Voice Actors I Love - Interview with Jason Frazier

All the rage today is Audio Books! For people on the go, it's the best way to keep up with your favorite author's books. I've been pleasantly surprised at the number of indie authors who have started putting their work on Audible. I've found this is the perfect way for me to fit in a little extra "reading" while running around town or cleaning my house. But the best part, is getting to hear some of my favorite characters come to life. Hence today's blog post. 

Let me introduce you to the VERY talented Jason Frazier! This young man has completely ruined me for other male voice actors. I cannot even begin to tell you how great he is at narrating. If you haven't had the chance to listen to some of his work, I will tell you he's absolutely amazing. The range of voices he portrays in a book is crazy good and I could tell from the start that he has practiced and refined his craft to create such a wonderful listening experience. 

As with my model and author interviews, I could think of no greater way than helping spread the word about Jason than doing an interview with him and finding out a little about the man behind the voice I've fallen in love with.

My Interview with Jason

So Jason, what made you want to be a voice actor? Is this a career you have always wanted or something that you happened upon?

Well, I’ve really been an actor - and a performer - since childhood. Always performing for family and friends, whether it was at home in the living room, a classroom or a school auditorium. I have so many home movies (that I’m fortunate my parents (dad Robin, mom Lynda) had the foresight to take) that capture the crazy and entertaining antics from those days. It was then, at that very young age, that I first caught the “acting bug,” and knew internally deep down that being an actor was at the core of my personality and who I was. 

I also knew, even then, that I was probably going to find a way to make it a part of my life and career somehow, someway, in the long run eventually. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) was a big inspiration just in terms of such well-drawn, unique characters, the broad, entertaining performances, and the overall fantasy and magic of that world. It was my (and my twin brother’s) favorite movie growing up as kids, and I’d often drag him into doing scenes with me - he was such a great sport, and my first-ever scene partner, LOL! Incidentally, my brother also has the same kind of creative and artistic spark within him, as well, that he’s carried into adulthood (not as an actor, but as an artist and illustrator; you check him out online at www.ericfrazierart.com). 

With respect to voice acting, specifically, I grew up LOVING Disney animated features, particularly those created during the studio’s “renaissance” period, beginning in 1989 with “The Little Mermaid.” My all-time favorite out of the bunch, though, has to be 1992’s “Aladdin” - that REALLY made me fall in love with the magic that happens when voice acting is blended together with great characters, animation, music and songs. I also always loved villains growing up; to this day my two favorites are The Wicked Witch of the West (played by Margaret Hamilton) in “The Wizard of Oz” and Jafar in Disney’s “Aladdin” (voiced by Tony-nominated Broadway veteran Jonathan Freeman). Interestingly, Jonathan and I have been in touch for the last 14 years and consider each other friends, always keeping each other in the loop. It’s a relationship and a connection I really feel honored to have, and one I’m grateful for. 

Also, in a cosmic aligning-of-the-stars, my husband (together 11+ years!) is Elliot Bour, an animation director with Disney (www.elliotbour.com). I consider it kinda magical that all these wonderful elements are a part of my life today. Weird how so many things seem to have “connected” 30 years later. So, definitely — this is something I always wanted, in terms of life and career goals, a road I started walking down from the beginning, and I’m very, very grateful for where the journey has taken me up to now.

Share a little of your process with us about how you prepare for the narration of a book.

With respect to preparing to voice an audio book title, it really comes down to being clear about the genre, and identifying who all of the major players are in the book. Being aware of what “world” you’re stepping into that the author has created, and being in sync with what tone should be set, literally, in terms of voices/characters/emotions, for the duration of the audio book. That’s pretty much all I take with me before I go into the booth to begin recording. 

Unfortunately, due to the time-intensive nature of this work (not only the performing and recording, but all the post-production and mastering, as well), I don’t have the benefit or luxury of pre-reading any of the titles I record. That’s where years of performing and honing my craft (stage, improv, voiceover, scene-study, cold reading) come into play, because I have to be very instinctual and gut-reaction-oriented when it comes to making choices during recording. I’m always striving to make the most effective choices in performing the scenes. Ideally, the choices I make should hit the emotional core of what’s happening to the characters in that moment, deliver what the author was likely intending, and also — perhaps most importantly — be entertaining, and pleasurable for the listeners.

What do you find is the most challenging part of narrating a book?

The most challenging part of of narrating an audio book is just simply the amount of time it takes to get the work done. As most Audible producers with professional home recording studios, we’re tasked with handling every single aspect of audio book production, from performing and recording through to editing, post-production, mastering and delivery. Typically, it takes about two hours to record ONE hour of FINISHED material. And in terms of the overall time investment, a book that takes (let’s say) 8 hours for someone to READ, may take up to 40 to 80 hours to fully produce and deliver. So, that’s the challenge — and of course, it depends on the length of the book, whether or not you’re doing a series, etc.

What is the most fun part of narrating a book?

On the flip side, the best part about doing this kind of work and recording for this medium, is that it really allows me to dive in and GIVE a performance. It allows me to use the fullest extent of my range as an actor — vocally, emotionally and intellectually. I’m really not limited by much, and I love adding another element to the “book” experience, giving things just a bit more life, depth and reality by lending a real human voice behind the words and characters. It’s sort of like the book in 3D — I hope my performances are multi-sensory for the listener when they put on those headphones; I want them to really slip away for a few hours into the world of the book.

What is it like working with the various authors of the books you narrate? How much do you work with them to understand the personas and quirks of their characters?

I find that, in working with these various talented authors and publishers, it’s like walking into Baskin Robbins and trying all the 31 flavors.  Each and every one is so unique and is bringing a different taste and point of view to their work. Generally, being creative people, in a creative medium, each has their own eccentricities and quirks, and I like that (I have them, too!!!) In short, I love the variety, and I like the opportunity that each gives me to do something new.  

I have great relationships with the authors and publishers I work with. Lines of communication are always open, and there’s a great deal of mutual support and encouragement. With respect to working with them to understand the quirks of the characters and overall arc of the story, there’s obviously an initial discussion and some authors provide more specific summaries, character breakdowns or vocal direction as a guide.

How has voice acting changed or enriched your life as an actor and person?

I don’t know that voice acting has “change my life” per-se. I mean, as I mentioned, I guess it was the life I was intending to live and working towards anyway. Many of my life and career goals HAVE come true, now 30 years into it, but I’ll never stop dreaming or working hard and trying to better myself. And I don’t with respect to just work — I mean, better myself any and every way I can. I will say that this work has opened up a wonderful fan base of sorts, all over the world, and I’m very honored to have earned the listeners’ interest and respect. And it has opened some new doors in terms of networking and attending various conventions, which I’m very excited about. This year I’ll be attending Rainbow Book Fair in NYC in April, GRL in San Diego, and BentCon in Burbank. Looking forward to connecting and meeting all the authors, publishers, listeners and some fans. Should be fun!

Do you read for recreation? If so, what is your favorite genre?

In a big “Boo! That Sucks!” moment, I have to admit that I don’t really read for recreation. I really don’t have the time since I’m reading/performing for WORK. But, I’m grateful because recording these works allows me insight and enjoyment into soooo many wonderful stories and characters I never would have known about before. So thanks you awesome authors!!!! Keep on author-ing! :)

What one book, whether it is already in audio book or not, would you absolutely love to narrate?

Honestly, I can’t say that I could narrow it down to just ONE book. As I mention, it means so much to me to earn the respect of the listeners, the authors, and publishers — that I'm grateful so MUCH wonderful work has ended up coming my way. I will say that reader favorites or books of certain distinction and merit (Bestseller Lists, etc.) are always an extra joy to record. Kind of a cherry on top for me.

You also do voice work for video as well, how do the two compare and contrast?

In the world of animation for film and television, and for interactive — the characters and roles are often a LOT more “charactery,” whimsical and animated. That doesn’t make the characters in audio books any less interesting — it’s just that the performances in audio books require a more realistic, conversational and human touch. But that’s a great, great thing — because that is what usually allows a listener to become so invested in a title. Also, in contrast to other forms of voiceover work, the audio book production process is much more isolated from start to finish. It’s also all done here, in my Hollywood home recording studio, so there’s no traveling to other studios or locations and working with directors or other engineers.

Do you have any great projects or events for which we should be keeping a lookout?

I have great slate of titles I’m working on recording for 2015, including Aria Grace's "Choosing Happy," Wade Kelly’s “Misplaced Affection,” Eli Easton’s “Unwrapping Hank,” Jeff Erno’s “Dumb Jock” series and Jonathan Harper’s short story anthology “Daydreamers,” among some others. Also, Ethan Day’s “As You Are” is just about to be released to iTunes, Amazon and Audible (if it hasn’t already) so keep an eye out for that! Ethan’s writing was so quirky, snarky, comical and fun — an utter joy to record. He and the whole team at Wilde City Press were (and are!) wonderful to work with. As I said, I’ll be attending multiple conventions this year, so I’m really looking forward to that and making some face-to-face connections with everyone. Apart from my work in audiobooks, I’m always auditioning for other work in television and film animation, commercials, games, radio, etc. So you never know where you might hear me next! :)

Thanks Jason for giving us a glimpse into your world!

For my author friends out there, if you are looking for someone to narrate your next book, please consider Jason! 
For inquiries, booking and contact info, visit www.jasonfraziervo.com

Connect with the Actor

Check out a couple of the titles currently available on Audible that are narrated by Jason. Each has a free sample; so feel free to browse his work and hear how great he is for yourself.  


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