Behind the Mic: Lisa Keys
Hi! I’m Lisa Keys! As a fan of the Benztown’s Behind the Mic feature for years, I’m so flattered to be included! I’m currently doing imaging voice over full time based in Toronto for stations all over the world.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)?
I’m incredibly fortunate to be on board voicing with:
- 96.5 KOIT/San Francisco
- 92-5 XTU/Philadelphia
- The Rogers Country Network across Canada
- Radio Globo/Rome, Italy
- 100.3 The Bear/Edmonton where I got my start
- Now 100.5/Sacramento
- Sunny 106.3/Colorado Springs
- among other amazing stations!
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)?
Working full time doing voice over in Toronto from the comforts of my basement suite recording studio. I made the leap to full time VO in September 2016. Prior to that, I was a promotions director for the Bell Media cluster in Edmonton, Canada. After pursuing voice over on the side for a couple years while in radio, I knew there was a time to make the leap, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
What do you love about your job?
The people and the product! I have met some of the coolest, kindest people through radio and voice over and treasure the relationships that have formed over the years. I’m so honored to help radio stations with their branding and SO incredibly grateful to every station who’s ever used my voice.
Getting a piece of production back and blasting it, getting chills or having it make me laugh out loud – I can’t get enough of that feeling. There is SO much about this industry I’m absolutely obsessed with and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to take part.
How did you get started as a VO actor?
I got into VO through working in radio. One of my best friends – Gary McClenaghan – our imaging producer at the time, started using me on our rock station and the rest is history. Gary, Jeff McKnight (another very talented producer I previously worked with) really helped me find my sound and both built me demos and demo material I could start sending out on my own.
What was your first gig? Any memorable ones since then?
It was a local commercial with our station cluster. The first time I heard it on air it was a feeling I had never experienced before, was surreal! One of my most memorable gigs was a skit for Jimmy Kimmel!
Who are your VO idols/mentors?
Ann Dewig, John Willyard who’s been an outstanding mentor to me, the fantastic human that is Rachel McGrath, Wendy K. Gray, Kelly Kelly Kelly, Chad Erickson, the crazy talented Jamie Watson up here in Canada – the list goes on. There is no shortage of inspiring talent in this industry. A couple other amazing mentors have been Rob Vavrek, my previous PD in Edmonton and Brian Figula at KOIT who gave me one of my first big breaks.
If you weren’t doing voiceover, what else do you think you’d be doing for a career?
Probably running events in some capacity. I like organization a lot.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television?
Amazing. Absolutely loved it. Thought it was way too cool. I was hooked. Anytime I catch anything of mine on air, I freak out a little bit inside.
How has new technology changed the way you work?
My studio (as you’ll read in the next answer) is nothing crazy. I record in my closet! My mic does a lot of heavy lifting with sound. New technology has made building my own studio a possibility.
What gear do you use on the road? In your studio?
I use the same gear on the road as I do in my studio – Sennheiser MK416 mic, Focusrite Scarlett-2i2, laptop.
Which production system do you use and why? Any favorite plugins?
Adobe Audition CC. I love Adobe. I’m not currently using any plug ins with my voice work.
Skills and Helpful Tips:
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it?
I have worked with voice coaches in the past – with the very talented David Lyerly, Dave Walsh and K3 (Kelly Kelly Kelly). Coaching is absolutely something I want to pursue more of as I explore more niches of the voice over industry.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? How much time do you spend auditioning for new work?
I watch for anything that comes in as ASAP, but otherwise, first that comes in is first up! Depending on how many auditions come in throughout the day, could be an hour to several auditioning for new work. I try to get up early enough that I can take care of other things on my to-do list before imaging starts rolling in.
How do you market your services to potential clients?
Along with my amazing agents at Atlas Talent who hustle like crazy on my behalf, I reach out to program directors across the US and Canada with my demos, introducing myself and my product to them! I’m a huge fan of conferences too. Getting that face to face is invaluable to me.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know?
In terms of technique, what I’ve done in the past to be more conversational is to pretend like I’m talking to my friends. I’ll sometimes drop names or specifically the word “dude” (I don’t know why) before lines to try to get more into a natural feel.
Check out another one of Lisa’s demos below!
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for newbies trying to make it in the voice-over industry?
- If you want this, you have to work hard at it! Voice over is crazy competitive.
- Don’t compare your level of success to anyone else’s. You’re on your own adventure. Everyone’s path is different.
- Be humble, grateful and kind! Be someone who people want to work with!
Favorite 2 pizza toppings?
Mushrooms and more MUSHROOMS
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be?
Jonah Hill or Seth Rogen. I love those guys. They’re HILARIOUS.
Check out Lisa’s website: https://www.lisakeysvoiceover.com/