From March 30 to April 1, I attended EvilleCon in Evansville, Indiana. While there, I was able to meet Micah Solusod on several occasions, even asking him to sign a few things and to call a friend of mine in New York who had recently gotten into the series but wasn’t able to come to the convention (I don’t know what they talked about, but I got a slew of near-hysterical texts afterward thanking me). Near the end of the convention, I was actually able to sit down with him and have a conversation with him about his work as a voice actor, so he, Malinda and Kyle Mathis of SynchroHearts, and I sat down to talk for a while.
Micah Solusod works with FUNimation Entertainment and is most known for his work as Soul Eater Evans from Soul Eater. He has also appeared in animes such as Black Butler II, Corpse Princess, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike, among many others. Most recently he has appeared as List Kiriki of Okami-San and Her Seven Companions, which was released for home video on April 3, 2012. You can hear a demo reel, see his full resume, and even check out his art at his personal website.
Micah is an animated (no pun intended), well-spoken, hilarious guy who was more than willing to answer my questions. What follows below is an interview I was able to conduct with him on site, which was later transcribed by Mark B. Image credit goes to Alex Kessler.
DieHard GameFAN: So, Micah…
DHGF: You’ve answered this several times in panels already, but for the benefit of our readers, how did you get into the voice acting business?
MICAH: Um, I think it’s misleading for me to say that I fell into it, but it really does feel like I was “struck by lightning,” what I like to call a God thing. I was in college, and a lot of college kids go through this, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was into acting and thought voice acting might be something I could do. As an anime fan, it was definitely something that interested me. I made a voice demo, polished it up as best as I could, and sent it to FUNimation.
I really wasn’t expecting anything. Mind you, I was living in Hawaii at the time. FUNimation is in Dallas, so my chances were REALLY slim. Somehow, I ended up getting contacted by Leah Clark, a voice actress up at FUNimation who also did a bit of directing. She sent me an email saying, “Hey, I heard your demo, and I like how you sound. I was wondering if we could try you out to see how you work in the booth and respond to direction.” At first, I thought it was someone pulling a really bad prank but it was legit. The main problem was my location. I couldn’t get any work since I wasn’t local. She eventually told me I should contact them if I was ever in the area and see where things go from there. After talking it over with my friends and family I decided to fly out to Dallas for a bit to test the waters.ade a voice demo, polished it up as best as I could, and sent it to FUNimation.
We scheduled about three sessions, I did a bunch of walla, and even got to play a guy who showed up for a whole flashback. It was awesome! On my last day there, I was signing my paperwork and she asked me, “So when are you coming back?” and I’m thinking, Uh, I wasn’t really planning on it. I was willing to call that good. I got to be in an anime, that’s enough for me. I told her I was grateful but moving to Texas from Hawaii, I couldn’t just drop everything back home.
So I went back to Hawaii and the day after, I got a call from FUNimation, saying, “Hey, there were a couple of directors interested in working with you, can you come in etc.,” and I thought, Y’know, this doesn’t happen all the time and maybe this is just a new door opening in my life. So, I talked it over with my friends and my family to see what they thought. It all came down to this, even if you take this opportunity and nothing happens, wouldn’t you hate it if you never took it at all and wondered if something came of it? So, I went for it. And by all means, it was a stupid move on my part. Some kid from Hawaii just moving to Texas by himself to get a job as a voice actor? That’s not very smart! (laughs)
But I’ve been so blessed to get work at FUNimation. Within my first few months up there I got my first character, Malek, in Blassreiter, and then a couple more months later, I ended up playing Soul in Soul Eater. That’s not to say that I’ve always had work and everything was easy. I’ve definitely had my share of dry seasons. But it’s still an amazing thing to me.
And I do feel bad because people come up to me and say, “Hey! You’re my age! If you can do it, I can too!” and I sorta feel like I give people a false sense of hope. It’s not impossible, but when they ask me how I “made it,” I have to say, “I don’t know?” I STILL don’t understand why FUNi keeps calling me in.
DHGF: How do you prepare for a session?
MICAH: Um, it depends on the character. If it’s a bigger character, I will do some research. I’ll look up stuff online or watch the Japanese version if it’s available for legal streaming. I want to make sure I can do the character justice. Especially if it’s for something I want to be in because I want to do my best. An anime fan, I don’t like it when I feel an actor phones it in or doesn’t understand the character. Although, if it’s a smaller part, I do go in cold and trust my “instincts.”
DHGF: How do you, at the end of the session, how do you wind down?
MICAH: What do you mean?
DHGF: Like, how do you… I don’t know, like some people, after they’re done acting or whatever they go out for a drink, or they do yoga or something…
MICAH: I just don’t watch anime when I get home. That’s how I unwind. (laughs) I just spend some time with my girlfriend, hang out with friends, watch something silly. I know some actors don’t have this problem, where the character “follows you home” and you stay in character. It happened to me once. I was playing a character, Liszt in Okami-san, and he’s a cross-dresser. He’s very effeminate, and that sort of brought out more of that in me. During that time, I had a side job as an arcade attendant. So after my session, I went to my other job and my co-workers noticed that I was a little more bubbly and flowery than usual. They were pretty weirded out. So, I think some time away to get that out of your mind really helps.
DHGF: What is your favorite character that you’ve voiced?
MICAH: I’ll have to say, recording-wise, Liszt from Okami-san. He’s quite different from the other characters I play and he wasn’t very straightforward. You never know what he’s thinking and he’s always messing with people. It really I got to play around with that role. But I do enjoy all the characters I voice. They’re sort of like your kids. It’s hard to choose favorites.
DHGF: What would you say your favorite project has been?
MICAH: My favorite project? That’s a hard one. I like to think I’ve been honored and blessed to be in shows that are really really good. I never felt like I had to phone anything in. Y’know, Soul Eater was great, Birdy was great… I can’t just pick one. I can’t.
DHGF: How much leeway do you have in choosing the projects that you get involved in?
MICAH: Well, being a voice actor at FUNimation means you work as a contract worker. You can essentially pick and choose the work given to you. Foolishly, you could turn down work, which is what I do sometimes, depending on the show. If I feel like the material is, uh, questionable, I’ll say, I’m not comfortable with the show. And the guys at FUNimation are good about that. They’re very respectful about your beliefs or if you feel uncomfortable with doing something. They won’t force you to do it. Sometimes they will, just for kicks. (laughs) Just kidding. But if it’s a standard anime show, I’ll usually go for it.
DHGF: Are there any lines that you’ve ever had that have just made you like burst out laughing?
MICAH: Oh, all the time! All the time. Anime’s just goofy in general. Sometimes it’s the line, and other times it’s someone’s performance. I had a lot of fun on Soul Eater. It’s just… ridiculous, that show is ridiculous. And trying to keep a straight face while saying something stupid… I played a character in a show called Corpse Princess, Ushijima. He’s a perv. He is the hot blooded, pervy, friend who’s… an idiot. We all know someone like that. In one episode, a new girl showed up to class and he nicknamed her “Breast Goddess”. To this day I still don’t know her real name. Every time she showed up, he shouted, (in voice) “Oh, my Breast Goddess!”, and it was so awkward! I don’t say things like that to anyone, but that’s what made it funny for our director, J. Michael Tatum. He thought it was hilarious and he kept making me say it over and over. Just for kicks. Then we’d watch it over and over again. When we were finally about to move on he turned to me and said, “Y’know what? Just one more time. Just for laughs.” Fun times, fun times…
DHGF: What is your longest session that you’ve done?
MICAH: The longest session I did was about eight hours, when I was starting out. It wasn’t the most enjoyable session. These days I try not to go over six.
DHGF: Do you ever, by contracts at once, do you ever do multiple shows at once?
MICAH: Not often. I have a very specific voice, so I don’t work as much as other people do, but I have been doing more recently. It’s the most work I’ve gotten in my career. But… um… hah, I just called my work a “career.” BLAH. But yeah, usually I do one or two shows at a time, if I’m lucky. I guess it’s like what they say, when it rains, it pours. That sounds about right.
DHGF: Is it ever hard to keep those personalities separate?
MICAH: No. As an actor, you know when to turn it on and off. What can get hard is just the long recording hours and keeping that one voice consistent. After a while, your mouth starts to get stupid and words stop happening. Eventually, standing in a dark booth for hours loses its charm. I find it hard sometimes. I don’t know how these other guys do it.
DHGF: Whenever you’re auditioning for a part, do you ever watch the Japanese version first?
MICAH: Yeah. If I can, I like to. For one thing, I’d like to know what I’m doing so I can have an advantage. I know a lot of actors go in cold, and sometimes I do too. Depends on the show. With a show like Soul Eater, actually, we previewed the characters in Japanese first. Our director, Zach Bolton, showed us clips of the chracters and said “This is what the character is like. Try to get close to it and we’ll work with it from there.” It’s the only audition I’ve done like that.
DHGF: This was a question that somebody who watches Soul Eater wanted me to ask. Do you ever have conversations with other voice actors and slip into character?
MICAH: Ehh… not really. I mean, if we’re reflecting on a show we really liked then we might play out some lines for kicks. But really, when you see another voice actor outside the booth, you’d rather find out how they’re doing and stuff.
DHGF: (laughs) Do you have any favorite voice actors?
MICAH: Um, you mean like at FUNimation or just in general?
DHGF: In general.
MICAH: In general, I’m a big fan of Frank Welker. He is like, everybody’s childhood and then some. I’ve recently become a fan of Nolan North, he plays a lot of awesome comic book heroes. He’s fantastic. Oh, and Corey Burton! He’s an amazing voice actor. The people at FUNimation are pretty awesome too. I work with some crazy talented people.
DHGF: What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked of you?
MICAH: Uh, I don’t know. Thankfully, no one’s really asked me anything… weird. There was a girl who wanted me to date her. I told her I was spoken for but… that didn’t seem to bother her. That was a little awkward. (laughs) Yeah.
DHGF: Have you ever considered live acting?
MICAH: I have considered it. I used to do a bit of stage back in middle and high school. The thing is, I’ve never really considered myself a full on actor. A lot of the other voice actors at FUNi I consider “actors”. They study it and pursue it. It’s their passion. You can be really into something, like drawing, or designing clothes, and stuff like that, but if you have to do it for a job, it starts losing its charm. For me, I’m an artist first. But when I had to sit down and do illustrations as my job, it wasn’t as enjoyable. Acting, on the other hand, is something I find enjoyable, and don’t mind it as a job. I don’t get tired of it or get frustrated while doing it. Maybe I’ll branch out eventually but for now I’m cool with voice acting.
DHGF: Have you ever voice acted any video games?
MICAH: Yup! I did a few small video games. I think the biggest one was Atari’s remake of Centipede, called Centipede Infestation, and I played the main character in that. I flew out to LA to record it. Then, I did a kiddie camp sort of game, it was for Cabela’s. I also do voice acting for indie games and visual novels at times.
MICAH: Yeah, I do. Not all of them. I usually watch the ones that really appeal to me. If I feel like I developed some sort of relationship with the show, I will sit down and watch it. And as a fan it’s enjoyable because you wanna figure out how the final thing turned out. With Soul Eater, I could not wait to watch it. I was in a cast of a ton of A-list voice actors. I wanted to hear everyone else, forget about my parts. But yeah, if I really like the show, I will be more than happy to just sit down and watch the entire thing. I just did that with Okami-san…
MALINDA [Of SynchroHearts]: Is it awkward to hear yourself?
MICAH: Oh, I hate hearing myself! (laugh) We did the voice actor duel panel and they picked clips from some of our shows. One of them was from the first episode of Soul Eater. I wanted to hide, I was so embarrassed (laughs). I don’t mind if people watch it on their own, but if I have to be in the same room, I will walk out. When I went back home to visit, my friends and I were hanging out watching like… Adventure Time or something and one of them said, “Wait a second, I know what we can do,” and pulled out Soul Eater. I was like… NO. While I’m happy you support the industry, let’s not watch it while I’m around. And then another one of my friends mentioned he’d never seen Soul Eater. So they popped it in and started watching the dub. I walked out. I was like, “Nope. I’ll see you guys later.” (laughs) Yeah, I’m not a big fan of listening to myself. I mean, sometimes I’ll listen to my performance, just to see how I did. It usually turns into a critique fest where I’m just yelling at the screen, “You moron! Why did you say it like that?” or “Oh man, the fans are gonna hate you for this.” (laughs)
DHGF: My last question for you is if you have any advice for anybody that wants to become a voice actor.
MICAH: Um… Be an actor, first. That way you can use everything that you’ve learned and apply it to your voice acting. Good instinct will only get you so far. And get familiar with how you sound! I’ve seen a lot of people watch themselves or hear a clip of their voice and say, “WHOA! Do I really sound like that, bro?” What you sound like and what you THINK you sound like are usually different.
Work hard and accept criticism and direction from people in the know. That way you can work on your “weaknesses.” I guess to use a physical example, I took martial arts and once in a while we would have to fight our sensei. We’d get the beat down of our lives and go home limping. The next day, you’d know exactly where your defense needed work because you’d be bruised there. When you know what your weaknesses are, you can build upon them and get better.
DHGF: Well, that’s it!
MICAH: Cool, thank you!
DHGF: Thank you so much!
MICAH: Thank you!