You probably have heard E.G. Daily, even if you've never heard of her. If you have children under the age of 10, you can bet you've heard her--as one of the busiest actresses in the field of cartoon and looping voice-overs, Daily provides the malapropism-studded voice of Tommy Pickles, the Everytyke hero of Nickelodeon's Rugrats. In that splendid children's movie Babe, Daily also lent her voice to the supremely civilized Everypig of the title.
Toddlers and pigs, however, have nothing to do with Daily's upcoming stop in the Valley. On the Phoenix bill of Lilith Fair (see the listing under Sunday on the right), she plays songs from her lovely and listenable new CD, Tearing Down the Walls.
Born in L.A. to French immigrant parents, Daily's first interest in show business was music. "I was always naturally musical--singing and dancing," she says by phone during a break in a voice-recording session. "I was in lots of crazy bands in L.A., like I was in a band called Ronnie's Angels while I was still in my teens. Then I was in a band called Overman with my brother, and then I was in a band called Slave, which was pretty successful for a while."
At the same time, encouraged by her mother, Daily pursued an acting career. A role on an episode of Laverne & Shirley led to promising parts in movies such as Valley Girl and Pee-wee's Big Adventure--in which she played the title hero's love interest--as well as Nancy Savoca's Dogfight.
Daily's singing career continued during the same period, with the A&M albums Wild Child and Lace Around the World. It was a turn in live theater, however, that led to her special, faceless niche in the hearts of many a rugrat. "I was in a play called Tanzi, and in each scene I was a different age, you know, a little girl in one, and a teenager in one, and an adult in one, and an agent spotted me," Daily recalls.
He told her he could help her get into voice work. "At the time, I was busy as an actress, doing films, so I didn't really pursue it. But a few years later, things got slow. Actually, I was flat broke, selling my albums for cash to pay for food and gas and stuff, and so I called him and said, 'Hey, I've got some time.' And he said, 'I still believe in you.'"
Apparently, this was shrewd of him. Although Tommy Pickles and Babe are Daily's highest-profile voice roles, her remarkable vocal cords have been behind everything from Disney cartoons to the afflicted title character of the film Lorenzo's Oil. Asked if she has a favorite of her own voice characters, she diplomatically replies, "I love Tommy Pickles, of course, and Babe is awfully sweet. But every now and then I get a new voice, and that becomes my favorite for a while."
Still, it may be worth noting that she named her own label, on which she produced Tearing Down the Walls, Tommy T. Records (the "T" is a reference to Tyson, the second of Daily's two daughters).
Daily continues to play occasional on-screen acting roles--she was Phoebe's former songwriting partner on a Friends episode, and she recently starred in an indie called Bob's Video. Asked if she would abandon voice-overs if the new album hit it big and she became a full-blown pop star, she emphatically replies, "No way! When you're a regular on a series, that's when your hours get very locked in. But when you do the voices, it doesn't take that much time.
"And it's so much fun."
E.G. Daily performs on the Phoenix bill of Lilith Fair on Sunday, July 18, at Desert Sky Pavilion, 2121 North 83rd Avenue. Tickets range from $29 to $54. Showtime is 4:30 p.m. Call 602-254-7599 (Sky) or 480-784-4444 (Ticketmaster) for more information.