While everyone may think their impersonation of President Donald Trump, Christopher Walken or Kim Kardashian is spot on, mastering someone's unique vocal characteristics and mannerism is much more challenging than you might think. This is why someone like Scheiffer Bates is so damn endearing. Bates is a well-known voice actor and impersonator from Wales, who you might recognize from his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! alongside Game of Thrones' actor Kit Harrington. Bates is a self-taught impersonator who has taken the online world by storm and never fails to make us laugh by narrating life's mundane moments in some of popular culture's most recognizable voices. We sat down with this inked up impersonator to learn how he perfected his craft, who he enjoys mimicking most and what we can expect to see from him in 2020.
What was your upbringing like and when did you realize you had a talent for impersonations?
I’m from a working-class family. If the males were not in the army, they were boxing, if they weren’t boxing, they were horse jockeys and if they weren’t doing that, then they were working regardless, quite the outlandish mix really. I grew up with six siblings, two brothers and four sisters, so the house was never really quiet—as a person who likes to be on my own (ironically) quietness was always welcome.
I believe the talent for impressions came back in 2013, when I uploaded a video called “guy does awesome impressions in 5 minutes” (very modest). I hadn’t worked on many of these impressions, I just wanted to throw it out there to see how it went. It certainly “went.” It got a million views over a couple of days and from then on, I just started studying actors, characters, TV personalities and politicians— how they move, how they talk, their little intonations and nuances.
What’s the secret to a good impersonation and who are some of your favorite impersonators?
It’s about being method, you need to study nuances, intonations, inflections etc. You often find yourself rewinding YouTube clips or your favorite Netflix series, just repeating the same few words a character or celeb will say to yourself, until you feel it’s the foundation of an impression.
I would say my favorite impersonators would be, Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Brydon, Ross Marquand and Al Foran. They’re all incredible in their own right and some have gone on to be quite accomplished actors.
Who are your top five people to impersonate?
· Christopher Walken
· Donald Trump
· Gordon Ramsay
· Matthew McConaughey
· Jon Snow
Who are the easiest people to impersonate and who are the hardest?
The more of an accent the individual has, the easier it is to impersonate—Jon Snow, Conor McGregor and Matthew McConaughey. More difficult would be James Corden for example, he has quite a neutral accent that is tough to lock down.
Has a celebrity responded to one of your viral impersonations?
I once did an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live and did my Jon Snow impression for a live audience, including Kit Harrington himself and of course Jimmy Kimmel. Some of the GoT cast have seen my work and also some of the cast from the show Vikings, more notably, Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn).
Aside from voice acting and impersonations, what defines Scheiffer Bates?
A good question. I would say someone who was always told that they had to stay in their lane, work to the norms of how anyone else would. I have always tried to think outside the box and break the norms. Could I say I have worked hard? No. I’m 6 years into this “industry” and I haven’t even scratched the surface. Maybe ask me in another 10 years what defines me.
What was your first tattoo and what’s your most recent tattoo?
I got my first tattoo when I was 16, unfortunately, it’s a little bit of a bootlegger tattoo. It was inspired by a Biffy Clyro song called “Machines.” “Take the pieces and build them skywards,” instead mine says, “build it skywards.” I believe Simon Neil wrote it after the loss of his mother and how he had to essentially keep going forward, take what you have and keep moving on. My most recent tattoo is a hand with its fingers crossed. Beautifully designed by Kristian Richards at Two Rivers Tattoos, and also my favorite Tattoo.
What’s up next for Scheiffer Bates?
A lot is in the pipeline. I’m hoping to work on a sketch show that doesn’t just involve impressions soon. I’m also looking at studying acting in New York next summer. Of course, I will keep making content for my audience who got me to where I am today.