"It's a full-length album; 10 tracks and it's in heart shaped packaging. Those were a fun thing and I'm glad we got them printed in time to get them; the guy was like, we are going to chance it and I thought well, let's just chance it and if they don't get done in time we'll just send them out next year," laughed the effervescent voice artist, comedienne, actress and musician Grey DeLisle. "It was just a cool idea; they aren't just for Valentine's Day; heartbreak happens all the time."
Grey DeLisle was born in Fort Ord, California and has been a natural performer from a very young age who over the years has voiced more than 1,500 cartoon and animated characters as well has lent her voice to film and television in the form of jingles and various commercials. Those who act, be it by voice or in front of a camera often play roles that are often diametrically opposed to who they are in reality; such is the case with DeLisle whose personality is absolutely infectious and yet, her on-screen personas; maybe not so much.
"I play all of the evil characters in cartoons," she said with a slight giggle. "I'm very nice in person but in cartoons I'm very, very terrifying. I have a very sweet singing voice, that's how I get you; I'm like a siren, I bring you in with the music then burn you alive," she continued; the giggle now giving way to a full blown laugh. "I've been doing this for so long that there is always someone who is like, oh my gosh you were Emily Elizabeth on "Clifford The Big Red Dog" because she was so sweet and then those kids grew up and I was their Azula (Avatar: The Last Airbender)and Vicky (The babysitter of Nickelodeon's "Fairly Odd Parents") and Sam Manson from "Danny Phantom" which was a really cool show."
"Evil" is the farthest thing that comes to mind when speaking with Grey who was a product of shared parenting and whose grandmother was a role model and one who also laid out Grey's career path; be it accidentally or by design by encouraging her early on in life.
"Gosh, I wrote my first song when I was five and I started doing voices around when I was five too because I was just an only child in a family of adults and my grandma worked in a factory and she really didn't have a lot to entertain me. So, she got me a boom box and I would record little radio plays almost for myself on this boom box and talk in all kinds of different voices and it kept me entertained. She still had a box; before she died I found a shoebox of all of the little audio recordings I did when I was little not knowing what my future would be. I didn't really know that this could be a job, I just thought it was a funny thing that I could do. I would do all these impressions of my teachers growing up, I would do the "Tonight Show" set for my grandma as she was getting ready for work the next morning because she would always let me stay up even though I was only seven or eight I really didn't have a lot of rules; I was like a little room mate of hers because grandmas are different than moms. So, it was great because it really allowed me to explore my creativity; I would memorize the comedy sets of whoever performed on the "Tonight Show" and in the morning I would do the jokes for my grandma and she just loved it; she really indulged it. So, yeah, it may have been earlier but I think five was when I have my earliest memory and also, later on for child care she would put me in plays which was a genius idea because I would get out of school and they would take us over to do the rehearsal. She would pack me dinner, I would eat and then someone would drive me over to the play rehearsal and she would have child care until like seven o'clock at night which was perfect because she didn't get off work until 6:30; free babysitter and a career for me later (laughs)."
With all of her various pursuits ongoing, one might think her time is limited and one would be correct but there's nothing like a world-wide pandemic to alter one's course a bit and as for Grey, well, she retraced her steps and made a return to songwriting.
"I hadn't written any songs in like 14 years, since I was pregnant with my oldest son and I was doing little covers that I was putting on YouTube and people really liked them and they were playing them just off of YouTube over and over again and they were saying, "Can you just please put these on a record so I don't have to play YouTube all of the time in my car" and I was just doing that and I didn't think that I'd ever write another song. Then all of a sudden after being inside for a year my head kind of calmed down because I wasn't so busy running around everywhere all of the time and all of a sudden just 16; it might be up to 17 new songs I've written since I've been home. So, its been getting to be one every couple of days now; I started writing the first one maybe three months ago and so I've written about 17 songs in three months so we started a brand new record and so now I'm putting out a brand new record of originals. Honestly, only one of the songs I've wrote is terrible and all of the other ones were really good; usually I write songs and I'm like, eh, I don't know, I'm here and there on it but all of these songs I'm pretty excited about it (laughs)."
" I always write all of my songs in my head and then figure it out on the autoharp," she continued. "I used to write them in my head and then try and find a musician to tell me what chords they were when I was younger and I was giving away my songwriting credit when I didn't have to because they were really simple songs but I just didn't have any way to figure them out. I took a note from the Carter family and thought, autoharp will be really easy to do so I'll just do that and it became sort of my signature. I have so many autoharps and they are all named after Carter sisters; I have Sara, Maybelle, Anita and I have a little June (laughs). I was a Carter fan first and then I got around to Johnny Cash; it was nice because I thought, wow, these two great families combined. It was John Carter their son who asked me to be on his mom's tribute record that he did for her called "Anchored In Love" where everybody covered one of her songs; I got to do "Big Yellow Peaches" which was a really fun song. I have a lot in common with her because we both play the autoharp, we're both actors, we're both comedians and it's funny, I always thought I was very unique. I was always saying, I'm so weird, I do stand-up but I'm an actress but I also play this old time music and then somebody reminded me, no, June Carter did it first (laughs) and I was like, you're right I didn't even think about that. So, later on it made sense for me to be on her little tribute thing; I was really honored."
Mean while as we look forward to her next original release, we get to enjoy her latest effort called "Borrowed," a collection of cover material which became the aforementioned compilation alluded to earlier. DeLisle has five other albums to her credit, a recent single, "Valentine" which has an interesting back story as well to go along with that heart shaped packaging.
"My ex-husband wrote "Valentine" and that's a good ex-husband if you're covering his songs; that's a decent person if your ex-wife is covering one of your love songs (laughs). He was in a band called The Old 97s and when we first started dating, we weren't even official yet and I was blasting that song and I pulled up next to a car that had an Old 97s sticker on it and I rolled my window down and thought I'd brag and be a jerk and the person was like, "Where did you get that song?" because the record wasn't even out yet and I said, the bass player is my boyfriend and he said, "Oh really? I'm their A & R guy" and I wanted to die, I was so mortified. We were not official at all and I was afraid he was going to call Murray (Hammond) and say that there was this girl saying she was his girlfriend but thank goodness he thought it was funny and I always wanted to cover it so we did it for this record."
Watch "Valentine" here: .https://vimeo.com/434792509/e6bbd4aae4
Be it an evil cartoon character, an acting gig or her stand-up; Grey's creativity never seems to waver. When she was trying to achieve radio airplay for her "Home Wrecker" album she admitted to baking "Cookies for radio people" so she would, "Stand out" which she says worked liked a charm. When she first dipped her toes in the comedy pool, she recorded it so she had a reference point for the future, "I have a stand-up special on Amazon Prime called "My First Comedy Special;" I put it out about two years ago and it was fun; I'm better at stand-up now than when I shot that special but I was brand new at it and I thought that I'd like to capture that little time capsule of my beginnings in stand-up" but when it comes to social media she readily admits she's not a fan of the bombardment style of posting many artists use to draw attention to their product; preferring instead to employ a less invasive method. "Be funny 70 percent of the time and then people will forgive you for pushing your crap in their face and they'll be OK with the other 30 percent (laughs)."
Those who are voice artists spend much of their career pretending to be something or someone they are not; so does DeLisle find it difficult to actually be herself when she takes the stage as a musician?
"Gosh, I always feel like my music is sort of an extension of acting," she explained. "I used to have really terrible stage fright when I did music but I never had it when I was acting and I was thinking about it and I thought, maybe it's because I'm someone else when I'm acting but when I'm doing music I'm so raw and so myself that it's more terrifying. So, then someone said, "Your songs are so theatrical and you really paint sort of a picture and they are usually a story; why don't you just pretend that you are whoever is in the song?" "I thought, that's brilliant; I had canceled a European tour before it happened because I was too scared and was getting this terrible stage fright. I was just having this mental breakdown or something and after I did that I never had stage fright again, I just pretended to be whoever is in the song; so, it's like acting, it's the same thing to me. Thank goodness I'm friends with the promoter again, it was in the Netherlands and I had quite a following in the Netherlands and it was just so awful, I felt so terrible because it was sort of beyond my control. I kept saying I'm so sorry, I'll pay you for the posters and whatever you've done, I'm so sorry and I thought he'd never talk to me again but now we're friends again; we reconnected on Facebook and he's been listening to the new music and he's very supportive (laughs)."
To discover more about Grey DeLisle (aka Grey Delisle Griffin) please visit www.greydelislegriffin.com .
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!