56 The Woman Behind the Voice of the Shinkansen: A Chat w. Voice Actor & Singer Donna Burke


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On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, Tony has a chat with the owner of a voice that anyone who has ever ridden the Shinkansen (bullet train) will have heard numerous times: voice actor and singer Donna Burke.

About Donna Burke

Donna Burke is an Australian singer and voice actor based in Japan. Her voice can be heard in numerous high profile projects, including major Japanese commercials and highly successful video games such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Donna is also widely known as the person who does the English language announcements for Japan's famous Shinkansen (bullet train).

Topics Discussed
  • How Donna uses her "Shinkansen voice" to surprise people in Japan
  • How it was that Donna ended up living in Japan
  • On being a wedding singer in Japan in the mid-90s
  • Making the transition to doing songs for Japanese commercials
  • What it was like producing demo tapes in the '90s and 2000s
  • Donna's experience doing voice work for Shenmue
  • The importance of getting a good recommendation as a voice actor
  • Whether it has become more competitive to be a voice talent in the Japanese game industry in recent years
  • Working on the Metal Gear Solid franchise
  • Dealing with the success and fame that came with working on the Metal Gear Solid franchise
  • "Glassy Sky 2020"
  • Donna's drive to always be working on new projects and creating
  • Working as a lyricist
  • The importance of letting go of one's ego when creating and writing
  • What it has been like working with the Tokyo Philharmonic and performing with orchestras in the U.S.
  • How Donna started selling heat pads via her company Hotteeze
  • Donna's ideas for an ad campaign to promote Hotteeze
  • How freqyently Japan Railways has Donna do new recordings for the Shinkansen
  • And much more!
Support on Patreon

If you enjoy Japan Station and want to ensure that we're able to produce more episodes, then please consider becoming a patron on Patreon.com. For a minimum pledge of $1 a month you'll get early access to all JapanKyo podcasts, bonus content, and more. And for $3 a month, you'll get access to Japanese Plus Alpha, a podcast produced by me (Tony Vega) that focuses on the Japanese language and all of its fascinating quirks. Also, all pledges get a shout-out on the show and my undying gratitude. Thank you in advance!

Links, Videos, Etc.

To stay up to date with all of Donna's projects, make sure to follow her on Twitter. Also, you can find more information about her on her official website.

Donna regularly uploads videos to her YouTube channel, so don't forget to check it out.

If you'd like to learn more about Donna's kairo (heat pad) business, then check out the Hotteeze website via the link below.

If this episode got you curious about what it's like being a fake priest in Japan, then you'r ein luck because there's an episode of Ichimon Japan exactly about that topic. The episode features an interview with a Canadian who has experience working as a fake priest at Japanese weddings.

Check out the two latest episodes of Ichimon Japan via the link below.

If you would like to check out the Kimito Designs shop, then use the link below.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi) To listen to more of Yunomi's music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Donna Burke

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78 episodes