acting or theatre experience. I was always scared to go in front of a big crowd. What I did do was start auditioning for independent projects on Youtube and listened to other voice actors in my free time. After listening to the podcast and reviewing them I decided to pursue my dreams. Thanks to episodes like Episodes 9, 26, 28, 30, 31, and 45 I started to think like a professional and it has helped me greatly in just auditioning for projects from different clubs to build my skills. You can search for projects on Youtube, the Voice Acting Alliance, and even at local community colleges to discover and build your skills. Listening to Crispin’s words of wisdom has helped me think of myself not as simple an actor, but more as a vocal artist. Thanks to his pointers in the podcast and online communities you can find plenty of places to build up your confidence. I’m not even scared of getting in front of people anymore and performing. In short. Try out for projects, expand your knowledge, think and act as a professional and you’ll find your confidence come naturally. Thank you Crispin Freeman for everything you do.

      • Crispin Freeman says:

        Thank you so much for your comment Matthew. I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty of adding links to the episodes you were referencing in your comment so others can go straight to the episodes you suggested.

        I’m so glad my podcast has helped you! Congratulations on all your success!

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