Welcome to Part 2 of our JubyPhonic / Juliet Simmons Interview! If you haven’t already, please check out this first part of the interview, where we focused on the music she makes as JubyPhonic. In this part, we discussed her work as a voice actress so far and what’s in store for the future. If you would prefer to listen to the interview instead of reading it, then check out the video below! With that, here’s what she had to say about her career under her birth name, Juliet Simmons!
So what made you transition into anime voice acting?
I feel like it’s an unbelievable story, at least, because I feel like people don’t believe me. From the way it looks you would see that my channel started; I started working on that [in] 2012/2013 I think, and then you see me voice acting a few years later. People might think, “Oh, it’s the channel. The channel popularity; they saw her and they’re like ‘That’s the girl. That’s the girl that’s gonna voice anime.'” And it’s like, “No!” That definitely didn’t happen.
It’s kind of like two different parts of my life were running at the same time, because, when I was a kid, my mother decided to put me in musical theater [at] five years old and basically leave me there. (laughs) And so I grew up with a family that LOVES singing and acting, and so I’ve been, almost every summer of my life, to acting classes, to dance lessons, summer camp shows, [etc.] for crowds of no one. You have these funny stories now of how the firemen had to come in and say “You can’t rehearse in here, it’s gonna burn down,” and then you do it anyway. I thought that’s kind of where it would end, and it didn’t. It’s that moment where you’re like, “Oh, that silly thing in my life is never going to be anything.”
So, my eldest sister, Alissa, who’s 10 years older than me, is really into cosplay, and for a while there she was going to conventions, cosplaying all these different things, and she would have panels. She would kind of do panels on skit performance, ’cause she majored in musical theater, so she was an actress. Apparently Chris Ayers, you know, she was talking with him, and they found a lot of things in common. He’s like, “You know, you would be really great in voice acting; just come down and hit me up.” Alissa, being Alissa, she didn’t hit him up, ’cause she was like, “No, no I can’t. I’m not good enough.” And so my second sister, Genevieve (she came before me in voice acting), she was like, “Hey, you have this contact with this guy Chris Ayers; let me have lunch with him.”
I’d like to say it was all about Genevieve’s charm and persuasion, but we all in this family have these resumes put together because my mother thought I was going to be a child star, and it came in handy. So Genevieve was in there, and I can’t say I was jealous, but jealous was definitely a word you could use. Like, to the point that I was toe-tapping, I was finger-tapping; I was so restless hearing about it. I was like, “Why is she doing anime voice overs? I love anime more than her.” So, what did I do? I decided, “Well if anything, I’m gonna sit on the couch.”
And so, every time Genevieve would go into the studio, I would sit on the couch. Sometimes I would bring my homework, I would bring food, I would draw in there; I just HAD to be there. And this was going on while I had the channel; the two things were completely separate.
I talked with Chris Ayers, I talked with the engineer, I talked with their kids because the kids were in there, and it’s funny because I had sworn to never get back into acting in any way, shape, or form, and then here I was, on this couch, desperate. And at one point they were like, “Hey, your sister: I know she also did acting, and we need this extra voice in here.” I was sitting on the couch reading a magazine, and I was like, “YEAH! Heck yeah, I can do that!” I didn’t think I could do it at all, but you just say yes to everything.
And, you know, here and there, I would kind of help out, ’cause I had nothing to do. I think, really, the big starting point was that there was a show called AKB0048 and they needed people who could sing, and I was like, “Hey, I can sing.” Of course, I wasn’t like, “Hey, yeah, ME,” I was more like whispering under my breath, you know? And so they were like “If you can sing, can you do this and this and this?” It’s kind of funny when you say you can do one thing and they actually hear you do it, and they’re like “Oh, you weren’t lying. Ohhh.”
And truly, I was like “What? Why would I lie? I’m the most pure person in the world.” And so, we started out there. I can’t say it was just like “BAM! WHAM! BAM!” It was more like really slow; I had failures, I had auditions that didn’t go so well, I had a lot of history just kind of failing over and over, and then…you know, I’m here now. I feel like I’m still trying to get there as a voice actress. I’m like “Am I there? Is this ‘there’ now? Am I cool now?” There’s a lot of history to it, but I think it’s just been really slow.
Has the transition been getting easier? I know with dubbing, it’s all about matching the flaps and sometimes you have to rewrite the script right then and there. How’s that been working out for you?
I wish that rewriting the script was the hardest part. I didn’t really know anything about dubbing until I went there, and how it is now, at least at Sentai [Filmworks], is you’ve got this room, and inside this room you have an even smaller room called “the booth,” and when you’re closed in here, it’s a heavy door; there’s no air escaping, and it get’s hot, like HOT. You are given two screens: one screen has the script and one screen is the anime. You have to imagine now that you are able to use each eye independently to look at both screens, but you can’t.
Basically, as you’re doing this, they have your character highlighted, and they’ll be like, “Okay, we’re gonna pick up from here.” Most of the time they’ll be talking to the audio engineer, like, “Hey, this time code, this and that.” But the thing is, you don’t really know when they’re talking to you, because you’re in this air-tight room where you can’t hear anything, and sometimes you can just see their mouths moving, and you don’t know if you’re supposed to be like, “Yes?” or “Are they talking to me?”
So, as an awkward person, it’s been an experience, but I think one thing that people don’t know is, at least at Sentai, you don’t get to see the script until they have scrolled down on the document and you see the words. It’s not that you know how many flaps there are going to be, because, in the end, that’s going to be their problem, out there. I’ve had to kind of separate [myself], ’cause I like to be really specific on the flaps, but now I’m like, “Okay, you just have to say the lines. Your number one thing is to act.”
A lot of the time, you’ll say it, and they’ll play it back and they’re like, “Oh, we have to shorten it” or “Can you say it faster? Can you say it slower? Can you add a pause?” And they’ll rewrite it, and they’ll rewrite it, sometimes if the script just doesn’t fit. I would say that, yeah, it’s like a really fast, but slow, thing, ’cause you’re going fast, but then there are these big pauses of like, “Okay, how am I gonna do that?”
I remember, oh gosh, there was this one line in Akame ga KILL!, which I didn’t know was going on TV until later, and it was her big intro line, where she’s like, “I can’t wait to see you,” and then a beat and then “sister.” But they wanted “sister” to be extended, and when you think about it, how do you extend that? You know, I started sounding like a snake: I was like, “ssssssisssster?”
And so, you’ll get a lot of that, where it’s kind of frustrating for both parties, ’cause you wanna do it right, but then they’re like, “Well, we have to have it like this, but then it doesn’t work like this but we want the right feeling,” so I would say that it’s not a very clean process, like many people might think. Especially when you’re cackling in the booth and then the audio engineer likes to take little snippets of you cackling horribly and then save it.
So you brought up Akame ga KILL! and it airing on Toonami, so how did you feel when you found out that was going to happen?
So, if I could curse right now. (laughs) Like, HOLY MOLY. I was in New York visiting my sisters, and gosh, I was having a hard time: I was like, “Man, everything I do is so tiring, and I’m not getting anywhere,” and then you’re on the subway; that doesn’t make it any better. We were walking to an ice cream shop, and I was already pretty happy by then ’cause I’m like, “This. This is the peak of life: eating ice cream in this ice cream shop.”
Then, my sister gets a text from one of the other actresses talking about the show, and up to this point, Sentai had not had any shows, to my knowledge, on Toonami. Toonami was still coming back, and it wasn’t a thing that really ever crossed your mind, you know? There wasn’t ever really a chance of being on TV. And so, she got the text, and she’s like, “Hey, you know, Akame ga KILL! is going to be on Toonami,” and I was like, “What? No, it’s not.”
So we look at it, and we look at it some more, and then we see the official announcement, and I start freaking out, because we had only recorded the first season, and I remember when they called me in because it was like the one time that I was really, really unprepared. I was like, “Yeah, I can come in today. Yeah, yeah, I’ll be in the area.” I had tried to go to my dad who had watched the series, actually; he was a big fan, and I was like, “Dad! Tell me about the series!” but he was busy.
The amount of Crunchyroll I had to go through was like, “Oh god, oh god!” So on the way there, I’m looking through and I’m like, “Gosh, this is kind of an important part. Are they sure?” I go in, and, you know, I think I thought it was a joke because they always like to put me as little sisters, ’cause they know my older sister, so I’m kind of that person: “Oh, you people are so funny.” But when I came back, I was like “Are you serious? This is going to be on TV?”
It was so much more nerve-wracking, I think at that point, ’cause now you’re like, “Oh god, this is gonna be it. People are gonna judge you for this.” ‘Cause usually it just goes straight to DVD and maybe one person on Twitter is like, “Hey, I saw that thing,” and it’s like, “Oh, cool.” But oh my gosh! So, so exciting for me. It’s hard to explain but I have Toonami on VHS, ’cause back then we would record Toonami. And, it was just amazing ’cause when Toonami even just came back, I was so stoked. I was calling people. I was like, “Do you see this? DO YOU SEE THIS?”
For me to be on it, I [just had] this kind of really speechless feeling, ’cause then you are in one of the commercials, you know, in the in-betweens, and you’re part of that, and you’re like…I don’t really know. Even now, I really don’t know how to explain it. For me, I think it’ll forever be something that kind of validates my reason for existence. So yeah, I’m still pretty stoked about it.
Something else exciting just happened: you got [a] Best Lead Vocal nomination for your role as Ryouko Satou in Aura: [Koga] Maryuin’s Last War.
(laughs) You should definitely check out that movie. I hadn’t seen it until they told me about it, and I went home and I watched it, and I was like, “Oh my god. Why aren’t people talking about this movie?” It takes, basically, what Chuunibyou was supposed to be and then takes it seriously. And I was like, “I don’t know if I can do this role. This is real.”
And, again, I feel like most of the casting that they give me is almost as a joke, because the things they know me as are “the person who eats in the booth,” “the person who has candy in her bag,” [and] “the person who is actually a huge weeaboo and loves anime.” When they gave me the role, I had to ask the director, “So, who told you about me and what did they say? Did they tell you I’m this kind of person?” And they’re like, “No, but good acting and all that stuff.”
I feel like getting a nomination for that one is especially weird ’cause usually, if you’re recording for a series you’re booked for like eight hours, sometimes 13 hours, or even more, and for a movie, that’s like, two episodes, and so you’re not even really in there for that long. But, there’re so many more important lines. I’ve never done a movie before, especially doing that big of a lead; I was like, “Oh gosh, I don’t know about this…” but I was dubbing over one of my favorite, favorite seiyuu [voice actors] [Kana Hanazawa], and I was just like, “I don’t know if I can live up to her.” So yeah, definitely getting that nomination was like, “Well…this is a thing,” especially up against, like Ghost in the Shell.
And then, we have another exciting moment in your life: you got to be Chiyo Sakura in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, and I hear that’s one of your favorite series.
(small scream) Um, still trying not to curse. (laughs) The thing is, I had read Oresama Teacher, and I’m still reading it, and I’m like, “This lady, she’s so funny and so inventive.” It’s almost like every single work she does is making fun of exactly what she’s doing but it’s still charming and funny. Whenever [Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun] came out, I was reading it, and the scene where (laughs) he takes the bicycle, and he has like, six seats for the other girls, and he’s like, “I saved you a seat.” I literally took my laptop and ran into my sister’s room, and I was bawling. It’s like those series where you’re laughing so hard you’re crying. It’s beautiful; Gintama does that for me.
Not only did I not think this would become an anime, and it did, [but] then I knew that they were having auditions for it, and I was like “Oh my god, please! Pleasepleasepleaseplease let me be in it! Please! I’ll do anything to be in it!” Funny story: they call me in for an audition but they don’t tell you what it is, and I was like, “I’m so sure it’s gonna be Gekkan Shoujo. I’m so sure.” It wasn’t, and I got in there and I was like, “Oh, oh, but this is still good.”
I finished and I went out to the couch, and I was talking to the receptionist and we just talk about stupid things. Then she’s walking back and forth and she gives me a piece of paper, and I’m like, “What is this?” And she’s like, “You’re going in to see Kyle, right?” And I’m like, “I am?” And she’s like, “Yeah yeah yeah, you have an audition,” and I’m like, “But I just had an audition.” She’s like, “You have two,” and I’m like, “Well, tell me sooner!”
I looked at the thing, and I’m like (screeching gasp). I was about to pass out, and the fact that they gave me a script for Chiyo, ’cause what they were trying out, and they were considering me for, I was like, “Oh my god! Jesus!” So I had about two minutes to look at it, but I’ve seen the series, I read it; I mean, I was ready to just go in there and be like, “Now see here…”
And so I did that. (laughs) I went in, and basically, while they were setting up, because I know these people, I’m like, “How dare you not tell me that you were doing this!” You know, you’re joking, but of course, ’cause I don’t know when to stop talking, I tell them, “I have read this, I’ve read other works by her, I know this series,” like, you can’t stop talking ’cause you’re that big of a nerd. So they’re like, “Okay, just do the audition now; just go.”
And so I do it, and they actually audition[ed] [with] the very first scene, where she’s like [a] spaz, and of course I’m a spaz at that point, and so I spaz. It’s really quick: you go in, you do it, and they ask you to read it a different way, and then you walk out. Oh my god, it’s so hard to contain your heart after that, ’cause you’re like, “I know that just happened, but I can’t get too attached to this.” And so you try to put it from your mind, and you’re like, “Okay, I’m gonna do my school [work], I’m gonna do all that.”
Then, oh my god, I got that call from the receptionist. Usually, they call to book times, and she tells me that I had gotten the audition, and I didn’t know which one it was, ’cause I’d been to two. (laughs) Then she tells me, and I literally–I say, “Okay, excuse me one moment,” and I SCREAM into my pillow. I have never been one of those people that scream at even concerts.
I SCREAMED; I could feel my hand shaking, and I was like, “Oh my god,” and she’s like, “Yeah! Congratulations! Okay, now we have to book your times.” I’m like, “Okay! Okay!” It was insanity. The week between me getting that audition, and then getting that call, and then going in to record it: I was a mess. I was like, “I can’t get sick. I can’t get sick. I can’t get sick. I have to be perfect.”
I have to say, that show was one of the most fun times I’ve had in the booth, because you love the show, you’re getting to be in it as a main part, [and] you’re getting to talk with the director about how this joke should be and what they think of this joke. It was insane. You don’t usually get those roles of being a funny female that’s down to earth; it just doesn’t happen.
I feel like, even now, I feel like all of my luck has run out; like, this was all my luck. There it was. But I can say for sure that the show was very well-loved when we did it. We went to go do the premiere not too long ago. I got to meet the cast finally, and…good people. Especially Nozaki. Good, good guy. (laughs) But yeah, all my luck went in there. Still getting over it.
What’s next for both JubyPhonic and Juliet Simmons?
Feels like my therapist would ask this. (laughs) So, what’s next? Immediately, what’s next? I’m definitely working on a song. Through Patreon, which has been my new mainstay, I’ve offered a way for people to choose what songs I do. And so, this next song definitely has been requested a LOT, and, because of that, I feel like I have to put a lot of extra work into it. So, hiring artists again, I’m getting help from Rachie, of course, on video, and even getting some mixing skills from some good people in the community.
So that’s going to be immediately my next project, but…working on some really big, long-term groups projects, as well, that they [The Unholy Quartet] have to, again, be on my butt about, because they’re like, “Hey, that due date is coming up,” and it’s like, “Oh, whoops, I have five lyric documents to put together.” That’s fine; I’m fine with that. But, some things I can say; I’m definitely working on this T-shirt deal, ’cause one of the goals was to finally make merchandise that, easily, I could have thrown something together within a week or a month, but I really wanted to do it right, so again, I’m having to be that business woman and go around, talk to different groups about deals, talked with, I think, Spreadshirt one-on-one about like, “Hey, what can you do for me?”
But, then also go into the community and really ask the artists in there to do different designs. Because–and I find this really mind-blowing– like, for some reason, the people that within the community who are selling merchandise, at least as singers, they don’t really use the resources that are there, because there’s a huge, HUGE group of amazingly talented artists just within this community.
I feel like it would be an especially great thing to commission them to do these designs, ’cause I feel like half of the time, using the money from Patreon, I’m just commissioning artists for different projects, like videos, just to say, “Oh my god, have you seen this person’s art?” So, it’s definitely going to be something that, again, kind of embodies the community, hopefully. Of course, arguing about, “Okay, how many colors can you get me on this shirt so we can make this real nice?”
For me as an actress, I can’t really say anything, because, you know, contractually-bound. But…I think there’s gonna be good stuff. I think there’s gonna be some good stuff in there. Especially during the summer, ’cause I don’t have to sacrifice school for booking hours. ‘Cause you can’t really tell your teacher, “Hey, I gotta go dub some anime today.” I’m trying to kind of recoup my energy from finals to kind of get into summer mode, to be like, “Yeah, let’s do some big projects and get our hands dirty, and definitely not sit on Twitter all day.” (laughs) Which is a bad habit.
It was a real joy to have the opportunity to talk with Juliet! She’s not only talented but passionate about what she does and is fun to be around in general. I’m sure that, whether it’s under JubyPhonic or Juliet Simmons, she’ll become quite the success!