- “Hearing myself with the Combine clicks and static in the Warner Brothers studio was a bucket list moment.”
- — Michael Schwalbe
Schwalbe developed an interest in the dramatic arts at a young age, performing in multiple plays and competing in performance contests in high school. After graduating from Belmont University, Schwalbe spent several years working in a Print Sales/Customer Service position at a division of Warner Music Nashville while continuing his vocal pursuits. Eventually, his vocal and dramatic talents started opening up additional opportunities at Warner, culminating in voicing Blake Shelton's 2013 CMA promotional campaign, which led to the start of his voiceover and voice-casting business What He Said Voiceovers, LLC. Since then, Schwalbe has lent his vocal talents to dozens of radio commercials, television commercials, and video games. Schwalbe has also performed in three animated films: The Ladybug, Trojan Base Alpha, and Altered Carbon: Resleeved.
Since 2013, Schwalbe has directed over a dozen video games, most notably Eternal (a game where he also voiced many of the characters), and has acted in many more. A renowned 'vocal chameleon', Schwalbe is known for often providing the voices of multiple (usually background) characters in the same video game, as he did in Wakfu Raiders, the English-language versions of Shadowverse and Bless Online, and Slay the Spire. Some of his most notable character performances in video games are as the Bounty Hunter Lex in Paladins, Heimdallr in Smite, Balrog in the English version of Devil May Cry 5, and Tokk and Lupo in Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
In Half-Life: Alyx
When Half-Life: Alyx was announced on November 18, 2019, Schwalbe revealed on Twitter that he would be involved with the game but could not comment further. With the release of the game on March 23, 2020, Schwalbe took to Twitter to confirm that he had recorded voice work for many Combine characters in the game in addition to the entire Combine Charger class, even though he was only credited for his role as the Combine Chargers in the game's credits.
Schwalbe recorded his lines over multiple days in a Warner Bros. Studios lot in Burbank, California. One of the scenes that he recorded was the scene where Russell's drone deposits a live grenade into the cabin of the Combine Prisoner Transport carrying Alyx Vance, killing the two Civil Protection officers inside and allowing her to escape. According to Schwalbe, this scene was almost totally improvised. He commented: "It was pretty fun in the session. We were all laughing the entire time. Some of the outtakes were also pretty good. 'Damnit Gary, this is the third time you've done this!'". Schwalbe added that the studio already had the Combine voice filter set up in the recording session so that he could hear the processed lines in real time, which he described as a "bucket list moment".
- Half-Life: Alyx (2020)