An Interview With Erika Sanderson of the NoSleep Podcast

Image Credit: Marcus Charter
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Featured Image Credit: Marcus Charter

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All photos courtesy of Erika Sanderson

Today, we yet again continue our NoSleep Podcast interview series with another one of the show’s long-time regulars and among the best of them, Erika Sanderson. Brought to the show by another NoSleep great David Ault around 6 years ago and with over 400 episodes under her belt including fan (and actor) favorite “A Seaside British Pub,” Erika can do it all!

Among other things, we chat about her time on the show, her favorite memories, and the challenges she faces being a part of the NoSleep team. We go in-depth in regards to her voice acting abilities and favorite episodes in wish she has starred in as well as one she didn’t.

So, let’s get to it, I present to you our next NoSleep interview, Erika Sanderson!

Anthony:
Erika, thank you so much for joining us today for this interview! It’s a wonderful treat to have you as a part of our NoSleep series of interviews.! How’ve you been holding this past year and a half? I’m glad the show has been consistent throughout all this craziness.

Erika:
Hello, thank you very much for inviting me to talk to you! This past year, as for so many of us has been…difficult for a number of reasons. 2020 began with me on tour with NoSleep, and I came off that tour with an immense high and a whole year’s worth of live performance work booked up ahead of me. Then, on the 16th March 2020, our Prime Minister made an announcement saying that perhaps people shouldn’t visit the theatre, and that was it. My phone started going off with emails related to all the projects I had lined up saying that they would have to be canceled or postponed and I lost everything in one evening. I do consider myself very fortunate that I was able to keep working with a variety of audio projects though, including NoSleep. Now, things are starting to move forward slowly – in the last couple of months I’ve performed back on stage, and some of the other projects that I wasn’t able to do last year are getting the go-ahead again, so I’m cautiously hopeful for the future!

Anthony:
Can you tell us and our readers a bit about yourself, where you’re from as well as your background in voice acting before joining the show?

Erika:
Of course! I’m from the UK and live in Buckinghamshire, about halfway between Oxford and London. NoSleep was really my first job in voice acting. My background and training are in theatre – I studied Acting Musical Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and I did a lot of touring including Shakespeare and performing classic plays to stately homes, manor houses, and castles around the UK before getting married and having a family. Disappearing on tour for six months is not conducive to family life, so I was looking at taking a side step into voice acting and mentioned this to the lovely David Ault, with who I was acting within a show at the time.

Anthony:
As you’ve just alluded to, David Ault introduced you to the show, and you subsequently debuted back in season 5. That said, how has your time been with the show for these past 6 years or so?

Erika:
Yes! He very kindly passed my name on to David Cummings who was putting together a show as a guest producer for another podcast called the Drabblecast. I recorded a piece for him, and then scripts started arriving for NoSleep, and here I am! Six years? Wow, it seems to have flown by! Working with David Cummings and everyone at NoSleep has been incredible. I’ve learned so much about being a voice actor, and have had the wonderful opportunity to play such a wide variety of roles that I could never have dreamed of.

Anthony:
You’re an incredibly talented voice actor that can perform a myriad of voices, accents, and age ranges. What are some of your favorite types of characters to play?

Erika:
Oh, thank you! I think I enjoy the roles that I can get stuck into or ones that fire me up emotionally. I love being able to explore what I can do vocally, particularly with the monster roles and I often think in terms of music, so it’s how the dialogue or snarls inform the cadence and rhythm of my voice. Sometimes I also like being able to play against type or do something unexpected. One of my favorite roles was “Freckles” in “Day 416” by David Hubbard (S12E04) – mostly because I got to be very sarcastic and swear a lot, which I don’t think people tend to associate with me! If you’re going with my usual villains, I love the ones with a slow, creeping menace – the ones that imply danger and are not to be trifled with.

Image Credit: Dario Knight

Anthony:
Is it hard for you to get into different headspaces for all the different types of characters that you play or does it come naturally at this point after doing this for so long?

Erika:
Oh, good question! I think a lot of it will depend on the nature of the role and the story. I mean, I’ve played some truly awful characters, but as demons or “other-worldly” or supernatural creatures, I don’t find it as hard as when playing “real” people who are genuinely evil. There have been some that I’ve played, where I’ve had to walk away and not think about after recording. You have to shake them off and get out of that mindset as quickly as possible. If I’m playing cameos like kids or grannies with one line, it’s fairly easy to slip into the stock type, but I always want to add a little nuance on top to make the character as genuine sounding as possible.

Anthony:
One of my favorite stories that you held the lead for in recent memory was “It All Started with a Hot Air Balloon.” You’ve been in hundreds of stories, are you able to tell us some of your favorites that you’ve acted? One’s that really show off your range.

Erika:
Definitely “A Seaside British Pub” by Caitlin Spice (S10E24a/E25). There is something about that story that I fell in love with as soon as I first read it, and I’ve become incredibly protective of all the characters, especially as I voice all the women. And I got to sing, too! “Diamonds and Pearls” by Chris Allinotte (S13E23) is another one that I felt pushed my range, playing both the elderly sister guardian and the young wild girl. The speech at the end was an outpouring of rage by the character – a wonderful role to let rip with. One of the most difficult roles I found was a recurring character in “The 1%” by E.Z. Morgan (S7E04-E07) – I played a woman who is surgically reconstructed to look younger and doll-like. There’s a scene where she is chiding herself in a mirror (a bit like the Green Goblin/Norman Osborn or Smeagol/Gollum) and she speaks with what should be her natural, older voice and then the doll one. Playing the dual personality in the same conversation was a bit of vocal gymnastics, but one I was rather proud of. “Sisters in the Snow” by James Dominguez (S7E21) is a very different story, but I think it was one of the first where I am playing a character not only removed from myself in age but also with an accent very different from my own – and to sustain so that it sounds natural takes a lot of hard work.

All photos courtesy of Erika Sanderson

Anthony:
Here’s one of my favorite questions to ask, what equipment do you work with to record? Do you work in a studio or at home? Are you able to record solo or do you prefer to act against another actor?

Erika:
I work from home, using a RØDE NT1-A with a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 interface and Reaper DAW. The majority of my work is recorded in isolation – you have to be actor, director, and editor in your performance. It’s only recently that I’ve worked on a couple of audio projects that use table read rehearsals with the other actors, which is brilliant because you get to know who you are working with, but I still prefer to record independently.

Anthony:
What are some of your favorite memories of working with the NoSleep Podcast?

Erika:
My first US tour, in 2018. Meeting the team, in person and being able to work alongside David A and David C, Jessica, Nichole, and Brandon, plus everyone else – the fans and actors – who we got to meet along the way. Then performing in Stockholm in 2020 was one of the best nights of my life. It was an amazing house, with over 500 people, and so many hugs!

Anthony:
With 10 years’ worth of stories, are there any that have stuck with you regardless of if you performed in the tale? I really need to start marking down my favorite episodes and stories, but “What I Cannot Know” was beautifully narrated.


Erika:
“What I Cannot Know” by D. Williams (S16E05) has such beautiful poetry and pathos to it. I think I’m attracted to those kinds of stories because it evokes the same feelings as when I read 19thC classics – usually the ones with a sense of Romantic tragedy. In the same way, “The Paris Green Solution” by Marcus Damanda (S6E04) is a personal favorite, carried by Jessica McEvoy and an elegantly cruel turn by Nikolle Doolin. My first ever story, “My Wife Cooked Me” Dinner by Rona Vaselaar (S5E13) will always be very special to me, not only for being my debut but for the start of a wonderful (albeit at times lethal) working partnership with David Ault. And I have to mention “Caleb” by Gemma Amor (S14E02) – there’s a heartbreaking ache and longing that runs through the narrative, and the ending is gentle perfection.

Anthony:
What would you say is the most challenging part of being on the show or a voice actor in general for you?

Erika:
I think the most challenging part of working on a show like NoSleep is having to click very quickly with a character and find the right voice for them. The weekly turnaround to record scripts is very fast, so often you have to throw yourself into the role on instinct.

Anthony:
Erika, thanks again for doing this with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add or say before we let you go?

Erika:
Thank you very much, it’s been lovely to have this opportunity! If I can give a couple of mentions? Please look out for Chasing Static which is a first-person PS1 style psychological horror game that’s coming out later this year, and I voice one of the main characters. You can wishlist it on Steam now and it’s also coming to consoles.

I’ve also been cast in a series that will either be out later this year/early 2022 called The Secret of St Kilda – it’s a brilliant supernatural thriller set on a remote island off the Scottish coast. The team will be launching a Kickstarter soon, so now is the perfect time to start following them on social media and find out about the show.

And finally, thank you to everyone for joining us and for listening to NoSleep!

Image Credit: Angela North
All photos courtesy of Erika Sanderson

Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/a-m-radio-archives/

About Post Author

Anthony Montalbano

Anthony Montalbano grew up in New York and North Carolina. Anthony is a baker by day and a contributor to the Vinyl Writer cause by night. With a passion for podcasts, Pop Punk, video games, and more, Anthony brings a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Anthony's column is a catch-all for the things he loves most, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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