Kennedy Phillips stops by and talks Magus Elgar and more!
Today we are lucky enough to have Kennedy Phillips about his audio dramas, voice acting work, and a whole lot more!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Ardus
Kennedy Phillips RAW.output
[00:00:00] Casey: All right, everybody. Welcome again, to another episode of spoiler country today on the show, we have Kennedy Phillips Kennedy Phillips is in the sound department of many of the shows that you’ve seen. He has also done some voice acting and I guess, regular acting. He, he wears a lot of hats.
That’s what I’m trying to say, Kennedy, how you doing, man?
Kennedy Phillips: I’m doing fantastic. I hope you’re doing well. Despite the circumstances of this locked off universe that we have at the moment, given the COVID.
Casey: Oh my gosh. Those dulcet tones already. Kenny, I can tell you work in voicemail, man. Yeah, it’s it’s rough especially in a state that has not really respected.
That this is something that’s killing people and people are dying from it. I’m sure you have your woes in California as well with,
Kennedy Phillips: Honestly the one that I’m really concerned about was with my parents. My parents were both home health nurses in Florida [00:01:00] and that place got hit really hard. Not to mention like, like I know from what I’ve been seeing from and what my parents have been telling me, the vaccine rollout over there has been spotty at best.
Casey: Yeah. Ron DeSantis is, I’m just going to say it. He’s a moron. I feel terrible for, I have family that live in Florida as well, and I really worry about them because they’re, they’re not taking any precautions.
Kennedy Phillips: Oh man. That’s, that’s unfortunate. I’m sorry.
Casey: Yeah. And both of your folks are, are doing their best to take care of people.
And so hopefully have they gotten their vaccine?
Kennedy Phillips: No, they got the first dose, but then they were knocked off of the list when legislation was passed that made a exclusivity deal with publics. So if they wanted to get the second vaccine they had to, they couldn’t talk to their physicians. They [00:02:00] had to go through Publix, which is a grocery store in Florida.
For those of you who are not in the Southern Eastern part of the United States,
Casey: Publix for, for context, Publix is like maybe three steps above Ollie’s and one and a half steps below whole foods.
Kennedy Phillips: Like I’ve, I’ve got my own complaints about whole foods for a couple of things, but like, in terms of like, like, I do love the bakery at Publix.
I do love the deli at Publix, but like a lot of their business practices and the, all the stuff surrounding their family, not so much, I just, it was very frustrating to see that, like you have this vaccine rollout ready to go. People are already on the list and you’re. Redirecting it to Publix because they spent money.
[00:03:00] I cannot
Casey: believe that they didn’t grandfather, those people in, who had already gotten the shots. My, my wife and I my wife got her shots. She’s a she’s gotten both of them. She’s a kindergarten teacher, but we had to drive like an hour and a half to get them, but worth it. I mean,
Kennedy Phillips: shoot. Yeah. I mean, like I’m, I’m set to get my own because one of the things that happened when I was when, when COVID hit was that I lost like over half of my contracts.
So I had a lot of spare time. So I ended up spending it, trying to find other ways to. Contribute in some capacity. So like there there’s like some, there were programs that did like a volunteer work. I’m not going to get into too much detail. Cause I don’t like talking about doing that kind of stuff when I can.
And I got an email from the, the nonprofit charity that I was working for that said, Hey, by the way, you technically qualify [00:04:00] for, for a vaccine and Mike, but why though?
Okay. Th they were like, Oh no, it’s, it’s great. You can get it now. And I’m like, that’s not the reason why I’m doing this, but thanks.
Casey: That’s, that’s wild. But I mean, I, if, if it’s being offered, I mean, honestly,
Kennedy Phillips: Obviously, if it’s going to be offered that I’m going to, I’m going to go for it. It would make sense.
Cause I actually, I actually did contract COVID about a month after two years ago, I got really lucky because what ended up happening was I, I have a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I don’t go outside very much because most of my work is at home. So when COVID hit, I may have lost all of access to the studios that I work at, but I could still do my work at home.
So I didn’t have to leave aside from going to get like food every now and again. So I rarely went out. [00:05:00] One of my roommates ended up contracting it and he sequestered himself into his dorm, into his dorm room, his, his room. In the house. And I replaced all the air conditioning filters and we disinfect and disinfected everything and we would leave vittles at his front doors that he can grab it and hide away like a attic gremlin.
But then I tested positive and my roommate tested positive. My other roommate tested positive and we were, we were stuck with it, but I barely felt it because later on it would, it would be, we would find out that I, I contracted the virus, but not enough to actually get sick from it because I had no antibodies by the time it all was all said and done.
Oh wow. So, because I had kept a very limited exposure to the person that had COVID in my, in [00:06:00] my house. I never got a really serious hit for it. So let that be a lesson of like, even if like someone close to you has gotten COVID, if you keep your distance and you clean and you maintain that you’re taking like vitamins and everything like that it increases your chance of not getting hit as hard from it.
It also could be that I have a, a stronger immune system, but I can’t really say for certain, I know I’m still vulnerable to COVID. That’s why I’m going to get a vaccine. But it’s also that I’ve got people close in my life that can’t get the vaccine. Like one of my, one of my good friends has lupus. Like she can’t, she can’t get the vaccine.
Casey: Yeah. Yeah. It terrifies me from my wife’s grandparents who were, you know, in their eighties that we, we recently got them their, their shots. So that’s good. But for a while, I mean, we would have to go over there and help them out with stuff. And I was, you know, Kinda kind of worried that we were going to get them sick just by being [00:07:00] around them.
But that’s rough. So. You li like we were talking about earlier, you wear a lot of hats, you do stuff.
Kennedy Phillips: That’s mostly due to the nature of my work. C I’m a sound designer by trade, but my work doesn’t always fall into doing just sound design. Some days I’m doing voice acting, some days I’m doing editing some days I’m doing recording on set other things like that because I’m freelance.
So the unlike most like nine to five jobs where you go in, go out and you know exactly what you’re going to be doing. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing half the time. Like right now I’m working on like three contracts, two weeks from now. I could be working on a completely different production and two weeks from then I don’t have anything planned.
So I’m going to have to figure it out as I go.
Casey: But you, you seem kind of like you’re you’re kind of shooting from the hip a lot with this because you might [00:08:00] not have anything planned for, you know, three weeks from now, but next week you might find somebody that’s like, Hey, you you do the editing.
Let’s let’s get you in here. So well, for
Kennedy Phillips: when it comes to like finding, when it comes to finding work in, in this kind of field, I can tell you it’s a lot, like waiting for a bus. You could go on for like two months for, with nothing. Absolutely nothing. And then one day seven contracts will come alive, just dump on your lap and they go, you have a week it’s boasts, it’s bursts of crippling.
Non-employment followed by three days of too much employment.
Casey: Wow. So how do you w with, with work like that, how do you balance everything? Or is it just you’re you’re constantly spinning plates.
Kennedy Phillips: A lot of it really comes down to the spinning plates thing. I [00:09:00] have I have several brands of work that I advertise as what I do when I’m not working on one.
I’m working on another right now I’m working on a science fiction, audio drama, and what I’m not working on that I’m working on a script for contract for for a file. I’m going to be reading about a week from now. And if I’m not doing that, I’m working on a proof of concept for an audio show that I want to pitch to another, to like a publisher.
And when I’m not doing that, I’m working on hell of a boss.
Casey: Oh, nice. Okay. So yeah, you’re, you’re constantly not, not only working on other people’s work, but, but making work for yourself, which is I, I totally respect that and the get up and, and do it, this of it. What, how did you end up in this field to begin with?
Kennedy Phillips: Well, this story goes back to when I was a small child of about four years old. The age tends to waver a little bit as [00:10:00] my memory gets a little hallucination. He at that period I was asked by my mother while I was watching Nickelodeon, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I looked at the Nickelodeon logo and I pointed and says, I want to do that.
Which was a relief to my mother because there was a brief stint where I wanted to be a taxi driver because Kermit on Muppet babies was wanting to do that too. And she was like, no, you do not want to do that. But I I’ve always wanted to be in, in movies or television, but, but predominantly I wanted to be into cartoons.
I wanted to work on cartoons. It was something that I had a lot of passion for and spent my entire young life exposing myself to just all the various types of cartoons out there. I went to college and started trying to work on being a filmmaker, which I found out was actually pretty decent at the post production side.
But I, I [00:11:00] ended up discovering that I was better at sound design than I was at editing. Because when I was in college, I was making audio dramas just for fun. Just to, you know, do whatever just as a thing to do on the side while I was studying in my cinema studies college program, because I couldn’t get into the film program because I was terrible at what I did,
Casey: but I’m sorry, go ahead. Oh, no, no.
Kennedy Phillips: But when, what ended up getting me here was after I graduated from college, I got, I got scammed a lot, really. I, I had some good jobs. Like I got to work with Dreamworks television. And a couple of other contracts, like I’ve gotten to work with the Jim Henson company and a few others doing like bit work, but I kept running into contracts where they would say, we need you to edit this thing.
We’ll pay you when it’s done. I’ll get there. And they’ll just keep [00:12:00] sending me notes and then never pay me. And that’s, that can be problematic when you’re like working on a project for like a month and they won’t even pay you the like $300 that they promised you for the first week. Yeah.
Casey: Yeah. That’s that’s maddening.
Kennedy Phillips: So I, I w I was ready to give it up, like I was ready to just say, all right, I guess this wasn’t the, I wasn’t meant for this. I guess I’ll go find some fast food job or some Waterhouse jobs that I can keep the lights on in my house, but. I decided to do one last attempt and try to make something that I directed that I created.
And that led me to make, make a cell Gar, which is a fantasy audio comedy that’s available, wherever audio books are sold and wherever pods are cast, if you’re into a Discworld or the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, this is right up your alley
Casey: actually started that. And I really enjoyed [00:13:00] it by the way.
Kennedy Phillips: I want to, I want to ask you about that in a second, but it ended up getting like really strong a claim and it led me to eventually getting a job working for Visy pop for has-been hotel.
And that led to everything else. I got really lucky that I got to work on has-been hotel. Like it was, it was like a complete fluke, but it was one of the most exciting projects I’ve gotten to work on in the last decade.
Casey: Yeah. Yeah. That is and that, do you feel that, like, that was kind of something that just kind of emboldened you to, to push and keep at it?
Kennedy Phillips: Yeah, like it, it made me feel like, okay, I could definitely do this. And for those of you that are feeling that kind of doubt it took me until I was nearly 30 to actually feel like I was good at [00:14:00] what I did,
Casey: man. Some people don’t even get that. So like,
Kennedy Phillips: like, it, it, it takes time. Like your twenties are all about being terrible at what you do.
Casey: So how did you. On has been hotel you’re you’re doing voice work.
Kennedy Phillips: No I, I did one, I did one line, like one or two lines in there, but it was like non-spoken roles because the way that has been hotel and hell of a boss has set up they, they had some really serious material on there and providing my voice work as the sound designer is not typically permitted.
Casey: Gotcha. For union concerns, I guess.
Kennedy Phillips: Yeah. Contract concerns and stuff. Cause they have to pay me for my work on that and so on and so forth. However the I did do like all of the design work, all of the fully, all of it [00:15:00] was A lot of my work and a lot of it was spear and a good portion of it was spearheaded by goose works, who is a wicked, talented individual.
If you’ve never seen their work they’re on YouTube and they have cartoons, like little run NMO and Elaine, the bounty Hunter. And they’re just a trip to watch. They but yeah, goose works was originally the sound designer before I jumped in, but because they were also the composer, I didn’t want we, they, they didn’t want to make it so that we were having them do everything.
So I jumped on to do the sound design.
Casey: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Tell me what, what goes into you doing that sound design? What was your, what did you have to do to complete the job?
Kennedy Phillips: Well, when you first start out, when you’re doing that, you will watch the cartoon and conversation with the creator about her expectations [00:16:00] and what she wants.
And then I go through the project and I start putting in like footsteps, clothing, rustle things that you would expect to hear things that you, you think about that you don’t think about, but you, you definitely would miss it. If it was gone. Think about every television show that you’ve watched, where there’s just a bunch of people walking around.
If you didn’t hear their footsteps, you’d feel like something’s wrong.
Casey: Yeah. It’d be very disconcerting.
Kennedy Phillips: Yeah. So it’s art. It’s my job to put those in there to remind you that, Hey, this is a, a real world with real things happening all at the same time and not recorded separately in multiple takes.
Casey: So what, what is the deciding factor in a scene where there are many things happening?
What is the deciding factor for you to go, okay, we need this, but this [00:17:00] right here, doesn’t matter. This right here is essential to living in the scene and to, to be in that reality. And the rest of this is just flotsam
Kennedy Phillips: well shot composition. A big piece of that is let’s say, let’s say let’s take a look at a scene from has-been hotel.
Like as an example, there’s a scene when Allister, the radio demon shows up and starts talking and angel dust and vag, he are doing something in the background while he’s walking around doing stuff. He’s the one talking, he’s the one moving around. He’s the focus. He’s the important part. So all the stuff that he’s doing, it’s going to take priority.
If you had some, if I was trying to do sound design effects for like Vangie or, or angel dust, while they’re in the background, while Allister’s is in the foreground, it’s just noise. A big part of a person’s hearing is their ability [00:18:00] to selectively emit the information. That’s not important.
Casey: I have two kids and I know how to do that.
Kennedy Phillips: And as, as the sound designer, it’s my job to identify what are the pieces that take priority. Nobody really pays attention to the audio unless something’s gone wrong. And when it’s gone wrong, it is virtually unwatchable.
Yeah. There are so many. There’s so many movies and shows out there that have bad mixing where the film is fine on its own, but because the audio is bad, you don’t care. It’s just really unpleasant to listen to
Casey: recently that I saw, I think it was, it was some Artur director, but the sound mix was just God awful.
And I’m sure it was a, like a choice, like maybe a design choice [00:19:00] on their part, but good Lord. It was, it was so hard to hear. And I, I felt very much like a bitchy old man. Like
Kennedy Phillips: yeah. We’re like he could hear like, the, the voices are too muddled or like there’s some background noise going on. There’s actually a joke that I saw on, on YouTube wants of somebody had done a comic parody of a video game called persona.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with persona.
Casey: I’m not I’m very much not a video game
Kennedy Phillips: person. It’s fine. It’s basically it’s not important. What matters is like in the comic, they have his parents, they had this one joke where they go, you wonder briefly why voices in the animated cutscenes sound so hard to hear, or it’s like these really beautiful, incredible images, but like the dialogue is mixed so badly.
You can’t hear them.
Casey: And all of that stuff. It ma so a a parallel to [00:20:00] that. I do comics. And when you see a comic book where they did not get a decent letter in there, it ruins the entire thing. If, if the lettering is bad, then it’s, it takes away so much from the story and what it’s trying to get across.
So, it, I’m sure that is, you know, very similar with sound design. When you do this stuff, when you do the, the sound effects for these different characters, are you having to kind of keep in mind, character traits and inhabit that character so that you can, you know, be as truthful to the scene as possible?
Or is it just are you adding stuff in just as shorthand to kind of. Go like, well, you know, this is obviously, this is the sound that a foot makes. So, we’re just gonna add that in and people know that they’re walking or do you, do you go deeper than that?
Kennedy Phillips: Typically when it [00:21:00] comes to like footsteps, I’ll what I will do is who is this person?
What is, what is their emotional state right now? What surface are they walking on? So that, that can determine your gait, your, your tempo, your speed, the amount of force you’re putting into them. And sometimes it can just be a casual thing of just, okay, they’re just walking across the room, like, I’m working on the scifi audio drama right now.
And one of the scenes, a character walks onto a ship for the first time. He’s not very sure of himself. He’s a little bit tentative. He’s a little bit timid. One of the other people are sitting at the front of the the cockpit. He turns around and goes, Oh, welcome. Come on in. And you could hear his feet kind of shuffle a little bit.
Like he’s walking in slowly. Like he’s looking around he’s, he’s taking a moment to absorb the scene and this is all portrayed just through his footsteps because you don’t have a visual compliment to work with. So you’re just kinda filling in the blanks.
Casey: That’s [00:22:00] awesome. So do you, do you enjoy doing stuff like that and kind of aiding the story with, with the expressiveness of, of that work?
Kennedy Phillips: Awesome. Honestly, favorite moments are when the dialogue gets to fade away and we focus on just the soundscape. I love doing this thing called acoustic signatures for characters as is something that I did and has been hotel where. Every character and has been hotel has a motif. They have a theme to all of their sound design.
For example angel dust he is a, he’s a prostitute spider
Casey: as one is occasionally. We’ve all been there.
Kennedy Phillips: A lot of his sound design is like vinyl zippers, like people making moaning or, or like sex noises that you would expect, like stuff that you would hear in a porno because he is a porn star. The with Allister, [00:23:00] the radio demon, he’s got a lot of complicated sound design going on where.
His voice is literally a sound effect where it actually, when he’s speaking, he sounds like he’s from an old timey radio. And when he is moving around and like gesturing or other things like that, you hear like radio signals tuning in and around, even when he’s not paying attention to things, you hear like his thoughts kind of to name a little bit every once in a while.
So he’s got like all these old tiny sound effects and a lot of even his footsteps where I use like vintage tap dancing shoes to, to get that sound across because he is every inch of that character is a performance.
Casey: That’s awesome.
I’m really interested in, in these acoustic signatures that you were talking about. I I didn’t know that fully art was, was [00:24:00] that involved?
Kennedy Phillips: Generally? It isn’t like a lot of times you’ll look at and be like, okay, what shoes is he wearing? What’s he walking on? Let’s go from there. When it comes to audio dramas, everything is a creative choice when it comes to how they’re walking, how they’re moving, because you’re, you’re deciding the pace.
You’re deciding the tone. You’re deciding what is in that room. You are the, when it comes to audio dramas, you’re the set designer. You’re the cinematographer. You’re the director. I’m all for all this stuff going on. I translate a lot of that stuff into what I do visually in like animations and live action stuff, where I look at a character and I go, what would be a defining aspect of their personality that I would love to bring to the table to make it so that when you hear them moving around on screen, you know, it’s them there’s a, a, a cartoon that I was watching recently that I I’ve, I’ve [00:25:00] fallen in love with.
Are you familiar with a creator named Genndy Tarkovsky?
Casey: Yes. I’ve heard that name before.
Kennedy Phillips: You might know him from productions like Dexter’s laboratory. So hotel Transylvania. Recently he’s been doing a show called primal. If you have not seen this show. Oh, it is fantastic. It is. Uncompromisingly brutal.
It’s the premise is, is that it’s about a caveman named a spear and a T-Rex named Fang who joined forces to survive in a punishing prehistoric environment. And there is no dialogue in the entire show. All of the dialogue, all of the story is told through visual pantomiming and sound design. There’s an episode.
Which I always forget the name of, if you’ll give me a brief second, if you don’t mind [00:26:00] w look up the name of the episode. Okay. It was called the night feeder. The night feeder is an episode where a monster is in the night and will attack and eviscerate anything that comes its way throughout the entire episode. We never see this thing. All we have as evidence of this thing’s presence is the horrifying noises it makes when it rips something apart, it sounds wild.
It sounds brutal. And it sounds fast for. Several days, Fang and spear are traveling as hard and as fast as they can during the day. So that when they’re at night, this thing doesn’t catch up to them and it’s gaining on them every step of the way you hear it, you hear it getting closer and closer and it, it, it [00:27:00] makes your hair stand up.
Joel Valentine does such a phenomenal job portraying these kinds of sounds because he understands the value of letting audio breathe and letting it carry the, the story, because our senses are not just defined by what we’re looking at. It’s what we, what we’re feeling, what we’re smelling, what we’re experiencing at any given point.
Casey: How do you, as, as somebody that is, you know, is doing that, how do you develop that sense of being able to to focus on the stuff that matters? Is it trial and error or is it is it something that you’ve you’ve just kind of picked up after awhile,
Kennedy Phillips: some of it’s trial and error, but a lot of it really comes down to instincts that I’ve developed over the years.
I, when I’m watching a movie, there are, there are beats that I look for there. My, my favorite beats are the ones [00:28:00] where you don’t just get you. Don’t just look at the film and go. That is a movie that was a scene in a movie. It’s that moment where you are so invested in what’s happening, you feel your heart sink when something dramatic happens.
The first time that I felt this, I was I was five years of about five or six years old. And my dad had me watch independence day for the first time.
I’m not sure if you ever saw that
Casey: movie. Oh yeah, dude. I’m a child of the nineties,
Kennedy Phillips: so yeah. Yeah. Like it’s, it’s, it’s a dumb movie, but it’s, it’s got moments now when you’re five though, like some of those beats for the first time are like, woo. Ooh, they’re good. Probably my favorite moment in that wa in terms of like, getting that feeling is.
What they did in near the climax of the film, where they have Randy Quaid getting into the jet. And he’s about to launch his last missile at the [00:29:00] alien ship. And everything’s about to explode. No things are going to fall apart and he’s the only person that can do it. And then he says he presses the button activated, and you hear this really disheartening chunk as the missile locks.
And it shows it’s an error screen. And like all the music just like plays this dramatic thing of like, Oh no, it’s not working. And like, as, as a five-year-old I was sitting there like, Oh no, what’s he gonna do? But like, you know, when you’re like in your thirties or forties, now, you’re like, you know, but the fact that like the, the sound design, the music and the visuals that all compounded together to form that one moment of.
Feeling my hair, stand on my stand on end of Oh, Oh no. I love moments like that. I love being able to elicit that through [00:30:00] sound, like, think about how many times you’ve heard a sound in your life and your immediate thought is not, it’s not like, well, what was that? It was, that’s a bad sound. Oh yeah. Yeah.
Like, I’m trying to think of like, like when you, when you when you’re in a, in an engine and you hear it when you’re in like a boat or a plane or something, you hear like a loud and then suddenly everything goes quiet. Your brain knows enough about the procedure that goes behind making those sounds that it’s able to conclude bad bottom line, bad.
I don’t know what it is. I just know it’s bad.
So what I’m doing a lot of sound design I’m, I’m distilling those feelings in those pieces and trying to find a way to construct them for myself. When I think about a car starting, I recently got the design, like a, a Saifai land [00:31:00] Rover. When you start a car, what happens? You turn the key. The motor begins to let gas into the engine.
The pistons start to explode as it hits the spark plugs, everything charges up. You put your foot on the gas pedal that squeaks a little bit. The pedal starts to rev up the engine a little bit more than you take your hand onto the stick shift and move to another gear. And then you hear the gears lock into place.
And then the car starts to move the tires, roll along the floor. All of these little things are procedure that build towards one solid experience. And that is, I am driving a vehicle.
Casey: Have you really, it must be so rewarding to be creating these worlds on these audio dramas and the podcasts that you do. And it essentially out of thin air out of, you know, just random bits and
Kennedy Phillips: bobs, which brings me back to the thing that I was mentioning [00:32:00] before. How have you been, how have you been enjoying
Casey: Well, to be honest, I’ve, I’ve only listened to the first episode and I, and I really enjoyed it. I, I, I work a very insular job. I’m in a microscope all day and I’m shooting lasers and stuff. So, I you know, to, to make it through, I listen to a lot of different podcasts and A lot of it is, is story-based rather than like, you know, angry people talking about politics, which I do that sometimes too,
Kennedy Phillips: but I can imagine that would be like listening to the second would be kind of exhausting.
Casey: Oh yeah. It can be it. And even, even when I’m like, I agree with everything you’re saying, but right now I need to stop hearing about the Supreme court and more I want to hear, you know, I want to hear a story. So, I, I especially like horror podcasts and stuff like that.
Kennedy Phillips: So to work on a horror podcast, I mean, I’ve gotten to work on where alive, [00:33:00] which does have ASP definitely have aspects of it.
But I usually consider that more as like a zombie it’s it’s more like a zombie themed drama.
Casey: Oh yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. So. You’re you’re doing these things and you’re, you’re building these worlds up. And, but, but also you’re, you’re wearing, like we talked about earlier, you’re wearing all these other hats on all these other different projects.
So when, what do you do to rest? Like, because you’re constantly putting stuff out and making stuff, you, you have to take stuff in eventually. And
Kennedy Phillips: my output isn’t nearly as a high pace as I would like it to be. Cause a lot of my work I’m doing things for a lot of other people, but a lot of what I do for my spare time is that I, I do get very engrossed in my creativity.
It is all, it is [00:34:00] a very defining aspect of my personality, of my identity. So that I’m always cultivating it. I’m always workshopping it. I’m always trying to find ways to express it one way or another. While I definitely do like I, well, I definitely like play video games and watch TV and the things that most people usually do indoors away from everybody.
Also do tabletop role-playing games where I actually organize and run them because it’s a good opportunity for me to practice my voice, acting, practice my storytelling, practice my ideas, and also to play with concepts that other people had done. But I find interesting, but not like enough for me to like, make a big, serious production out of my, my thing with tabletop games like Dungeons and dragons and the like, is that I actually don’t usually run games that are fantasy based.
I’m sure they are fantastical, but my themes are usually a little bit more out there than yield pub go to the Tavern, get the gold [00:35:00] vanquish, the dragon much experience. What I actually do is I’ll do like superhero games or westerns or existential love, crafty and horror. One that I really enjoy doing because it, it, it helps me practice for the eventual possibility of me getting the right.
One of these one day is doing a mystery. Oh, nice. I love role-playing a mystery because I, I put all the pieces on the table and I watch my players figure it out. I watched them piece, these things together. I had a story about I had like a love crafty and mystery last about three years where they were still trying to piece together, all of what was happening and they were, they were in gross.
They didn’t feel like I was, I was, I was baiting them the whole time. Right now I’m actually working on a, a murder mystery [00:36:00] that takes place in the fictional world of Zootopia, where I only introduced one slight adjustment to the storyline. And that was what would happen. If cold-blooded creature started making their way into Zootopia.
Oh, that’s a fascinating idea. We’ve got like the setting where they’re like, you know, predators and prey and all that stuff in this setting, but they’re all warm blooded creatures with Ferb. What happens if you ran into somebody with scales? Yeah. What would that be like? Would there be more or less oppression?
Would there be like a dynamic going on with that? So I’m, I’m making a murder mystery revolving around these snake princes and my players have been really into it.
Casey: Every time I talked to [00:37:00] somebody who does role-playing stuff it sounds to me like the equivalent of a bodybuilder going in and lifting weights.
It’s. For story, but for storytelling, it’s there’s so much world-building and storytelling involved with that, that it’s it’s only kind of building up what you’re what you’re capable of. So stuff like that fascinates me.
Kennedy Phillips: If I would say, if I could say one thing about role-playing I recommend every person, like I know it’s I know it’s a dorky thing for a lot of others, but I recommend every person do it at least once.
And the reason why is because role-playing introduces a fascinating skill set that is often neglected. When we get older. Now, when we were kids, it was easy to come by because it was just playing pretend. You play as the hero to go get the girl or the, [00:38:00] you you play as the dragon that wants to wreak havoc upon the land.
I always played as the bad guy in those pretend games. So, you know, it made sense that I ended up running them. Antagonism was something that I was good at developing, but role-playing introduces so many other aspects of the human social being that we don’t really pay attention to like role in order for you to do.
Role-playing like really well, you need critical thinking. You need empathy, you need the capacity to acknowledge and problem solve. It’s it is a way to play pretend again. And there’s a lot of psychology around that that can even form as its own brand of therapy. I mean, I’ve always said this to other players who have been struggling, anybody who goes through an RPG, your personality, all of the [00:39:00] quirks, the, the positives and negatives are amplified by what you bring onto the table, your desires, your wants your feelings.
They all get projected into this caricature that you’ve presented to just have fun. And people fall into that hole. They, they get really attached to who they are in that character. And a lot of times they super impose themselves onto the character that they’re playing for. What’s supposed to be a game.
Casey: So as a, just as a creative, do you think that this type of stuff just kind of sounds like you’ve been at it a while, do you think it’s kind of, directed you into what you’re doing now? As far as like being able to build worlds and stuff like that.
Kennedy Phillips: I can definitely tell you that from the day I was born, I was a storyteller [00:40:00] when I lived on the sailboat with my parents.
I lived on a boat for about 12 years and while we were out at sea I would, I would make, I would improvise fake commercials and TV shows with my sister on the cockpit while my parents would watch just watching us perform and coming up with things. And it helped time go by. It helped things work.
Casey: So you, you lived on a sailboat with your folks?
Kennedy Phillips: I
Casey: did. Yeah. What was it, what was that about?
Kennedy Phillips: Well, at the time it was cheaper to live on a sailboat than it was to own a house. And my parents were not wealthy enough to own a house. So they spent a lot of their time traveling around until they ended up in Florida, where they were able to work at hospitals and kind of get the monies.
But we, it was, it wasn’t like is it wasn’t too different from living in a [00:41:00] house. I mean, the nice thing about it was that when you wanted to move, you could just go, everything was
Casey: you’re over it by now. You’re like sailboat, you mean a C trailer, whatever.
Kennedy Phillips: I mean, there’s still like a lot of things about it that I genuinely miss. Cause I haven’t been on a sailboat while now. But there there’s a lot of things that they don’t tell you that you don’t think about. Like having to clean off the bottom of your boat now, which can cost like almost 10 grand.
Casey: Oh, wow. Yeah. I get all the the crap, little organisms and stuff off.
Kennedy Phillips: Yeah. Which is why like, which is why like, my, my dad would dry dock the boat and then we’d all do it ourselves.
Casey: Oh, wow. That’s cool.
Kennedy Phillips: Not as much as you’d think, like there it’s a lot of work. Yeah. But it’s, it’s not like, it’s not something you do [00:42:00] so frequently that it’s not viable.
Casey: Yeah. Yeah.
Kennedy Phillips: But the but a lot of the time we would be out at sea traveling, you know, either for like a day sale or we’d actually go somewhere and there would be long periods of time where we would just have nothing to do. Well, yeah, we had a TV and we had a VCR and all that stuff, but like, you can only watch independence day so many times.
Casey: Yeah. I’m sure. Yeah. So when, at what age did y’all get out of the boat? Like how old were you when that stopped? 12 years old. Okay. Wow. Okay. So w was it hard for you to kind of acclimate to to land life, you know, to kind of being around kids your own age?
Kennedy Phillips: I mean, I was always, I had been around some kids my age on the boat.
Like there were other kids that lived on boats too. Cause you know, we’d be docked and I, and I would go to, I would go to school. I mean, there was a period where I didn’t go to school. I was homeschooled from fourth to [00:43:00] fifth grade from like third to fourth grade and I skipped the fourth grade because of it.
Cause I was being homeschooled by my parents because we were sailing around the world. Oh, wow. For about two years. So yeah, fun fact Pokemon actually hit it big while I was out of the country. So when I came back, I was understandably confused
Casey: that that’s wild. That’s crazy. You brought that up.
I was at my mother-in-law’s the other day and she found a a box of a bunch of mild crap that somehow had made it over to her house and then subsequently got put in their barn and they found their clean out the barn and they found this box and I’m like, it’s comics. It’s probably Casey’s. And I opened it up and I don’t know how I’ve never been a Pokemon fan at all.
I found a ton of Pokemon cards. I think I must have gotten from a trade. And I started looking up the prices like, Oh crap. I should have been. [00:44:00] Collect and Pokemon cards this whole time. Apparently because these comics are worth, you know, like nothing, but some 1995 Pokemon cards. Yeah. That’s where it’s at.
Sorry for that assignment.
Kennedy Phillips: I don’t know. It’s fine. When I got back, I, I, I, I, it’s one of those weird self-park moments where I walked up and says, can I get a PO, can I get Pokemon cards? And like, why do you need it? I go, I don’t know. I feel like I need to fix it.
Casey: Yeah. That’s gotta be such a, such an odd feeling to, yeah.
To, to come back to the world that has refused to stop turning while you were away.
Kennedy Phillips: Yeah. It’s, it’s a little weird. What what’s even weirder is just being exposed to. Other cultures that I had, even in my wildest [00:45:00] dreams imagined what they would be like and finding just how small my exposure to the world had been prior to that, like something, something that I would say that I’ve acknowledged excuse me,
something that I acknowledge seems like it’s, it’s one of those kinds of things that when you say it out loud, you kind of just say, well, yeah, no kidding is, there are so many people out there that their only exposure to the world has just been within their own town, that they don’t understand why other cultures work the way they do, or even why from a societal standpoint were no better or worse off than everybody else doing their thing.
I’ve I’ve lived it. I’ve spent time in countries where [00:46:00] getting my garbage wasn’t event may they like when they like ripped it apart and they actually like celebrated getting some of the junk that I had, which made me just go, wow, I had never considered that. And on the other hand, I’ve run into people who had a level of decadence.
I will never be able to experience. Yeah. But there’s also like some people who have their relationship with the world around them. There’s this equilibrium that they seem to get in a lot of places where they understand that what they give is as important as what they get. So they take the time to preserve what they do have.
And other groups are just doing their thing. And they had never been exposed to things like Doritos and their lives are all the better for it. Not to say that like [00:47:00] Doritos are bad or anything like that. Just more of a, just think about some, something that you take for granted as an everyday occurrence in your life.
Something that has always there has always been there and always will be there when you die and think about it just not existing somewhere else. And nobody cares. Nobody even considers that it’s a problem.
There’s just so many things where you get enriched by exposure to other cultures to that degree. Like think about like, even something as basic as, as a taco, that, that was, that was attributed from another culture that came in, that, that you were introduced to and it enriched your life because of it.
[00:48:00] That’s crazy. Yeah. And it makes you understand. Sorry, go ahead.
Casey: Oh, no, no, no. I’m definitely picking up what, you’re, what you’re dropping here. It’s it’s wild to think about what we take for granted and what what other people see every day and, yeah,
Kennedy Phillips: so, so whenever I hear people like trying to talk about like, you know, what’s better and what’s worse, which one has the superior thing going on?
It’s not, it’s just different. And that difference makes things more interesting.
Casey: Do you think that the insight you got from all the travel you did as a kid kind of played into the world-building you did for the mega cell Gar audio drama,
Kennedy Phillips: In a lot of places because but one thing that I really built for migas El Gar was an observation of just how absurd everything is not absurd as in like, Oh, we really shouldn’t [00:49:00] take it seriously, but no, it’s, it’s that absurdity that makes us go, man, what a place do we live in?
What a, what a location that I am currently residing. This is that I could be exposed to this kind of nonsense and. I also really like something that I really want to try and toy around with is the idea that like a lot of different cultures look at the same picture and see something different, completely different.
A big thing about is about how people interpret magic. They look at magic and they see all sorts of things. For some, they see a problem that needs to be amended for others. It’s this chaotic force that they can’t do anything about. And for some, it’s an opportunity to make a lot of sushi, sushi explosion sounds, and that’s fun.
And in truth, that can be all of these [00:50:00] things. It’s just a matter of how you’re looking at it.
Think about like how many beliefs we have about how the world works, how the universe works. And how, depending on where you live, that interpretation is simultaneously wildly different and yet has enough similarities for you to identify what’s going on.
How crazy is that?
Casey: So you you’ve been doing mega Sal. Got I’m sorry. My tongue is too fat for my face.
Kennedy Phillips: That’s a new one. I’ve never heard that
Casey: you’ve been doing mega Sagar for, for awhile. And are there any plans to continue? It is this an ongoing thing is the say is there an end point.
[00:51:00] Kennedy Phillips: Well, yeah, the problem is the album money.
I would love to do another season, but I, I is the poor and in order for me to make this production, I would need lots of money to make it. I might stay like, it’s one of those kinds of things. It’s like, I’m not, I’m not like saying like it needs like a million dollars or something like that for like some of these film productions have, but I’m more saying like, by my standards, it is a lot of money.
I finished season one and I did like two animated shorts on YouTube, which you can find wherever you like. And I’m planning on trying to do more stuff to try and get people interested in doing another season. But my. The first time I made mega Sagar, I put a lot of effort into it. Like I put a ridiculous amount of, of sound design and high quality voice acting, and
Casey: the proof is in the machine.
Kennedy Phillips: And I don’t want to, I don’t want to compromise that. [00:52:00] So if I did it again, I want to make it as good. If not better.
Casey: Do you have any other anything coming up that we need to look out for?
Kennedy Phillips: Well, I’m still working on hell of a boss. I’m also working on Sojourn, which you can find at the Sojourn audio drama.com which I am the entire sound team for.
So for those of you waiting for more megas, El Gar, goodness, I can assure you. I am working just not on the megas thing for the sound stuff. I am writing stuff for it though. And I’ve, I’ve also been working. You can also find like some of my stuff on new grounds under mega Serling. And I’m also trying to work on like a little fun story about cobalt that I want to see if I can try and turn into a much cheaper, easier to digest audio drama for like younger audiences.
Casey: Oh, cool. Cool. That I’m sure that is a lot of, there’s a lot more to that than [00:53:00] just doing work for, you know, an older audience or there’s a different discipline to it. And being able to work for kids and write for kids.
Kennedy Phillips: There’s a simplistic beauty to compartmentalizing, a very complicated concept. In a way that that a kid can both appreciate comprehend and enact in their own lives.
Kids are not stupid. They’re not, they’re not the kind of people where you have to like baby them, but they are developing concepts in their head that are very complicated and very hard to wrap your head very hard to conceptualize. It’s why I love cartoons that take their audience seriously. I I’d love to actually gush about one that I, I [00:54:00] stumbled across recently that if you have kids, I really recommend you get the chance to watch this.
It’s on HBO, max. It’s called. Infinity train. We’ve
Casey: seen that. Yes.
Kennedy Phillips: Yes. For those of you who aren’t familiar with infinity train infinity train is an anthology series about a kid who goes on a train that seems to stretch on forever. And as they are on this train, they go through a trial to figure out who they are and what they need to understand how to continue on with their lives.
It functions in the same way as silent Hill. And it is uncompromising in how, in how intense their themes are and how serious their themes are there. Their first season explores the, the trauma that comes with going through a divorce and the main [00:55:00] character is like 13, 14 years old. But it doesn’t even stop there.
Like every season they have a new theme going on a new character, a new entire arc of a, that that focuses around this train. Like the, the first one is, is like, how do I deal with going through a divorce? Is it my fault to the second season of what is the human condition? What does it mean to be alive? Do you have a right to be, if it was not something that was bestowed upon you, or if it was something you earned,
it’s, it’s a fascinating journey. And I recommend looking into it cause it’s got phenomenal sound design, wonderful writing, and it’s not afraid to treat their kid, treat the, their audience like adults while still having themes that almost every kid, like so many kids probably go through.
[00:56:00] Casey: One, one thing I appreciated about it was that, and I forget the protagonist’s name, but tulip, tulip, you actually worried about tulip because it seemed like there was actual peril.
And it, it, wasn’t always a sure bet that she would be able to get out of that, that train car or whatever that she was in. So, yeah, w it was a fun show. I definitely enjoyed watching it.
Kennedy Phillips: So Ford’s coming out soon. What’s that book for us coming out soon. Oh, cool. Cool.
Casey: So I I appreciate you stopping by to talk to us, man. We’ve really enjoyed catching up with you getting to know kind of what a sound designer does, what a Foley artist does. Is there anything that we need to go right now and check out by Kennedy
Kennedy Phillips: Phillips? If you want to see more, if I work you can look up [00:57:00] Satina, which is another series, another TV pilot that I did on YouTube that you can watch.
I said, I did sound design for, you can go to megas, gar.com and listen to this wonderful audio drama that set my career on the map. And it was very important to me. And I would be your best friend if you took the time to listen to it and let me know what you think would
Casey: you want an audio award for which is.
Not a not a little thing at all. That is pretty massive, especially it was ADI for best, best original audio drama.
Kennedy Phillips: We got nominated for best original work. We got to tell, we actually were awarded a tele for like the advertising that I made for it, where I made talking about how magic works which you can also find on YouTube.
We’ve got like two animated shorts and like a couple of shorts that explain how the, how magic in my world works, which is literally insulting the laws of nature to get them to do your bidding.
Aside from that you could also find me [00:58:00] on the Sojourn audio, drama.com, which again, I’m doing all the audio for and you could also see me every once in a while on Twitter at mega Serling. That’s a megas mag, U S Serling like rod Serling, SCR L I N G. And I would love to hear from you.
Casey: Awesome, awesome.
Mega Serling at, on Twitter. One quick, very stupid question. You’ve been working from your home a lot for due to COVID I’m sure. Have you scared your neighbors yet?
Kennedy Phillips: And what capacity? Just
Casey: making, you know, cause I’m sure you have to do the occasional crazy noise. And I’m, I’m always curious whenever I talked to a voice actor or, you know, somebody that does this type of creative work from home Have you had any weird interactions from
Kennedy Phillips: neighbors?
Oh God, no, actually, surprisingly enough, I have not had that [00:59:00] happen because I am, I am one of those lucky individuals though owns a house. Oh, nice. Reasonable distance between the other person. However, I will confess my roommate who is currently living downstairs of me probably would be able to say a couple of horror stories of the noises that I have made up here.
Casey: We, we interviewed a, a sound actress not long ago and She has a, you know, like, like you do, I’m sure a very nice booth set up, but she lives in an apartment and when she is being murdered on the, the cartoon that she’s on or whatever,
Kennedy Phillips: They all were like, what
Casey: Yeah. So she said that she I think she brought like baked goods to a few of her neighbors and like, Hey, I’m recording at this time.
If you hear anything crazy. That’s what it is. So, yeah. CA Kennedy, thanks you again for coming by, man. I’ve I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.
[01:00:00] Kennedy Phillips: Yeah, man. Thank you for having me, dude,
Casey: be safe out there. Stay safe. And hopefully we get through this crap soon because I think we’re turning a, turning a new leaf on it because can’t get any worse than it already.
Kennedy Phillips: Yeah, well look, best of luck to you in the whole vaccine seeking efforts.
Casey: Oh yeah. Yeah. It’s I think they’re all going to, like, they’re going to open it up to everyone in may, but I I’m seriously thinking about taking up smoking. No, not I’m not Kennedy. Take it easy brother.
Kennedy Phillips: Take it easy.
Casey: All right.
And I’m going to stop right here, Kennedy dude. Thank you again. Anytime. Okay. Well, it was good.
Kennedy Phillips: I know it kind of deviated quite a bit
Casey: and some of that is me too, because I I, I like to jump around and but yeah, I really enjoyed Hearing what you had to say about the F the Foley art and stuff like that, and [01:01:00] the creativity that you put into it.
I I’m going to keep on with mega cell bars and because what I heard today during work, I really enjoy it actually. So.
Kennedy Phillips: All right. Well, yeah, man let me know what you end up thinking of the rest of the series, if you end up deciding to listen to it more,
Casey: dude, dude. Yeah, I’m subscribed.
So after now,
Kennedy Phillips: Alrighty, well, I will talk to you later then. Dude, take it easy,
Casey: brother. All right. See ya.