Matty, Let’s Build Your Demo!

One of our readers (Matty – aka midwestpoet) reached out to us about building a voice-over demo. He’s become our new pet project…Benztown will help him build his demo, and supply all the audio he could ever want from our imaging libraries – on one condition – we let our readers in on the fun.

So here it begins…who knows where it will end…ideally, it will end with an amazing demo….or maybe he’ll land a gig!!! So you better stay tuned, because you never know who might chime in with some thoughts of their own!!! (Hint – they might be on this page)

Now here’s a little bit about Matty:

What experience do you have in broadcasting (radio and/or TV)? I was always the kid who was playing DJ with the Fisher Price recorder and making my grade school friends sit around the ironing board to be on my “show.” So you can imagine how anxious I was to get on a real radio station. But the owner said he couldn’t hire me until I turned 16. In the meantime, I’d call-in to Larry King’s late night radio show on the Mutual Broadcasting System — just so I could be “on the air.” That was easy. It was so late, it was pretty much first come, first serve. But Larry’s CNN show — you had to have a good, succinct question to get past the call screeners. I made it on a couple of times, though, including once when Bill Clinton was on before he was president. Of course, when I finally turned 16 I really started bugging anybody at the radio station who had even the remotest connection to somebody I knew to PLEASE hire me to do ANYTHING! Months went by. Then finally, I got a call from the station’s GM saying he needed an FM board operator for coverage of the town’s high school basketball games and someone to be on-air Friday and Saturday overnights on the AM station, which was a crazy mix of news/talk/AC! So I played a lot of Billy Joel and a lot of Journey. You know, there are so few times in life when you get to do a job for the pure fun of it. I had no bills to pay, really. My day job was going to high school. I still lived at home. But I lived for that radio station. It was pure joy. And because of that, in a way, that might have been the best job I ever had. Though the pay sucked. Let’s admit it. Classmates working at Wendy’s had a whole lot more spending money than I did. But I didn’t care.

What experience do you have as a voice-over artist? It’s something I’ve dabbled in for the past five years or so and now I really want to segue into making it a major part of my career. My most recent voice over project was a TV commercial for the Miami market. I did a little narration for a German director who was making an independent film. A few years ago, Warner Bros./Rhino Records hired me to voice a national spot for the DVD release of the “Best of the Flip Wilson Show.” And really, I figure, how can a man top that? So I’m hanging back, like De Niro, just doing passion projects right now. No, I’m kidding. I will take any job — as long as it pays more than Wendy’s.

Have you had any voice coaching or acting classes in the past? Yes, a little. And if you don’t like my demos at the end of this project I’ll give you the coaches’ names and links to their websites so you can complain to them.

What spurred your interest in becoming a radio imaging voice? Being behind-the-scenes at that first station when I was 16 and then at my next stop, which was a station group, I got to know the programming and imaging guys really well. And I was always so stoked when these packages would come from these voice talents all over the country. And we’d gather in a production booth or something like kids on Christmas morning just waiting to hear what amazingly creative things these men and women had come up with.

Tell us about your studio. What kind of gear do you use? Well, let me tell you, it isn’t exactly a studio in a quaint little cottage on Walden Pond. Isn’t that the dream? Reality is, I’m using the spare bedroom in my top-floor condo. I must say, this is the quietest place I’ve ever lived. It must have very good insulation and thick walls because I rarely hear the neighbors or any outdoor noise. I have a Mackie Onyx mixer connected via FireWire to ProTools on my MacBook Pro. It’s amazing how fast Macs are these days, isn’t it? But if it ever goes down, I have my trusty desktop computer nearby with Audition 2.0 as a back-up. I bought Yamaha HS80M monitors after reading about music producers and engineers who love them for their “tell it like it is style.” In other words, they won’t make your voice or your mix sound better than it really is. There’s nothing worse than a discussion that goes, “It sounds a little hot to me.” And then you honestly respond, “Really? It sounded great on my end.” So let’s hope these monitors treat me well as we embark on this radio imaging demo journey for your blog. At what I hope are the right places are Auralex foam panels on the walls and ceiling above my mic with bass traps in the corners behind me. So There’s nothing more freaky to me than walking into a voice over booth that’s totally covered in foam. I feel as if I’m in outer space talking into nothingness. So I chose to only treat the major spots in the room because I want my voice to still sound grounded in reality. But because it’s such a large space, in terms of a voice over booth, I’ve also added the SE Reflexion Filter. Please also notice the ugly maroon drapes that came with the place. I kept them because they’re actually pretty thick and act as sound treatment for that wall. And behind that gorgeous pop filter is a Harlan Hogan microphone. I’d be really interested to hear what other voice over artists who read your blog think about this mic, too. I was pretty skeptical. But after trying it out, I really like the sound of it. I also have an Electro Voice RE20 in the closet, too. Of course someday, I’d like to add a Neumann or two as well.

Matty’s Studio:


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