Read my interview with Daphne Gere, the voice of Maron in FUNimation’s Dragon Ball Z, and the vocalist of Dragon Ball’s ending theme, I’ll Give you Romance!
I reached out to Daphne Gere while writing about the English localization of Dragon Ball’s music for one of my upcoming books. I wanted to tell the story of this music’s creation. To do that, I needed to speak with the vocalists.
Daphne Gere is a somewhat elusive singer and voice actress when it comes to an Internet presence, and I had a difficult time finding her. But once I did, she agreed to an interview.
This interview will give you a behind-the-scenes look into FUNimation’s early years, and what it’s like for me to do my job as a Dragon Ball Scholar.
Watch and listen (on my YouTube channel) or read along:
So how did Daphne get her role as Maron, Krillin’s girlfriend, in the Garlic Jr. Saga of Dragon Ball Z? And how did she end up as the singer of Dragon Ball’s ending theme?
It turns out that a cute cat and Christopher Sabat, the voice director of Dragon Ball Z, played a crucial role in scouting Daphne’s talent.
More surprises await you in the interview.
Introduction and Daphne Gere’s Background
Derek: There’s not much available about you on the Internet.
Daphne: Ahh. That could be good, or bad, or good, haha.
Derek: Right, so first I want to read a short paragraph of what I know about you, so we’re on the same page. And then my questions will fill in the gap. This is about the song.
In America, the song title was translated as I’ll Give You Romance! In keeping with FUNimation’s early voice acting endeavors, they hired a local Dallas-based talent; a vocalist and songwriter named Daphne Gere. Daphne was the lead singer in an ambient Indie group called Mercova, with their debut album of the same name in 2001. Daphne also voiced Maron, the girlfriend of Krillin in a filler portion of Dragon Ball Z. Soon afterward, in 2002, Daphne left Dallas for New York, around the time she married her husband, Peter Gannon, who was the bass guitarist of Mercova. The couple then continued to run a small recording studio of the same name.
Daphne: Haha. Where did you, haha, where did you get that?
Derek: Doing research is my expertise. A lot of this came from the Dallas Observer article on Mercova, from March 8, 2001.
Daphne: Brett McCabe’s article? So funny. I think that’s pretty accurate. Yeah. That’s the past. That’s what happened.
Derek: That raises so many questions for me. How did you get involved with FUNimation? What’s your music background?
Meeting Chris Sabat
Daphne: I’ve been singing ever since I can remember. I was singing out of the womb.
I grew up in church singing gospel music. Performing in church. It was second nature. Singing, specifically, is definitely my happy place. That’s what I love to do.
University of North Texas in Denton is a big music school and college campus full of creative people.
I had a friend who was friends with Chris Sabat. And we were all hanging out. And there was a cat. That’s what I remember. There was a cat. I don’t know if it was Chris’s cat, or a roommate’s cat. I was following this cat around the house because it was really cute.
The next thing I knew Chris appeared in the doorway and said, ‘You have to come into the studio and do that for me.’ That’s what I remember. Him telling me to come and do my cat voice.
It was really funny because I felt like someone caught me doing something, I didn’t know I had an audience.
But, yeah, ‘Sure I’ll come in and try it. That sounds like fun.’
I know very little except for that I met this new friend of mine, Chris, through another friend, and he has this amazing speaking voice, and he’s really engaging and fun, and he’s a casting director of sorts for this cartoon. And that’s it. And I thought that sounds like fun.
Derek: So you did not know what anime was at the time?
Daphne: I knew what anime was, but I wasn’t into it. I had friends who watched a ton of anime, but I didn’t.
Derek: That means you didn’t know what Dragon Ball was in particular?
Daphne: Hm-hm. Nope, I had no idea.
Derek: So what was the role for, this cat-like voice?
Daphne: I had no idea, haha. I didn’t even know. I went to the studio, I met some people, it was really fun.
Kudos to Chris. On the one hand I think I take direction really well, but on the other hand he’s a very engaging personality and he’s a lot of fun to work with and for.
I really don’t remember the very beginning. Did he tell me what it was for? I don’t think so. I think it was like, ‘Come in and let’s mess around in the studio and see what you can do’ kind of thing. But it didn’t feel like an audition either. And then afterward it was like, ‘Okay, there’s this character.’ And I don’t even think I ended up using the cat voice. There maybe was a little bit of that in there.
But like I said, a testament to Chris being able to get what he wants out of actors. It had maybe 15% of the cat voice, and the rest was, ‘What’s your best ditzy blonde? Let’s do an amalgam of those and see what we can come up with.’
Derek: That’s funny. Really cool how it was happenstance like that, because you weren’t even trying to become a voice actress.
Daphne: No. What a great gig. Super fun, like I said. Definitely utilizing certain talents, and of course a complete fish out of water in other ways.
It’s not just that you’re voicing a character. What goes before, the horse or the carriage? This has already been done.
So you’re also looking at a cartoon, the character, the tape, and I think it was tape at the time, haha, and you have to match what you see on the screen with their flaps, with their mouth moving.
So that was an exercise in something I had never done before. ‘Say this line and make it fit and hurry up and spit it out before they stop talking.’ That was weird, but fun, and challenging.
Singing I’ll Give You Romance!
Derek: Did you go to the University of North Texas in Denton to become a classically trained singer?
Daphne: No, haha. I went there because that’s what you do after high school. I really did not know what I wanted to do. But I knew it would be a place that was rich for me, there were going to be a lot of musicians there. And it was. I was in a couple of different bands and recording projects there.
Derek: I had this theory that perhaps you were in Mercova and then maybe Chris Sabat, Barry Watson, or someone else at FUNimation went to a live showing of your band, heard your voice, and thought, ‘Wow, she’s so great, we need to bring her in to sing the ending theme to Dragon Ball.’ But none of that happened.
Daphne: Singing the ending theme, I don’t look at them like the same thing, but maybe they are. It is totally possible that Chris, Justin, or I don’t know if Barry was out and about in the music scene in Denton, maybe he was, but it’s totally possible.
When you first told me you wanted to know about that moment, the thought that came to my head was, ‘Well, they knew I sing.’ I don’t know if that was my doing or there’s. ‘It was no secret that Daphne loved to sing.’
Derek: Did you have to go through an audition?
Daphne: I don’t think so. ‘We want you to do this.’
It’s funny because I know that Carl Finch did the arrangement, along with having to do it in English, I guess they also wrote new music, and he did that. So that’s when I met Carl. I remember feeling a bit of, ‘Oh no, I want to do a great job, but not having a whole lot of time with the material.’
I hadn’t heard that song in forever until you reached out and I found it on YouTube, and I thought, ‘Okay. For twenty-something years ago that’s pretty good.’ I was like a baby, so it’s pretty good considering.
Derek: There are a lot of people who grew up hearing that song. And it means a lot to them. The meaning of the lyrics, for them, they found it inspirational and emotional.
Daphne: It’s really sweet. I remember Carl taking time, and care, and communicating to me the meaning of the song. If you’re going to ask me the meaning of the song, I won’t be able to tell you. But I do remember at the time, haha.
Derek: That is one of my questions: ‘What does it mean to you?’
Daphne: I do remember at the time him taking care. It occurred to me that this was something very thoughtful and something somebody really wanted to get right.
Derek: That’s good to know.
Daphne: [Carl wanted me to] be sure to communicate the words so they are audible and you can hear them, and to really take my time with the song when I was singing it. I just also remember that feeling as a vocalist and being a perfectionist and being like, ‘Oh, I wish I could have practiced this longer and hit that note better.’
Derek: I think that’s the case for every artist, in everything they do. You say you didn’t have much time. What was the production schedule like? Did they say, ‘We’ve got this thing and we need you to do it this weekend?
Daphne: Yeah, it was like that! I’m 99% positive it was like that. Because I remember feeling a little bit rushed, like ‘Ugh!’ Haha, I remember that, so it had to be some way, shape, or form.
Whereas I will say that, for example, after meeting Carl, and that he was also working for FUNimation, here and there, I got a role in Fruits Basket (as Saki Hanajima), which I remember I did have to audition for.
(Daphne sings Serenade from Fruits Basket)
And then they asked me to sing the Blue Gender theme. That one we took more time with. I remember having a full day in the studio with Carl, or around a week of working on it. It was longer. I have a more peaceful feeling about that.
(Daphne sings Love Taught Me from Blue Gender)
Derek: You didn’t feel as rushed to do that one. I know back in the day when they got started they were hiring a lot of local talent. I’ve interviewed Chris and many other people at FUNimation, and they said they were just trying to get it done. They were trying to get an episode out as quickly as they could, because they had so many to record.
Daphne: That makes sense.
Derek: Did you have any influence over the lyrics?
Daphne: No, hm-hm. Nope. Just the voice.
Derek: What was it like to record the song itself? Any parts of it stick out as memorable or difficult?
Daphne: Haha. I don’t even know if I should be saying this.
I have this weird memory of a control room. And kind of being like, ‘Okay, here’s where you’re gonna’ do this.’ I don’t think I sang that song in the booth.
It’s all a very rushed feeling to me. And three dudes just staring at me while I sang that song. I’m not sure if that’s a real memory. This is what, 20 years ago? Where again, conversely, I remember singing the Blue Gender song in a proper studio. So I don’t know.
Derek: You’re probably right, haha. I wouldn’t put it past you to say that’s correct. They were just doing everything they could to get it done on time.
Daphne: Yeah. It was like, ‘Come down this hall and into this room.’ It was like an electronic room, full of crazy boxes with blinking lights on the wall. ‘Hold this microphone and sing.’ It might have been like you said. If Chris is saying they were just trying to get this stuff out, that lines up with my memory of singing this song. Versus sometime later where I worked on another project that seems like they had more time, haha.
Derek: When the show aired on TV, did you ever hear yourself sing?
Daphne: No! No. I never did.
Derek: How come?
Daphne: I don’t know. I don’t know. I never heard it. I didn’t seek out the show.
But occasionally it would be on. And I would think, ‘Oh, cool, I’m going to leave this on and wait ‘til the end.’ And it would be something where it was like… Was it ever on Cartoon Network? [Derek: Yes] Okay, so just to use an example, the cartoon would be over and then something would be like, ‘Hi!’ and this Cartoon Network voice would come on and start talking about something else. And so I wondered if they ever actually played it?
I felt, ‘So I did this thing, and I don’t know if anyone’s every going to hear it!’ That’s what I thought forever, haha.
Derek: Yeah, millions of people have heard your voice sing this song, for two decades.
Daphne: I had no idea, haha. For real.
After Singing for Dragon Ball
Derek: Did performing this ending theme change your life in any way?
Daphne: I wouldn’t say that it changed my life in some miraculous way. But anytime you work on a project with people, if you find yourself in the middle of an opportunity, hopefully it will lead to something else.
So I can say that singing that song was a moment of, ‘Oh, everyone says this song is good, and they’re going to pay me, haha, to sing! That’s cool. And this guy over here wants me to do this other thing with him, and he’s going to pay me, that’s cool.’
So to find something that you love so much that you’d do it for free, right, but then figure out how to get paid for it. I didn’t quote that right, but you know what I mean. So that’s kind of great. And I met some really cool people and had a lot of fun.
Derek: I looked up your works as a voice actress, and I noticed that you worked on Chuck E. Cheese and the Galaxy 5000 (1999). Also Blue Gender like you said. And Fruits Basket. And The Keyman (2001). Do you remember that? You were a voice in the movie the Keyman, with Adam Baldwin.
Daphne: Hahaha. I totally forgot about that too. Do you want to write my bio for me? Yeah, I don’t even remember that or what I did. Is that a movie?
Derek: Yeah, a dramatic feature film.
Daphne: It wasn’t music that we…? I know there was a song, maybe some Mercova track for a film. Some filmmaker in Dallas. But I have no idea what it was.
I know I seem detached from these things, but I don’t remember the Keyman thing.
Now I’m having these really random memories of meeting with this guy in an office in Dallas. So weird.
(This transcription skips part of the audio interview where we discuss The Keyman)
Derek: What I wanted to get at was, you had this voice acting career, but it was out of happenstance. So what I want to know, did you continue voice acting as the years went on, or was this sort of a temporary period of your life?
Daphne: I continued singing. I did work professionally here and there in terms of commercial work, jingles, corporate things, after moving to New York. I worked with a couple different studios, and have done different things here and there, working for different people.
But in terms of voice acting, not singing, that is the only time I did that. It’s not that I didn’t want to, or I wouldn’t have done it, it’s just that the singing is where I landed, and wat I was asked to do.
Derek: And New York is not a big animation production hub like LA and Dallas have now become.
Daphne: Yeah, I think I heard that. I do remember moving there, and a friend of a friend said, ‘Go to this office and talk to these people.’
I did have one audition in New York City for a cartoon that was going to be on Cartoon Network, or maybe MTV. Anyway, it was a horrible audition. It was awful. I walked out of the building going, ‘That sucked.’ And it did. And I never heard from that again. But, whatever.
Derek: That’s a bummer.
Daphne: Haha. No, it’s fine. Again, kind of like you said, ‘You want to do this cartoon?’ ‘Okay.’ Haha. So, yeah, whatever.
Voicing Maron and Fan Questions
Derek: Let’s get to some fan questions here. Do you have any more details about what the story was behind playing Krillin’s girlfriend, Maron, or any anecdotes about it? She was in several episodes of what they called the Garlic Junior Saga.
Daphne: I remember that. I remember hearing Garlic Junior.
Derek: And Maron was wearing this like sexy swimsuit for almost the entire time.
Daphne: Yeah, she’s wearing, like, nothing the whole time.
Derek: So one fan wanted to know, ‘How did you feel about playing this character in a children’s cartoon that was ultra-sexified?
Daphne: Well, you know, it’s funny, because I was a kid, I think I was what, 21 when I did this. So on the one hand it was really fun and the first time I ever did anything. On the other it was like, ‘Woah, wait a minute.’
You asked me if I was into anime. No, but a lot of my friends were. And what I was aware of was that they were watching adult anime. So it was a while before I realized that ‘This is for kids, but yet here’s this scantily clad woman.’ I just think it’s a different sensibility.
Was it awkward? Yeah, I mean, of course.
At times it can be awkward being the only girl in the room, and three dudes going, “Heh-heh,” laughing at this half-naked cartoon.
On the other hand I had nothing to compare it to. So it was just silliness.
Derek: Was the role of Maron the first character that you played?
Daphne: With animation, or with FUNimation, yes. I had been characters in plays in little theatrical productions growing up. If you mean with FUNimation, yes.
Derek: Okay. Sort of a timeline question. They added, “A beautiful voice. It made the character even more cute.”
Daphne: Hah. Thanks.
Derek: This is not Dragon Ball related, but I’m asking on their behalf. What was it like working on Fruits Basket? Are you familiar with the 2019 reboot and Jād Saxton’s portrayal of Saki Hanajima?
Daphne: I don’t know who that is, so the last part of the question, no.
First part, yes, I was asked to reprise my role. It sounded like fun. I was excited. I was in Madrid when Chris called and said they were trying to get a hold of me. But, we just couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Two different sides of the globe.
Derek: What are you up to these days in terms of your career? Are you still performing in a band?
Daphne: I’m not performing with Mercova. I moved to New York with my now ex-husband. But I am currently still always working on music. I have a bedroom project of my own. Obviously this year has been totally weird.
I did lend my vocals to an old friend’s album. I’m credited with some vocals on that, with my married last name. I sang on Wayne B’s album, Night of the Hunter (2006), and it lists the track under Daphne Gannon, which is obviously Peter’s last name.
The most recent thing that’s out, that you could go back and listen to, I did a couple of tracks with an artist named Julian Fane, on Racer (2013) (Daphne sang the tracks Heavy Gold and If You Need an Angel).
Derek: Did you ever watch Dragon Ball Z and follow the story? “Are you aware that later on in the series, Krillin’s daughter is named Marron?”
Daphne: …… Nnnno. Haha. What?! Wait…
Derek: She gets named after the character that Krillin dated, in this weird, coincidental situation. A fan wanted to know if you knew about this, and if so, how do you feel about it?
Daphne: Haha! I didn’t know that.
It sounds a little pervy to me. Sounds like he’s got some unresolved issues. That’s what it sounds like. That is so whack! Haha.
Okaaay. I don’t know. That’s weird.
(Note to the reader: I’m aware that Maron in Dragon Ball Z is a filler character, and Krillin’s daughter, Marron, is in Toriyama’s manga. But I was asking a fan’s question anyway. Here’s an explanation behind the confusion.)
Derek: “This is barely a question, but I want her to know that I love the English cover of I’ll Give You Romance! It’s so good.”
Daphne: Awww, that’s so sweet. Well, thanks.
Derek: You’re welcome. That is all the questions I have. Is there anything else you think I should know to help tell this story? Maybe something about the people you worked with. Or the feeling at the time of what you were going through and experiencing. Or what it was like to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
Daphne: It was just really fun. Hehe. I’m sorry, I wish I had more to give you. I was young, it was fun, it was just a bunch of people hanging out and playing make believe. That’s what you’re doing when you voice a character. You’re going somewhere else. Kind of freeing. It’s definitely fun. Sometimes it can be hard, but it was just fun to be a part of it.
Derek: You might not know this, but in Japan, the voice of Bulma, one of the main characters in the show, she passed away in 2017, suddenly, while she was driving, she had a problem with her heart. Then when the funeral was held, they played I’ll Give You Romance! at the funeral to welcome all of the guests, because this ending theme is associated with Bulma and this character.
Derek: The inspirational meaning of the lyrics, the idealism behind it, that feeling is associated with Bulma and the voice actresses who have played her. So it’s a really emotional thing for a lot of people in Japan and America and around the world. You played a role in that, and I think you’ve made a difference.
Daphne: That’s touching. Thank you for letting me know.
Derek: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
Daphne: Take care.
Derek: Thanks, Daphne.
Daphne: Thank you. Buh-bye.
What did you think of my interview with Daphne Gere?
It’s incredible to know that her career started because of a funny voice inspired by a cute cat.
Just goes to show that you never know how life is going to work out.
Daphne shared some great anecdotes about those early years at FUNimation. We learned what it was like to work on Dragon Ball and other shows when they were still getting up and running, 20 years ago.
Please thank Daphne in the comments below, and leave your thoughts or follow-up questions for her.