Neil…For Real….Wilson (Interview)
What radio VO work have you done in the past? I started doing radio VO when I became the imaging director for Clear Channel Greensboro and Raleigh. Most of what I did was quick pick-up or in house sorta stuff for our rock station WVBZ. That grew into stuff for WMKS when it launched as a Top 40 station. I always did some free lance stuff for extra money and worked my imaging director angle into production only imaging clients at first. Then that dove tailed that in to voice work for stations like WJJS/Roanoke, WMC/Memphis, WKSL/Raleigh, and numerous small market stations. It’s an ever growing and changing list.
What are you up to presently? I’m strictly freelance/self employed. I’ve recently done work for Travel Channel, BBC, Smithsonian Channel, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Discovery. I’m voicing concert tours with Bill Young Productions, car dealers in New Orleans, Houston, and Tampa. Commercial campaigns for Pier 1 Imports, Pandora, and my beloved San Francisco 49ers. Again, an ever growing and changing list.
What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? No two days are the same. Yesterday, I woke up to a narration session for a producer in South Africa. Today, I woke up to copy from a client in Alaska. I finished today with a concert audition for a well known former Beatle who is going on tour. Who knows, what may sit in my email box tomorrow morning.
Aside from all the cool stuff I get to voice… I love the schedule. I’m free to go to a Noon Cross-fit workout, a long lunch at Hooters (or Twin Peaks…google it) or may be grab a few swings at the batting cage between sessions. I don’t have to punch a time clock or be tied to a board for 8 hours a day.
I also love the challenge. The world of voice over is so vastly different from one genera to the other. Narration copy is performed very differently from radio imaging and promo and so on… its fun to study it, shape it, and perform it.
Have you ever had a voice coach? A few… and I highly recommend them. I started in the field of commercial coaching with Nancy Wolfson. Commercial is the best place to start as it is where the bulk of voice over money is. Then, I worked with Nancy on narration. Since then I have worked with (and continue to work with) Marice Tobias and David Lyerly.
What is your dream job? This is an interesting one… because I really don’t have a “dream job”. Weird right? My goal is to have long term sustainability in voice over and always be working. Jobs will come and go. I wanna be a go-to guy for clients because they have a comfort level with the product I provide to them.
How do you schedule your work? One of the things my clients love about working with me is my ability to turn copy quickly. So, I’m always working. I’m always here. I travel with a microphone. I never let myself get behind. So, it becomes a first come first served situation. Granted, there is always the “911, Rush, Urgent” stuff that’ll take priority… but for the most part it’s first come first serve.
You were lucky enough to do a custom built studio in your new house. Care to tell us about it? Yep. Like I said, I’m always here. I literally live in my studio. My wife and I decided to build a new house in 2011 after we relocated back to Louisiana. Building in my VO booth and studio was part of the deal as I always planned to do VO from the house. So, I worked with George Whittam, a home studio guy/engineer from LA, on the design and blue prints of the room. Here are some pics…
Anyway, it’s about 6 feet wide at the largest spot. No two walls are the same size.
As you can see, it started as a square box, but George and I changed it to a diamond shape. This great for sound reflection. The walls are insulated, then double drywalled. The door is an exterior grade door. It gives me a window and also completely seals the room. It’s an air tight room. I hung acoustic panels on the walls from ATS Acoustics. After it was all said and done, George tested my noise floor and we found that it is like -70db. Pretty good for a home studio.
What gear do you use? I have two sets of gear. In my home studio I use a Blue Bluebird (it’s not always about price) an Empirical Labs Mike E processor, all of which feed into a Mackie ONYX 820i to Mac Mini to Twisted Wave.
For my travel gear… it’s Macbook Pro, Sennheiser 416, Mic Port Pro and Twisted Wave.
What are your favorite plugins? Twisted Wave has the ability to make some cool “stacks”. Here is a look at one of mine. I use two… one for TV stuff… and one for radio stuff. Both custom built for my voice.