Tara Sands: A Voice For Everything
Updated: Nov 2
Tara Sands was an imaging voice for a radio station I was programming in my radio days. It always exciting to hire new voice talent to put a fresh sound to your station. Her work extends well beyond FM, into some of the things you might hear like cartoons and commercials, but also in Anime, Audiobooks and now Podcast. If there's audio to be recorded, she is likely recording it.
In this episode, you will hear about Tara's teenage years in New Jersey where she took in a few Bruce Springsteen concerts and would take trips to New York to perform in theatre. We also spoke about the joyful consequences of popularity when you are a voice of Bulbasaur in the popular cartoon Pokemon. There's a whole world of celebrity conventions and your social media changes forever. We also talked at length about the pandemic and its affects on the work that she does. Tara has not visited a studio since March 2020 and made significant upgrades to her studio in order to make it "hard wired" for internet connectivity and upgraded for speed. Voiceover talent will especially love this deep dive into her work life and career.
There''s an awful lot of things that I wanted to ask after the interview was over - but that's what the episode page is for. If your radio station would like to have Tara as an imaging voice, please reach out to her via her webpage.
Tara has a brand new podcast! It's a retrospective show about the 4Kids era of television as told by the people who were actually there. Hosted by voice actress Tara Sands and podcaster/artist Steve Yurko! 4Kids is the company that brought Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, One Piece and more to English speaking audiences. Congrats Tara and Steve on this vernture! Check out the trailer here and naturally hit the follow or subscribe button on your favourite podcast app.
Tara also does some Streamily signings from time to time. I had to figure out what these were but it's live autographs signings. You can check out Tara's page and if there are no events posted, just sign up for for an email alert.
You can check out the last one she did which was streamed on her Instagram page.
There's more awesome stuff here! Like Voiceover tips!
Tara mentioned that she keeps straws in her studio to practice Straw Phonation. Here is a demonstration of the technique and how it can help with singing and voicework.
We also talked about love for Trader Joe's. It's a little hard for me to shop there as my closest Trader Joe's is 7 hours away. However, it is still possible for me to get some of the frozen products and make it back to Canada. I made mention of the Inside Trader Joe's Podcast which is coincidentally hosted by two other people named.... wait for it.... Matt & Tara. A brand new season is underway.
Here are our Trader Joe picks!
Tara is all in on the Penne Arrabbiata. There have been some other pasta offerings recently including Cacio e Pepe but this is the standalone for pasta excellence.
Matt loves most of the salsas but finds this Tomatillo Yellow Chili Salsa to be exceptional. (UPDATE: This appears to be discontinued!!!!)
Finally, I mentioned in the episode that podcasting has an equivalent to the Internet Movie Database called Podchaser. it's a great way to catalogue your podcast appearances. If you have a podcast, sign up for an account and credit your contributors.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:00:01
The Sound Off podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now. This week I'm speaking with Tara Sands. She's the voice you just heard, provided you didn't fast forward over the intro. If you did that, please restart the show in order to get the full Tara Sands experience. I was first introduced to Tara Sands through Kyle Taylor, who was at The Edge in 2013 and is now actually doing imaging at Indie 88 in Toronto. Anyhow, we were looking for a new imaging voice, and he sent me something like this.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:00:37
$1,000. Take a chunk off your credit card. Go nuts on itunes, think about how much canned ham that is. Hey, it's your $1,000 spend it how you like. New alternative now, not six months from now. This is new alternative. A new Edge recipe. Smashing Pumpkins Pie. You can really taste the Billy Corrigan.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:03
And then I thought, that sounds cool. So we hired her.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:01:07
It's one thing to see the band. It's another to meet the band.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:01:12
Power 97 presents The Black Keys October 25 at MTS center.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:01:18
Win tickets to the show by identifying this off-key Black Keys song.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:26
Tara also does voice imaging for CHR stations.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:01:29
Your Snapchat story looks like you had a rough weekend hydrating you with commercial free music. It's the unofficial kickoff of summer, so Monday we are officially slacking off. 101.5 WBNQ throw back Thursday and country stations when the lights come on and the crowd roars. Be there to witness Jason Aldean live with 101.9 The Buzz. Get your hands on tickets all week.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:00
But radio imaging is just one part of the many ways she uses her voice. She's best known in Anglophone countries as the voice of Bulbasaur in the long running Pokemon series. And there are endless credits on the Internet Movie Database for television, anime, cartoons and so much more. She's also a voice you might hear on audiobooks. And now podcasts. Tara Sands joins me from her home studio in Los Angeles. Happy belated birthday.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:02:29
Thank you. Thank you, Matt.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:02:32
How much that is written about you on the Internet is true?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:02:35
Oh, that's a good question. I'd say most is true. They get some of the characters I've played over the years wrong because I've been doing this long enough that there was no IMDb when I started. So there's some misinformation about what characters I played. One of the shows I worked on for many years was Pokemon. I'm miscredited as playing a bunch of roles and I'm doing a comic convention next week and they put a character I didn't play on my poster. And I was like, oh, guys, I didn't play that because then sometimes what happens is someone will bring me like a picture of that character to sign and then I have to disappoint them and be like, the Internet's wrong. I didn't play that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:16
Should they check IMDb for the correct information?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:03:20
It's mostly correct, but it's- IMDB is so weird because they let people add stuff without verifying it. But then getting stuff taken off is really difficult. So there were like a bunch of roles that I knew I didn't play that I tried for years to get taken off of there. I don't know how I eventually got it done, but I mean, again, it took years and some of the shows are so old that I don't remember if I worked on them. I guess I should go back and watch because sometimes I go in for like an hour and do some small characters. And again, I didn't take notes back then. I wish I did.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:55
How many entries are there for you up there? It's like pages and pages.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:03:59
I don't I mean, it's not insane, but you think about it compared to like an on camera actor, voice acting work for cartoons, we're not in there as much. So even if I just did one episode of something, that's another entry, whereas that same entry for an on camera job would have been a lot more work, let's say. Not that it's not hard work. But again, I can be credited for a job that took me an hour. That's not happening in the on camera world. And then there are jobs that I've done for years, and that's just one entry in there. It evens out.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:30
I've seen you joke before that you get paid to do what you used to get in trouble in school for. And that's talk. Did you talk a lot in school?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:04:37
Yes, I talked a lot. I don't know what I had to say that was so important. I'm sure it was nothing that crucial that I needed to get out, but I've always just- I mean, you can tell I'm rambling right now. When I was even a little kid, I talked I loved imitating commercials. So I used to get detention for talking too much. If they only knew, and now I'm paid to talk too much.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:05
What was life growing up like in 80s and 90s in New Jersey?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:05:09
Jersey? Well, big hair. That's the most important part. Loss of Hairspray. It was great. I mean, I lived close enough to New York that I felt really lucky to have access to great theater and things like that that I think really shaped me. And then I was able to because I was so close to New York start auditioning when I was in high school. Luckily, my parents, I begged my parents to let me. They were not pushing this on me at all. But yeah, being in New York, it was sort of the best of both. I could have like a backyard to run around in and then get to the city really easily.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:48
How does anybody know at that age? I want to go voice commercials. I want to be the voice of something in particular.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:05:54
Oh, no, I did not. I didn't know what a voiceover was. I was a theater kid.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:05:59
So you were going to New York for acting auditions.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:06:03
Yeah. So I was in a local singing competition. That's how I even met my first manager. And the first audition she sent me on happened to be for a voiceover. That was just in addition to whatever else I was auditioning for. But that was the first thing I auditioned for through them and booked. I had already been doing some theater in New York and some singing stuff. So I got that first job. I was like, what is this? What am I doing? And I just really liked being in the studio. When they came up, I would do them. It wasn't until many years later that I was like, I think I only want to do this job, this part of the acting world.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:40
What was your first job?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:06:42
It was a wart commercial. It was for wart cream. Very fancy first job. I think I said something like, EW, gross, a wart. I think it was a demo and I'm sure it probably never aired, but yeah, I was like, wait, that's it. I'm done. And it was fun. I was in the booth with someone else. Like, we got to play off of each other. I think it was like, I wish I could remember who like, to this day because we're not wearing costumes when we're voice acting. The headphones, to me, are sort of my transition. Like, okay, now I'm in work mode, now I'm whatever. Like, I'm looking at myself in the video that we have on the screen and I just want to sing We Are the World from the video where they're holding their headphones. That's still the image I have in my brain of what cool headphones are. In animation, they discourage it a lot because newer people are listening to themselves so much. I feel like you and I have worn them enough that we're sort of immune to that. It feels like part of my work costume.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:49
It also feels like you're flying an airplane.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:07:51
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:07:52
What kind of headphones are those?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:07:54
I don't know. Let me see. Sony MCR 7506. They're comfortable. That's all I care about. What are you wearing?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:04
I have DT 770 Pros from Beyer.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:08:11
I see. I like those because they're the comfortable cloth ones. The only problem there's some studios. I mean, this is pre pandemic. Those are really comfortable because they're the cloth. So if they're in your own studio, they're great. If they're in a shared studio, and they would have them in studios where I'd be right after someone who sweat all over them, they would get really smelly because of those cloth headphones. I started bringing my own headphones to Studios years ago because I'm just really smell sensitive and headphones retain smells.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:43
I think you and I had the conversation about studio headphones. Always bring your own because who knows what's been left behind. I mean, it could be bad as the hotel remote.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:08:53
Yeah. Disgusting. Yeah. I can't believe more actors didn't- I mean, I think hopefully now they are. But I remember when the Pandemic first started, I was one of the few, and they were like, what do you use in the studio? I'm like, I use a pair of crappy headphones that I throw around my car so that I don't worry if they break.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:09:10
When the Pandemic hit, a lot of people didn't have home studios like you do. So how lucky were you to go home and be able to do everything? And a lot of people were kind of stranded without the equipment.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:09:23
Yeah. I was super lucky that I was pretty much set up. There were still a few things that I had to tweak. The stuff I was recording from home, I was doing a lot of audiobooks and things that where there wasn't a live director on the line, so I didn't have to worry about my WiFi speed and being hardwired. And I was using a laptop. So when I started dubbing, it was taking up- Zoom takes up a lot of, I don't know, the technical terms. Bandwidth. Yes, that thing. So, yeah, I had to make some upgrades, but Luckily I had the framework in place. I mean, I remember the Focusrite Scarlett was like, back ordered for people. They couldn't get one. Mics were hard to come by. So, yeah, I mean, it's great because those companies did well at a hard time, but voice actors were scrounging to just put together their home studio.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:16
It took me two months to get this Sennheiser.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:10:18
Oh, that's like, I have that one, too, the 4-16 we're looking at. I'm not using it right now, but yeah.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:23
That's copying you, right?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:10:25
That's what it was.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:27
It also sounds awesome.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:10:28
I like it. I think it's probably better on your voice than it is on mine, is my guess.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:33
By the way, neither one of us are on that microphone right now, but it has made a huge difference for me. It sounds way better.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:10:41
Oh, it has.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:42
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:10:43
My intention was always to switch back and forth, but I'm using what am I using? A TLM 103. And that's what most of my clients want, so I just haven't been asked for the 416 in a long time.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:55
What did you take at Hofstra?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:10:56
I was a theater major. I got my BA in theater there, but I was already doing the voiceover thing and going to the city for different kinds of auditions. So I crammed my classes in and got out a little early because I was just so eager to be working. I loved taking acting classes and all that, but I just was so ready to do this full time.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:23
By the way, I had my son, he's now 20. I had him go through your IMDb.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:11:29
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:30
Well, he only recognized a couple of things, and that was.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:11:33
Yeah, because if you're not a hardcore anime fan, you wouldn't know a lot of it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:38
That's what he said. He goes, dad, this is all anime.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:11:41
Yeah, there's some obscure stuff on there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:43
But he did recognize Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:11:46
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:47
And your role as the waitress on Everybody Hates Chris.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:11:52
That's funny. Yeah. I mean, I'm lucky that I've been doing this long enough that there is, like, just some weird stuff on there that no one maybe will ever see. But yeah, I feel like we're in another anime boom right now. There was the one when Pokemon started. It gave access to- You probably remember the days of, like, if you wanted some weird anime stuff, you have to go to some underground video store and find a VHS of it. And the hunt is gone. Now you can just find everything.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:12:26
You've got this long list of things that I've never come into contact with, but every once in a while, there's just people. They know Pokemon and they know the characters you play as well. You play Balthaza. Bulbasaur, but yeah. Kinda close. You play Balpazar.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:12:44
No, but yeah, okay, sure, Bulba. Bulba. Saur. Bulathor. Okay, now you're being silly. Okay, yes. Who said one word. I explained that to a friend of mine. My friends have never watched the show, a lot of them. So when I explained to them that the Pokemon only say their own names, they're like, wait, what? You only said- that's- All you said was- because Luckily I played many different Pokemon, and then I played some of the human characters. So I did get to say words, but when I die, they will say, she played Bulbasaur, and I'll be known as saying one word.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:13:23
And if I were to list off some of the other very popular stuff that you're involved in, things like Fire Emblem games and Shaman King, at what point do you know that these are going to become hits? Like, you can go in and record this stuff, but when do you know that it's a hit?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:13:39
I am the worst judge of stuff, if you ask me in the studio that day. Whatever I'm working on, you're like, is this going to be big? I would never guess correctly. I thought Pokemon was the weirdest thing ever because again, we didn't know anything about it. I'm like, Wait, it only says it's own name. Who's going to watch this show? Pikachu says Pikachu. Okay, whatever. Yeah, I'm a horrible gauge of that. Even back then, it was hard to know what was a hit. Pokemon we knew pretty quickly. A lot of times, you know, just because you keep working, that's sometimes the biggest indicator that you're like, oh, I have a job again. Okay, then I guess this is doing well now because of social media. You know, much more. You pretty much can gauge right away by the fans and who's tagging you and who watched it. You can say, oh, like, no one watched that new show that just came out. I guess that's not one of the big ones and then the other ones, all of a sudden you get a bunch of new followers and you're like, okay, that's my Nielsen rating.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:38
I remember when I was going into voice something and I was just filling in and I said, what is this called? And they said, Super Suckers. I'm like, okay, where can I watch it? Oh, it's on in South Africa.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:14:52
Okay, sure, it's a job. That's the thing. We're going to say yes to most of this stuff, whether or not it's a success, because we're freelancers, that's what we do. So when it's a success, it's just like icing on the cake.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:07
If I have to explain to anybody what you do. And then I name the shows that they don't know. And then I say, oh, by the way, she can't join us for dinner this weekend. She's going to Las Vegas to a convention to meet all the people who know all this, to know the shows that you don't know right now.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:15:24
It's weird. It's a weird life.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:15:27
What are those conventions like?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:15:29
They're fascinating. Again, because at the 20 years ago, I didn't know we had fans. I liked voice acting, honestly, because of the anonymity. I don't love divulging things about my life on social media, but we're feeling obligated to post, but it's sort of part of the job now. This new culture of actors meeting the people that watch their things is kind of a new phenomenon. These conventions have exploded, and I can't believe some of the superstars that show up at them. So it's an interesting world. It used to be such a niche geeky, and I say geeky lovingly, different. They were for strictly comics, and now they're just basically big pop culture conventions, like the one I'm going to next week. There's athletes, I think there's like football players, there's wrestlers, there's artists, there's voice actors, there's on camera. It runs the gamut. They're a bit overwhelming. And I meet amazing people. I get to interact with these people who the show meant something to. And again, it's not about me. It's about what the show meant to them. But if I can be there representing that for them and give them some happiness, I'm thrilled to do it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:45
It's a large radio audience who listens to this podcast, and I think everybody's had that moment where somebody comes up to them and says, oh, you don't look like you sound on the radio. You're bald.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:16:54
Right? Because they decide in their brains what you look like.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:00
But it must be different. You don't look like the character that I think that I'm watching on TV.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:17:07
With cartoons it's even weirder. I don't like to ruin the illusion for little kids. Sometimes a parent will come up with a four year old and be like, do the voice, tell them what you do. And I'm like, I don't want to ruin it for them. I don't want them thinking about me when they're watching. It's a weird disconnect until a certain age, unless they actually see a video of an actor in the booth with a microphone and see maybe like a live dubbing thing or something. It's very strange disconnect for a kid to understand that there's a person doing that. And I don't want to kill Santa Claus. That's sort of what that feels like to me. Sometimes I'll do the voice for a little kid and they'll go, oh, yeah, you sound just like him or her or whatever. And I'll go, well, never mind, I can't do that. I'm not a dream crusher.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:17:53
You ever been to Japan?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:17:55
No. I'd love to, though, because they don't watch the English over there. So it's not like they get to go to a convention there. They'd have the Japanese actors there. So I've gotten to go to the countries where they watch the English versions of the show. I've been to Scotland and England and New Zealand. Yeah, hopefully more when we can travel again. And I had to look and see like, oh, in certain countries, did they keep us or did they redub it with accented voices or onto another language again? I didn't know Pokemon was- I guess it just never occurred to me. Like in New Zealand, they're watching our American dub of Pokemon. It's so cool, but I never thought about it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:18:41
Tell me a little bit about the struggle of social media. And I say struggle as if it's some sort of, like, difficult, but it is difficult because all of a sudden you had your account, you are living your life. In 2007, 2008, you had your Facebook page with your friends, your MySpace page. Yeah, it was easy. And then in come the fans, and now you've got to share social media space with fans, but also your voice acting community, and whatever you have professional, and as well as friends and family. So how do you manage it?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:19:13
Well, I resisted it for so long. I was thought, oh, I don't have to do Twitter. I have Facebook. And then we started hearing that for certain projects, like animated shows, casting people were looking at your Twitter follower number because what it is, is it's free publicity for them. So I don't know how much that's being done. But what I've heard is sometimes if it's between two people, they'll look at like, oh, this person has 1000 followers. This person has 80,000 followers. The person with 80,000 followers will get more. If they promote the show, they'll get more eyeballs on it. Even contracts now have not all of them, but some of them have, like, you're obligated to tweet a certain number of times about it or Instagram it, which is crazy to me. I think this speaks to the whole industry. Like, when I started, I was an actor. That is what I did. I came into the booth, I said my lines. I didn't know how to press record. It wasn't necessary for me to do all these other jobs. Now I'm working at home. I'm my own engineer. I'm sometimes my own director. I do my own publicity on Twitter, and other companies are maybe counting on me to do that. So I think we're all wearing a lot more hats now than we used to. And I don't know if that's good or bad. I certainly don't want to put anyone out of work. There's so many studios that closed and engineers lost work due to people having home studios. I love having a great engineer, and I would never want to put them out of work. So people who listen to this have seen the changes in this industry. Some good, some bad, yes.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:00
But there were people in their Studios back in the early part of the 2000's. And then I would say the pandemic probably just accelerated. We were headed there anyway.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:21:10
And now we're sort of yeah, I think listen for like, radio imaging that was all done from my home studio. The things that weren't were the reasons I live in LA. Video games, cartoons, dubbing, those are still jobs that would really like us back in the studio because they're having to do a lot more post production when everyone's recording from a different space. I've already gotten some push to come back into the studio for those things. Commercials, really not so much. Other things where it's not a ton of post production work. It's okay. But they're spending more hours because again, if we went into a voiceover session for new animation, there'd be four of us in the room recording together. Now they're recording us all separately. They're trying to change the room tones to all match. They're having to edit it. It's taking way more time, and it's really eating into their budgets.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:22:08
Yeah, I can imagine that for animation, cartoons, it would be the hardest to do remotely. And I was going to ask you, when you get in there for the first time, you're going to do the reading, the run through it, and you're starting a brand new cartoon series working with the director. They want to land on the voice. Are they landing on the voice you're offering, or do they want you to change it? What's that sort of work interaction like at the very outset of the series?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:22:36
That's a good question. So if you've auditioned, what happens is a lot of time they'll play you your audition that got you the role. So they'll say this is why we chose you. Here, listen, please listen back to this and do exactly what you did. I think that's a lot of the yeah, most of the time I'd say sometimes they say we like what you did, but we want to tweak it a little. Sometimes you've seen the artwork, sometimes you haven't. If they haven't, you're like, oh, great, because that sometimes informs the voice. So sometimes you've seen the artwork, sometimes you haven't, and that maybe changes things. Or they'll say, we drew the character and now she has buck teeth. Does that change what you want to do with it or something like that? The first day is always very experimental, I'd say. And it also depends if there's other- how much you can play based on, if it's a group recorded or if you're alone. If you're alone, you have more freedom to sort of figure it out and play. Or it's depending if time is an issue or if it's all those factors. And a lot of times I always use the Simpsons example. If you look at early Simpsons, especially even once it was a show, but especially when it was just the shorts on the Tracey Ullman show, they all sound completely different and they grew into those characters and they found them and figured them out. And I don't think anyone is annoyed that they sound different. Like, there's characters that I look at. I go, oh, that voice has evolved over time. When I learned more about her now, I didn't realize she was shy. They didn't bring that character description in until episode eight, so now maybe I'm going to make her a little quieter and that'll kind of stick with her. Luckily, I use the Charles in Charge example. I don't know who remembers the show Charles in Charge, but like, Buddy got stupider with every episode, you find characters. Sometimes they just change based on the writing that you receive.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:24:38
In just a second, Tara and I go off script. We still have to talk about audiobooks, video games, voicing opportunities for podcasts, and what it's like to bring someone's script to life. Also, we'll discuss her affinity for Trader Joe's. By the way, there's so much more I wanted to chat about with Tara, like her live Instagram autograph sessions and her role in the new Star Wars audio drama Tempest Runner. That and everything else I didn't get to with Tara is on the episode page at soundoffpodcast.com.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:25:06
The Sound Off podcast with Matt Cundill.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:12
Tell me a little bit about video games. Are those the hardest ones to do because you have to exert yourself more?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:25:17
It depends on the game. But yeah, I mean, listen, if it's like a battle game and that's it, then you're just screaming. And the Union has been really good about limiting what we're allowed to do, what they're allowed to ask of us. And ideally all those exertions are saved for the end. And I try to book those later in the day so that I can just stop talking. But a lot of the games now are really, you know, there's a lot of, like, great scene work in some of these games, and I don't tend to book the big battle- I think that's a lot more male heavy. Anyway, that's not the majority of what I'm doing. You know, I've done some, like, really adorable games where I just get to have fun little scenes and talk like this, stuff like that. So it really depends on the game. Especially some games are based on a show or whatever, and then you're in your character doing that stuff. But yeah, so many of these, I guess they're episodic games. Is that what they're called? There's some amazing acting work going on that has nothing to do with yelling. So that's a nice change.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:25
Do you play video games?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:26:27
I wish I did. I'm really bad at them. I wish I had started a long time ago. I feel like now when I try to pick them up, I don't have the intuition. Are you a gamer?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:39
No. I mean, I play little games on my iPad.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:26:42
Yeah, me too. I play just some Angry Birds version all day long, and I'm a crossword puzzle person. That's my game.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:26:50
Sometimes I'll see one of my kids playing and I'll say, Can I play? And they're like, one person game. I'm like, Whatever.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:26:58
They're probably way better. It's intuitive to them the way it's just not to us, I guess.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:02
Well they're playing online with other people.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:27:05
So it's not a one person game. They're just lying to you.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:07
Like, back in the days in New Jersey in the 80s and 90s, where it was Bruce Springsteen, Sopranos and Bon Jovi. By the way, have you seen any of those or all of those?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:27:18
My first concert was a Bruce Springsteen concert. I've seen him a lot. I haven't. I haven't watched The Sopranos. It's on my list. I don't know how I've never seen it. It's ridiculous.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:28
You have to stop. You haven't seen The Sopranos?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:27:31
I know it's a long story. It has to do with, like, an ex that was, like, working near it. And I was like, I had a bad feeling about it because of an ex. And then I was like, I'm not watching that show. And now I'm like, oh, who cares? I just should watch a good show because that's the mind of a young girl who-
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:27:51
Yeah, like, can we pull up The Sopranos and IMDb and look this guy up?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:27:56
No, you wouldn't be able to figure it out. But, you know, when you associate something with someone and then you just don't want to watch it, he ruined it for me. But, yeah, definitely. I loved gaming in the 80s. Like, I was in arcades. I would go to the arcade and play Pacman and Centipede all day. That was the limit of my gaming. Atari Pitfall loved Pitfall. I even went as far as Nintendo Zelda. I liked Zelda, but I think it's probably stopped around there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:26
What do you do to warm up a lot of that?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:28:32
I keep straws in my boot. There's these little coffee stir straws. There are exercises. I don't use them as much as they should, but there's something called straw phonation. You can look at up exercises on YouTube. It sounds crazy, but there's these great warm ups using straws because it limits how much air is going out. I will not explain it correctly, but if you're interested in great vocal warm ups and how to recharge your voice kind of in the middle of a tough session. Straw phonation. P-H-O-N-A-T-I-O-N-I hope I spelled that right. There's some great exercises. I was a singer too, so I'm pretty good at using my voice, but I'm not as great with the warm ups and the cool downs as I should be.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:18
What do you do to take care of your voice in the off time?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:29:22
Cigars and whiskey? Honestly, again, I'm not a role model, but again, like water and all that stuff. But sometimes the only thing you can do is stop talking. Sometimes that is the only thing that helps is rest if I've used my voice properly. Sometimes I just did an audiobook where I didn't realize I'd be narrating the whole book in a different voice because it was the point of view of this little puppy, which is adorable, but it's a little boy puppy. So I narrated the book in his voice and I was exhausted. Again, I can do everything right and my voice will still be just tired from that. There's just a limit to how correctly you can do certain things.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:17
So audiobooks is a completely different pile. Again, where you'll pick up the book and then there'll be multiple characters in there. We'll be expected to adapt to multiple characters in a book?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:30:30
Yes, I like to say that it's a suggestion of the character. I'm never going to sound like a 70 year old man from Russia. I can suggest that to you. I can manipulate my voice so that you get a flavour of that guy, and I don't think the listeners are expecting you to transform. Luckily.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:30:55
Do you enjoy reading?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:30:57
Yes, because I do a lot of audiobook work. It's put a damper on my own fun reading. So I don't read as much as I should on my own, but I Luckily get to read when I do the books so that need is fulfilled sometimes.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:31:13
Do I have to enjoy reading in order to record audio books?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:31:19
No. I mean, in the way that you don't have to love donuts to work at a donut shop. It helps. It definitely helps because the cliche is these audiobooks are a marathon, not a sprint. So you have to have some appreciation for literature, I think, to really commit. It's very time consuming in some ways. And listen. I mean, I've read a lot of bad books and there's times I've been like, how did this get published? Who? What? It showed me a whole world of other stuff that I would never when I was reading, mostly when I would read for fun, I would read things people recommended so that you didn't read the crap. Now sometimes I have to read the crap. I won't say what or it's just stuff I'm not interested in. Like, I'm not a big romance reader. It's not that it's bad. It's just not my genre. Again. I can find the fun in them. I can find the fun characters and appreciate the plot twists, but it's not my favorite genre to read in my spare time.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:32:22
You just recently finished up playing the role of Joan of Arc on Godcast, which was- now this is sort of an initial podcast outing here for you. And I'm not talking about just coming on somebody's podcast to talk about voice acting or Pokemon or whatever it is that you've been on podcasts before. But this was an actual role, which was done by the people at Forever Dog. So what do you think of podcasts so far?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:32:46
I really enjoyed it. I mean, I'll explain. So Godcast is/was a podcast by David Javerbaum, who has a Twitter account called The Tweet of God. And he's tweeted as God for many, many years. He's written a Broadway show that was very successful based on this Twitter account. He's written books, so he's for many years wanted to do a podcast, and he needed a sidekick. So obviously his sidekick is Joan of Arc, because, you know, that's a job she would do in heaven. So I got to be Joan. And that was really my first foray into podcasting and working with a company who did that. They were so excited that I knew anything, that I had a home studio in the first place because that was less work for them to deal with. But I'm so used to having pristine sound, and there's so much more that, like, there's so much more leeway in a lot of this stuff that I was not used to. They'd be a dog barking, and I'd be like, we have to stop. And they're like, that's okay, we'll figure it out. But it was great. It was really fun to see it from the beginning, too. Like, I don't often get to be part of projects from day one. So this was very educational. And then hearing what amazing work the editors and sound designers, they put in a lot of great sound effects and really made it come to life more than it would have with just our voices.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:09
Yeah. The music and production was great on it.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:34:12
Yeah. They did a great job.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:13
Yes. And we say, if you find us going back and forth between was and is, it's because the project has possibly pod faded, but likely not. I mean, these things can live forever. It's not like it goes away.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:34:26
There's a lot of episodes you can listen to.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:28
Wait until I give you the bad news about podcasting and what they started up. They started up now the IMDb of podcasting.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:34:35
Oh, what's that?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:37
It's called Pod Chaser.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:34:39
Oh, okay. I should look at that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:43
I'm actually working with some people on developing roles and credits, and there was a situation that came up whereby you're a voice actor on Godcast, but you're an announcer on this podcast, and I asked for them to separate the roles.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:34:59
Oh, that's interesting. Yeah. I'm glad that they're doing that, too, because I noticed there's a lot of scripted stuff going on in the podcasting world and some really good work, and you have to listen to the the end to find out who those people are. And sometimes I'm in the middle of listening and I'm like, I want to know who that is. So I like the idea of that being available.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:21
So if you get bombarded with emails, that's what that's about.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:35:24
It's not no, that's cool. I'm glad that. Listen, I wish that it existed during our early Pokemon days and things like that. So I really could have an accurate record of what happened and who I was.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:35:34
I thought you might be the first person I've had on this podcast who is on Cameo. You're the second. Okay, I'll take it. The first one is Lisa Guerrero from Inside Edition.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:35:48
Yeah, Cameo's- again, I would have loved that as a kid to get a message from someone I admired or a sports figure. I wasn't into sports, but there's this access that people have to celebrities and quotes that seemed unattainable to me, which is so cool. I mean, that's such a neat thing that they have access to.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:36:16
Did you always like the studio more than acting, let's say, on TV when you were doing, like, Fridays on Cartoon Network?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:36:23
I really like both, and I like that I was doing both because it kept both exciting for me and now because I'm not doing on cam- I love the camaraderie of a set. I loved being around humans because for dubbing, we're so often just by ourselves. There's a director, engineer, but we're in a room by ourselves. We're watching the screen. No, I don't think most people become an actor to sit in a room by themselves. I became an actor to interact. So that's what I did love about being on a set. Now I vary up my day, at least I'm in different areas of voiceover. So in a given day, I might do some imaging. I might do an audio book for a couple of hours if I'm working on my own, maybe some commercial and animation auditions. So the variety, I think, is what keeps me liking it so much.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:37:14
Because you're working home alone, that's going to play a role in your mental health. Everybody has felt this at one point, and we've had a lot of downs and sort of a lot of questioning about what's going to happen next. How have you managed to steer through the last 18 months of having to work at home alone?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:37:37
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:37:37
So because I was doing a lot from home, like when I was doing audiobooks from home, which I again been doing for years. I live a block from Target. I literally would force myself to go to Target to see other humans because if I'm working on a book, there are days that I wouldn't leave home and I would have to force myself out because I knew it wasn't healthy. Again, this is pre-pandemic when we were forced to stay home. So I think just making yourself go out into the world is essential for keeping your mental health okay. Audiobook narrators specifically understand this because it's longer hours. It's a different, you know, you're self directing and engineering a lot of the time. There's a few companies that still give you a director and that will sometimes give you the option to go to a studio. But I'd say over 70% of audiobooks are done on your own, which is daunting because, again, there's no room for error. That sound has to be pristine. I mean, I've heard sometimes it's not. There are people who complain. They're like, why did I hear a door opening or a dog barking? It's so crazy to me because I'm so neurotic about sound during a book. So, yeah, the pandemic obviously is just awful because you don't just want to put yourself in an unsafe situation just to get out. So going for walks, luckily, I'm in LA. I think it's tougher for a lot of you guys in cold places where you can't just- it's not pleasant to go out for a walk sometimes. I don't know. I mean, listen, I'm a big proponent of therapy and all that stuff, just to talk it through. This is a tough time for so many people. And again, we're isolated because of this job. And the podcast was great because we'd all see each other on Zoom. Honestly, that was awesome for me to just see humans on a screen. Again, not the same.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:39
Have you turned down any work because they wanted you to come into a studio but you didn't feel comfortable?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:39:44
Yeah, it was like the beginning of March, middle of March. It was when stuff was pretty much shut down and it was a building I knew with an elevator that, you know, this is like pre mask mandates. And I was already kind of wearing masks because I was like, this thing is worse than people. I don't know. I had a hunch it was a weird situation. It was a game. And they said, you have to come in. And I said, I can do this from home. I have a great studio set up. And they gave me some weird- They said, you have this many lines, and if you have this many lines, you have to come to our studio. If you had three lines less, we'd let you do it from home. And I said, well, there's a pandemic happening. And if you can't be accommodating because of these three lines, then I don't think- I'm not doing this job. And it's hard, listen, we're freelancers, it's hard to turn down work. And there have been a lot of jobs that I do auditions, and it says studio or home record. And we have to put that in the subject line of the audition. And so I don't know if it's cost me work. I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of going back into a studio, but I don't know if I've lost jobs. There's auditions I didn't do just because they said absolutely must come to our studio. And this was like, again at the height of craziness in a city. Okay.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:08
What kind of work have you seen an uptick in since that moment in March? Has there been a type of maybe it's corporate narration or maybe it's audiobooks, or maybe it was- Is there a niche of voice work that has increased because of the pandemic?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:41:28
Scripted podcasts. I'm seeing more auditions for that because production couldn't happen. I think people started adapting some of their maybe film scripts or things into podcasts. Audible does a ton, Realm. There's some great companies that are doing amazing work. I think iHeart maybe even does some of that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:50
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:41:51
Yeah. So that's increased because that is work they could get done.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:56
And you were mentioning with Godcast, there was a Twitter account that became a podcast, and then when March hit, there were a lot of, I guess, TV shows that were scripted, but we can't film it. So let's turn it into a podcast for now and we'll figure it out later. Yeah. I had a few people come to me and say, can you make this work?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:42:15
Yeah, we're lucky. We're part of this world where work kind of increased. I mean, hopefully it'll all level out and one day we'll be normal again. I mean, production is happening, so that's good.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:42:30
Do you think you'll be in front of a camera in the next year?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:42:35
I kind of am happy with my voiceover work. There's certain pressures of on camera that I'm just not in the mood for. I don't love the audition process of on camera work. It's changed for now because people are putting self taping auditions. I never liked the going to an audition and feeling like I was in a room full of people that looked like me. That can be avoided by self taping your audition at home for on camera work. So maybe I wouldn't mind it as much. That always psyched me out when I would walk into that audition room and I was like, oh, she looks more right than me for that. If I walked into the room, I'd be like, I would cast them instead of me. Again, when friends offer me roles, I'll do them, but I'm not really pursuing that anymore.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:23
Is there ever a fear that goes through you that those blue lights in back of you will catch fire?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:43:30
Yeah, sure. I'm a fire hazard waiting- No, there are these fairy lights that I have in my booth. I'm touching one of them now. There's no heat. There's no heat involved in these things. I do wonder, though, I don't know if foam is- no, because you can put these on, like Christmas trees and stuff. They've got to be okay, right?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:52
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:43:55
I like that. You're pointing out my fire hazards. No, really. They don't get hot at all.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:59
Fun fact. You had an uncle who swore LBJ into office.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:44:05
I did not know. I don't think I ever got to meet him, unfortunately. It's my great uncle Hy. His name was Hy, not H Y Hyman. I think that's a terrible name. He was a Rabbi who wrote many books and poetry, and he was the speaker at his inauguration, which is so cool. I wish I had known him. He was a bit of a controversial figure, though. Like, I mean, I don't want to get into, like, his politics and blah, blah. So boring. But he was a bit of a controversial figure. I'll just say that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:44:41
Did LBJ find that out before or after he was sworn in?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:44:44
I don't know when all that happened, and I think he came around. It has to do with his views on Israel. I mean, again, I'm not going to get into it all and bore you, but I don't know that it would have stopped him from doing this. I think it was just within his community that it was controversial. But I've heard very nice things about him. He is responsible for the quote. It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you have. That was something that he wrote. That a quote that was his that people really took to. And then Sheryl Crow put it in a song, pretty much. You can cut that or not. You can keep that nonsense in.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:45:25
I might add to it, actually.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:45:27
But yeah, his voice was amazing. I mean, listen, I come from a family that there were a lot of rabbis and people like that who were public speakers. My grandmother, who's, like, at 90, started doing public speaking. I think it's somewhere in me that I'm not shy about it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:45:43
We know where you get your talking from now.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:45:45
My incessant talking too much.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:45:49
What's great to buy at Trader Joe's these days?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:45:52
We do love to talk about Trader Joe's. I'm not a vegan, but there's this new great vegan pizza. The crust is really good. You don't have Trader Joe's, though.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:03
We do not have Trader Joe's. I have to travel to the US to get it. In fact, during the pandemic, I had to get one of my podcast pals to send me a shipment.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:46:15
Of what? What did you put in there? What were your big choices?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:17
A lot of spices. Okay. The chili lime and the onion salt and the everything bagel.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:46:24
21 seasoning salute is very good.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:26
Got it. And I've got five smoked paprikas.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:46:30
Oh, my gosh.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:31
And I'm just back from the US two days ago where I emptied out the Minneapolis Trader Joe's. Wow. That's been closed because I paid them a visit.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:46:42
Wait, but do you get frozen stuff or is that too difficult? Because my favorite stuff is frozen?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:48
Yeah. I couldn't do the frozen stuff this time because I was flying.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:46:53
Aw, man. Because the Pane Arabiata and the Turkey meatballs.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:46:58
We buy a freezer bag and we put ice in it, and then we put all the stuff into the freezer bag. And then we have 7 hours back to Canada. And I tell everybody at Trader Joe's that I'm stocking up on my dry goods for the winter.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:47:15
Have you tried the pancake bread? No, I won't buy it because it's like too decadent. I've had it once. It's like this comes in a loaf. I think that's what it is. I think it's called pancake bread. Yeah. I love Joe. I'm a big fan of Joe.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:47:33
Do you have one near your place?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:47:34
I have like 18 near my place. They're everywhere in LA.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:47:39
Have you checked out the Inside Trader Joe's podcast?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:47:42
No. I should. See here's- I'm not a fun eater. I'm not adventurous, really. So I feel like they'd be suggesting things and they'd be like, oh, I'm too boring for that. I have to say, though, the reduced guilt potato. I just want to know what's going on because they have not had the reduced guilt potato chips in stock for months. And maybe that podcast would help me find out why.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:48:04
I think a lot of it is really about how the sausage is made at Trader Joe's. Like why they would sell one banana.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:48:11
Okay, I'm going to listen to that.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:48:13
Did you put up the picture of the cacio e pepe?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:48:16
I put that up. I have to say, I got the cacio e pepe frozen at Trader Joe's. It was not my favorite. I prefer the penne arrabiata. So, yeah, I didn't push it too hard because I feel like I feel like if you're going to be bad and eat cacio e pepe, like, get a really good, fresh version of it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:48:37
Only Trader Joe's could get away with creating a packaged product that only needs three ingredients.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:48:44
He's so brave that Joe. He's so brave. I can't believe we're talking about this. And I love it. It makes me so happy. My dad once asked me, he said, could you be a tour guide anywhere? He just asks random questions. Sometimes he's like, Is there anywhere you feel like you know well enough that you could be a tour guide? And I said, yes, Trader Joe's. It's not like Disneyland, Trader Joe's. I could give someone a great tour of Trader Joe's.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:49:10
I have something sad to report, by the way, about my experience at Trader Joe's. So everything is in the bag. And shout out to Delta Airlines, who threw my bag. And we had a midair collision with my bag between the tomatillo salsa, which is the best. It is the best one, and spicy Italian. Sofrito.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:49:35
I'm so sorry.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:49:36
So my bag smells like Mexico and Italy, And I have no idea what the sofrito is ever going to taste like.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:49:44
Oh, I'm so sorry. Why aren't they in Canada? We have to start a petition.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:49:49
The reason why is because of the packaging. You have to have it in two languages up here, and it would cost them a lot of money, too.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:49:55
Okay, well, that actually makes a lot of sense.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:49:57
Yeah. Somebody in Vancouver, by the way, started up something called pirate Joe's Where they basically bought everything down there and resold it up here, and they had to shut that down.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:50:04
Oh, okay. Well, that's a good idea, though, but I guess you're close enough to the border that you can drive if you have to.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:12
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:50:15
Yeah, that's not close. I'm so sorry.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:19
I mean, I'm close to the border, but you cross over into North Dakota. It's like I got another hour to go before I hit Grand Forks.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:50:26
Yeah, I bet there's not a lot of trader Joe's there.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:29
Not until you get to Minneapolis.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:50:31
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:32
Why do I live here?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:50:34
I'm glad we're talking about the importance.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:37
Could I come live with you now?
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:50:39
I love it. Yeah, that's not weird. Yeah. Move in just for trader Joe when you put your application in for us citizenship. So why did you want to come to this country, trader Joe's?
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:50:54
Tell me a little bit about the handmade jewelry that you have.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:50:58
Oh, my gosh. I accidentally started a company. I didn't mean to. Yeah. So I started making jewelry a few years ago just for fun, and I made too much. So I was like, I'll start an Etsy shop just to get rid of it, and then it started doing pretty well. So then I was doing the comic conventions, and people were like, well, you should make stuff that applies to the work you do. So I started making some Pokemon jewelry, and then I had a friend who's on a really big, popular DND show called critical role, and he's like, you should make some dice stuff. So I started drilling dice and making dice, Julie, because I looked online, I didn't see a lot of, like, high end geeky stuff, And I thought, we geeks deserve nicer geeky jewelry again. I'm not getting rich, but it fulfills like, I love the hobby, and if I can break even, I'm thrilled.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:51:57
Tara, thanks so much for being on the podcast. The next voice, by the way, everybody is going to hear, is actually yours. The show finishes.
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:52:04
Tara Sands (Guest) 00:52:04
I did your imaging. Thank you for that.
Tara Sands (VO) 00:52:08
The sound off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Kendall. Produced by Evan sormansky. Social media by Courtney Krebsbach. Another great creation from the soundoff media company imaging courtesy Corps image Studios. There's always firstname.lastname@example.org.