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How To Start Your Career In Voice Acting w/ Jamieson Price

CRYPTO-Z: How To Start Your Career In Voice Acting w/ Jamieson Price

HADRIEN
Hi, guys. Let’s pretend we don’t know who our next guest is and see if you can recognize the voice behind those video games and anime. He’s the announcer in Mortal Kombat, he’s a Garen in the League of Legends, he’s Baine Bloodhoof in World of Warcraft, the commander in Monster Hunter World and if you’re an anime fan, he’s Ryder in Fate Zero, which he received the Behind the Voice Actor award for.

He was also the Count of Monte Cristo in the Count of Monte Cristo. He was Lord Genome in Gurren Lagann and finally, but not least, he was Chad in Bleach. Either you’re like, “Oh, I know all those titles and those video games,” or you are like, “Have no idea what you’re talking about right now,” and that’s okay.

They’re all major roles in big franchise in the world of video games and animation. But I know there’s at least one role that all of you know about. He’s the voice behind Felix Bright in Crypto-Z. So, please help me welcome the multi-talented Jamieson Price.

All right, we’re now live. I’m especially excited about this interview and decided to not cut anything out, so it runs a bit longer than it normally does. Bear with me there. Jamieson has more than 20 years of experience as an actor and especially as a voice actor. We’re gonna break open the world of voice acting for you and the multitude of ways you could be working and making money with your voice, which Jamieson refers to as your instrument. You’re gonna get tips on how to get your career started and the opportunities that you should be on the look out for.

What’s especially fascinating is that he worked for ten years without an agent, so there are tons of very actionable stuff that you can be doing now if you’re thinking about using your voice to generate a new revenue stream.

I’m looking at your IMDB, Jamieson and the page just doesn’t end.

JAMIESON
It’s kinda long. Yeah.

HADRIEN
Has your work been affected by the pandemic at all?

Oh, yeah. No, it’s been devastating on many levels. I do live theater work. That’s all gone away completely, so that’s huge. I read names or announce names for graduation ceremonies, so all of those are gone. That’s been a huge… It’s three different universities I do names for. Gone. All the studios closed down and luckily, my home studio I had a high enough level that it only required buying some software so I could interact remotely with the studios and I was able to continue to work a little bit but the volume has gone less than a quarter of what it was.
Many people haven’t been able to get that and I don’t know how they can get through this. I feel very blessed that we are in a position that we can do this and we can quarantine and lockdown but yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough all around.

HADRIEN
I was under the impression that maybe voice over or animation, video games would be doing better in this context because a lot of it is post-production, so it would be easier for them to do it remotely than live onset production, for example.

JAMIESON
No, everybody… Acoustic environments are very individual and studios spend a whole lot of money not only on the equipment they have but the acoustic environment they provide. So, consistency is the issue and many games or animation, anything, we may work alone in a booth responding to okay we hear a voice or we’re creating the conversation for somebody else to respond to and we’re alone in a booth but we’re all in the same booth, same microphone.

When we’re doing it remotely, they’re all different and that ends up with a very different sound and some of the producers I’ve talked to have been like, “It doesn’t sound like you’re in the same place, game, whatever and so it doesn’t work.” That’s one of the things I’ve been very impressed with Crypto-Z is how you and Hollis, Hollis I guess is the master magician there, has been able to take the studio work that I have in my little home studio and the stuff that’s in London and New York and marry it all together. It sounds pretty good. So, that’s kudos to Hollis on that one because now, we really know how hard that is to do because studios are not being able to do it.

HADRIEN
Yes, we’ve kind of figured out how to do it and I think that’s because Hollis and I both have a little experience on set, so we’re used to dealing with audios from different places. It comes also with a lot of preparation. But yeah, Hollis is a wizard.

JAMIESON
Yeah. I had one studio where I actually worked for yesterday. They have put together remote packages and they send those out or they deliver them, contactless delivery of multiple boxes. Now, I had most of the equipment already so I only had to do boxes but up to four different boxes including mic stand, cables, microphone, reflector baffle that then the voice over artist can set up in their room, in their closet or whatever and it’s the same microphone and the same isolation shield and everything is consistent and that’s one way that this studio has invested in the new normal.

HADRIEN
Oh, that’s super interesting. One thing we had going for us though is that when we recorded Crypto-Z, studios were open so we still had access to rooms that were dead or almost dead, meaning that there’s no background noises. Your set up and your room are pretty dead too, so we used your set up as a reference for every other studio that we were gonna choose to work with. Also, with Hollis internally, we do a lot of documentary, so matching that sound together is kind of a second nature.

JAMIESON
That is, that’s really interesting because that skill set all of the sudden is like whoa, we need people who can deal with all of this nasty audio and make it sound the same.

HADRIEN
Right. I’ll have Hollis come, so maybe we’ll talk a little bit about that. Let’s jump right in. We have a lot of listeners who are asking how to get into the voice actor business and I also by experience know a lot of film actors who don’t necessarily have the strong voice background but now find themselves in the situation they need to sort of get into it. I have a pretty broad question to start. What are all the sort of voice acting categories out there?

JAMIESON
Wow, that’s a huge question. Yeah, it’s amazing the different kind of voice over that are out there. I didn’t know about all of them when I kind of first stumbled into this. I’ve done voice work all my life and people have recommended, “Oh, you’ve got a career in this if you want it.” I thought, “Who’s gonna pay me to use my voice? What does that mean?” I mean, obviously there’s the voice acting that we just did with radio play narrative drama kind of thing and there’s animation, and there’s video games and all that fun stuff that I’m doing.

But there’s a whole world of… Besides commercials for TV and radio, there’s also industrial stuff. Almost every company has some sort of either a training video or a phone tree when you call them or some sort of in house announcement stuff and that’s, again, somebody. Sometimes they’ll do it in house if they’ve got somebody who can do it, but a lot of times, they drop it out.

There’s educational stuff. In education, there’s a lot of documentary kind of things or educational material. There’s reading for the blind, there’s all kinds of stuff there and that’s all considered voice over.

HADRIEN
It reminds me a little bit of a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a nose. He makes perfume in France and he was explaining to me that actually every product that smells something, whether it’s laundry detergent or soaps or shampoos or I think even food, requires to add perfume to it. Even though his storefront is this luxury perfume brand that makes very expensive, unique selection of perfume, his entire company actually also deals with corporate work for all those giant brands. It sounds like voice is a little bit the same thing. Am I right or do you think that acting for educational or corporate content or even audiobooks and things like that is a completely different job every time?

JAMIESON
It’s really all the same thing. People over the years have said, “Oh, you’ve got a great voice.” Yes. And people have great voices and there are people who don’t great voices, but your ability to interpret with that voice… I mean, it was oral interpretation that I studied when I was in school. One of the competitions and things that I did was oral interpretation and it’s how to communicate with your voice, because you can have a great voice but if you can’t communicate with it, nobody’s going to listen to it or they’ll listen to it but not for very long.

If you’re doing something where you’re just reading, that can get boring really fast so being able to bring those words to a certain life and to communicate their meaning to an audience who isn’t watching you but they’re only hearing you, that’s the key. That’s what gets you working in this business.

HADRIEN
What’s oral interpretation? That’s super interesting.

JAMIESON
It’s acting. It’s interpreting the word but it’s the word not the written, but the spoken word. So, it brings to life, well, the speech, the word, the idea. Before there was writing, stories were told and it was stuff that was passed down through generations and it was an oral tradition and that was orally interpreting the history of whatever peoples they were. Then, we start writing them down but the oral interpretation part of it is still there because you have to communicate with the voice.

It’s subtle. I mean, if you’re reading a newspaper or whatever, yes, it’s gonna be a much more subtly crafted performance than we’re skiing through the Alps in Crypto-Z, where we’re going bigger with it because that’s what it requires. It’s looking at the requirements of the communication, whether or not your acting is tiny and subtle or if it’s large and whether you’re cutting through the snow of the Appalachia or whatever.

Or if you’re on stage, you have no microphone and you have a 2000 seat house, you’re gonna be much bigger in how you express yourself than you’ve got a camera on you and you can just do it with your eyes.

HADRIEN
Yeah. I’m just curious. What does an oral interpretation class look like? What do you learn in it?

JAMIESON
It’s not really a class. Probably should be. It used to be. People were taught how to speak, public speaking. Now it’s called public speaking course and it tends to cover less of the art of it and more of the craft of it. In the public speaking courses and stuff that I’ve looked at or read about, it’s much more technical and it’s about just how you produce the sound, how you try to relax in front of an audience and that kind of thing. But that’s also an acting thing with yourself.

Oral interpretation goes I think beyond that and I wasn’t really taught it in a class, per se. It was competition when I was in high school and it was called forensics. I don’t know why it was called forensics, because that names means… What we think of as forensics now is police crime investigation.

Within that forensics competition, there were people who did extemporaneous work, so they were given a topic, given 20 minutes to write a speech and then give it. That was terrifying to me. I was like, “Don’t wanna do that kind of work.” I liked something I could prepare. So, there was poetry and prose. There were some other things. Poetry and prose is what I did. It was either reading a relatively short story, couldn’t be there forever with the judges and stuff, a piece of prose or interpreting a poem.

It was interesting because they didn’t want you to have it memorized. Of course you had it memorized because you had been working on it and that stuff, but they didn’t wanna take it to that performance level. They wanted to keep it at oral interpretation, that you’ve got the words and they’re here and you’re looking at them and then you’re communicating to the audience and you’re referencing back. They wanna make sure there’s back and forth.

It was really an interesting kind of thing, but oral interpretation was the genre or the classification of that competition.

HADRIEN
Oh, interesting. When did you start really focusing on voice acting? Or when did you start?

JAMIESON
Early ‘90s, I went to graduate school and there, we had vocal coaches and it was anything to singing and speaking and oral interpretation, all that kind of stuff. At the same time, I was still going back to the Midwest and Ohio and refining and I was doing better and better work with some fo the historical society stuff that I was doing. I was working in an outdoor drama at the time for summers.

But that’s I think where it progressed the most. Some of it was acting, but a lot of it was knowing my instrument and learning how to use it properly. Right after I got out of grad school was when I was doing a show here in Long Beach and my leading lady in it, she and her family were doing anime and she was like, “I think you’d be good at this.” So, she introduced me to a studio and I got a foot in the door and then just kind of was good to work with and had an interesting voice and they went, “Okay, we’ll throw you in on a few things,” and it was all little stuff because they didn’t know what I could do.

Then they kept going, “Okay, now try this, now try that.” Within about a year, I was doing major roles and then other directors were coming into that studio and going, “Hey, can I use you on this project?” and everything just grew exponentially. I was also at that time with my children. My daughter was born and I was busy doing film and TV and away from the house a lot and missed out on some stuff.

Then when my son was born in 2003, by that time, my voice over career was going pretty well and I thought, “You know, this is a lot easier.” Time wise, it was a lot better because it allowed me a much more flexible schedule than on camera work. That’s when I really decided okay, doing the voice over thing almost exclusively. Still do some on camera stuff, but really working on that, on the voice over stuff and being a dad and getting to spend time with the kids.

HADRIEN
It sounds like the studio is kind of the hub for all those different kind of category of voice over. How does one transition from video games to animation to traditional corporate stuff? Do you have to break into those niches every single time or everything transits through the studio?

JAMIESON
Yeah, well the studio, they did a lot of animation, anime, Japanese animation work and they would have different directors coming in. I might be working on this show, but there’s always crossover and directors talk and, “Hey, listen to this guy,” kind of stuff. Then as you start building a body of work, there’s a reference that they can look at or listen to.

But as to different genres, just like… Yes, it’s all acting but not all actors can go from stage to screen to microphone. I was very good on stage, had stage presence, charisma, whatever it was that on stage, I did very well. When I came to Hollywood and tried to get into the screen, into movies and TV, it was a very different kind of acting and I didn’t cross over quite so well.

I was also older. I was in my 30s when I came here and that’s a big disadvantage. This is a young town. Didn’t have quite the success perhaps that I was hoping for in Hollywood in that regard. Vocally, I took to the microphone like a duck to water. There was something… Microphones, you are just plugged into somebody’s head. You don’t wanna be terribly loud. You wanna be present. But you’re talking to somebody’s ear.

That’s one of the tricks of working on the microphone is pretending that that’s somebody’s ear right there. There’s also a problem with… Sometimes there’s a problem with TV actors who are used to being really small and having this kind of… They get the cameras on them, they can just talk like this, they can glance, boom, and they’ve communicated something. Then you get them and try to put them into a video game and go, “Okay, you’re in a tank and you’re going across, so you’re starting at level 10 and then you have to go above that and you’re screaming. Now you’re on fire,” and they can’t do that because the muscles they have exercised have been, “Okay, this is my box.”

What you have to do as an actor is go, “Okay, what’s my box? Is it this box? Is it this box? Is it this box?” If you can dial it up and down, if you have the ability to be that flexible, then you work across more genres.

HADRIEN
I see. So, how do you train to change box, crossing over different genre? Because I’ve talked about this about Crypto-Z and about casting it. It requires work. It’s not one fits all.

JAMIESON
Changing the box. That’s one of the hardest things to do. I grew up on the stage, legitimate theater so that box I knew. Within that box, there is a lot of variation. If you’re stage trained, you know how to hit the back row with your voice, to be really big and have huge gestures but you also, if you worked also in black box theater where the audience is sitting right next to you or right across from you and you’ve gotta be able to bring it down and be very, very real and very quiet, because everybody’s looking at you and it becomes very film in that regard.

The smallest gesture or word or sound will communicate to the audience because nobody’s more than 10 feet away from you kind of thing. So that was really, really good training in that regard. Then it’s trial by fire, learn by doing. You get out there and you go for it and sometimes you fail and sometimes you succeed. That’s just a matter of… Hopefully you succeed more than you fail and you can actually keep working.

HADRIEN
Yeah. I can’t remember who said that, but fail a lot but fail fast and fail small, so you can try again.

JAMIESON
That’s nice.

HADRIEN
If you were to start today, how would you go about getting your first gig? It’s probably different in TV and film. Do you have to know casting directors? What are the things that you could be doing to get known?

JAMIESON
It’s tough. When I was first starting out here, I did casting director workshops for film and TV to get out there and to get to know different casting directors and to stretch my acting muscle, because you gotta work, you gotta do something and if you’re not actually working and being paid to work, then you pay to have a casting director come in and work you through some scenes.

But it’s worth it, because then they have a character, they go, “Oh, I remember this guy from this casting director workshop.” They’re very good about that. So, I got work out of that which was wonderful. I even did extra work. I was a background actor with Central Casting and you’d go out and you’d get experience on a set, watching if you’re smart, watching what’s going on. Who does what? how do people behave? The process of it all. Because film and TV is incredibly boring, because it’s long, long days and it’s a lot of standing around waiting for lights to get set properly and then audio. There’s all kinds of stuff that happens and then the actors have to sit there and maintain their mental state and their acting craft and creative juices while this is all going on. Then when the director calls action, they gotta hit it. That’s tough to do.

That was the kind of learning experience and it’s a great experience. Get out there and watch. A lot of times in voice over, one of the things that we recommend and one of the practice things because with computers and little USB mic, you can set yourself up quite easily just to do some practice work and learn how to manipulate your voice. You have to have different voices. You have to be able to do more than just you, because oftentimes in video games especially, there’s multiple characters and they’re gonna bring you in a session, they’re gonna bring you in and go, “Okay, you’re doing this main character, then you have these three or four other little characters that you’re gonna do.”

HADRIEN
Right, because you never do one character in a video game. There are so many characters that you’re always coming for a group of them.

JAMIESON
Well, it’s a money thing. They’re gonna get their money out of you. If they’re paying you to come in for two hours, four hours, whatever, they want to use that time and if they have a game with hundreds of characters, it would be cost prohibitive to bring in an actor for each different character. So, learning how to manipulate your voice and change it and different placements and different phonations, ways of speaking, accent work, all kinds of stuff like that and that’s just practice. That’s hearing it, “I think I could do that.” You try it, you hear it back and forth and during that process, you’ll also get rid of the… Because everybody has it. The first time you hear your voice recorded and played back. No one goes, “Oh, I sound really good.”

HADRIEN
I can speak to that.

JAMIESON
Everybody goes, “I sound like that?” You have to get past that. That’s an obstacle, a block and you’ve gotta remove that block.

HADRIEN
And if you’re talking in a different language, in your mother tongue, it’s even worse.

JAMIESON
Oh, I’ll bet.

HADRIEN
You’re always like, “Is my accent just that bad?” Because when I hear myself talking normally, my English is perfect. I make no grammatical mistake, I’m perfectly fluent but somehow when I record myself and I hear it back, then weirdly enough, all those errors come back and this accent comes back and I’m like, “Whoa, this could be the microphone that adds all those mistakes.” Anyway, let’s talk about auditions. How many auditions do you do every week?

JAMIESON
It varies, but I guess there’s none today. None so far today.

HADRIEN
Prior COVID-19.

JAMIESON
Oh, well the auditions haven’t slowed down. The auditions are still going, because everybody’s in prep mode and they don’t wanna lose any time, so if they can get the auditions out there, they can get things lined up, whether or not they’re gonna record remotely, maybe, but there’s still tons of auditions going on.

Auditioning, it’s almost everyday. There have been days here and there where I don’t have anything to do, but I’m doing hours and hours and hours everyday pretty much because we do them at home, so I’ve gotta look at the copy, figure out what I wanna do, go into the booth, record it, listen to it, go, “Oh,” give myself some notes, get back into the booth. Then I gotta edit it and cut out the bad stuff and put it together and make it nice.

Some of them, like yesterday, there were three auditions I believe. Okay, one of them was a commercial thing, so there was one take. Not one take, but one piece of copy. Then there were two… No, there was a looping job and a video game. Looping is providing voices for movies, a voice where it’s replacing an accent. Or whether it’s… This one had a demon in it so there was one character that was a demon or a spirit or a ghost or something like that. I think five characters in that one to do.

Some of them were shorter lines, so they wanted three takes of each one. Three takes of each couple of sentences, different characters, then a couple of them that had longer things to say. Then there was video game stuff and there were probably four or five characters there. No, five characters there. So, those characters… And again, it’s not a ton of dialog but battle sounds that they wanted for each character, deaths.

HADRIEN
That’s one audition?

JAMIESON
Well, there were three auditions. One of them was just a single commercial thing, so it was a paragraph. Then the looping one was five characters and the video game was five characters and then those five characters for the looping, they wanted three takes of each thing.

HADRIEN
Just concretely, so people get a picture, this is hours of work. You’re getting your lines, you have to get into character, then you have to set up your audio setup, record, edit, and then I assume people want to get their auditions back pretty fast.

JAMIESON
Pretty fast. These days luckily, and it may be because of the pandemic, they give you about a day and a half or two days. There are times when you get it and it’s like, “We need this back in two hours.” As a voice actor, you constantly check your email every hour because if you don’t check it, all of the sudden you’ve got a rush audition and you’re like, “I missed one!”

HADRIEN
Wow. Do they come from your agent exclusively?

JAMIESON
Not exclusively, no. Agent wise, and I think this kind of harkens back, I didn’t quite finish, I don’t think, the question about getting into the business. There’s different ways to get into it. I know people that have come here and done a game and all the sudden, everybody wants to use them.

I started, as I said, I got a foot in the door in the studio and I worked for years, so kind of just doing little stuff that they wanted me to do, learning the craft, showing how responsible I was and how not egotistical. I had just gotten my Master’s and my MFA in acting and I was doing Guard, Guard B. They don’t even have a name. Man A, Man B, Man C. So, it’s people in a crowd that are talking or something of that sort.

I was doing little tiny stuff here and there and I went, “Yeah, sure, okay.” Or walla groups and that’s a group where you bring… Sometimes the actors are all together and many times, you’re alone but you’re just adding your voice to a different group’s scene and it’s just little fill in work that fleshes out the scene. The principal actors are busy talking and then in the background in the restaurant or on the sidewalk or whatever, you hear voices of people walking by and that’s what a walla group does.

So, lots of stuff like that but I worked without an agent for over 10 years. I mean, it was all word of mouth for me. I worked for this director and then this director said, “Hey, can I use you on this kind of thing?” Or, “I want you to audition.” Some of it was just they offered me the job. Many times, it’s, “Hey, we want you to audition for this,” and then you would get known because you worked at this studio with this director and then this director came to Studio A and then that director goes over to Studio B, another studio, and goes, “Hey”, brings you over there.
Now it’s not just this studio who knows me, it’s this studio and this studio and these two different directors. It became exponential. It all blew up and I was working all over the place. I did talk to some agents but never really hit it off with them, whether they already had my type or something. It wasn’t, “Hey, yeah, we wanna work with you.” I can’t remember actually when I first started working with my current agent and again, I got in because of a recommendation from a studio that they knew, the agency was very comfortable with and when this studio went, “We’d like to have Jamieson represented and we think you’re a good fit,” because they wanted to bring me in on different things and higher profile things which only you can get through an agent.

So, then I went in and talked and all we did was talk and they went, “Sure, okay,” and signed me. There was no, “Here, audition. Do this, do that, jump through these hoops.” They knew that I could do the stuff because of the recommendation that I had.

HADRIEN
Are agents specialized in different genre for each category of voice over?

JAMIESON
They’ll have different departments, specific agencies for the voice over. Although, there are large agencies that have a voice over department within their agency, so the on camera and voice over. Within voice over, yes, there are people who specialize in commercial work and know those commercial directors and funnel you that way. There are agents who have much more interactive video game experience and know those people and so, you get stuff from there.

Within my agency, I’m getting auditions from four different people within the agency that each specialize in different things. So, yeah. That’s how that kind of trickles out. Your agent has some specialization. Different agents will concentrate on different things.

HADRIEN
How much work comes from the studios versus your agents? If you’re allowed to talk about it.

JAMIESON
Most of them come through the agent now. Because I have that history of many years of working for different studios, I do have directors and casting people that know me apart from my agent and they will send me some stuff. But I would say it’s probably 80% agency now, but I worked for many years without an agent, so I have long standing relationships with many different studios and people that they know they can just contact me directly. They may end up going through the agent because I wanna make sure they get paid, so I get paid.

HADRIEN
So, the way video game is going and animation too with bigger characters, bigger actors, how does one command higher prices and does one command a celebrity status in the voice over world?

JAMIESON
Jobs are all over the place. There’s a wide range of rates depending on what kind of contract you’re working under. In order to up your profile, I mean, social media now has an impact on that and there are people who have enough followers that studios will pay more for them because they’ve got guaranteed followers, which is kind of like… What?

HADRIEN
Is that a new phenomenon?

JAMIESON
Oh yeah. Yeah, because we didn’t have social media influencer people 20 years ago. It was on skill and craft and artistry. Old school. But there are… If you’re playing a principal character in large video game, a Triple A or something of that sort, it’s gonna usually pay more than scale. It’s gonna go scale and a half or double or more. There are some few voice actors who are so well known and have done so many high profile gigs and been very successful that they can command their own price. They can negotiate.

My agent does negotiate very well for me and there are jobs that come in that do pay well above scale, which is great to get those. But most of the jobs just pay scale and it’s a living wage. It’s actually I think based or very close to the eight hour on camera rate and we usually work no more than about four hours and sometimes it’s only a couple hours.

That’s where voice over is like… I was like, “Hey, this is a much better gig,” because instead of driving up to LA and being on set for 12 hours, I can go and drive to LA or Santa Monica and work for an hour or two and make the same money.

HADRIEN
I know and we’re not even talking about having your feet in the snow for 12 hours or being up all night or having to drown into a sinking ship in the middle of Antarctica. I’m going through your profile again, Jamieson, and there are hundreds and hundreds of roles that you played. Is there one that is particularly meaningful?

JAMIESON
Well, they’re all meaningful to me and most of them were fun. That’s the kind of crazy thing is that acting is play acting, it’s playing, it’s usually fun to do. Even some of the stuff that’s more dramatic and probably disturbing, because sometimes you gotta go dark. I’ve got this big voice, so I’ve played military people and authoritarian figures and gods and demons and monsters. Some of it is horrifically violent. What’s interesting is the idea of catharsis and that’s an old Greek term and it was part of tragedy and comedy and the beginnings of theater.
But that you can kind of expel your own demons, you can get rid of a lot of negative energy through this shared experience of theater and you can also do it in a booth alone screaming your lungs out. That kind of relates to I guess primal scream therapy from the ‘70s. But yeah, I mean go through and imagine myself in different situations and can just blah everything out and you get rid of a lot of stuff that way. It gives you better mental health through acting.

HADRIEN
That sounds better than therapy. Fiona was talking about how voice over acting was very liberating for her because she got to play creatures or roles that have nothing to do with the way she looks. Do you feel the same way?

JAMIESON
Oh yeah. Not to be limited by your looks, because that’s what they do in Hollywood and film and TV and stuff. It’s like you have a certain look and they go, “Oh,” and they put you in that pigeonhole or that box. Okay, this is what you are. Voice over is much, much more freeing as Fiona was saying. It’s much more liberating and you’re only limited by your imagination and the flexibility of your instrument.

So, yeah. I played just a huge range of characters and to play in this field of my imagination, it’s very visual for me. I like to look at what the character looks like. There’s oftentimes… Not often. There’s a few times when you don’t get the visual, you don’t have a graphic to look at and it’s just merely a description. They say this, this, this, and this. They give you different parameters. They give you something to go off of, something to spark your imagination and you learn ways to spark your own imagination.

If you’re not giving the director what they want, they’re going, “Eh”, then you go, “Okay, how do I change my voice to get them what they want?” I have to listen to the director and try to kind of figure out what it is they want if they don’t speak actor. I can adjust and find a different creative spark within that graphic image or change it in my mind. Put a hat on it. Change the color of its outfit. Whatever, to just spark something different in my interpretation vocally.

There’s all kinds of triggers and fun things we could play with. Different colors. Oftentimes that works for commercials. Make it red, make it blue, make it yellow, and so, you just interpret. You play with yourself and it’s kind of… You throw things into your mind and your imagination and just see what comes up.

HADRIEN
Do you really get directors that say, “Make it blue, make it red, make it yellow”?

JAMIESON
No, that’s actually… I can’t remember who does that. There’s a voice actor / teacher. We’re constantly looking for another hook. What’s gonna help me make to the next level? What’s gonna make me better? You’re constantly looking for new ways to use your instrument and the one I made for myself… When I was looking at this, reading about this, they have a color thing and so, they would do… The color thing, I can kind of get it but it doesn’t really work for me in the same way. You make this line red, this line blue, this line purple, whatever and I can recognize how that would spark your imagination in a certain way.

I love to cook, so for me it’s a spice rack. I have different spices vocally and so, I’ll take a character and when I’m creating that character, I may not physically or imaginatively go, “Okay, add the pepper,” but it’s that kind of idea that okay, a dash of this, little bit of that, more of this. Putting together these different things that then now I’ve got the voice. There it is. It’s coming out of touch of this and then the director may say, “Hey, a little less of whatever, gravel, a little less age, a little something.” Then it’s up to me to go, “Oh, what are they hearing as that?”, and take that out and make my adjustments accordingly.

HADRIEN
Yeah, so you’re basically saying how to direct yourself.

JAMIESON
Well, you have to. You have to be able to direct yourself because in an audition, I’m just doing my own thing. I’m gonna get different direction written out that the casting director or the director of the project goes, “This is what we’re looking for.” This is what they think they’re looking for and you’ve gotta give them a take that’s that, but you are certainly as a voice actor and as a creative individual… It’s recommended to make sure that you have a take that is this is what I think. There are many actors who have booked this is what I think because they’ve come up with something unique, individual, and interesting.

HADRIEN
Well, this could go on forever. What kind of tips can we leave listeners with when it comes to trying out or auditioning for voice over? What are the three things that matter the most to you? Because this is gonna be the new normal. We’re all gonna have to get used to auditioning ourselves, send tapes, self record, and take that part on.

JAMIESON
I’m a bit of a tech geek, so for me, my foundation is my technical level is here. I give myself a nice technical foundation, a bed of the proper equipment. I’ve invested in a decent microphone, I’ve built a booth, got a good computer, professional software. There’s a certain level of okay, boom, this is what I can stand on for my creative aspect.

HADRIEN
Even when you know it’s a studio job and you know that they’re not gonna use your equipment, you still want this to feel professional.

JAMIESON
Yeah. I mean, I still want my auditions to sound good and especially in this day and age because they’re kind of judging you. You send in a crappy phone audition, they’re gonna go, “Well, we need this to sound professional when we record it.” There are people who do book off of phone recordings and I’ve heard that often and there are some people that recommend don’t make it perfect because of the mindset of the client going, “Oh, well that’s as much as you’re gonna get out of this character or this actor. We’ve heard how good this can be.”

No, you’ve heard the audition. It can get better because you bring them to the studio, you get direction. But there’s a perception if it’s too good that it’s gonna be that’s it, there’s nowhere to go from there. So, there’s some school of thought to make it imperfect.

HADRIEN
Well, hang on.

JAMIESON
Which is crazy to me. I can’t do that.

HADRIEN
Yeah, I mean I was gonna say you don’t want the technical problems to impede on the performance or the craft because even if you didn’t record on a $10,000 microphone, even if you’re doing it on your phone, it needs to sound as good as you can make it. It has to be in a quiet space.

JAMIESON
Right. I mean, that’s just the foundation. I make sure that my technical stuff is where it should be. Then the next two levels are craft and art. Craft, for me, refers to knowing my instrument, knowing how to use my instrument, knowing how to take care of it and making sure that when I wanna use it, it’s there. That includes proper hydration and nutrition, it includes workouts and practices and trying different things and stretching my acting vocal exercises.

Warm ups. Before I do a job, I’m warming up so that everything’s ready to go vocally. My vocal folds, my mouth, my lips, tongue, and teeth. Everything is ready to go. So, when I call on it, boom, it’s there and I can hit the ground running.

The next level of the most important things is the art of it. That’s acting classes, that’s knowing oral interpretation. That’s being able to know when I do this with my voice, what does it sound like? So that I can go and I can add from my little spice cabinet, so I know this works here and this works there, these two work together really well or don’t add this with this because then we’re gonna get something ugly. But maybe something ugly is what they want and then you know, do that and all the sudden…

For me, those are my kind of three foundations and as tips for anybody coming in, they should have a decent technical level of stuff. They should have enough knowledge about how to speak that if they have an accent, they know how to get rid of it. I used to have a problem with sybalance, with S’s. There was a whistle in there. So, I had to learn how to move my tongue back off of my teeth and spread it a little bit to make an S that didn’t go whistling. It’s kind of hard to make it do it now.

But then acting classes and making sure that you have the ability to access your imagination and to be able to express it, to let it out because you can be in your head all you want. If it doesn’t come out physically, whether it’s vocally or on stage… So, acting is huge and that’s the main part of it.

HADRIEN
Right. Well, thank you so much, Jamieson. I 100% agree with everything you said and making your voice sound smooth and pleasant to hear. If you have whistly S’s or a very high pitched voice, it can be hard to listen to over a period of time. So, directors are less likely to take a risk on you. There is so much you can do to fix those problems. This is something I wrestle with myself and one of the reasons why I wanted to host Crypto-Z, other than nobody else could really do it, was to be able to improve my skills.

The more I do it, the more admiration I have for you guys, actors who have worked so hard to master your instrument, as you said, and refining it, refining it, refining it, refining it until it sounds perfect.

Well, thank you so much Jamieson for your generosity and for opening up the world of voice over for us and thank you for all you’ve done for Crypto-Z. I really hope that we get to keep going and keep doing it.

JAMIESON
Thank you for listening, watching. Thank you, Hadrien, for creating this wonderful piece of work. I hope everybody’s enjoying it as much as we are. If we enjoyed making it, then we’re enjoying listening to it too.

HADRIEN
Yes, we’re gonna resume our weekly live events as soon as the episodes are ready. In the meantime, thanks Jamieson again and I’ll see you soon.

JAMIESON
Goodbye, everybody. Thanks.

HADRIEN
Thank you so much for listening. All these interviews will be available on euphonie.media. If you have any questions for us, feel free to text them at 646-229-3423. Thank you so much for listening and see you next time.

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Created By

  • Hadrien Royo
  • Danielle Trussoni

Starring

  • Fiona Sheehan as Jane Silver
  • Jamieson Price as Felix Bright

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