On Pitch With Mitch
Meet Mitch Phillips. Over the last 20+ years, his bold and exciting reads have been heard on national commercials, sports promos, affiliate imaging campaigns and movie trailers. Mitch is best known as a classic larger than life big voice, and also has the gift and polish to turn on a dime and provide razor sharp “in your face” edgy reads, as well as “tug on the heart strings” compassionate emotional reads.
What radio VO work have you done in the past (stations/markets)? Started in college radio at WFUV, Fordham University in NYC, worked on air and production at various stations in NYC and Connecticut including WRKI (I95-FM), WAPP (later WHQT) and WPIX (later WQCD). Also did audio engineering at ABC Television where I met the late great VO artist Norman Rose, who inspired me to pursue freelance voice acting!
What are you up to presently (freelance/on-staff at a station)? Currently working out of my booth in Miami Florida doing a variety of commercials, imaging, promo work and assorted voice jobs for clients across the planet, and soon to include Mars Starbucks ads.
Have you ever had a voice coach? Would you recommend it? Yes several. I believe it is extremely important to learn about yourself and to keep learning and experimenting with your styles and reads. Reinventing yourself is also what is needed to survive and thrive. A good coach can certainly help with all of that. It’s a very personal process and choice though. It can be frightfully expensive and wasteful for many who aren’t serious and just looking for a quick career jolt. Part of my process was that I was fortunate enough to work with several coaches over the years and to learn and assimilate bits and pieces of their diverse styles and methods.
Who are your VO idols/mentors? Who influenced your work as a VO artist? Radio wise, hands down, Jim Kerr at Q104.3 in NYC. He mentored and actually helped me land my first gig in NYC. As a college DJ, starting out at WFUV-FM, I emulated his warm texture and uber friendly personality (as best as a dopey college kid could). That turned out to be a great foundation for developing my own style and personality over the years. Voiceover and promo wise, there are too many to name, but Don LaFontaine would have to be at the top of the list of promo guys who I enjoyed and learned from early on.
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What is your dream gig? Being back on the air doing mornings, then doing sports or news TV promos after the show followed by a good cheeseburger and a walk along the beach which of course would have to be across the street from the station.
How do you schedule/prioritize your work? Breakfast/Coffee/Vitamin routine starting at 8:30 am everyday. First read at 10am. Usually takes 10-15 minutes for the voice to be completely warmed up and fluid.
How much time do you spend auditioning for new work? Usually a few hours a day, mostly in the evening if not a “rush” job. The more paid gigs there are, the less time for auditioning and vice versa. Both are important to sustain a voice business.
Which production system do you use and why? TwistedWave on a big iMac. Used to use Soundforge on PC. They are both similar in their functionality and ease and speed of recording and editing. Virtually glitch free.
What are your favorite plugins (screenshots, if available)? Fewer and fewer over time. Let the engineer at the mix end do his or her thing. For now, I use the UAD Apollo interface with the API Vision Strip. It is simply amazing. I have had many many quality analog outboard preamp and processors over the years including Neve, Manley, Avalon, Focusrite and others. The UAD (in my humble opinion) is cleaner, more versatile and portable. I currently use three mics depending on the application. The Sennheisier 416, The Neumann TLM103 and the Lauten Atlantis. All are amazing in their own special ways. Occasionally I will use a Softube Tube-Tech CL 1B to smooth out a crazy read. But just a little.
What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique everyone should know? Well, the best trick is to have a great space – a booth that doesn’t sound like a box, and/or a room that is quiet and mostly dead.
When it comes to VO work, studio & gear, what are your most ingenious methods/discoveries for saving time and cash? Saving cash? Are you f@@king kidding? If anyone reading this blog sends $19.99 via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org, I will share the ingenious methods and discoveries.
Do you have a different approach to reading radio imaging copy as opposed to TV/Radio commercial ads? Of course. It’s all different. I think of it all as different languages, or dialects of the same language. All are specializations and all must be learned and practiced. But, not everyone will succeed at promo and commercial and trailer and e-leaning and audio books etc. Some will. But most of us, aside from the coaches say or what the sessions and demos will cost, will settle into a wheelhouse of reads based on our personalities, experiences, and natural as well as learned acting abilities.
What did it feel like the first time you heard your voice on the radio/television? It was very exciting. Still is. Never gets old. Like me.
Favorite TV show of all time? LOST
If you could invite one person to dinner, living or dead, who would it be (non-family)? Marilyn Chambers. Oh wait, you said dinner. Ricky Gervais!
What’s your professional wrestling name? Manny the Meatball Taravella
Biggest Pet Peeve? People in front of me at Dunkin Donuts taking forever deciding on which f@@king 12 donuts to choose as if they’re deciding on the life or death of a convicted murderer.
What’s your guilty pleasure? I take the 5th.
Star Wars or Star Trek? Trek!
Where in the world is Carmen San Diego? In my pants.