In part two of an exclusive interview with Instinct Magazine, Michael Tatum and Brandon McInnis talk about working together, moving to Los Angeles, what it is like to have two French bulldogs, and more. If you haven’t read part one, it can be found by clicking this link, “A Nerdy Gay Love Story”.
GB: The two of you have worked together on different projects, right?
Brandon: We have.
Michael: Oh yeah, quite a few now. I’ve been a voice actor for the better part of 20 years now and Brandon has been a stage actor, especially in musical theater and that stuff. He’s just- you’re fairly recent. You’ve only been doing this for the past four or five years?
Brandon: Five or six. I think. I had no desire on doing voice acting whatsoever, none. My education is in Japanese and software design and very non-arts things. I was trained in musical theater growing up and then I spent some time away from it, you know. I thought of myself as an engineer, I’m not an actor, but my brother got me back into musicals once I moved back from Japan. Then, through knowing directors and directors contacting me actually asking the questions about Japanese for their shows, they then invited me to be in those shows. It kind of started there, I guess.
Michael: Now his career has taken off and it’s so much fun. Now we get to be in shows together, so now, I guess we’ve been in- How many shows together now?
Brandon: We’ve been in Nanbaka, as Samon (McInnis) and Kiji (Tatum), who are always fighting, which is hilarious. There’s such a rivalry between them. A similar dynamic in Dr. Stone, which is currently airing in its second season. My character started starts off by killing his (McInnis) character, but now we’re friends. We’ve been co-leads in a show called Tokyo Midnight Occult, which was really fun and just kind of fun to share a lead together. So, it’s really nice. We work together and now that we’ve been doing this stuff from home. Brandon is a bit of a genius so he’s great to have around when technical issues arise because I’m an actor. I can pretend to be a technical genius, but I’m not, at all. So, we’ll be recording, and I’ll be like (both laugh) “Honey, can you come fix the Zoom call? I don’t know what’s happening. What button do I press?”
Brandon: Recording remotely is really, really complex.
Michael: It is.
Brandon: So much can go wrong.
Michael: But you make it so easy. You do.
GB: What has it been like for the both of you working during the pandemic, schedule-wise?
Brandon: Well, it’s been interesting. It was slow at first as studios had to reconfigure their systems for working remote, so there was a bit of a lull as all the studios scrambled and figured out how we are going to carry out all these productions. And that was all over the place, all over the world really. Then once it picked up, it was kind of cool because then you have so many possibilities. You can work with so many different people. Funimation was great at getting back up to speed and I will say that we do have to far more diligent now about our scheduling because we have one booth. Before we just drive to all these studios, right, but now because we have a single home setup, it’s a very nice setup, but there’s still only one of them, we have to have our Google calendar with all of our recording sessions right there. We will double-check with the other like “Oh, wait. Can I have the booth tomorrow at 2?” “Yeah, yeah, it’s on the calendar.”
Michael: It’s great if we’re in the same show together sometimes they just schedule us back to back, so we don’t even have to disconnect the session. We’ll be like “Tap out, my turn.” The challenges of scheduling are a little intense sometimes. You have to kind of “Ok, how about you take the first hour and I’ll take the hour after that. And you got that other session with that other client at three. Ok, you do that, and I’ll tell the other client that I came on at five. So, it’s kind of a game of it’s spinning a lot of plates and I guess this business has always been a lot of plate spinning for voice actors because it’s just kind of the nature of the job. You know, one day may start at eight o’clock and end at five for you and the next day may start at eleven and go until midnight. It’s one of those things where your schedule is constantly… It’s a moving target but thank god for the calendar. (laughs)
Brandon: I could not live without Google Calendar.
Michael: Brandon and I are lucky enough to get used a lot by Funimation and also other studios, so we’re always having to be like “Yeah, I can do that. Uh, maybe. Let me check.” which is new. We were never really hurting for work but when the pandemic started, it’s something about having a good home setup just made studios want to work with us more because we were kind of a known quantity and like oh, we’ve got a good setup, so we don’t have to worry about the mix or anything like that. We suddenly found ourselves getting more work.
Brandon: It was lucky. We had the setup already because I do music and record and produce music at home. And so, we were using it for auditions and things. When the pandemic hit and studios started saying, “Hey do you have a home studio?”, we were lucky enough to be able to say yes, and then that opened the floodgates.
Michael: So, surprisingly it’s like working together during the pandemic, we’ve been really busy. We’re very lucky. That’s certainly not the case for everybody.
GB: You guys just recently moved from (Dallas) Texas to Los Angeles, correct?
Michael: We did. One of the benefits of the home setup we have is that it just, a lot of L.A. studios started reaching out to us more because they, of course, started recording their actors from home as well so it kind of opened up for some Texas actors to get a little more work than was traditional because most of us weren’t available to travel on such short notice back in the “before” times and so once home recording became the norm, studios just started reaching out to a lot Texas actors with home setups and saying, “You guys want to be in the show?” because now it’s just a phone call. Rather than having to get you a plane ticket and schedule you for a week or whatever. The logistics just made more sense and so we thought, “We’re getting so much work in L.A.” We love Texas. We love working with Funimation, but I’ve grown up in Texas, in Dallas specifically. I just realized here I am approaching middle age and I have never lived in another city. I’ve traveled all over the world, but I have never lived anywhere else in my life and I was like “I want to live somewhere else.” It just makes sense for an actor to move to L.A. If you’re going to move anywhere, you might as well move to Los Angeles.
Announcement time with @jmichaeltatum! #moving #frenchie #losangeles #la
Brandon: It’s great because we still can record with Funimation but even before the move, there were a lot of amazing opportunities that were coming up because we were set up remotely. I worked on Warcraft last year and that would have never happened if it wasn’t for everyone being setup for remote recording.
GB: I did also see the video when you first got your French bulldog, Genji.
Michael: Well, here’s the thing. You know, I hadn’t had a dog since I was young. I told myself as an adult, if I finally get a dog, I really want a French bulldog. I just love- I think they’re adorable. I love their personality. They’re very much an actor’s dog because they are little actors. They’re such hams.
Brandon: They feel so deeply.
Michael: They do and they’re just such put-on artists. But Brandon wasn’t convinced. He grew with Chihuahuas and I’m terrified of Chihuahuas. I didn’t want one in the house because I’m huge. I’m 6’ 4” and about 220 pounds and I’m thinking I could accidentally crush this creature by just stepping wrong. I don’t want something that small around the house.
Brandon: That is a valid concern.
Michael: So I love dogs, but I don’t want to accidentally murder one. So I was like “How about a French bulldog? They’re kind of like a cross between, not literally. They’re small but they’re sturdy and Brandon wasn’t convinced so we actually spent some time with Caitlin Glass, our dear friend, and colleague who has two French bulldogs. She was like “Come over! Let Brandon play with the Frenchies. He’ll change his mind.” And he did, Brandon was a fan instantly. Thank you, Caitlin! Then we got Genji and now, in the past couple of years, he’s got a little brother. He’s got Gus.
Brandon: (gushing) Little Gus.
Michael: Another little Frenchie and now we have two very rambunctious, very colorful Frenchies and I cannot tell you, we were just discussing this last night. We have this ritual every night where before bed because they sleep in the bed with us, of course. We go through this ritual. They run through their tricks and we give them treats and stuff because, you know, they’re actors, they’re show dogs. They have to keep in shape. But we were talking about how much we just love them and how much fun they are to just watch and do their thing. They have such personality and we’re like “Can you imagine what being in this pandemic would be like if we didn’t have these creatures?”
Genji is subtle. Gus is not. #frenchie #tricks #fyp
Brandon: Little creatures to take care of…
Michael: They’re our babies. They’re our little babies. They take care of us half the time it feels like.
GB: I also saw the one (video) the rubber duck was sitting on the bathtub
Brandon: And Genji’s trying to get it and he’s getting frustrated. We had never heard him make those noises before, of like, frustration.
Michael: Yeah, he’s not a terribly vocal dog but he was that night. His little brother, Gus is extremely vocal.
Brandon: Gus emotes.
Michael: I kind of put it out in the universe when we got Gus a couple of years ago. I’m like “Genji’s so quiet. I love it but I want a dog that is a little yappier. I just want that.” and boy, the universe listened.
GB: So what was it like after your first start dating with doing conventions?
Brandon: For the majority of our relationship at the beginning, I would just go along with him as a plus one, which was great for me because my history with conventions was always working as an interpreter, so it was very nice. Usually, I’d work remotely programming or something. It was really nice for me to just go and be like “ooh I’m going to go and hang out and go to events.”
Michael: I’d be working and he’s just seeing the city and everything. He’d be my very pampered plus one. (Brandon laughs) We traveled a lot. The first year we were together we did 28 cons that year which means we were pretty much on the road fully half of the year.
Brandon: Because they’re pretty much on the weekends. So 28 weekends.
Michael: And long weekends. Usually, guests fly out Thursday before a con and they’ll leave Monday, so they’ve got the full weekend. You know you want to give yourself a chance to see the sights if there are any. We went to Ireland, we went to England twice. We went somewhere in the dead of winter where there was like 15 feet of snow.
Brandon: Calgary in Canada.
Michael: Yeah, we did Calgary in the dead of winter, like we went everywhere and experienced about every climate. We went to Hawaii and scuba dove together. That’s another one of the hobbies we started that Brandon got me into was scuba diving.
Brandon: My dad was a commercial diver/ underwater welder.
Michael: Never in a million years could anyone have convinced me to do that, to get underwater, but Brandon managed. Took about two years to get the courage to get my certification, but I did it. I think the deepest we’ve gone is 120 feet to see the wreckage of an old World War II fight jet called the Corsair off the coast of Oahu, which was really sweet. This man! He moves me out of my comfort zone with such wonderful adventures.
GB: You said that you’ve been together seven years. What is the secret to the longevity of your relationship?
Michael: I guess we have different answers. Don’t we?
Brandon: I guess so…
Michael: You go first.
Brandon: I think the secret to maintaining a long relationship is of course things are difficult when your partner doesn’t see things the same way you do or has different needs, different wants, or different pressures on them, and it’s very easy, I think, to get carried away with an emotional response. I find it very helpful to utilize my great skill of procrastination and argument. (Michael laughs) So, if he says something that makes me want to “ooh, no, you don’t understand. I’m so angry right now. I’m going to deal with this, and I will. I’m just going to take a moment though and do something else.” During that time, I’ll be like “where are you coming from? How are you feeling? Why is this happening?” And I feel those emotions, but I feel like I delay them. I procrastinate. We’ll get to it later.
Michael: Brandon’s very good at giving himself time to process.
Brandon: I do, which can come across as stoic, I’m afraid.
Michael: But one of us has to do so. (Brandon laughs) I feel like I’m not.
Brandon: (laughing) You are not. No.
Michael: I have the opposite strategy. (Brandon laughs) I react immediately and then forget everything. (Both laugh) It’s a good balance. The secret is, of course, we’ve studied each other’s communication style.
Brandon: That’s true, yeah.
Michael: So we’ve kind of taken into account, I think it’s very important in any of your relationships, be it romantic or professional or otherwise, that you kind of take into account how the other person uses language. What is what they are saying, what does it cost them? How hard is this for them to say? It makes you appreciate where they are coming from and how they see the world. It gives you a chance to, for example, not take something personally if someone said something to hurt your feelings. For me personally, I find as long as we can make each other laugh, and we’re really good at entertaining each other, we’re artists. Brandon may like to think of himself as a very rational-minded person, and he is, he’s very right-brained and left-brained, but he’s very much an artist too. And as long as we can keep each other laughing and entertained, we’re fine.
Brandon: We can do anything.
Michael: We had arguments where we end up cracking up at the end of it and be like, “I’m so glad we had that argument just because of the schtick we now have.”
Brandon: It’s true.
Michael: So we just keep each other laughing. We’ve been through times like this where we’ve been actually miserable. When we moved to L.A., it was one of the most stressful things. I mean, moving is one of the most stressful things you can possibly do. I think it is one of the four most stressful things. It’s like a wedding, a death, moving, and changing jobs. The thing is they don’t tell you is that moving is pretty much involved in all of those things. So moving is number one on my list. We had so much fun on the drive out here because Brandon is so adventurous and because I’m so reactive in funny ways, so Brandon is always laughing at me getting into situations where “I don’t know what I am doing.” I play it up. It’s fun.
For more on Michael and Brandon, you can go to Brandon’s YouTube Channel. You can Brandon by using @branmci on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Michael can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok as well, just click on the social media site to go to his profile there. You can also catch them in four seasons of My Hero Academia (dub) on Funimation.