The VO Meter Episode 42, Simon Vance
[00:00:00] The VO meter, measuring your voiceover progress. The vo meter is brought to you by voice actor websites. vocal booth to go, podcast, demos.com, global voice acting Academy, J MC demos and IPDTL and now your host, Paul Stefano and Sean Daley. Hi everybody, and welcome to episode 42 of the VO meter, measuring your voice over progress.
We have a really exciting show today. One I know Sean never thought would happen and nor did I, but we’re featuring interview with audio book narrator and golden voice, Simon Vance. So I’m really excited about that. Woo. I’m so fingerling right now. He a lot to say about audio books and voiceover in general.
And, uh, we’ll take you the interview in just a second, but first it’s time to feature for the second [00:01:00] time, our new segment, the. Voiceover extra brings you the VO meter reference levels. Uh, seriously, guys, that’s the best you could come up with. Hey, it’s your show. So Sean, now that we’ve rolled out this official segment, brought to you by voiceover extra and what’s going on in your voiceover world.
Well, I just did a really cool workshop over the weekend, actually called adventures and voice acting. So this is run by anime and animation production studio, bang, zoom, entertainment. Uh, they’ve done a number of properties going back quite a ways, like natto and some very famous enemies like that. And it was a.
Very intensive workshop. It was two, eight hour days over the weekend and we did everything we practiced like American style animation scripts, video game scripts. We got to do a Walla, a mock session, you know, like a loop group or ADR where you’re just kind of background Ambien voices. We are like at a cocktail [00:02:00] party and we had to pretend we were having real conversations, but not really having conversations, nothing too distracting, that kind of thing in the background.
And it was a lot of fun and probably the most challenging thing and it was great cause we had a lot of opportunities to do it throughout the weekend was actually dubbing to picture. Because if you’ve ever done foreign language dubbing, particularly with something like anime, this is something where you would very often go into a studio because of the equipment required and they would cue you in with a series of beeps.
You get a three count. So it’s like lip lip. Boop. And on the imaginary, fourth count is when you start your, your performance. So we would record line by line, and we would get the, you’d get the three count, and then you’d see it in Japanese. So you could get a sense of the timing and the pacing and kind of the emotional intent of the a, the original actor.
And then they would cue you in and then you do your line and hopefully you’d be able to match it up with the performance. And as long as you’re not too slow or too fast, [00:03:00] the engineers can usually just kind of adjust the audio to make it fit. But all in all, I was really, I was impressed with myself. I was happy with how, with how I did.
And you’ll be happy to know that I did not blow out my voice this time. Unlike my last animation workshop. Uh, I did have this fun moment where I got to do like sort of a battle cry for five seconds, probably the longest five seconds I’ve ever experienced, I think. Uh, but all in all, it was a lot of fun.
And if you ever have the opportunity to do adventures and voice acting with Tony Oliver, I highly recommend it. That’s awesome. Where was the workshop? So this was at a studio in Seattle, next to Safeco field. The ballpark, or now? T-Mobile stadium. I hate branded stadium. Anyways. Um, so it’s right next to the freeway in Seattle, but it’s a beautiful studio.
I’ve been there a couple of times. I was there for, for an audio book workshop with Pat Fraley a month before and, and then of course for this workshop. And I know. [00:04:00] Uh, it’s probably where I’m likely going to have some new demos made if I ever like if I want to go into a studio to have that done. Cause I know it’s got excellent staff and there’s no doubt that the equipment is awesome.
That’s really cool. Now, Tony’s not from Sanil Izzy? No, no. He’s a, he’s a Los Angeles native. And though the workshop itself is, is normally based out of Los Angeles. But it was interesting. Two things actually. One. Was the number of LA talent who actually flew up to Seattle because his workshop was sold out in LA.
So you know that it’s good if people are going that out of their way to attend a workshop. And we also had people coming up from Oregon as well. And one of the crazy things is that one of the LA talent was this young woman named Brianna McDowell, and she was actually just recently joined the GVA membership.
So when I like pop into the studio, she’s like, wait a minute, I I know that guy. So wow. It’s just street cred. Yeah. Yeah. Instant street cred. Now, if I only shown up on time, [00:05:00] that would have been better. But traffic was bad that morning. I’m sorry. I made up for it the next day. But it was really cool. Cause at the end of the, uh, the workshop on Sunday that we talked about agents and demos and.
And it was really interesting because there was no doubt that everyone there was very talented, but people were at different stages of their career. Like a lot of them didn’t have demos yet, or their own website or an agent or things like that. And so Tony was talking about the importance of demos and having them professionally done.
And then he’s like, but I don’t do demos. And then, um, he, he directed it to the engineer and he’s like, yeah, we record the demos, but if you want us to do like script writing or like the more work you ask us to do, the more expensive it’s going to be. And then, so I kind of just put up my hand at that point.
And I was like, if you guys need help with like coaching and demo prep GVA like you. And so I hope I didn’t mean to step on anyone’s toes or anything, but it was just the service that they weren’t offering. So I was just like, [00:06:00] Hey, hit me up. And then I handed out my, uh, my business cards. That’s what happened.
That. So, um, so that’s another great, like that is another great reason to do in person workshops because it’s kind of like, it shows people like your skill level, your passion for VO, and you get to meet a lot of likeminded people. And. It’s really fun to kind of keep in touch with people. Like we’ve said on numerous episodes of the podcast, you never know where your next gig gigs going to come from.
Sometimes the person that you worked with might be starting their own project or they might have a voice that you know would be suitable for someone else’s project. So it’s always great to kind of be there to be like, of course, be open to learning and stuff like that, but you would as a potential networking opportunity as well.
Well. That’s really cool. I haven’t met Tony, but I did talk to him. If you remember on the first trip that we made to Oticon down in DC, he was one of the featured speakers there and we had audio of me ask him a question, live on the panel floor and responding back. He does seem like a great, great [00:07:00] person to work with.
I think it’d be fun to do that workshop at some point. Very cool. I highly recommend it. I think the farthest East he goes is Chicago. Maybe there’ll be doing some more like Northeastern stuff that you might be able to join. Uh, and I actually talked to him about being on the podcast and he sounded game.
So we’ll see if we can get him on as a solo guest. Oh, that’d be cool. Great. So anything else going on. Well, it’s kind of crunch week for me. I’ve got a big e-learning project due at the end of the month. Had some exciting and lucrative audition opportunities come in that we can’t talk about, but I’m sure Paula knows what I’m talking about.
Um, so yeah, just kind of kept going at it and I like, I just wanted to say, another great reason to kind of go to these kinds of live events is that sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the studio, right? Like we fall into these routines and sometimes like when. The thing that you love is also your job.
It kind of can affect your perspective of it and you can kind of forget what brought, like why you fell in love with it in the first place. So this was a really [00:08:00] reinvigorating. Re inspiring kind of event to go to cause it’s like I really fed off of Tony’s passion and he was such a positive guy cause he’s like, he’s like, man, this, this stuff is hard.
You don’t have to be any harder on ourselves. Right. He’s like, all actors have that loud devil on their shoulder telling them they suck. Don’t listen to that guy. Listen to the angel on your shoulder. Cause we got one of those too. Other than that, just kind of, uh, it’s been same old, same old is kind of my usual projects and just auditioning as often as I can.
Yeah. I’m preparing this month’s workout schedule for global voice acting Academy. We’ve got some great workouts coming up in September with Carol Monda and MJ Lallo. Uh, other than that though, you’ve got some exciting news. Paul, why don’t you tell us about it? Yeah, thanks. I have a couple of cool things going on.
Uh, the first, I have some more audio books coming out and I’m now working on the, the fifth book. No, it’s all right. I think it’s the sixth actually for the author who started it all with [00:09:00] my pseudonym, and that series is finally finishing up, and then. Uh, I had just finished a book also for the pseudonym before in a series, although I had only done the last two, but the author liked it so much that he’s hired me to finish the series and then hired me for his new series to, to finish up that series as well.
So it’s something like eight books and I’m booked for over the next couple of months. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do it all. It’s going to be, it’s going to be interesting, but we’ll get to why that’s going to be made possible in the next couple of minutes. But. The other thing I wanted to talk about is something I took on about a month ago.
I produced a full radio commercial for a local local bar and local radio station, so it’s for ESPN radio in South New Jersey, and the host of the one of the shows there contacted me and said he needed a full production commercial. Do you do that? And I said, well. Sure and I, I don’t see why not. And it’s one of those things that we talked about where if you [00:10:00] have the facilities and the training to do some of these ancillary tasks for voiceover or, or production in general, you may as well make use of the technology you have at your disposal.
So I did. And what I did was I wrote some copy. I think I mentioned before that my. My initial, uh, an undergrad degree was in broadcast journalism. So I had that writing background. I had done some copywriting in the past, so I wrote some copy. I hired a friend of the show, Jamie Buffett, who was on a couple of weeks ago to do one of the voices for me, and then did one of the voices myself, and then added some production elements and some music.
And it came out really well. So I thought, I actually play it here and let people hear it. To get an opinion from them by listeners and let me know what you think. Hello lads and lasses this be Seamus fin green for juicy Teles public house. If you be wanting to grab a proper pilot. Dan said Jagan over test.
Summer is 0.4. [00:11:00] Don’t listen to that clown. Josie Kelly’s public house is a real Irish pub with delicious traditional Irish. They’re like fish and chips in Shepherd’s pie, a full bar featuring crab cocktails and the widest selection of Irish whiskeys around. And of course we have Guinness carp and as well as local craft beers.
Plus, Josie is a great place to watch your favorite teams catch Penn state temple and Rutgers on Saturday and Sunday. Swoop in to watch the birds.
This is Dermot Floyd, owner of Josie caddies public house. I don’t work in Irish pubs my entire life. I like to think about some Irish charms. The Jersey shore, if you like, good food, cold beer, live music, watch live sports, or maybe you’re looking to host a private event and calm down to Josie nine Oh eight shore road in summer’s point of is our firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well done, man. That was awesome. That must’ve been a lot of fun to make. Yeah, I had a lot of fun being able to do all of it myself. Cause normally, you know, when we’re doing voiceover stuff, we don’t get the chance to pick out music or hire other voice artists. But [00:12:00] I got to do it all on this and. Jamie was was great.
He’s, the gist of it obviously, was that this is a real Irish pub and Jamie’s caricature of the Irish leprechaun was not very authentic. And he had, he had fun doing that. At first. He said, you wanted it to be cartoony, right? And I said, Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s the whole point. So great. Thanks to Jamie for pulling that off.
no, that sounded really good. And I loved like the little, uh, biographical bit from, uh, from the owner itself. That was really cool. Yeah, we’ll say he, the owner of Dermot did it, did massage the copy a little bit himself, which is great. Which is exactly what I was hoping for because they gave me nothing to go on.
They were like, this is an Irish pub. And uh, they want, they show a lot of football during football season. That’s when we’re playing it. And that’s all I had to go. Oh my God. So you just kinda like, did you just call him up like, Hey, I’m making this commercial for you, can you help me out? I was going to do that actually, but I was having trouble hooking up with them and I have been there before cause it’s in my brother’s [00:13:00] hometown.
So I had been to the place at least once and I just wrote a treatment basically, which is, you know, like a first draft of the script and send it to them. And they said, yeah, we love it. We’ll just gonna add a few of our own details. And that’s where we ended up. Well, that’s cool. So, um, yeah, definitely a think outside the box sometimes.
And that was, that was something else that I noticed when working with Tony over the weekend was that, I mean, this is a guy who’s had a career that spanned over three decades, and I talked to him a little bit about that. And he’s like, yeah, man, you have to be willing to do anything in the entertainment industry.
Like if there aren’t any enough parts to go around, direct, be a writer, produce all these other things. So for us is nonunion voice talent. Like you might, if you have the comfort and confidence being a producer, that’s just another revenue stream that you might be able to take advantage of. And if you’re not comfortable, then you can always hire your friends who are good at those things, and you can still take some sort of finder’s fee for, for supplying them with their work.
Yeah. That’s more or less where I ended up on this thing [00:14:00] because I was paying a real rate to Jamie. I don’t mind saying that he got the bulk of the, of the rate on this because he was the much more seasoned talent. So I still made a profit, but, um, I was happy to pay, uh, using the GVA guide, actually, um, a proper rate to Jamie for getting this done.
Awesome. Well, thank you for being a reputable employer. So I’m going to get to my, my big news in just a second. But before that award from one of our sponsors, vocal booth to go, so vocal booth, the NGOs patented acoustic blankets are an effective alternative to expensive soundproofing, often used by local and voiceover professionals, engineers and studios.
As an affordable soundproofing and absorption solution. We make your environment quieter for less thanks to vocal with the goal for sponsoring the VO meter. Now, my big news is that I quit my job, which some of you may be saying, huh, what job now? I mentioned on a few episodes, but I didn’t really publicize [00:15:00] it all that much, but I had been working at what used to be my full time career part-time for several years at an online university.
And with all the things I have going on, like producing commercials, in addition to doing my regular voiceover work and regular clients, it would just becoming too much and this being the goal all along to become a full time voiceover talent. That’s the decision I made to make the leap and do that. Last week.
So happy to say I am now a full time voice over talent. Wonderful. Congratulations. Woo. Now it’s a bit of a stretch because one of the things that made this happen was taking on a new side gig. And I know Sean, you’re gonna talk about how important that is to you in a second. But I’m also working with a company now called twin flame studios, which is run by.
A woman named Tina Dietz, who some of our listeners may know from some of the Facebook groups. I’m now working as a project manager and producer on some of their projects working [00:16:00] on podcasts, production and editing, audio book, production, editing, and some of that, some other related skills that go well with what I do every day.
So, wow. I am a full time voiceover talent. There’s gotta be another word for it now. Right? Voiceover voice production or payment industry specialist. I don’t know. I’ll come up with something, but that, that’s a pretty exciting week for me as well too, because I really like what twin flames is doing out there in the world.
Very cool. It’s so, it’s so weird. It’s almost like we’re following the same paths in reverse, but just because like, like you are now, I have been working with a, like, I don’t know, industry professionals. Entity for the last several years with global voice acting Academy. And of course, I also have my own, uh, voice over clients and projects that I do every month.
But recently I felt like I had kind of. Both creatively and financially hit a plateau. So like I noticed that like, while I was still retaining my clients, I hadn’t [00:17:00] lost any. Thankfully I wasn’t gaining as many new ones as I had in years past. So I kind of, uh, and like I said, it was kind of getting a little like claustrophobic, kinda isolated in my booth.
And so. This winter, like my girlfriend and I decided to get recertified as lifeguards and work at a local community center. And just because the hours were flexible, the, the work itself wasn’t too exhausting. I could still come home and still have plenty of energy to record and do that stuff. And the people there were very accommodating of the schedule that I wanted.
And how. We could both help each other out, like so. So it’s great. Like, I mean, I like I guard, I teach water aerobics there, so I get paid to work out basically, and I get all that exercise that I wasn’t getting before. So the reason we’re talking about this is that, and this is something that I struggled with as well, it can be very discouraging to think that you’re dependent on another job.
Even though like you might be current, like you [00:18:00] might be getting paid to do voice work or like we all aspire to be full time talent and like I said, there can be this shame or guilt that comes from like, Oh my, my income comes from other sources too. Why? I mean like there’ve been numerous guests that we have and we’ll have on the show that have just said actors since time in Memorial have had to make do with survival gigs until they’re acting took.
Precedent. Right? One of our, like friend and sponsor of the podcast, Tim page mentions that you’ll know when to quit your job when you are losing money by not quitting. So I haven’t reached that point yet. And even though I was at a point where I was sort of like spending devoting all of my energy to voiceover, like I felt like it was good to kind of get back out to the world, get some work experience, and if nothing else, it makes you that much more appreciative of.
What you get to do as a voice, talent, the things we get to do, and. The skill set that’s required in like the various [00:19:00] creative and intelligence that, that we do to, to create and record and edit all of these wonderful voiceovers and stuff like that. So there’s that idea that, uh, first off, you’re not worried about paying your bills so much, so there’s less financial worry.
And like I said, there’s that life experience and getting to work with other people, uh, and it can be really beneficial to your work as an actor, I think. Yeah, absolutely. And there’s, there’s no shame in it. Um, if you’re a fan of the show, you’ve heard our questionable gear purchases segment, where do you think we get the money for?
Exactly. And those were entirely financed by my job at the university over the last three years. Double gear fund. I love it. But what it allowed me to do, like you said, it gives you the freedom to, to focus on training, focus on equipment if that’s something you think you need to invest in, which we all do at some point.
And not worry about the financial burden because we’ve heard from coaches. A lot that if you feel like you have to get this [00:20:00] current job, when you’re doing an audition, you’re not going to get it. You’ll hear it in your read. You’ll, they’ll hear the desperation that you’re so anxious to get this, this audition done.
So make sure you have a comfortable nest egg before you leave. And I actually was at that point, which is why. I had to make this move right now because all those books I just mentioned that are coming up, I had no time whatsoever to do them. But the other point I want to make is that if you have the drive working part time or even a full time job.
Won’t stop you. As we talked about, I was working this job 30 hours a week. I have three kids. I coach almost all of their sports teams. In addition, taking some to guitar and saxophone lessons, and now it’s marching band coming up. So there’s a lot of things going on in my life that prevent me from doing voiceover.
But if you have the drive and the determination, you’ll make it happen. Absolutely. I mean, we’ve talked about this like, I mean, my own journey in a voice acting like my first two years of pursuing it, I had a full time [00:21:00] 40 hour job with like a three hour commute, you know? Yeah. It was ridiculous. Uh, I mean, like total, not, not there and back or like hour and a half each way.
But still, I mean, you find a way, if this is important to you, you save the money. You don’t make excuses, right? Like whether you’re too tired or you don’t have money. Like if you’re too tired, sleep more, make time for sleep. If you don’t have money, make money. Right? Do your job, get a second or third job if you have to.
So if this is something that’s really important to you, you will. Pursue it with a tenacity and a patience. That’s what’s important because it can take quite a while to get a foothold. So if you need advice on how to like kind of navigate and balance all of that, reach out to us sometime. We always love hearing from you guys.
All right, so we have our interview with Simon vans coming up in just a few minutes, but before that, a word from one of our sponsors. Let me tell you about Tim page and his team. Over at podcast demos, [00:22:00] Tim and his team have produced over 1000 podcast intros for some of the biggest podcasts on the planet.
Each demo includes custom written scripts and hand selected music, and is guaranteed to showcase your voice and talent in the best light possible. With a finger on the pulse of what podcast producers want. You can be sure your podcast demo was sound professional, current and competitive. Now, we talked about this a lot, but Tim actually produced Paul’s in my podcast demos and all we can say is that he and his team were absolutely amazing.
His script writer created original scripts, perfect for my voice and personality as well as reflective of current popular podcast genres. I recorded in the comfort of my own home studio, and Tim worked as mastering magic. The whole process only took a couple of days and I couldn’t be more pleased. Tim is a consummate pro and so easy to work with.
Thank you, Tim and podcast demos. All right. Thanks again, Tim, and uh, hope to get some more auditions from you, mr mr. Page. So we’ll get this. I’m advanced. It’s a second, but now it’s time for [00:23:00] questionable.
All right. So I’m actually, well, there’s a lot of stupid things I’ve done, but I’m going to save them and spar and parse them out over the next couple of weeks and see how that goes. Maybe it’ll convince me not to do anything else stupid. So, Sean, why don’t you start with anything you might’ve bought in the last a month.
Well and I say like, I think at some point we needed to do like an entire questionable gear episode, so maybe, yeah, we’ll figure it out sometime soon. But I just wanted to bookmark that so I didn’t lose that idea anyways. Um, yeah, you guys might be surprised. I actually bought stuff this month. Oh my God.
It’s been awhile. So I got two things. What am I favorite sort of like Mike stands to use in my boosts since it’s that typical kind of like PVC frame, a set up. Is the stage Ninja scorpion. It’s like a C clamp kind of adjustable mic stand that I actually suspend from the roof of my booth and then have it hanging or have my mic hanging down.
And what that does is that frees up [00:24:00] the space in the booth. So I don’t actually need to have like a Mike stand in it and like I don’t have to worry about hitting anything with my arms or my feet if I had just stipulate stuff like that. So I have a couple of these in here to hold my Mike’s to hold my iPad, things like that.
And I got a little accessory kit. And what that does is it’s got like a little extension neck, so you can make one of those, like these things are totally modular, so you can actually like snap them apart like Legos and then make them even longer with additional pieces and kind of like cannibalize the other stands you have and make them even longer.
But so they have that. It also had like a little Y section, so I can have two. Mike arm’s suspended from the same clamp. So I was thinking of having my four 16 on one, my iPad on the other, uh, maybe even have like mixer face on one, and then like my iPad or iPhone on the other, things like that. And speaking of mixer face, the last adapter piece is actually a little camera thread Mount.
So adapters. So it allows [00:25:00] me to hold an actual DSLR camera. Or an item like the mixer face, which has that same thread in a drilled into the back. And my latest purchase, uh, or question, what gear purchase? The Apogee one plus. So, yes, I wouldn’t fancy. So many of you probably are familiar with Apogee. They make wonderful, uh, pre-amps interfaces like they made, uh, such famous models as the Apogee one, the Apogee do wet, uh, the ensemble.
Things like that. And they also made one of the most portable USB mics on the market, the Apogee Mike. Now it’s been through several different iterations over the years. And I’ve even had one of the earlier ones too. I had the Apogee 96 K for a while, but, um, unfortunately mine got wet because the, uh, the included carrying kit.
Uh, I did not realize was not waterproof and my bag got rained on, unfortunately. But anyway, so, uh, I got rid of [00:26:00] that. But a few years later, I was really impressed with the, the changes they made with the Apogee Mike plus, because even though the, the Mike was famous for having like a great sound, I mean, I know, uh, like Joe cypriani even endorsed it when it came out.
And. Who is that guy? Who knows Joe? Nobody knows Joe. Anyways, um, if that is not enough to convince you other great talents like Marysela Marsh or James Arnold Taylor or Steve bloom, if all use this, Mike is their primary, uh, they’re sort of like sub. Travel rig, you know, just that, something to put in the dash, keeping the car with you for those emergency auditions that come in last minute and you just need something to record.
But anyways, I was really happy with the latest iteration of this, the Mike plus, but I was not so happy with the price tag, which is about $260 new. Yeah, that’s a lot. I mean, that’s one of the main reasons why a lot of people, uh, we talked about USB Mike’s at versus XLR mikes in. Honestly, the [00:27:00] gap of audio quality is shrinking every year.
USB Mike sound better and better every year as the technology improves, right? And we’re able to cram higher quality technology into a smaller, smaller size. But the issue is, is versatility and upgradability, right? Because. Once you reach a certain point, all of the components of a Mike, you can’t really upgrade or have a USB.
Mike, you can’t upgrade. So if you want to upgrade, you have to replace it basically. But anyways, I’m getting on a tangent here. The point I was trying to make is for that price of two 60 you can easily get an interface and a decent mic to start off with and then you can just upgrade incrementally. But.
Regarding this particular Apogee, I was kind of scoping around eBay and I found a open box discount for $100 off for one 60 and I almost couldn’t control my hand. I was just like, blah. Dang it, you know? So I’m [00:28:00] still waiting for it to arrive and I’m really excited to try it out. And like I said, I’ve have all of these peripherals that allow me to see or connect it, like my Joby smart rig and the new, um, accessories that I got for my, my mic stands so.
It seemed like a good time to have and I wanted to be able to use it for like some of the voiceover workouts that I lead for whenever I’m doing a directed session and I want the client to have an idea of what my studio space sounds like. Or even if I’m working with another coach and I don’t want to power up a, the whole studio set up.
So I actually got the idea from James Arnold Taylor, cause that’s what he does is he’ll have like his Apogee mic connected to his iPad in his studio so that the client. We’ll call in on Skype or whatever, and they can get a sense of what his audio sounds like, but he’s still like, his actual setup is still free to record everything locally.
So I thought that was really attractive, uh, as an option. And now, unfortunately, [00:29:00] the iPhone no longer has that eight inch connector for most headphones. So this is like a neat little. Interface thing that I can plug into and still take advantage of that connection for a few more years. Very cool. All right, but what about you?
What’s on that, the QGP list for you, Paul? Well, I got a little out of hand since the last episode. I’m like, every time, and maybe it’ll sound out of hand to you, maybe it’ll sound like a normal show. Did everybody else, but I, um, when I had the, the guys of vocal booth to go come in here and reconfigure the booth.
I wanted to see if I could get another condenser in here that would work pretty well and not have a lot of outside noise for long form narration or audio books. So I think I mentioned what I’m using right now is the audio Technica BP 47 dynamic mic, which I do like the sound of a lot, but I wanted to see what he get that one more tiny bit of of clarity and nuance onset of condenser like I had used in the past.
So [00:30:00] I. Bought a blue dragon fly, which I had always kind of lusted after, just sight unseen. But I had looked at him a couple of years ago where they were 800 $900 and I found one for about half of that. So I took the plunge and tried it out and it sounded really good. I did like it, but I still couldn’t have it in here.
It was way too sensitive. It has a really big capsule, so I almost immediately got rid of that and didn’t, didn’t keep it. And then I bought the neat King B, which is another microphone that was pretty expensive when it came out. It was actually created by former employees of blue microphones who went and started a company for Gibson or a sub sub company for Gibson and made these microphones that were all be themed.
And this one was the the neat King B. You may have seen it. It has this yellow and black. Alternating patterns where like a barbershop pole, but with yellow and black, and then a yellow pop filter. The hints of blues aesthetic in those designs. Yeah, [00:31:00] definitely. But a, it’s all yellow and black to look sort of like a yellow jacket.
And it comes in this crazy, huge case that is shaped like a beehive. So it has a nice, has a nice, uh. Oh, packaging to it. And that, I always thought that the idea of a King bee was funny because I mean, these are a matriarchy, you should have gotten on their branding team, and that’s why they’re no longer in business.
So maybe, maybe they actually shut down the line. They actually shut down the line, which is why it was so cheap. But. Um, if you watched the latest episode of voiceover body shop, they actually were laughing at me for, for purchasing this like that out. Uh, it was funny, but, um, they had actually tried it out in this shoot out a couple of years ago too.
And my point is it, the price was just too good to pass up. It was $100 now on Amazon, so I had to get it and. It also sounded really good, like really, really good. I was really impressed with the way it sounded. I compared it to the caddy 100 I used to have in here, the caddy 100 ass. [00:32:00] It sounded almost identical in tonality and, and pickup pattern, but that was also too sensitive, which is why I no longer have the CAD.
So didn’t keep that either. And um, didn’t you say it was quite, um, Basey as well? It picked up. I said it picked up low end well, which is good for me. Misunderstood which w which was a similar problem you had with the cat. I got, I got it. So then I decided that maybe the neat worker bee would be a good, a good replacement because that, yeah, cause that also was on a fire sale.
Whereas that used to be around $250 I got one for 50 so I figured I’d give that a try too. And it’s a similar aesthetic, except it’s about half the size of the capsule. So a medium or sorry, a small, um, capsule condenser as opposed to the large and the King B. And, uh, I also liked that, but ultimately it wasn’t any better than like 10 other mice I’ve had over the last couple of years.
So I got rid of that as well. So now I’m back to where I started. I’m still using the BP 40, and uh, [00:33:00] probably won’t change the anytime soon. That’s a lie, but at least I’ll say that for now. Well actually there’s a couple of mikes that you might be interested in, cause I know you’re trying to find. That kind of, that balance.
One is kind of hard to find, but I did see somebody selling loan recently. It was like the K, E, L, U, M, D, I think it was like a two or $300 Mike. They said it was a condenser. That sounds like the Shure SM seven B. So that is exciting. Yeah, yeah. I thought that would peak your interest. I’ll try and find the link for you as well.
And one of the mics that I had been lusting after for a while, and I wish I had gotten it when it was first released, is this dynamic broadcast dynamic from a gift bell. They make the, my, the same company that makes my condenser Mike, they’d get fellow nine 30, uh, the MD 300, and when they came out it was like a $500 dynamic, which is not unheard of.
But then. Um, they lost, like, they don’t have [00:34:00] as many us suppliers as they have in the past. So that price quickly went up to like $770, and then it’s like another 100 to $200 for their shock Mount. So I don’t know if I would rather get that than like a used one Oh three or something like that. But like aspirational QGP goals.
Right. She’ll get fel MD 300. Yes. Scafell MD 300. So I mean, you might, you might save more money if you just flew over to Germany and see if you could get it locally. Um, maybe I can get army and bring me one. Yeah, man, let me come to New York. Maybe. Good idea. Good call. I wonder where they like, I wonder what.
Suppliers they have over there. But anyways, if you guys can glean anything from these stories, it’s that deals can be had, especially if your patient, right? I mean, both of the, like both the mikes that Paul got recently and the Apogee Mike plus had been out for. A couple of years now and whether they get discontinued or maybe a newer model, [00:35:00] uh, is made, that’s an opportunity to really reap on some discounts, unless of course, you’re like us and buy multiple cheap mikes.
But anyways, it’s kind of like cell phone technology, right? If you, if you don’t need the iPhone 10, what the 10 plus are now. Yeah. And you’re happy with the the eight plus you can save yourself about half the price and still have a heck of a phone. Works the same way. Like the phones. I’ll take silver metals any day, man.
Well, that pretty much wraps up our questionable gear purchases. We’ll get to our interview with Simon Vance in just a second. Right after these sponsors. Right. So let me tell you about our sponsor IP DTL, which is the cost effective ISD and replacement is great for interviews outside broadcast and voiceover.
There’s no special hardware or software required. It works anywhere with an internet connection. There are monthly or annual subscriptions, and the best part is it runs in the Chrome web browser, and overall it just works. So thank you to IP DTL for being a sponsor of the show. How many times has this happened to [00:36:00] you?
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You live in a place where doorknobs, handrails, and you know people. They tried booking a vacation rental on one of those other websites. They don’t always tell you everything. The stars take it to the red carpet. We are back live from the red carpet. California leads the way for change. And America and sodas, Kamala Harris for mature Claire Redfield.
And who exactly are you? So yeah. What hashtag should I use to describe a grown man in a tuxedo wrestling of goat? And prior to 1933 many of them belonged to a variety of political parties that were now outlawed in Germany. This is the story of how Q got curly. Queen was crazy about curls.
Hey Jay Michael here. Thanks for listening to the VO meter podcast. It’s one of my favorites. If you’re looking for a great demo, like the ones you just heard, check out JMC demos.com for more information. [00:38:00] Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today. Our guest is Simon Vance, who began his illustrious narration career is a BBC radio presenter, a newsreader in London, and is now the critically acclaimed narrator of nearly a thousand audio books, winter of 70 audio file, earphone awards, and a 16 time audio award recipient.
Some of his bestselling and most critically acclaimed performances include bring up the bodies by Hilary mantel and rod. That autobiography of rod Stewart. Other well known titles include the King speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conrady, Oscar Wilde’s, the picture of Dorian gray, Patrick O’Brien’s master and commander series, all 21 titles.
Frank Herbert’s original dune series, Steve Larson’s millennium series, which you might know from the girl with the dragon tattoo and Alan Moore’s Magnum Opus Jerusalem, something that took 10 years to write and was over 60 hours of final produced audio. Ladies and gentlemen, it is our absolute pleasure to introduce the man with more ADI nominations for single [00:39:00] voice titles than any male narrator on the planet.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Simon vans. How are you doing, sir? I’m doing fine. That was fun to see it through. Thank you. Was an audio book sized intro for you? But we are so happy to have you. So how are you doing? Um, I, I’m doing pretty good. I, I got terribly sick yesterday, but we, we don’t need to go into that for some reason.
I’m feeling remarkably good today. And it may be because I knew I was going to be talking to you and Paul. Oh, thank you so much. So I mentioned in the intro that you started your career as a BBC radio presenter, a newsreader. How exactly did you start from there and get to where you are now isn’t critically acclaimed audio book narrator.
Well, it’s, it started because I, there’s connections that go back further than the BBC, but I’ll try and cut that short because we don’t have a huge amount of time, and I could go on for hours about this, but I, um, I had a school friend who went to the BBC to be ready for news reader, and I visited him in his, uh, apartment, and he had a [00:40:00] book on the side, um, that, that, um, I asked him about and he said, yeah, I recorded for the blind.
In my spare time, I do my regular shifts at the BBC, but in my spare time, I give a couple of hours a week and afternoon a week to the Royal national Institute for the binds talking book service. I think it’s called something slightly different now. But, uh, when I went up to the BBC, I, I went up in 1983, uh, to radio four.
And I hadn’t been in London before. I didn’t have a lot of connections and I found I had a lot of weaker, uh, weekdays free cause I’d worked weekends and I didn’t know what to do. And I thought, Oh, I know. This friend of mine, Chris, had done the RNAV. I love reading. Uh, I’ll go, I’ll go and do that. So, um, I, I volunteered, I took the audition and they said, well, you’re okay.
Yeah. So I went along for one afternoon a week, about eight, nine, eight or nine years while I was at the BBC. And I always look on that as my apprenticeship. Um, it was almost unpaid apprenticeship. They paid us something like five pounds an afternoon for travel expenses. But, um, that was basically where I, I learned the [00:41:00] trade.
Well, he obviously took to it. And you’ve, you’ve haven’t looked back, so to speak. So tell us, what do you like most about audio books versus other types of voice work? Um, I, I think they just say something about me. I think one of the things I love about it, although I can be a bit of an exhibition, there’s like, I can go up on stage and perform and do all kinds of things.
I was active for years. Um, I’d rather like being on my own. I like being shut into this little six by four cubicle. Um, and it’s all up to me. And I’ve heard this, a lot of people have said it, that the great thing for an actor is that. As opposed to being on stage where you have to listen to what the director says and you’ve got to work with all these other uncooperative actors.
It can be really a stressful occasion. In the Cuba, there’s no one else when when I’m, I’m working, I might not, can occasionally work with a director, but it’s very rare. Usually I’m left to my own devices and that’s the way I like it. I, I am the voice of God in the book as it were. I am everything. I’m all the characters.
I [00:42:00] dictate everything that happens. So that’s, that’s perhaps one of the main aspects of it that I, I love when I look back on why I’m doing it. And I think the other thing is I do, I mentioned I love reading and I love. Immersing myself in other worlds. Um, I, I think, um, I, I might’ve been one of the first dementia.
I know way, way back. I’ve heard many people say this since, but back in about 2008 when I got the, uh, um, book, clearest award, voice of choice, I, I mentioned in my speech that, um, it’s a little like stepping into a tardus because back in 2008, not everybody over here knew about dr, but it’s, I don’t know where I’m going to go.
And it’s an adventure. Every day is an adventure. Every week is a different, it’s a completely different adventure with a different book. Uh, and it’s that, uh, I could almost be accused of being ADHD perhaps, but I’m not. But I think it’s the kind of a job that appeals to people who like change. And I love to change.
I love the change up that happens between books. So speaking of that, I mean, nowadays you [00:43:00] hear the importance for actors to kind of, to find their niche, to really get super specific and focused, but you, on the other hand, I mean, you’ve done almost a thousand books from just about every genre and have managed to win awards for many of them, including fiction, nonfiction, mystery history, science fiction, and fantasy.
How does he, Gianna affect your approach to how you prep and narrate a certain work. Well, just go back to the first part of your, um, question was, uh, I was very lucky I came into the business when there weren’t that many integrators. I mean, 40, 50, maybe a few more. I don’t know. I only knew maybe a dozen and I got to do.
Everything. There wasn’t a question of if this is it, this John is, are you good at this genre? I think I auditioned for the Stephen matcher in, um, Aubrey, uh, Jack Aubrey books, Patrick Brian’s books. I did audition for that cause I think they wanted to see if I could in the rater battle scene. But I was, I’d already been writing for about 12 years over here [00:44:00] by that time.
And I was pretty good at just about everything. So I’m very lucky in that sense. And I often wonder how on earth I would have found my way into the industry these days. Um, because I, I don’t know what genre I’d be particularly good at if I were to start now. I mean, I’m, I’m, I do so many different things.
Do what I do. I, does it make a difference to me, what genre I’m going to be reading? Not really. I mean, not, not from, not from the sense of how I read. Um. And that may be blast from you to some people, because I know people teach instead sort of styles and you narrate this way of, it’s that book and this way, if it’s that book, but you’re always telling a story and.
I think the only difference is from here, from a technical standpoint, a fantasy is going to have a thousand odd words and names that you’re going to have to either make up or negotiate with the author as the, how they, uh, how they should be pronounced. They say negotiate. The author has the final circle, so the author can provide lists and so on.
But, but apart from [00:45:00] that, it’s, it’s, it’s a. It’s an instinct. It’s a mindset. I see. I’m not somebody who can say, well, now it’s this book. I’m going to read it this way. I think probably if you look back at how I’ve narrated a mystery and how I haven’t read it, a horror and how I’ve known rated a fantasy, there are probably subtle differences.
I don’t know what they are. I find if I, if I step into a room, it’s like, here’s a, here’s a metaphor and I’ve suddenly come up with, but if you step into a room, you don’t know. If you don’t know what’s in the room or who’s in the room, you don’t know quite how you’re going to behave, but there are certain ways that you step into the room and her Royal majesty, the queen of England is in the room.
You’ve got to behave in a different way for if you walk in and there’s your best mate from the pub, and it’s sort of a little bit like that. That’s a, that’s a a metaphor at the top of my head. It may not entirely work, but it just seemed to come to me that that’s the way it is. You, you start, you, you look at a book and you go, Oh, this is this kind of book.
Okay, this is what I’m going to say. I’m going to speak it like this. And I, I don’t think there’s hard and fast rules from one . I think you can read a horror, like a murder mystery. You can probably [00:46:00] read a romance, like a thriller. It so many things because often there’s an aspect of everything in every other one, if that makes sense.
Well, on a related note, let’s talk a little bit about your characterization choices. Do you approach it the same way for each genre or does it kind of depend on the source material? Well it does. I mean, and in that sense, perhaps the genre, but it depends how the. How the author, well I, I mean the examples would be, you know, if it’s Charles Dickens, they’re very broad characters and you, I know that, well that’s an easy word.
And there are writers who will write like that they have is a comedy. It’s a humor book. Then you’re going to have some liberality with the, with the way that people are, and you’ll, you’ll get sort of eccentrics and so on. If it’s a, a murder mystery, you don’t want too many huge broad characters. You don’t want to indicate who people are necessarily, cause you might be giving away the plot.
I’m very. Um, process, whether the, if that’s a word, I, um, I, I tend to go by [00:47:00] instinct all the time. Um, and because I work alone and don’t have a producer, director and the studio time to pay for an all the rest of it and engineer and so on, if I feel like something’s not working, I can stop and go back and do it again for the most part.
I feel like it’s, it tends to work. My instincts are pretty good. Um, I was just looking, cause, uh, an audio file magazine did in June is audio, but month, they had profiles every day of their golden voices. And I was one of them. And they mentioned go with a dragon tattoo. And, and the comment they had from somebody reviewing it was that all the voices fit perfectly.
I thought, Oh, that’s good. I’m so glad. It’s like, Oh, I guess they did. Um. Uh, I feel like, you know, I’m telling a whole story. I don’t want to do anything that jars the listener out of the story. I think that’s a good rule. You don’t want to be picking a character that doesn’t fit. Otherwise, the listener is going to be sort of thinking about you and what [00:48:00] you are or that voice or that person, and they’re not going to be listening to the story.
So whatever you do needs to fit with a story. And that in a sense will mean that certain genres may get different voices. I mean, you’re the obvious in fantasy, you’re going to have a lot of orcs and trolls and you don’t have a lot of trolls with, with high pitched voices. I’m talking very delicately. I suppose we could now.
I don’t know, but most of the time they’re all like that. And I like that. So, um, that’s the kind of voice I do for that, you know? So it does vary along that across the way, but it’s usually, as I say, instinct. Very cool. So extending from that, do you find that you have to tweak voices since it’s such an instinctive process, or is it you just make that choice at the beginning and that tends to be the one that fits, that feels appropriate to you?
Yeah. Um, I think it’s important that you, I tweaking something later on is difficult because then you might have to go back and read. Oh, absolutely. I did that. That was, but, but no, I get it. Here’s, here’s an interesting thing though. I was responding to a, somebody. Sent me a, a friend knew [00:49:00] somebody who knew somebody who, who liked books and had a couple of questions, and one of the questions they said, it felt more like a criticism.
It was like, why? Why do, why do voices vary? Sometimes it’s like, Oh God, did they, which one did I do where they varied? You hope they go and, yeah, I mean, I, it’s just that that would be a mistake, I think. I think it comes immediately. Oh, not at all. And so I don’t find myself double guessing later on. I, I think it’s rare that I’ve ever got, I mean, the thing is, you tend to review the book.
I, I. Hesitate to say prepare by reading it 100% because I’m very experienced and I can pick up a lot from a scanning the book. I tend to scan the book. If I’m looking for words, then I scan word. Sometimes I’ll read it solidly. I’m right in the middle a. You mentioned the girl with the dragon there too.
I’m about to start recording the sixth book in that series. Uh, next week. So I’m actually reading that solidly because it’s the kind of book that you need to know who the good guys are, who, who the bad guys are. And there’s a lot of characters coming back from previous [00:50:00] books. So I’ve got to find out who they are and, and, uh, refresh my memory on, on the voices.
But, um, generally speaking, I will get the idea of the character by scanning the book, and that’ll be enough. And so when I commit at the beginning, I’ll stick with that voice. Well, we talked a little bit about this at Johnny’s splendiferous workshop. How. If somebody asks us a question about going back and readjusting characters, and I can’t remember it was you, but I don’t think it was, but whoever it was said, well, I’d like to think that the character grows in the story.
And I reflect that as I’m growing into the character with my vocalizations. So in some ways it’s a, it’s a give and take, and it, I guess if you do it right. Then the character should be a little bit different at the end of the book, knowing where at the beginning would you agree that it is, how long the book is?
And I think, I don’t remember precisely, but I don’t know whether they were talking about a series and obviously a characters will change over a long series. Um, and I think one of the things that came up, and it just came up recently, I don’t know if it was then, but, um. Where you give a [00:51:00] a particular voice to one character who’s a small character in the first book, and it turns out they’re the main character in the fourth book, and you gave them an impossible voice in the first book.
So somehow they’ve matured enough to change their voice and something that you can do for three 86 hours. By the fourth book. Um, I think that was Johnny’s story about how he, he had a little boy who was asthmatic and he made him completely over the top with sort of choking on every word and that he couldn’t maintain that for the standalone book.
Yeah. So the doctors somehow found a cure. The, uh, the sound, his voice, that’s definitely a danger. Yeah. So we spoke about some of your, uh, the awards that you’ve received over the years. One in particular that I found particularly impressive was in 2017, you received the award for best male narrator for Alan Moore’s Jerusalem.
I mean, not only was that an Epic project, but I’m just. Curious what your experience was narrating the book and what it was like to receive such a prestigious award like that. Wow. [00:52:00] Um, the awards that it’s fantastic when that happens. I’ve, you listed, I do have a few of those. Um, but the one for that one, particularly the amount of work I put into that book, it was like a, um, yes.
You know, I, I. I did what I needed to do. Um, the actual process I went through that they asked me or recorded books called me on this and I was like, Alan Moore. Oh my God. And I contacted, um, uh, I know Neil Gaiman vaguely, and I contacted him cause I wanted to share the news. And I didn’t think it was anything I talk about publicly to
And he said, Oh, do you want me to put you in touch with Allen? And I said, yeah. And he said, you should go over there. You should go visit and spend some time with him. Cause he always writes about his hometown in North Hampton. And I thought I didn’t have time. And it turns out. Yeah. Cause I, then I went to APAC, um, the audio publishers conference and, and there were big banners everywhere for Alan Moore, Jerusalem.
I thought this is an important book. And I thought, I better see if I can find space. And [00:53:00] I actually have four or five days just before it’s due to start recording it. They wanted it. At the end of June. Uh, and I had about four days at the beginning of June. So I flew to England. I got, uh, I got Neil to come to, to get through to him and arranged a bit of a rigmarole trying to get in touch with him cause Allen doesn’t carry a phone with him.
You have to leave a message at his home. Anyway. Um, we’ve actually got in touch. I went over there, I met him for an afternoon. He wandered around the town and it was wonderful to spend time with, um, not only the author of the book I’m about to read, but it’s such a fascinating man. Um, and I flew there, flew back, started recording the next day, and it was a, as you say, 60 hours.
I managed it in just under a month. Um, I think we were 30, 30 chapters and I tried to do about one chapter. Um, well, one chapter a day, something like that. That’s incredible. That’s about 20 hours a week. Yeah, it was. I was a lot. Yeah. Um, yeah, no, I suppose it’s probably about 12, 15 hours, but it [00:54:00] was, um, it was.
It was extraordinary because each chapter was, uh, mostly a story unto itself. Some of them did connect, but some of them focused on one thing and it, it just, it split up nicely. But so much variety, so much incredible variety. And it, it wonder through time and it wandered through a heaven and hell and everything else.
It’s an incredible book. But it was, um, it was a tough one. And there was one chapter that Allen had described in one of his . Pre-publication interviews as frankly unreadable for which I thanked him. I said, can you give me any clues here? He said, well, I’m read it with an Irish accent. So I did. For Joyce, it was basically, he did a, he did a chapters styled on authors, so he had a, I can’t think of the authors he chose, but various different authors, and this was one that was James Joyce, like Finnegan’s wake.
Is it Finnegan’s wake? Is that the one that’s . In comprehensible CS. I thought, [00:55:00] yeah, I’m going, I don’t know. Yeah, you possibly know it was the one. Yeah. Anyway, it was the one that that is, takes years to understand. Um, anyway, I did it and I sort of understood it, and I had to have a director actually listening.
I wanted my director to listen in on that. And normally I was fine with it being, and he did. But after the first few hours, he, uh, he said, you’re fine on your own, keep going. Uh, and it was just, it was, uh, the whole thing was quite a mammoth exercise. So as you say, finally, to get the award at the end of it was, um, was thrilling and their sort of justification.
Yeah, it was worth it. Well, you mentioned apex. Iman and I attended my first APAC this year. I’m ashamed to say, but I had a great experience, especially as as being a first timer. Can you tell me, as such a veteran of the industry, what do you look to get out of a conference like that? It’s hard to say what I get out of.
I mean, I get out of meetings, I meet people. I, as I said, I like to sit in this box on my own. I like that most of the time, but I also like to meet [00:56:00] people as well, and it, it does give me a chance to meet other. People who work within the industry. A lot of my old friends and the publishers and so on that I’ve known for years.
I’ve been in the rating in the States for 27 years, something like that. And, and there’s always, there’s always something to learn sitting in on some of these. I’m trying to think what I watched this year, but, um, there’s, there’s always going to be little things and sometimes it’s not that you’re learning something new, it’s just refreshing your memory about that.
Oh, I should keep that in mind. Um. When I’m working. I think there was a lot of stuff I missed this year. Unfortunately, I went to a few of the sessions. Um, but I hear that some very, very good sessions. Um, APAC is an extraordinary opportunity for narrators, new to the business or not long in the business, um, because it really can expand your horizons.
Uh, it’s difficult. You don’t want to go running up to people and say, employ me and take me on or answer all my questions, please. It’s, it’s the beginning of a social connection and I’ll tell you when I, [00:57:00] I was working in my little box in the corner of the garage or whatever years before I went to New York for an APA event.
My first one was a a M. Oh, is this kind of a speed dating thing? It’s not like it is now, but I got to stand in front of an audience of 30 publishers and I read for five minutes, and then afterwards we went and talked to each of the publishers doing the sort of speed dating thing. On that occasion, I had nothing to do with APEC.
I didn’t, it wasn’t a conference. But I got to meet people from tanto audio. Um, and two years later, one of them employed me. Prior to that, I’d only worked for Blackstone and books on tape, but, um, it, it was a beginning of meeting people and it was a few years after that that things just exploded in the industry.
And, uh, I was able to take advantage of, of having met the people at APAC. It’s a little different now and people ask me, how do you get into the industry? What’s good to do? And so on and so forth. And I’ll still say going to APAC is very good, but it’s, it’s. It was easier in my day because there were fewer of a fewer of us.
Um, [00:58:00] it’s, it’s a very delicate dance you have to do, as I say, between, um, you know, getting noticed and just. And getting noticed, you know, you don’t want it. You couldn’t get noticed in a good way, or you can get noticed in a bad way. And it’s, it’s that delicate dance of, okay, just be a nice guy. It’s, um, and I hope I can say this on your, on your podcast, because I was just in a vocal masterclass and they were talking about other areas of voiceover and had agents on the, on the panel and stuff.
And they said, here’s the rule number one, don’t be a Dick. And I think that that is so true across. Almost every industry probably. But it’s important. You know, you’d be a nice guy, be a good fun person, people like you, and you don’t have to go and say, Hey, I’m a brilliant Loretta. They’ll find out when the way, if they get to like you and you’re at APAC, they’ll, it’s a given.
If you’re at APAC, you’re either a curator or a publisher, so they’ll, uh, they’ll find you somehow. So speaking of, sort of guiding newer, uh, aspiring audio book talent, you actually coach as well. So I’d love to hear a [00:59:00] little bit about how you got into doing that. Okay. I, I don’t coach, uh, regularly. Um, I will turn up at, uh, Johnny hellos splendiferous workshop on a panel or two, and I’m actually going to go off to his, uh, new England narrator retreat this year.
Um, but I don’t do, I don’t coach in the same way that, uh, Sean Pratt does, or Johnny Hilary himself. I don’t have a regular coaching group, and I don’t, because here’s my thing. I don’t, I. I think you may have guessed by now. I don’t know exactly what it is that I’m doing. Right. I have some ideas and, but it would need me to sit down and, and write those ideas down.
I’m a very lazy person. Um, I love it when they come out instinctually. I love it when I can sit with a panel. I listen to people and I go, Oh, you know what? And do this or think this, Oh, this is what I do. Oh, well, I think maybe that’s what I do. Why don’t you try that? That I’m very messy in that respect, so I don’t, [01:00:00] I, and I don’t want to take people’s money on false pretenses.
Now. It may be down the road. I shall. Have formulated. I’m way better knowing what I’m doing now that I was 10 20 years ago. I have some idea of what it is that I am doing. Right. But it’s, it’s, it’s, I don’t have the language. to make it clear to a student, you’re like, Scott teaches at the UCLA now Scott brick, and they have courses and so on and so forth.
How did it sort of, I know, I’m, I know, I’m good. That sounds very modest. Of course. I know. I can. I can do this. I know. I must be doing something special that I don’t know quite what it is. And I, I, I mentioned this vocal master class I went to, there was a. We did a vocal jazz aside thing to warm everybody up beforehand and they were splitting us into parts.
And some guy came in and said, Oh, people doing that part put in a little . And it was so instinctual for this guy to say, this will make it sound better. Any did, it was [01:01:00] fantastic. But I looked at this guy and got this guy lives and breathes choral singing or, or, you know, chorus, singing, backing, singing, what he knows instinctively what it is.
And I sort of know instinctively what sounds good. But I don’t have the language necessarily to to, to, to have people pay me lots of money to, to be able to nail it in, in one hour or something like that. But you just need a translator. What are the highlights of Johnny’s workshop? Was Simon saying a phrase at the panel?
And then Paul Allen Ruben would jump in and say, wait, wait, wait. What Simon actually means is this, and think he would go on for another like 10 minutes explaining what Simon wanted to say and probably did it better if I’m hearing your opinion right. So, well, Paul is wonderful. I love Paul, but he’s not a guy who would have thought of as being concise.
He can talk. So I felt slightly insulted that I thought [01:02:00] I was being precise and he would come in and say, what do you think? I can say what Simon was saying and fewer words. Um, I, I love Paula. It was, it was a funny moment and uh, we played on that joke through relation to the day, right. Fact he’s going to be out at the New Hampshire retreats.
So I think I can try and get my own back on him. That’s great. Uh, I wouldn’t feel too guilty about that, Simon. I mean, cause. In any profession, there are people who can do it, and people who can teach it. Like you said, it’s a different skill to be able to articulate what you’re doing to someone else and guide them to that path.
But like we were talking about before, I think you’re, you’re. Air of spontaneity, your confidence and your instincts are definitely useful for aspiring talent to pay attention to. So I think you can bring value in that direction. Oh, that’s good of you to say. It gives me confidence. Johnny’s next, uh, next critique of those.
It’s a funny thing. You know, I, I, I, I used to do a class a, there was voice one in San Francisco. Um, Elaine Clark [01:03:00] runs that school, a voice school. I’d go in there and do sight reading and stuff, and I think. I’ve done a couple of audio ones and I, I’d be terrified in the weeks leading up to it. Like, have I, you know, I, what am I going to do?
How am I going to do it? How am I on the day in the moment? I loved it. I love teaching in the moment, but it’s the prep. It’s trying to figure out, worrying about whether I’m going to do the right thing and the fact that people are paying me. Oh God. So, um, no, it’s nice to know and I, I, but I think I may for now anyway, continue with the, a off the cuff coaching, if that sort of thing, call it the sort of in the moment.
Very cool. Well, what sign is one thing I was curious about is your performance, you mentioned being in the little box most of the time. Do you ever record as an ensemble, either in a studio or in a, um, a production house if you went to a melty voice or something like that? I have gone in being directed. I did last year.
I did, um, you know, George RR Martins, fire and blood. The special listening to that right now. The first part of the history of the targeting was yeah. And that I, because of I think [01:04:00] for, well, they wanted to keep security and also I think they just want to make sure it was done right. And they, they brought me into their studios here in LA and Woodland Hills.
Um, uh, and I love it so far, by the way. Say that again. I said I’m listening to it right now and I love it so far. I’m about two thirds of the way through. I, I, it was a wonderful, a wonderful thing. And in fact, I, I, I’m looking for a chance to, to shake hands with George RR Martin at some point. And, uh, I see he’s doing a New Zealand conference next year and my wife is doing one on voice at exactly the same time.
So I’m actually going to go out there and, uh, I’ve, it’s the world found a world science fiction convention 2020s in New Zealand. So I’m going to come out there and hopefully I’ll be able to meet George and thank him for that. You know, I did, um, the first dune. Was, uh, they did that as a kind of a multi voice, and I did all my bits and then my bits were attached to their biz.
And I’ve done a bunch of, uh, books that have multi characters in the multiple narrators. Um, but I’ve, I’ve never sat in the room. I would have loved to, I did Dracula, that was one of the Audi [01:05:00] winners. It had Tim Curry and Alan Cumming in it. And, uh, it was a great cast and I would’ve loved to have been in the room and recorded with them, but I never got to meet them.
I had to do it on my own. Uh, my little bits. But to know. So I, I haven’t, I haven’t done any ensemble. I mean, I went into the studio recently. Um, my colleague who used to be at the BBC two duck mags, it does a lot of audio drama, and he was recording the William Gibson alien three script. Um, and he’d done all the main, all lot of the supporting characters in London.
They’d all been recorded and done, but he came over here to get William Beale and Lance Henriksen. Um, who were the two actors from alien to going to be in the William Gibson script and you had to do them separately. So he had me and my colleague Elizabeth Knowlton, um, another narrator in LA, and we sat in and we did all the other voices to sell that Lance Hendrickson and, um, and William bill could give life to their characters by acting off us.
And we were all in the same room at the same time doing [01:06:00] that. And that was a lot of fun. But for narration, no, that’s, that’s not happened. Very cool. So moving back to your studio, your happy place. I’ve seen in previous interviews that you’re a bit of a gear head like Paul and myself. So I was wondering if you’d mind giving us a little studio tour, like what kind of microphone or booth do you like to use.
Yeah. Um, it’s interesting, you know, over the years, and I, I suppose this is when people come into the industry, you start relatively cheap. You’ve got to get something that works these days. You can get stuff that works relatively cheaply. Um, and I can remember I used to use windows, computers and so on and so forth.
Everything needed replacing every two or three or four years, and it was just a pain. And I think I’d had this set up for about 10 years or something like that. Um. The microphone to begin with. That is annoyment UAT seven. Um, I had the TLM one of the three before that. Uh, Oh, I used the Sennheiser four one six for a brief period.
Um, what happened was I was looking for other microphones, trying out different ones [01:07:00] and I thought, Oh, I’ll try the UAT stuff. And I hoped it got, I don’t like it cause they’re so expensive and they seem to be the one that unfortunately fitted my voice perfectly. But the thing is, it’s worked. Solidly for years.
Um, it’s a good investment for me. Works for my voice, doesn’t always work for everybody else’s. Um, my cubicle is a little six by four by seven vocalbooth.com. Um, I’m sitting here, I got a solid iron share. I don’t have one of those sort of fancy Harman Kardon or whatever they call them chairs. I can’t remember, but it’s Aaron Miller’s or whatever.
Yeah, that’s it. I’m a Millie. I’m in Carmen Miller. That’s right. Speak together. We could make it, but it’s a, it’s a good solid one piece thing and it doesn’t, it’s never going to create, cause it’s like you’ve got a cast iron frame. Um, I read off a, an iPad pro. Um, I was just reading off it today thinking. I wonder if I can find an excuse to buy the new iPad pro because that’s what it’s all about, is finding you an excuse to buy the new one.
Oh yeah. But it’s the big one. Um, cause I did have an original, the smaller iPad. [01:08:00] But I’m getting older. And once the iPad pro was, um, introduced, I, I leapt on that because it takes me back to the days when you had pieces of paper in front of you. It’s that size. And back in the day, I would have piles and piles of paper.
Um, I have a screen in front of me. It’s a relatively large one, I think 20 inches across, I think, uh, what else is in here? So everything else then leads through a hole in the wall to my Mac mini. Um, and I’ve had that for many years. I have an Apolo. W is it poly? One’s solo. I’d have to lean out and have a look and I me I don’t think you’d like that.
Um, I have a grace M one Oh three is my preamp, which is a bit fancy. I don’t really need that. I did try to, um, uh, the, the valve one, um, because I thought that might be. Bring warmth and stuff, but I, the difference was negligible and valves deteriorate and the difficulty with recordings. You don’t want anything to tear your rating on you.
I [01:09:00] used to have a microphone, I can’t remember which one it was way back, but it has a sort of battery inside. It was an American made thing. I was the CAD caddy 100 Oh, it could be. Yes, but it was the first one. Yes. Yes it was. And the thing is, I went through a period of time where I would be recording for an hour.
And the volume would be dropping off, and I wouldn’t be aware of it until I looked at the phone and I can remember. Boosting the volume of the gain when I was in my post, you know, after I’d been in a studio, I’d have to boost the end of the chapter to try and make the whole thing sound normal. That was, um, you know, that’s, that’s a sort of, you don’t want to cut corners.
You need, you need the, the top gear. So, yeah. So that’s my, like, I don’t, the idea of a viral thing that could deteriorate and I wouldn’t absolutely know what was happening. And I’ve had that experience with preamps that, uh, cheaper, smaller preamps something starts going wrong. And you don’t really know it’s going wrong until it’s really wrong.
And then you wonder what nurse have you spoiled that you’ve been recording for the last month or two. But, um, I [01:10:00] think that’s pretty much it. I tend to, I then, uh, I have the files on the Mac mini. Uh, I’m extravagant, either iMac, 27 inch in the office outside here that I, then I transfer the files to that. I have a storage that I put ’em on first, and then I transfer it over.
So I’ve got lots of backups. That’s important. And, um, and I record, and I do my editing on that, the software I use because, not because I think it’s better than anything else. So don’t suddenly rush out and buy it. Cause I said, so I thought anybody would. But I, um, I use Steinberg’s wave lab, um. Uh, 25 years ago, cause I started recording onto, uh, onto computer hard drives in 1996, which was probably before a lot of people did.
Um, and I went to find software and this guy sold me Cubase thing, the whole thing, which is a music recording software and like 25 CD disks and stuff to load it onto the computer. And I found this wave lab 1.0 in the middle of this, which [01:11:00] worked. Perfectly. It was all I needed and I’ve stayed with it ever since then and now we’re on a wave lab.
I think nine element, I believe lab 9.5 is what I’m on now. I’ve got elements in the studio and I’ve had the professional one in the, in the office buying elements. He’s actually a wave lab. Other elements has everything you need. For audio book recording, but yeah, as you say, I’m a gear head. I like to have way more than I need.
I think that covers pretty much everything in my, in my recording chain, as they call it. Well, it’s great. I mean, it’s very simple but elegant setup and I think you can just hear like all of the, the tongues of gearheads everywhere, just salivating from the description. I think back to when I started in the corner of a garage in, in Walnut Creek in Northern California with, with moving blankets, hanging over the sides.
And I had to think of $50 shore microphone and a little, I had a two tape deck, a two two cassette tape deck. You could sort [01:12:00] of do a, you did this punch and roll. I don’t use punch and roll. I use straight record, but, but back in the day was a sort of punch and roll was the only way you could do it with a cassette.
You just, you make a mess. So you’d run it back, you’d listen, and then you’d drop it into bag, then drop it in recording, pick up and very manual. Yeah. It gives you a whole new appreciation for what’s available now it’s just, I mean, kids do die. You don’t know how like kids with their engineers. That’s right.
It’s been like that. Yeah. That’s great. It sounds like you’re right at home and your little cubicle over the world. I was wondering about the booth because. I almost bought your old booth. I know that you had, you had sold it to Sean Pratt at one point and yeah, I was training with Sean at the time and he was getting rid of it when he was moving back to Oklahoma and he said, do you want it?
It was it, it was Simon advances before me. And I just, I said, Ooh, it’s very tempting, but, and in the end, I couldn’t keep, I couldn’t have the space for it in my [01:13:00] house. That was Gretsch that was a Gretsch can I? Yes. Yeah, that was, um, I, I, yeah, cause I moved out to the vocal booth though. Calm, and I think, uh, I think Blackstone audio bought it from me and then, uh, Sean bought it from them and I don’t know where it went.
But then when I, uh, cause for a couple of years I was working in both, uh, around San Francisco where we owned a house and where we were renting down in LA. This whole complicated life story in there. But we were down here for other reasons as well, before we finally moved down to Los Angeles. But I had to have two studios and I actually had one of ’em, one of those remade ones.
Scott Peterson. Scott Peterson. Yes. In the two places I had the voice vocal booth.com up North and I had the Scott Peters and moved down South. And then when we finally moved down here, I had to move Scott Peterson booth out because that was hard to move hefty or thing. And Andrea M’s bought that and she actually had me sign it, so she [01:14:00] pays a little tribute to me.
Apparently every time she gets into the booth, it seems to be working for us. She’s doing awfully well. Well, actually I was curious, which model? A vocalbooth.com booth was that, cause I know they have different like silver and gold and diamond plan. Which one? The one I have now or the one I sold a your current one?
My current one is, well, I can’t, is it? It’s double-walled so that’s the plan. I think it might be diamond. Uh, is it shaped like a diamond? No, that’s the platinum. Okay. Platinum scramble wall, your head. So it’s gotta be about 10 years old, I think, and I’ve, I’ve taken it down and put it up so many times. I think I can do it one more time.
I’m building a, uh, an outside, uh, down on the bottom of the garden in this house. We were bought in, um, near Pasadena. Um. And we’re going through a nightmare of permitting with LA County. It’s taken forever, but I’m going to have a room down there. It’s going to be like a 14 by 22 feet and I’m going [01:15:00] to put this in the corner of that until I get to the point where I want to be.
I want to build one into that room. Probably use George Whittam for that who are very good at engineering guy. Yup. Good friend of the show. So I’m, I’ll, I’ll, um, but I’m, but this has been great. And it’s, it’s, I mean, it’s not the easiest thing to take down, but actually my wife and I have managed it just between the two of us and ideally three people.
But, uh, uh, I’ve, I highly recommend their booths. Um, you know, so the good stuff. Very cool. Well, thank you for that. My gear list is satisfied for another week. So before we go, Simon, I want to know what’s next for Simon bands. I mean, are there any projects or titles that you can, that you’re excited about that you can mention?
I mean, you’ve talked about, uh, the, the one in the millennium series. Are there anything else that you can talk about? Yeah. Well, um, yeah, the millennium. She is just starting that one. Um, uh, then, uh, the one, the big one that’s coming up. Uh, in a month or two, and I’ve been looking forward to it for [01:16:00] four years or something.
Brent weeks, uh, writes a, a fantasy and he’s extremely successful. He had a whole series that was New York times bestselling, and this is the light bringer series. And he hired me for that. Um, many years ago. I did the first, actually did the second part first, and then we went back and read it the first part, and then it was supposed to be a trilogy.
This is now the fifth part, and it’s been coming for about three or four years. It was supposed to be ready last year and it is, I just got the main script, or at least an advanced script, and it’s a, it’s about 35 hours long. And it’s the conclusion to the series, and I’m, I’m just so looking forward to it because he’s, he is absolutely one of my favorite writers.
He has a great sense of humor, great plotting the story. It’s fantasy. It has to do with creating colors and fighting with colors, and it sounds nonsense, but somehow he makes the logic of it work. And as I say, his characters are wonderful and I can’t wait to get into it, although it’s a huge 35 hours. [01:17:00] Oh God, there’s a part of me going, I want that.
No, I don’t. Yes, no. Oh, God. Okay. Oh, come on. That’s half as long as Jerusalem, Jerusalem was in the past, that’s done. It’s like, I don’t know if I could ever do I, I guess it’s, um. You do what you, you deal with what you’re given. You know? I would love to think, Oh yeah, I’ll just do 10 12 hour books from now on.
But every so often somebody drops this huge thing on your doorstep and you go, Oh yeah, I can do that one bite at a time. Yeah, I know that feeling. Well, Simon, we’ve come to the end. We can’t thank you enough for being on the BOM meter. I’ve been a big fan of yours ever since that dune series we talked about and just love your work and we’re so happy that you were able to join us today.
Well, thank you so much, Paul. It was a pleasure to meet you at APAC as well this year. That’s great. Yes. And Johnny’s workshop. I really enjoyed your insights when you weren’t being not interrupted. Yeah, I don’t think I know Alan level live that down there, Paul. I mean, Paul. Yeah, so I just wanted to extend my thank you to Paul as well.
And is there anything that [01:18:00] you want to promote before you leave? Where can people find out about Simon Vance? Um, I have a website which I’m, I’ve been, uh, supposedly renewing over the last two years. I haven’t got around to it yet. Um, I did have a Wikipedia page, but apparently some pirates have attached some links to it.
So Wikipedia is just taking it down. We’re in the process of trying to put it back up. Um, not that, that’s terribly expansive anyway. Um, but yeah, the websites, I’m advanced.com. And, uh, yeah, I, I do Twitter. I am at SIM van S. I. M. V. a. N. And I do have a Facebook page. I don’t contribute to my professional page very much, but I’m on the other one too.
You can spot me a mile away. Wonderful. Well, thanks again so much, Simon. It was a real pleasure and, and let me thank you. That was great. As a voice talent, you have to have a website, but what a hassle. Getting someone to do it for you. And when they finally do, they break or don’t look right on mobile devices.
They’re not built for [01:19:00] marketing and SEO. They’re expensive. You have limited or no control, and it takes forever to get one built and go live. So what’s the best way to get you online? In no time go to voice actor websites.com like our name implies, voice actor websites.com just does websites for voice actors.
We believe in creating fast, mobile friendly, responsive, highly functional designs that are easy to read and easy to use. You have full control, no need to hire someone every time you want to make a change. And our upfront pricing means you know exactly what your costs are ahead of time. You can get your voiceover website going for as little as $700 so if you want your voice actor website without the hassle of complexity and dealing with too many options, go to a voice actor websites.com where your VO website shouldn’t be a pain in the, you know what.
Well. Thank you, Mr. Vance. Mr. Golden voice himself. That was really, really cool to have him on the show. It’s been a lifelong goal at, that’s not true. It’s been a several year goal for [01:20:00] Sean and I was really excited when he reached out to us actually, and just flattered that he wanted to be on our show and I thank him so much.
I know, like for those of us kind of pulling the curtain back a second, like after our, um, Simon actually reached out to us and he said, man, you guys have had an audio book round table, a British round table. Where was I? When can I get on your podcast? And you’re like, uh, now, you know, I was a little beside myself to be honest.
I was really excited and we quickly coordinated that. And. Here we are. So thanks again, Simon, for being on the podcast. You’re a wealth of information, and I loved hearing your stories. So that pretty much wraps up this episode of the VO meter measuring your voiceover progress. We’ve got a lot of great things coming up, so definitely stay tuned to the podcast.
Yeah. Our next episode of the show will actually feature the pig himself. Mr Bob Bergen. And then coming up in the middle of September, September 13th 14th and 15th, I will be at the vocation conference [01:21:00] in New York where I’m actually recording the podcast live. Hopefully getting Sean in as well in some remote broadcast.
And then also presenting a session on networking. So if you go to the webpage, you’ll see the information on my session. Uh, try not to laugh yourself silly when you see who else is presenting at the same time. But if you want to come by and say, hi, I’d love to have you come to the my session. Very cool. I know you’re going to rocket, man.
Thanks for listening, guys. We’ll see you again next time. Thanks for listening to the VO meter, measuring your voiceover progress. To follow along, please visit www.vometer.com The VO Meter is powered by IPDTL.