Interview with Dawn M. Bennett
Voice of Aprilis, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
Welcome to our latest Ys Series Digital Emelas interview. Today we have the honor and privilege of interviewing a woman shrouded in mystery, the one and only Dawn M. Bennett, voice of Aprilis in Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. This interview will be spoiler-free, so for those of you who have yet to play the game, worry not. So without further adieu...
Hello Dawn, and welcome! Thank you for joining us.
Hi there! Thank you so much for having me!
Can you tell us a bit about how you were chosen to voice Aprilis?
Sure! I received the audition for Aprilis via email, which is pretty much the standard for animation and game auditions I get, especially during the times we live in right now [Editor's note: referring to the COVID-19 pandemic]. After submitting my audition, I heard back within the following week that I'd been cast as Aprilis!
How did you "find" Aprilis' voice?
My voice sits naturally low, though not as low as Aprilis'. In the past, I'd been self-conscious regarding my natural alto range since many female characters can often sit in a higher register, but getting to play characters like Aprilis has made me feel so much more comfortable with being an alto.
How was it like working with Bang Zoom! (Production Studio), Alex Von David (VO Director), and Mami Okada (Casting Director)?
They were wonderful! I appreciate that Mami gave me the chance to play Aprilis in this game, since I'd just moved to LA not too long beforehand. Alex definitely brought out the best in my performance during recording; he made the sessions fun and was always encouraging of what I'd give him. The creative environment was relaxed and collaborative - I enjoyed it a lot.
When reading your script, what context are you given for each of your scenes?
I'm usually told what's going on in the scene, what's the backstory, what I'm reacting to, etc. Sometimes, I'm also given the original Japanese actor (Haruka Michii)'s audio for reference, and we dubbed to picture some other scenes as well.
Without revealing any major plot details for our audience, how much of the overall Ys IX story were you familiar with before voicing Aprilis? Have you played any other Ys game prior to this project?
I actually wasn't familiar with the Ys universe at all! I want to get to know it more. I'm interested in learning more about the characters just as much as you are.
Since its localized release in the West, have you had the opportunity to enjoy the final product? Are you able to see and hear Aprilis as her own character, or do you simply hear your voice channeled through her?
I still need to get my own copy and play it. I really want to play as Hawk in particular since my good friend Daman Mills voices him, haha! However, after seeing the trailer, I'm definitely able to experience Aprilis as her own character, since I don't speak like her tone-wise or pitch-wise.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
The most challenging part was probably recording from home. It was my first time recording a main character in a video game from home, and it definitely had its hiccups at first due to me trying to figure out the tech. But thanks to the advice of engineers and fellow actors, I was able to record everything successfully. I'm still in awe about it - technology is amazing!
What is your favourite line that you recorded for Aprilis?
"Come forth, my Monstrums! And consume this dark night!" I recorded to picture for those, so it was cool to hear my voice matched up to Aprilis' face for the first time.
Let's get to know a little about the person behind the voice. What's your top 3 favourite video games, and why?
My top three definitely changes depending on what I've played recently, haha! It's hard to pick my top three favorites of all time, so I'll pick my top three indie games: "Spiritfarer," "Undertale," and "Night in the Woods." They all have a lot of charm and emotional moments that really tugged at my heartstrings... Or rather, punched me right in the gut with feels. I love games with stories that hit close to home, and those titles nail just that.
What's your favourite film of all time, and why?
It's a tie between Thor: Ragnarok and Ratatouille. I'm a huge Hulk fan and loved his characterization in Ragnarok. I'm also a huge foodie and loved Ratatouille's message: "Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."
Ratatouille, © Disney Pixar
What are some of your notable career highlights?
I provided the English voice of Kale in Dragon Ball Super and therefore half of Kefla in that and Dragon Ball FighterZ, Elm Ederne and An Ren in RWBY, Marnie in Pokémon: Twilight Wings, Frederica in Re:Zero, Frosch in Fairy Tail, Mariabell Crois in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV, and most recently, Sody Pop in the TikTok animated series, Chikn Nuggit!
Finally, do you feel like you can relate to Aprilis in any way?
Like Aprilis, it takes a while for me to open up. I don't think I'm as cold as she can be, but it definitely takes a bit before I'm comfortable with people I'm getting to know. Also, this may not be relating to her as much, but Aprilis' color scheme is literally my favorite. I love characters that rock black and cyan blue. Best aesthetic.
Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure speaking with you! Do you have any final words for the Ys community who will be hearing you in Ys IX?
Thank you all so much for welcoming me into the Ys IX fold. I've been reading your messages on Twitter, and many of you have reached out to me with your favorite scenes and quotes - it's awesome! It warms my heart that you love the game and Aprilis. Thank you, thank you, thank you!