An Interview with Matthew Bradford of the NoSleep Podcast

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Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Matthew Bradford of the NoSleep Podcast. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, his origins in radio, his time with the NoSleep Podcast, and what he’s looking forward to the most once COVID-19 breaks.

Lastly, I’d like to add that this is the final installment of our NoSleep series of interviews. It’s been a pleasure for myself, and Anthony Montalbano to conduct these interviews as we’re huge fans of the podcast. I’d personally like to thank showrunner David Cummings, and the rest of the cast for being so accommodating, and gracious with their time, and lastly, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank Olivia White for her ongoing assistance with this series. She rocks. Enjoy this interview with Matthew Bradford. Cheers.

Andrew:
Matthew, thank you for taking the time to speak with us here. How are you? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Matthew:
I’m doing great (thanks for asking!). It’s been a crazy year, but I’ve been fortunate to stay active with voicing gigs and my writing/editing work. When I do get some time, it’s usually playing games, podcasting, running (but let’s be honest, it’s mostly gaming). Now that we can actually start getting outside again, I’m also taking any opportunity to find fun stuff to do with my partner Marijana and the kiddos.

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about your backstory. What are your origins? How did you become interested in horror and subsequently, voice acting?

Matthew:
My love for horror probably goes back to when I was a kid staying up late to watch Tales from the Crypt or any number of cheesy 80s/90s movies. I am also a life-long Stephen King fan– to the point where I almost named my kid Roland, based on the Dark Tower series. So yeah, I was pretty much born a horror/sci-fi nerd and never changed. As for voice acting, I started about seven years ago on a whim. I took some coaching in Toronto, recorded a demo, blasted every agency I could think of, and eventually got lucky. Over the years, I’ve had the fortune of working on a lot of fun projects, including commercials, video games, e-learning, and a tiny bit of television.

Andrew:
Tell us a bit about how you first became involved with the NoSleep Podcast. Did you ever think it would grow into what it’s become today?

Matthew:
I truly believe in the “Can’t hurt to ask” method of career building. So in 2016, after listening to NoSleep, I emailed David Cummings (aka Lord of NoSleep) and asked if I could give narration a shot. Thankfully, he agreed and I took whatever he sent my way. A bunch of seasons and a couple of live shows later and I’ve managed to stick around! I always saw NoSleep as a top-tier production, so I’m not surprised it’s taken off the way it has. That being said, I remember meeting NoSleep listeners in Toronto during a Halloween show and being blown away by how they seemed to come from all over the world.

Andrew:
Let’s go back a bit, before NoSleep, you worked at several radio stations, right? What was that experience like, and how did it prepare you for your role today with NoSleep?

Matthew:
Radio is a fantastic career– as long as you’re cool with making barely any money and low job security. I was technically a copywriter for eight years, but I always volunteered to do voice the ads as well. We did some weird stuff over the years, but it trained me to read copy clearly, really get into the mindset of certain characters, and take direction in a booth. All that stuff has definitely informed how I approach narrations.

Andrew:
Over time, how has your style and approach to narration and voice acting changed? How do you feel you’ve evolved as you’ve gone on?

Matthew:
Oh absolutely. I’m always learning how to read more fluidly, emote more with my voice, and be a little bit bolder in some of the character choices I make. I still have difficulty reading large chunks of text at once, and I have lots of love for the NoSleep producers who had to make sense out of my early recordings (and, sure, some more current ones). I’m getting better. I think? Overall, I’m my own worst critic. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to get out of my head and just act. It’s tough to do in the moment– and when a room full of producers or ad people are staring at you– but I’ve learned to be more confident in what I’m doing and be easier with myself in the moment.

Andrew:
What is it about horror and storytelling in general that you love the most? What has drawn you to it over time?

Matthew:
I love the endless possibilities. Every horror story has the potential to go in any direction, and the good ones have a way of worming their way inside your brain and sticking there. I also think horror is a superb genre for telling truths that we aren’t always comfortable confronting.

Andrew:
On the subject of horror, what subgenre within are you most fond of? Psychological? Slasher? Occult? Gothic? Which is your favorite, and why?

Matthew:
Is Lovecraftian an answer? I love concepts that really dive into strange monsters or concepts– anything that gets a little weird or WTF?! One of my favorite stories for NoSleep was about an anime body pillow full of spiders, and I can’t wait to play it for my kids when they’re mentally equipped to hear it. On the opposite end, I’m not a huge fan of slasher stuff. I can’t do gore as much as I used to, and I’m as interested in the “death” and “mutilation” part of horror as I am with terrifying experiences or concepts.

Andrew:
You’ve been with NoSleep since 2016. That said, looking back, what are some of your favorite stories that you’ve been a part of, and some of your favorites in general, and why?

Matthew:
The first (and probably most obvious) answer is “Borasca.” That was a huge project I received very early into my time with NoSleep and it was a fantastic experience. It was the longest narration I’d ever done, and it pushed me outside a few comfort zones. I owe NoSleep’s producers for putting everything together, though, since I know my editing skills were a bit…lacking…back then. Otherwise, I have loads of memorable stories. “Anime Body Pillow” stands out for its insanity, and anything, where I get to just scream in terror, is fun.

Andrew:
As a voice actor, how do you get into character? Does come easily for you? That is to say, are you able to snap in and out of character, or does it take a lot of preparation? What types of characters do you most enjoy acting out and why? Which types are the most difficult?

Matthew:
Depends on the character, really. I play a lot of regular dudes who find themselves in terrifying situations, and as a regular(ish) guy, that’s not a huge stretch to imagine myself in those scenarios. A lot of time my prep work is just reading through the dialogue that comes before mine, locking in on that moment, and trying out a few different approaches to see what “feels” best. There’s a lot of gut instinct when it comes to voicing; I’ll usually know when a line reading “works” or misses the mark. Whether or not my producer agrees is another thing, so I try to give various takes.

Preferred characters? I love playing evil. Anything that gives me a chance to break out of the norm and try a new voice is also fun. As for the hardest characters– I’m not the greatest with accents. I can study up and give them my best shot, but I’m way too conscious about offending people. This isn’t so much an issue with NoSleep as it is with my other voice work where I have to turn down instructions to be “an urban kid,” “Asian dad,” or someone else that should probably go to voice actors who, you know, come from those backgrounds.

Andrew:
2020 and early 2021 were truly horrific on many levels, and yet I personally took a lot of comfort in the depths of NoSleep. Does that make me a sadist? [Laughs]. In all seriousness, why do you feel shows such as NoSleep are important? Especially coming out of the insane times we found ourselves in?

Matthew:
It’s all about escapism right? When the world gets too serious or bleak, it’s nice to have something insane or offbeat to take off the edge, even if it’s only for an hour or two. Stuff like NoSleep puts our imaginations to work, leaving little room for thinking about what’s going on in the real world. It’s also nice to listen to voice actors who you recognize, and there’s comfort in engaging with a podcast community that’s going through the same things you are.

Andrew:
Where is horror as a genre headed? The idea of how we consume all types of media has changed. Is social media a detriment to the creatives of the world, or is it going to help push the genre forward and elevate its players?

Matthew:
I’m a big videogame nerd. I’ve voiced a couple, wrote for Guinness World Records Gamers Edition for eight years, and do a weekly videogame podcast. So what I’m getting at is, I definitely think gaming is one of the most opportune mediums for horror. The opportunities to put people into horror scenarios and give them agency over their stories are endless. You start getting emergent experiences, and you give the audience a chance to be the author of their own story. With VR and AR, it’s only going to get more exciting.

Andrew:
Aside from horror, and voice acting, what else are you passionate about? How do those passions inform your art?

Matthew:
As above, I’m big into gaming. And if I could snap my fingers and pick a dream job, it would be to follow in the footsteps of amazing game VO artists like Troy Baker, Jennifer Hale, and Nolan North. I’m not sure how this passion informs my art, but I pay close attention to videogame voice acting and I’m sure it’s influenced some of my work. Otherwise, I love podcasting, stage acting, and exploring new work opportunities. I’ve been a freelancer for 10+ years, and it’s made me very adaptable when it comes to tackling new challenges and roles. Of course, that translates into VO.

Andrew:
Being that this is started as a music publication, I may as well ask, what types of music are you into? Are you into vinyl? How important is music to the aesthetic of the NoSleep Podcast?

Matthew:
Music is absolutely key to NoSleep, and Brandon Boone is a genius. NoSleep’s soundtrack is a large part of what makes it stand out from the pack. As for music preference, David Bowie has been my hero since I was a kid. That said, I’ll catch Our Lady Peace any time they have a concert, and I’ve been listening to The Weeknd on rotatation. The Moana soundtrack has also been playing in my house a lot, but that’s more for the kids.

Andrew:
Last question. Beyond NoSleep, what’s next for you? Anything exciting on the horizon?

Matthew:
I’ve got some cool projects cooking, and more than a few auditions out there for gigs I’d love to take on. The thing about this line of work is that you never know when you’ll get a job offer that changes everything, so ask me again in maybe a month or so?

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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