Industry Insider Q&A: Karilynne Davies – COO Of Digital Sound Magic

The video games industry is a vast and ever growing industry, with near every job imaginable having a place in the industry. From the flashy stuff like artists, level designers and voice actors, to the not so flashy stuff, like journalism, coding and more.

Informed Pixel are happy to continue a series of articles named Industry Insider, in which we speak with people from all over the industry. The goal? To help the readers understand that there’s more to gaming than just playing games. We want you, the reader, to see what it’s like on the inside of the video games industry.

This is the 2nd Industry Insider piece. In this piece Jordan Wharton, the CEO of Informed Pixel, sat down with Karilynne Davies, the COO of Digital Sound Magic Recording Studios Ltd. If Digital Sound Magic sounds familiar, that’s because we’ve already spoken to the CEO of the company, Richard Dolmat.

This Q&A is a little different than the one with Richard though. The interview with Richard focused on Digital Sound Magic itself, whereas this interview focuses more on Karilynne and her role as COO. Please enjoy the write up of all the questions asked in our conversation below. You can also listen to the full Q&A on the Informed Pixel Soundcloud.

Question: Most people are aware of what a CEO is and does, but many people might not know what a COO is. What does the COO role entail at Digital Sound Magic, and how does it differ from CEO?

Of course any position is gonna vary a little bit, from company to company. I might do something different than a COO at a different company, but generally speaking, my job is to manage the day to day operations of the company. I communicate directly with the CEO and the admin team so that I’m aware of what’s going on in the company, things that are upcoming (and) things that are being processed.

I communicate directly with all of the employees in regards to their mental health, their wellbeing, their financial states. That aspect has grown quite a bit during COVID. I also ingest new projects as they come in and delegate them to the rest of the team, so that we can get things going and that different teams can be made for projects based on who is more suitable.

I meet with clients from around the world and establish and maintain partnerships. Myself and Richard often travel to go meet with clients in Asia or America….It’s very important because sometimes a business relationship can really just come down to being the kind of company that’s willing to go and shake a persons hand in person.

That has been challenged quite a bit by COVID as well. A lot of things in our industry have been. There’s been a lot of digital meetings with partners and little digital handshakes this (past) year. I also negotiate for potential projects with those companies. I will talk finances with them and deadlines, and all that kind of super fun stuff.

The difference between the CEO and the COO position at Digital Sound Magic generally comes down to the scope of our objectives. I focus more on the company as it is now, and I work towards ensuring success and profit and employee wellbeing in a more short term capacity than Richard does.

Usually I’m paying attention to a 3 month to 6 month timeline. My main focus is what’s going on the company today, whereas Richard focuses on the long goals of the company. He’s always thinking like a year, to 5 years, to even 10 years in advanced to make sure the company is going to survive in the long term, and that it’s going to survive and adapt to this industry, which is always changing.

That being said, Richard and I also work quite closely. We often bounce off of each other and assist each other, so while we both have our own roles, we usually tackle issues together.

Question: How did you get to the role of COO at Digital Sound Magic? Is it a role you had experience in elsewhere, or was it something new for you?

I didn’t have previous experience, I worked my way up. I actually started at Digital Sound Magic as a script adapter. I would receive a script that has been directly translated from a different language, and I would watch the media, and I would adjust the script to words that actually matched the lip flaps. I would literally go through line by line and make sure that everything lined up so that the voice actors didn’t have to talk really fast or slow down a lot. That was what I first started (as) at the company.

At the time, it was quite a small company, so everybody worked really tightknit together. I was often working right alongside Richard, and I think he kind of saw in me my organisation (skills) and my motives. It’s a little funny for me to talk about because it feels like I’m complimenting myself, but essentially Richard and I worked together and he asked me at one point if I would be interested in taking on some administrative roles. Essentially kind of working as his assistant, because he was quite overworked at that time. He was essentially doing all that admin work by himself. The fact that he was able to maintain the company for 23 years on his own, I always silent clap for him because it’s absolutely phenomenal.

So he asked if I’d be able to help with some administrative work, and that just kind of grew slowly from there. I kind of worked up and eventually I became studio manager, and then at some point we were considering another person, and I took over some responsibilities in managing our US location, and so it didn’t really make sense, the title of studio manager, just because I was managing more than one studio. We decided that COO would be the best title, and we adjusted my responsibilities to better fit that role.

Question: How does Digital Sound Magic compare to other workplaces you’ve been at (if applicable)?

It’s incredibly different. Before I worked at Digital Sound Magic I was a waitress. I’ve worked in several restaurants, I’ve worked Retail, so it was kind of the first (career). It was very odd to me, because it was the first time I felt like I wasn’t just putting in my hours and doing what I was told just to get money. I was doing it because I liked doing it, and the fact it was supporting me financially was a benefit.

I think a lot of people who come into this industry, that’s exactly how they feel. They’ve come out of working retail, or working restaurant jobs, and whilst those jobs are great and some people love them, some people thrive in them, but for people who don’t it’s just not good for them. (With) Digital Sound Magic, I feel like everybody who’s at the company is there because that’s what they want to be doing. I feel like nobody feels like they’re slogging through the day. Everybody is excited to be there, and that’s exactly how I feel.

Question: When we spoke with Richard (CEO of Digital Sound Magic) in his Q&A, he mentioned that you know a lot about VO (Voice Over) work for anime and gaming. Can you tell us why those areas interest you?

It was very sweet of him to say that. It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly why anime and gaming VO became something I’m so passionate about, but I feel like the best answer is simply that I’m a fan. If you’re a fan of Marvel and they were like “Do you wanna be in this Marvel movie?” anybody would jump to do it, and that’s exactly what I did with this industry. I really like these mediums and I found the voice acting part of it to be interesting, so I kind of clawed my way in.

I grew up watching anime and playing games, and I always really loved the characters and stories. An aspect of it that I think is interesting, I’m not sure if it’s what inspired me, but I have a lot of trouble reading, and I did especially as a child. I’m dyslexic and have ADHD, so I always preferred games that were fully voiced or anime that was dubbed, because at the time it was the easiest way for me to actually enjoy the mediums.

In always seeking those things out, I invested a lot of time into learning about them and learning about what goes into creating those things. It was really fascinating to me. The more I looked into it, the more I learned about it. I used to spend hours just clicking around and learning what voice over is, what kind of equipment is used, who these voice actors are. I used to read through cast lists and google every single name in like an anime or film. It’s super interesting.

Today I do the same thing. I watch the credits at the end of a show I’m watching and google everybody’s name and follow them all on Twitter. I’m just a little fangirl and that just brought me to (the industry). I think anybody who’s really interested in a subject becomes somewhat of an expert in that subject, and that’s basically what happened.

Question: Are there any particular shows or games that you’d absolutely love to help work on, but haven’t had the chance to?

Like everything. I’m thrilled to work on everything I’ve worked on. We got to work on some really cool games recently like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Borderlands 3 was really cool because that’s one of my boyfriend’s favourite game series. It was really fun not being able to tell him anything.

Thinking more into projects that I would aspire to (work on), anything Star Wars would be a dream come true for me. I’m a big Star Wars fan. I’d love to work on something in the Persona series with ATLUS, because I’m a big fan and I grew up with those games, and they were voiced. They’re such a great combo of anime and game. They’re just the perfect assimilation.

Actually Altdeus: Beyond Chronos was particularly cool when we worked on it, because the character designer for the Persona series was the character for that game as well, LAM. I got to stare at these really cutesy anime girls the whole time and I was like “yay my dreams”. On the same note, a soft spot I have that I’d like to work on would be magical girl anime.

(In response to being asked “What’s your favourite magical girl anime?”) Tokyo Mew Mew. It’s not (often picked) because I feel like it never got a proper dub. It got a 4kids dub, which is fine……I’ll always give 4kids the credit they deserve, because they opened a lot of doors for the anime industry, even if people don’t agree with the things they did. They did a dub of that anime (Tokyo Mew Mew) and they completely changed it.

It went from being called Tokyo Mew Mew to Mew Mew Power, they changed all the girls names from Japanese names to English names, and they censored a bunch of stuff. If that anime ever came back into licencing it would be an absolute dream come true, because I feel that was one of the first anime that made me have a drive to want to do it myself, because something didn’t exist. I used to sit there with my microphone when I was 12 years old and voice act the characters and dub over it. It’s embarrassing and great.

That would be my dream to work on a Magical Girl anime, because I feel that would come full circle from 9 year old Kari first getting into Fullmetal Alchemist and Tokyo Mew Mew and Sailor Moon and all those things.

Question: To close off, what are your goals for this year, as COO, at Digital Sound Magic in general, and personally?

As a company I’d say that we wanna continue to work on more games and anime, and more mainstream media and do as much cool stuff as we can. We want to work on more projects that we’re all excited about and are all passionate about. That’s our main goal, and what our admin team is really working towards.

As the COO, I’m hoping to grow our team this year, but at a really comfortable and sustainable rate, so that we can take on more projects and bigger projects, but without compromising our employees mental health or their finances. Basically to have the company grow as a whole would be what my goal is as a COO.

On a more personal level in the company, I’m hoping to bring more anime and video game voice over to Canada, to a Canadian market. I think the American market is great, but I think the Canadian market is also great. I would love to have the talent in Canada shine a little brighter in mainstream media, and in anime and gaming and all that stuff, because I think it deserves it. I think if the rest of the world saw a little bit more of it they’d agree.

On a completely personal note, I’m hoping to work a bit more on my personal voice acting career. With doing more auditions and hopefully getting into a few games and anime myself. I could live my anime princess dreams.

That concludes the questions and answers. A huge thank you to Karilynne for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with me. It was a great time talking with Karilynne about Anime and Gaming, and the business side of things that come with both of those. If you want to check out her Voice Acting website, you can do so here. You can also find her IMDb profile here.

If you want to check out Digital Sound Magic, have a look into the studio, the team, or their projects, you can visit their Official Website. Alternatively, you can check out updates from the studio on their Twitter page.

For more reviews and gaming news you can keep up to date at Informed Pixel. Want to speak to the team and interact with other gamers? You can do so over on the Informed Pixel Facebook page or on the Informed Pixel Twitter account.