E.G. Daily is best known as the voice of ‘Tommy Pickles’ on Nickelodeon’s hit cartoon “Rugrats” and ‘Dottie’ from the iconic 80’s cult classic movie Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. E.G. stunned the judges with her moving rendition of Faith Hill’s “Breathe” on NBC’s “The Voice.” It was a lot of fun to talk to her about her singing and voice work. “Breathe” is available on iTunes and you can follow her on Twitter at @realegdaily and on Facebook.
Tell me about “The Voice!”
I basically have been singing my whole life and have done voice work and just doing stuff that has to do with my voice my whole life. I did a lot of movies and televisions shows and stuff. A friend of mine actually just signed me up one day for The Voice and I was kind of like, “Really!!” I didn’t know they were going to put someone like me on there because I have done a lot of things and I’ve had a lot of different career opportunities and so I thought I’m probably too established in some respects because I do full voice.
But what The Voice is, is actually a place where you can just be a great singer and it does not matter what you have done. I think I was one of those people that actually took the risk at being someone who has done a lot and risked falling on my face by being on the show you know because it could have been like a humiliating experience but it was a risk worth taking and it ended up being an incredible experience. I ended up making a team and getting to sing on that show which was incredible. That’s how it kind of went down, I sort of went to this random audition and I think it was between 50,000 people and it whittled its way down to 150 and then it was down to 48 people and then the teens. I just felt really lucky to make a team.
That show is special because of the coaching you get. What was that like?
It’s really great. First of all you are working with people you admire because they are all so talented and they are actively doing a lot of incredible things for the music business and they all know their thing. They know what they are doing so you get to have one-on-one time. I got to have one-on-one time with Blake and one time I got to have time with Cher and Blake.
Really it was just kind of surreal and awesome and it felt really right actually. It just felt really good. It felt great. It was just a blessing. It was such a ball. They know what they are talking about. It is like I’ve been singing my whole life but still when you have someone that is that skilled and out there doing just that, they are doing that and they are giving you their notes. Blake really knows what he is talking about musically. Even though he is fun, goofy, sarcastic, and witty he still is very, very sharp on his game when it comes to music and critiquing the voice. He knows what he is talking about. So it was great getting to work with him.
They make it look easy when they perform and you see exactly how much work and how much thought goes into every part of it.
There’s a lot of thought. There are a lot of people involved in the process too. It is not just yourself. You have a team of amazing people behind you and they want to give everybody a fair shot to do their best, the best opportunity and everybody gets treated the same. You can be a 15-year-old little girl from Wyoming or you can be me, an actress from Hollywood who is 51 or 52 years old who has been doing it forever and I still got the same opportunity as anybody would and that is the game. They are going to give you the best opportunity to shine and are you going to make it.
I love getting to sing “Breathe” which was my song on the blind audition. It is just such a beautiful song and it is joyful. I love songs that are moving and they make you either feel joyful or want to cry. I’m a sucker for feeling things period. I just like to be feeling things. I like country music. I like the songs and I find them to be really moving. It is very intimate.
They tell a story.
Yeah, they tell little stories and that is the way I write. I love songs that are geared towards little stories or little things that happen and different kinds of feelings that come up that we all have but they are just put into like a little interesting story. I like stories. I like country music.
I’d like to know something about doing voice work and how you create such vivid characters with your voice.
When you go in to do a voice audition they basically will just show you a photo of a character and that character can be like a little boy or it could be a little rabbit, an old woman…..you get a picture and it doesn’t matter even sometimes it is an inanimate object like a box or an envelope. It could be anything. What is so incredible is you get to create the voice for this thing. Whatever it is, a flower or a box of cereal. That is what is so fun about it and as an actor that’s a really freeing thing because you are not limited by your face, body, age, or size. You are basically completely unlimited. I happen to have one of those voices where I can alter it and I’m a mimic. I mess around with when they say, “Can you give us a voice to fit that thing?” Usually it is the first voice out of my mouth that comes out. Because I have a really instinctive thing about what something sounds like I always have this game where I’m watching people’s faces and their mouths and I watch how their tongues hit their teeth and their lips hit their gums. I pay attention to how their jaws work and all of it makes a difference in how they sound. I have my own little internal game of like trying to imagine what the lady teller at the bank would sound like if she talked; if I could hear her voice or whoever. II like the game where you can give me 10 faces and 10 voices and I can match them all up and usually I’m pretty right.
It’s just one of those weird things where it just was my fascination with the voice and sounds and it turns out that my whole career is based around the voice like with voiceover and with singing. Acting requires you to use your voice and I happen to do a lot of character voices so it is all about the voice. It is about another part of my life which is I like to try to be the voice for a lot of animals you know and animal activist stuff and I try to listen to my inner voice which tells me a lot of important things and I’ve really conditioned myself to growing that voice inside me and listening to that voice when it is guiding me in the right way. So everything I do has to do with the voice and my career and my personal life. I think the voice is so powerful for everybody. It is a powerful thing your voice.
Do you have a favorite voice character that you have done?
II really loved Tommy Pickles because Tommy Pickles was so good to me. It changed my life. That was the beginning of my voiceover career taking off. I think Tommy Pickles was the first really life changing character voice that I did and the voice I did for Tommy Pickles was actually a little voice I started doing as a little girl so it was very developed by the time I got the audition for Tommy Pickles. I really loved doing Baby Mumble in “Happy Feet II” and I did Bam-Bam in “The Flintstones” and that was cute. I find it to be really fascinating the whole thing. The voice work for me is always a surprise. When people cast me I’m always like, what? The day they asked me to Dominican. I did an accent and after the audition for that I said I really don’t know what Dominican is actually and they started laughing because whatever I did was right, so.
Did you mimic your teachers when you were growing up?
I did actually yeah. Because they are all so different. People are so identified by their voice you know? You could just close your eyes and you know who people are. You know who they are as a person like if they are joyful, sweet, or if they are kind of angry people. You can hear it all in their voice.
What inspires you?
Just joy and feeling good in my body and feeling present. Every day that you can wake up and have a joyful day is such a gift, especially because certain people that have gone through different kinds of cycles in my life where one period of time where I went through life where I was having anxiety and some depression and panicky and so when you have had that kind of stuff in your life you are so grateful to be present and connected to some higher power and connected to the beauty of every day and every person that you might run into and every stranger that you might connect eyes with whether there is magic or light behind their eyes. Everything inspires me truthfully.