Kate Higgins On Playing Pauline And Singing "Jump Up Superstar" For Super Mario Odyssey
At E3 2017 Nintendo unveiled "Jump Up Superstar", its jazzy, big-band tribute to Super Mario Odyssey. It's an odd song, with lyrics that directly reference specific mechanics from the game, but it is undeniably catchy and joyful. About a week ago, Nintendo even made the song available to purchase on iTunes. The English version of the song is sung by Kate Higgins, whose voice you may recognize from the English dub of Naruto where she plays Sakura or as Barbie in the show, Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse. She even played Miles "Tails" Prower in a number of Sonic games. We spoke with her over e-mail about how she landed the role of Pauline, what she thinks of the strange lyrics, and more.
Game Informer: What’s your history with voiceover and singing?
I moved to Los Angeles to sing and do music. I fell into voiceover via that world. Music certainly prepared me for voiceover and I’ve always been an actress at heart. when I get to play a character who sings, as well, it’s the best of both worlds. I have recorded quite a few albums which you can find on iTunes if you search my name, Kate Higgins.
You played Sakura in Naruto and Barbie at one point. What are some of your favorite roles you’ve been able to perform?
I love all roles, except maybe screaming villains that do nothing but scream! Sakura is definitely one of my favorites, because I have been voicing her for so long and I know her so well.
How did the role of singing "Jump Up Superstar" come about? Did you audition for something mysterious and learn what it was later? Or did you have a good idea what it was early on?
Well, I was asked by my friends at Cup of Tea studio, who were doing all the voice recording, if I was interested in singing a song for a Nintendo video game. They recommended me to the client in Japan, so Japan had me audition basically by sending them some samples of my voice. I don’t know if other women were in the running or not, but fortunately they liked what i sent them so they said, "Yes! Let’s do it!"
I can’t remember when I learned the song was for Super Mario Odyssey. It may have been a few days before the actual recording session.
She doesn’t do much speaking in the game, but do you play Pauline’s in-game voice as well?
Yes I do! Apparently it’s a pretty big deal because she’s never spoken before. It’s really an honor, and exciting to give her a voice.
Do you play Pauline in the live-action commercial, as well?
No! And I’m bummed. I didn’t know there was going to be a commercial like that. They never tell you these things [laughs]. If I’d known, I would’ve found a way to get that part!
What was the recording process like? Had they already recorded the music and just had you record English vocals over it?
They had a Japanese singer do a demo version, which they sent to me several weeks before the recording session. Plus, they had a lead sheet. That’s the music written out. I read music and really appreciate lead sheets, especially in this case as this song was not simple.
So yes, I sang to the instrumental tracks which were already produced.
Was anyone from Nintendo present when you recorded? Did they have any specific feedback for you?
Yes, some folks from Nintendo were there, as well as the big guys in Japan via Skype. They were so nice and thankful and made sure to tell me I was about to record something big that would make millions of people happy. And it seems like it is! Of Course, I don’t take all the credit for that. It’s such a good song. I really give props to the writers and producers.
What did you think of the lyrics when you first saw them? “Odyssey, yes-see, odyssey, yes-see” – that’s kind of a weird lyric, right?
Well, there are a lot of lyrics, [laughs] so at first I was like what? But then I discovered how clever and fun they were and how well written it is.
It’s actually, “Odyssey ya see.” That never struck me as strange, but you’re not the first person to mention that oddly enough.
Did you expect the song to become such a cornerstone for the game’s marketing? It really has come to define the game since the song was revealed.
No, I didn’t. But as soon as anyone heard it when we got done, they loved it. So, while I couldn’t predict the future, I could tell we had a magical product.
For more on Super Mario Odyssey, you can read our review here.