Fierce Girl in a formerly Male world or meet Atlanta’s…

A few weeks ago, I asked Rachel McGrath to write a post on the blog, because I really admire her work as a Producer and Voice Talent. I work with her on our CHR library since a few months and she really rocks! To be honest, she is one of the best female Voice Talents I ever worked with delivering in great quality and fun to work with. I recommend to check out her stuff. Beside that she is the Voice and Imaging director for CC Atlanta.

[soundcloud width=”100%” height=”81″ params=”” url=”″] Rachel McGrath – Voice Demo-122810 by Benztown Branding Blog

Random Person: “What’s it like to work in such a male dominated world?”
Me: “I work with men???? With big deep voices? I never noticed!”

Read the entire interview and check out Rachel’s favourite plugIns as screenshots.Random Person: “Oooooh, I always wanted to get into voice overs- what do I have to do?
Me: “Um…well….Im not trying to dash your dreams or anything…but…..are you ready to be so broke that you have to dig furiously through the depths of your couch cushions, past the cat hair, remote, and mystery chip/cracker hybrid thing, to come up with a dollar and five cents so you can eat off the McDonalds broke person menu?

Random Person: “Wait- so it’s just you on the station- like without a guy? Just you?”
Me: “Yep. Just me. Don’t know how the place hasn’t crumbled to the ground in a fiery heap without any testosterone pulsing through that big stick thingy that makes the radio work, but it hasn’t”.

I absolutely adore every single delicious facet of my career – including answering the above questions on quite a regular basis. One of the things I enjoy most is actually the thing most people think I’d hate  the fact that, until the last 15 years or so, the land of imaging has been dominated by men. Long ago I learned that if you spin a negative into a positive, the rest will fall into place. So, that’s exactly what I try to do every day. I think its FUN to be outnumbered. After all, it’s much easier to stand out from the crowd when the crowd already looks nothing like you, right? And, since we all know that this business is about standing out, I say being a girl is a blessing that has afforded me opportunities I may never have had otherwise.
Of course- there are days when I have to just smile and remember that some people forget about all this progress. Like the time I emailed a voice talent I work with and asked him what type of processing he was putting on his voice before he sent it to me, and could he please stop it because it was driving me completely mad. And he answered “All I do is normalize, I swear”. If he would’ve stopped there, there would be no story. But he didn’t. He went on to say “And just so you know, normalizing means to take all the levels and even them out………..”.
Um…..really? Thanks for the tip.
I solved the situation quite quickly, though: I told him that if he promised never to assume I didn’t know something , then I’d promise not to hate him forever and scribble evil things about him in bathroom stalls around the world.
We’re still friends.

1. Which production system do you use and why?

Adobe 3 (gasps and horrified screams) .
Yep. I learned Pro Tools, started using it, and found myself missing Adobe – really. It really is a matter of personal preference. Of course, If I were over here producing jingles or somehow attempting to make Britney Spears sound like she can sing, I’d be using Pro Tools.
But I’m not – so I switched back to Adobe.
Plus, in Adobe, I can turn all the files my favorite color Pink. Yes I just wrote that.

2. What are your favourite plugIns ?
This is a hard one too! I’m obsessed with all things Speakerphone. And I adore SuperTaps- but not at full power. GRM Tools also make me smile from ear to ear- especially Band Pass- that’s my favorite filter ever- and Pitch Accum – applied just to the voice, its an interesting way to open up a sweep. But I just got a new computer and have to re order the GRM stuff- so I cant show you that right now. Instead I m showing you my “Interim” favorite filter thing.

3. How do you schedule your work ?
Oh goodness. This sounds just terrible, but the first thing that came to me when I read this was…um…..I do things in the order I feel like doing them.
WTF? I know. Seems like that would never work- but for me, it does. Obviously if someone emails me and there’s a fun red exclamation point in the “Importance” field, Im going to stop whatever Im doing and read their copy. Or if my PD (in Atlanta) tells me we need to get something produced and on the air 57 minutes ago, Im going to be all over it. But generally, Im going to get everything done as quickly as possible while maintaining the integrity of it- so I don’t really have a “system”.
Oh- and- voicework ALWAYS gets returned within a few hours- or 24 hours max. I was talking to a friend the other day and he said he’d worked with a voice person that required a THREE DAY turnaround time- and I almost fell out of the chair. How is that even possible? I can’t imagine keeping anyone waiting for that amount of time- and keeping the job.

4. What do you love about being a voice girl and a producer?
I love that when I read copy for my stations, as a producer myself, I try to imagine what Id want the voice talent to do. And I love that I get to switch back and forth all day- it just adds another layer of fun to this already amazing job. AND I really enjoy getting to produce other people’s voices, too- I’ve learned so many useful tricks just from listening to others.

5. what is the best production trick anybody should know?
Oh no- the best??? I can’t decide! There are so many super fun and nerdy and exciting things I do with my pink sound every day. I guess Ill just choose the one I learned most recently. I was waiting in Forrest’s studio to go play after work on a Friday. I looked up at what he was doing and was like, “Um, what the hell did you just do?”
He took a music bed. Then he reversed it. Then, he put reverb on the end of it- the last .5 seconds or so- he used an Oxford ReVerb, but I use the Waves R Verb Medium Hall setting at about 30 percent. You can use whatever reverb is your fav. Then, he reversed it again. The result? A really cool lead in to any music bed – perfect for tying things together or just giving your imaging or spot a little something extra.

6. How do you get inspired and what do you use as source of creativity?
As far as voice goes, I really just say whatever pops into my head. Being completely insane helps, too- most of the time I can just look for inspiration within my friends’ and my lives. Id say 97 percent of stations are open to and appreciate ad libs- so I always try to come up alternate lines that may work. And- I make sure to watch all the trashiest shows on TV- especially Jersey Shore. Seriously- if you’re voicing any kind of CHR, Top 40, “new School” Country, or anything that people who haven’t been living under a rock are going to hear, I really feel like the brain cell killers are mandatory viewing. As far as Imaging-this is an easy one. When I’m Imaging The Bull, I sit back and let Deke do the work!!! He he- of course there’s more to it than that, but opening a file from Cousin Deke is like gaining entry to the most creative area of his brain. He just lets go and voices the ever living S*%^ out of that copy- and it’s magical – and inspiring.

7. Who were your voice and production idols?
The first time I heard Ann Dewig do a session, I knew how incredibly lucky I was to know this woman. I always wanted to be like her- years ago I’d talk about her and actually say “When I grow up I want to be like Ann Dewig!”. Here’s a woman who’s the triple threat- she can write, produce, and voice- and the only other woman I d heard of who was successful at doing that was Kelly Kelly Kelly. I’d hear Ann on commercials, imaging, at the movies- everywhere- and think- I could REALLY learn from her.
So when she became my voice girl for the Bull, I would listen to the way she read and ask her 7 million questions about the Voice World- and, because she’s a saint, she answered every single one with a smile.
I have two production Idols: 1 is the great Mr. Eric Chase. The fact that he even gives me the time of day still blows my mind. He was just born to be an amazing talent- every single prod tip or voice tip he’s given me has proven to be unbelievably useful. And Eric is a master at keeping things fresh and relevant- something a lot of other people in the biz just don’t know how to do.
2. Forrest Martin. He’s a fedora wearing, angry bird stuffed animal toting, production genius. Ive learned more about production from him than anyone. He can tell you what every plug in ever made does- and why it does it – and why it sucks or is a super duper- and then show you, in a language you understand, exactly how and when to use it. I’d be lost with out him. And he has all the best WII games, which doesn’t hurt.

8. What would be your advice for a woman to make it in the imaging world?
This answer is the same for BOTH men and women. When you’re first starting off, tell EVERYONE YOU SEE that youre a voice person or producer. Send your demo out 100 times a month- to everyone you’ve ever met- and their grandparents brothers sisters babys mamas. Every time you do something you think is great, update your demo. DO NOT LISTEN to haters- ever- there are always going to be people who are jealous when they see you accomplishing your goals- but you cant control them- you can only control you. And most importantly, DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY!!!

Rachel McGrath

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