Question: How long does it take to record a season of My Little Pony?
Ashleigh: Usually it's over the course of 6-12 months. The schedule is sent to our agent, and we would come into the recording booth, usually on Wednesdays from 9AM to 1PM. We'll be booked for that time usually every week. Sometimes you're in the episode, sometimes you're not, and the timeframe can change depending if the season has 26 or 13 episodes.
Usually we have time to read the script first, and if we don't we might get in trouble *laughs*. The director can tell if you haven't read the script. Someone often reads for Tara because she records her lines in Los Angeles and the rest of us are in Canada. Usually we're done before noon, so recording sessions are pretty quick. We also record as a group, so I can hang out with Andrea and Tabitha, and everyone else.
Question: When was the last time you attended a My Little Pony convention?
Ashleigh: I was in Kansas City for Midwest Bronyfest in May. We were stuck for a little bit because of some crazy thunderstorms, so we Skyped in Kelly Metzger, Kelly Sheridan, Peter New, and we all hung out.
Question: Outside of the conventions and your band, what have you been up to lately?
Ashleigh: Oh man, I've mostly been doing voice work and working on music. I'm trying to release a solo album that's separate from Hey Ocean, but it's hard balancing all of it with the voice acting that I do. There's lots of series that get made in Vancouver, so there's a ton of opportunities out there. I'm on another great show called "Dino Trux". It's exactly what it sounds like and it's beautifully made by Dreamworks. Another series I'm doing is called "Ready, Jet, Go", which is about an alien who lands on planet Earth. He's a crazy alien kid who tries to fit in on Earth and gets in mischief and makes friends in the process. I've been learning a lot about the universe and the galaxy from that show.
Another show I'm on is called "The Deep", which is premiering on Netflix. It's also about underwater exploration, which is pretty cool. I'm also on another series that's called "Lego Elves" which is also being released on Netflix. But yeah there's a lot of series that I'm doing, and it's nice to live in Vancouver. I like to see my friends, do gardening, weddings, and play on my soccer team.
Question: How do you keep up your schedule with all of these projects that you have?
Ashleigh: I leave that all up to my agent *laughs*. It's nice to have someone who is on your side and I'm admittedly a pretty scattered person. I can get overwhelmed with basic scheduling so having someone that's in charge of all the series I'm doing is amazing. I owe that to my agent.
Question: How are the singers chosen? Considering some of the Main Six have their original voice actors as singers, while others such as Pinkie Pie have different actors to sing their songs, what goes into that process?
Ashleigh: Usually that's chosen by the director and creators. Andrea sings for Fluttershy, but not for Pinkie Pie because I think they wanted to bring in a more energetic singer, so they chose Shannon Chan Kent. Andrea is an excellent singer, but there was going to be some pretty intense songs so they wanted a trained opera singer like Shannon that could handle the songs. Rebecca Shoichet also sings for Twilight Sparkle. I'm not saying that they thought Tara couldn't do it, but they wanted to make sure that they had trained singers for those particular songs. I think it made sense to the directors to hire someone for just the singing.
Daniel is very talented, but he also doesn't simplify things. He writes complicated harmonies and we have to learn how to navigate pages of songs. I'm sure Tabitha could do it too, but I'm not sure why they made that particular choice.
Question: How is working with Daniel Ingram (musician for MLP)?
Ashleigh: It's very different. Daniel is very business-like. He has deadlines that he has to meet with his songs so he wants to get us in and out of the recording studio. He's very particular, but he's also a genius who is also writing for other series and the (MLP) movie. I don't know how he does it, but he has a lot of assistants and he gets his job done really fast. When I'm writing my own music, I usually wait for the creative gods to help me out.
Question: Are you involved in the song writing process?
Ashleigh: No. Sometimes Daniel will let me add little accentuations or different tones on a note and he'll like it and let me roll with it. Other times, not so much. There's some allowances that I have with that show, but he knows what he's doing.
Question: What are your musical inspirations for Hey Ocean and your solo album?
Ashleigh: Tons of stuff. I'm trying to push myself in an electronic genre with my solo album. "Little Dragon" is a big one. There's so many other bands that Hey Ocean is influenced by like Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac. It's a bunch of stuff from new and older bands. Even listening to people on Spotify can influence me. Music is in the background of my life so I get influence from everywhere.
Question: Have you ever mixed your voices on the many shows that you've worked on?
Ashleigh: It's interesting because there's so many shows that you can audition for. Some of my characters sound similar and it's what the creators or director wanted, so I try to bring what I can to different characters. But even then sometimes they want a character that sounds like another. It's definitely tricky. I've had Rainbow Dash sneak into some of my other roles, definitely.
When I'm in the booth for a show, I try to visualize myself within that universe so that I can act better as the character. On MLP, I like to go to Equestria while I'm recording. It's a very creative job in that way, because you have to use your imagination to help bring out the character within you. You also have to manage the vocal tone of the character and their personality as well, so there's a lot going on.
Question: How was recording "Newbie Dash", where you had to act out Rainbow voicing the other characters?
Ashleigh: That was tricky because I had to make sure that Rainbow Dash didn't have too much of a good Applejack voice. Obviously she can do an amazing one if she set her mind to it (hint hint) but I kinda wanted her to struggle with it. If it was too good, it would have been weird.
Question: Have you ever used the wrong voice for your lines?
Ashleigh: It's happened all the time, but I try to avoid it. Andrea brings highlighters and I appreciate that because I can borrow them and highlight my lines in different colors for the different characters. If you mess up, you just do it again. Back in the beginning of the show, the readings were usually separated. So if I'm doing Applejack, Terry Klassen, the previous director would read for Rainbow Dash. And then vice versa. Now since we've been doing it for so long, we can jump back and forth with ease.
Question: How do you spend your time with the other voice actors when you aren't recording?
Ashleigh: Well we hang out in the recording studio a lot. Brian Drummond just had an awesome party that I missed out on because I was so busy. I was a little bummed because of that. There's tons of voice actors that I see all the time and hang out with. We might grab lunch breaks or text each other all the time. We're all buddies, and it's awesome. Everyone is so lovely and kind. There's no one that I don't enjoy spending time with.
Question: What's the deciding factor for you to attend a particular convention?
Ashleigh: For me, location is a big factor. I like going to places that I want to go to. New York was pretty fun even though the cold during that time was record-breaking. A lot of it is scheduling. If there's a con that's on a weekend that I'm swamped, then I probably won't go because my schedule won't allow it. These cons can be very exhausting and the directors don't appreciate if you miss work for a convention. Timing, scheduling, and location is a big one.
Question: Is there any location that you want to go to?
Ashleigh: I want to go to Japan!
(Cue talk about Japan Ponycon)
Question: In 2014 A Brony Tale came out which your documentary about bronies, which was very interesting. It's been around 4-5 years since then. What has been the change for bronies that you noticed since then?
Ashleigh: It's just kinda normal now. It's not a big thing anymore. The mystery is gone and now I know that it's a totally cool community full of awesome people. I still have to explain it to friends and they're still confused but that's fine. People just don't really get it and I feel that my reactions in that documentary was real. It was the start of the fandom, I've never gone to a con before so it was very real.
Question: Have you ever had a perfect take while recording?
Ashleigh: That never happens. I make tiny mistakes with mixing words or mispronouncing things so I always have to read scripts before I record. Even if you do a perfect take, they want a backup take just in case the animators "see" something different in the scene. They do a "safety" which is called the different take which is tried with different accentuations. Sometimes we take on scenes 2-3 times even with perfect takes.
And that's all for this time around! Thank you very much for reading and enjoying this interview! Make sure to thank Ashleigh on Twitter or you can tweet at me here. I'll see you guys soon!