Behind The Mic: Ashley Cavaliere
Ashley Cavaliere is a Connecticut based voice over artist who can be heard on radio stations all across the country. As an imaging voice she can be heard in St. Louis, San Antonio, New Hampshire, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Virginia and more. She’s currently on air mid-days as well as a kicking-butt as a production & creative services director.
What do you love about your job? There are many things I love about my job! As far as being on air, I love to connect with people and use the radio as an outlet to spread positivity and bring attention to great causes. I do a lot with animal rescue. When it comes to the production/imaging and voice over part of my job, I love to create. I love to create and know what I put out on air will be heard by many and hopefully make them smile, or get a message across in a way that I heard and visualized in my head. Being an imaging voice over is my favorite part of my job. I love to read fun copy with different inflections that could bring out an emotion of the listener.
How did you get started as a VO actor? What was your first gig? I started as a radio intern in 2007. I’ve been with the same place ever since, and started helping out with production and imaging reads right away. As far as my first ‘official imaging vo’ gig, that was on KISS983 in Winchester VA.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? I have never actually had a VO voice coach. I had many mentors and people who gave me incredible advice throughout the years but nothing formal. I used to have a singing coach if that counts? Haha unfortunately my aspiration to be the next Britney Spears did not pan out! I would definitely recommend a coach! It’s something I would love to look into myself. I think wherever there is an opportunity to learn more…take it!
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? As for mentors and idols in the biz, first and foremost is Kelly Doherty (Kelly Kelly Kelly). She gave me the confidence and encouragement that helped me further peruse what I love . She is a huge inspiration to me on a daily basis especially being a woman. Others who have given me advice and are just truly incredibly talented people that I look up to are Rachel McGrath, Chad Erikson, Diego, Drew Hall, Jeff Berlin … so many!
What is your dream gig? My dream gig is to be a cartoon character voice over!
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry? I can! A few things I would say are:
- SMILE! That was the first thing I learned as soon as I turned that mic on for the first time. You can really actually hear the smile through the delivery and I feel that it makes you more relatable, and more like a friend to the person listening.
- Network and make as many connections and friends as you can in the industry. You never know when someone will need something or vice versa. Also with this comes ‘be kind to all’!
- Practice inflections. Grab a bunch of random scripts, turn on the mic and just read! Read the sentences in as many different ways as you can. You’ll be surprised as to how one sentence can be interpreted in so many ways. It will also help you ‘find your voice’. Your voice is going to change so much the more you read and work. Listening back to when I first started, I think I sounded like a little mouse! So THANK YOU to that one person who thought I sounded decent enough to broadcast all over the state!
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
I think I would probably be a special education teacher for young kids, or something having to do with animals.
What’s it like being a part of the voiceover community (competitive, supportive, etc)?
I have found nothing but positive vibes in the voice over community. You would think there would be a lot of competition, but in my experience I have so much support and encouragement to others. It’s also such a FUN community to be a part of so I think we’re all just glad to be able to get to do what we love! We’re also all super quirky! haha
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Personally I like to do things as they come. I am not the best at putting things to the side because it’s possible I could get sidetracked! I will make sure to always get the requested VO back that same day. If there is something that is more sensitive (breaking news etc.), I will stop what I’m doing to make sure they back asap so the stations listeners could be best informed and of course make the station sound relevant. I am an imaging director as well and I know how time sensitive things could be!
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? I don’t have an exact answer to this one. I often search for gigs, network, and try to create the best demo I can on a daily basis.
How do you market your services to potential clients? I have found that making a website is super beneficial so I can direct the client to the website to hear my work instead of sending huge audio files via email. I also enjoy creating station demo reads. Give the client a little taste of what I’d sound like on their station! I also love to use Instagram @ashleyonair.
Which production system do you use and why? Well, when I was in school I used Adobe Audition 1.5. Then when I started working, the Production Director at the time used Sony Vegas. I used Vegas for a while and really liked it because I feel like the set up is very clean, user friendly and I loved to make videos. Plus, there was a filter on there that I loved to put on my voice. Long story short, our IT guy had to switch out my computer with a new one and it no longer had Vegas!!!! SO, I am now (as of 2012) an avid Adobe Audition Creative Cloud 2015 edition user! I love all the updates and plugins! Oh, and yes, I still believe it or not love using version 1.5 for certain things …
What are your favorite plugins (screenshots, if available)? I use graphic equalizer and dynamics processing. I also love to use the echo effect “pink”. (yes I admit I tried it first because of the name, but it actually did sound cool for promos etc!) Here are some photos … which are screenshots from an older Adobe Audition version.
What gear do you use (microphone, pre-amp, booth, etc)? For my office studio, I use a Shure mic, Ramsa audio mixer, HP computer with Adobe Audition CC. I also have a dual computer screen which is really helpful!
Home studio I use a Rode NT1 microphone, Scarlett 2i audio interface, Sterling MX5 speaker and my mac book pro with Adobe Audition CC. I also use the Apogee One for travel or voicing any time I am away from a studio.
How has new technology changed the way you work? The software updates are always helping me learn new things about filters and processing, giving me new ideas to use in promos, imaging, production etc. It is also AWESOME that I can literally do VO anywhere. If I need to take a trip out-of-state for some reason, I could just bring my Apogee One and laptop and get requested VO back to the client anytime anywhere! I think that’s coolest. There’s even so much you can do on an iPhone or iPad! When I went to broadcasting school, they taught us about reel-to-reel and shortcut. Both I am spoiled in saying I have to had to use for daily work haha! Playing is fun, but props to those who used reel-to-reel everyday … that is talent … and patience!!
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? For VO technique – I know I already mentioned it, but smiling! You can hear SUCH a difference when you do vs when you don’t. Now don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely instances when you don’t want to smile. If a client is more of a serious/attitude driven station or possibly an am station or sports station, it’s not the best route to go, but in CHR, HAC and CTY I have found it to be super useful! Even when I have interns coming in to shadow me and want to try out voicing a commercial, I will have them try reading with and without a smile. 99% of the time (if it’s a spot that calls for sound) the ‘smiley’ once sounds way better. It’s wild how you can actually hear a smile. You don’t want to sound annoying happy … but just enough that you sound approachable and relatable.
For processing trick … dynamics processing is always my favorite!
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? When I get station copy, I don’t try and make one take sound the absolute best that it can…I give them a bunch of reads with different inflections so they can choose. It would take forever to get every line the exact perfect way you want (especially when it’s possible the client is looking for something other than what you have in your head.) When it comes to production and VO, I often times have to voice produce dozens of spots at a time. I turn on the mic and just let it roll. I’ll go through all my scripts at once and then go back to edit. Then I will send out what needs to go out dry. For the VO that need music, I will open up my already set up session of Audition (which will have a bunch of music beds set up by length) and go from there! It saves time searching for a bed online, downloading and cutting it to length. Plus, by keeping the mic on the whole time and letting it roll through all the vo, saves a lot of time too.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? I think the biggest difference to me in voicing commercial ads vs imaging is the inflection. When I read a commercial, it’s going to sound a little more “commercial-ey” (unless of course it’s a conversational spot or otherwise directed.)
When I read imaging copy, I want to sound like I’m talking to my best friend… more like a “normal person”, giving the listener that relatable sound and feeling.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? It was so exciting! It’s definitely at first a surreal experience! It’s weird when you go into a store that has the radio on and need to the cashier …then you realize you’re actually talking over yourself! My parents are still in the ‘yeah, that’s my daughter’ phase lol!
You’ve mentioned that you grew up on a farm which is so awesome. Not many people can say that. What was the best part about being raised on a farm and did you have animals (if so what kind)? The best part of growing up on a farm of course was the animals! It’s definitely what sparked my love and admiration for caring for animals. I am like a kid in a candy store anytime I see a goat or a cow or even a chicken! In addition to being a foster mom for animals, I am in the process of becoming a wildlife rehabilitator which I’m super excited about!)
My grandparents built a house on trust land property so we had 50+ acres to play on! My Dad grew up there – and then eventually my family built our house on the property when I was 10. (We first lived on the beach which was also incredible but unfortunately left no room for horseback riding.) My Dad is a Real Estate broker, while my grandpa would run the farm. My Mom & Grandma were both stay at home moms, so It was a really nice balance of learning responsibilities and having experiences in both the business world and farm world at the same time.
How do you think the radio industry has it changed since you first started? I think the biggest way radio has changed since I first started is how digital it has become. There are so many new ways to listen to the radio other than in your car or on your stereo. I love that. Listeners have easier access to their favorite artists, pod casters, speakers etc. It also gives us as radio people an opportunity to reach all corners of the world. Someone in Japan could be listening on a Connecticut radio station. It’s pretty wild to think about!
If you could go back to any decade and hang out which one would you go back to and why? Hmm…I’ve never really thought about it – but I do love the 80’s! I was born in ’87 so I didn’t truly get to experience the decade. I’d totally rock neon jumpsuits, teased hair and would love to see Michael Jackson in his own era! BUT on the other hand, reel to reel sounds exhausting! haha.
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be (non-family)? Only one?! Maaaan! I would have to go with Seth MacFarlane. He is a genius and I am a huge fan of all his work. Just the fact that he can do over 30 voices and refer back to each in split seconds is incredible! (okay but others? Eminem, Walt Disney, Michael Jackson & Elvis!)
What’s your guilty pleasure? Literally anything with peanut butter.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why? Why are these questions more difficult that the earlier ones?! haha! Well, my favorite place to go is Amalfi Italy where we visit our relatives , eat lots of pizza and just stare at the gorgeous coast. BUT somewhere I have never been that has always been on my list is Australia.
Yes the koalas and kangaroos are the main selling points for me, but overall it just looks like such a fun experience!
Ashley’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleyonair
Ashley’s Instagram: https://twitter.com/ashleyonairhttps://www.instagram.com/ashleyonair/