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Guy Harris. Voiceover Artist

Guy Harris

How did you become a voice over artist?

I used to mimic my teachers at school and my doctor too. As I realised I was able to imitate people and create characters too I felt maybe I had a talent for it. I became a radio presenter in 1992 and through my 19 year radio career I was asked to provide characters for radio stations all over the UK. However… I was doing it all for free. Then the penny dropped and I thought I should try and make some money from it, so I gave it a go. It was a good move.

Where will I have heard your voice?

It might be easier to say where you haven’t. Most TV channels, OakFurnitureLand 2013-2014, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway Tour 2014, Apple iPhone 5 tv ads, BBC Sport, Promos on THIS Morning and Loose Women. Radio 1 & 1Xtra as Santa from 2012 – 2014, lots of kids toys including Doggie Doo, Gooey Louie and Silly Moo. I’m also involved in the Video Games market too. It’s great putting my voice on Apps including a bunch of my own. I am all the WORMS on Ultimate Mayhem, Revolution and Clan Wars. I have a small part in Sleeping Dogs, Anomaly Warzone Earth and Hammerman for Boom Beach.. You’ll hear me in Asda, Halifax, Morrisons, Game and CO OP. I work with all the Big Radio Groups around the UK and lots of my work is heard in the middle East and all over Europe too. Shall I stop now??? My website has a news feed with my current work.

Guy Harris on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway Tour 2014 WATCH HERE

What are the main stresses and pressures of your job?

Stresses?? None at all. How can I get stressed when my day starts by falling downstairs to my own studio where people pay me to talk or perform silly voices?. I have had my fair share of stress over the years but now, I am very lucky to be doing something I really love.

Obviously a good voice is required to become a voice over artist but is it possible to train the voice and if so how?

A good voice is essential, but an understanding of how to lift the words off the page is most important. Any one can read but it’s about bringing the words to life too. Training is available and there are some great vocal coaches who can show you how to get the most from your voice. When you are doing it every day you are still always learning.

And do you practice with your voice too?

Well, because I get to do it everyday and often 20+ sessions, I’m always practicing. I do have random conversations with myself alone in the car whilst driving

Who are the best people to listen and learn from?

Anyone and everyone already working in the industry. However you will succeed if you just be yourself. Imitation is the highest form of flattery as Patricia Routledge said to me many years ago. But you are selling yourself and YOUR voice.

How competitive is it in broadcasting for a voice over artist?

These days, very. The technology is cheaper and the quality of equipment is so much higher even in the lower price bracket so lots of people are now doing it. To make a real success though you need to give it your all and do it full time. The market place is becoming more and more competitive, so having a good understanding of social media and marketing is essential along with a good business mind. I have vested interests in other projects too which keeps my business head in the right place.

Is it essential to have your own studio, ISDN, recording equipment etc to become a voice over?

Absolutely. There is work out there if you are prepared to travel but thats becoming less and less. Technology allows you to do it all from your own studio. ISDN allows producers to save money on high session fees by connecting to your own studio. Newer technology in the form of Source Connect NOW and ipDTL allow you to connect to studios by Broadband. Thats definitely the future. I did a great IP session for Disney where they were in their office, the agency elsewhere in theirs in London and me in mine. If you can connect to them from home it makes it more convenient for them. More than anything you could miss jobs as you travel from one studio to another. I believe the secret is to be available.

If somebody has a good voice and they think they have what it takes, how are they best going about getting work and starting out?

Get a demo made and send it to some producers. There are some good showreel making companies out there too. If your making it yourself, don’t spend too long making a demo. In the real world you will often be required to pick up a script and nail it in a couple of reads. If it takes you 20 times to get a good one for your demo, how will you get on if it takes 20 attempts with a producer? You might not be asked back again, especially if it’s a session with a client sat in paying for the studio by the hour.

Dos and Donts?

Lots. However don’t do what someone did recently. I spoke to a lady wanting to get into the industry. I gave them a lot of time and we talked about the right demo, the right attitude and how to make a good first impression. Then… an email arrived in my inbox, copied in to lots of other voiceover agencies. cda files, (not small mp3s), a generic letter saying “I’m here, here are my demos” I was gob smacked! Assuming you are going to be taken on by an agency with out even being able to construct an email about who you are and what you can offer and not even personalising it, was destined to failure in my mind. Needless to say, I won’t be wasting any more time helping them.

What would be your main tips for somebody wishing to do what you do?

Try it. Do you have a good voice? Lots of people are told they do every day and consider the world of voiceovers. However it’s about how you use your voice. Listen to an ad on the radio, transcribe it and see if you can read it with a similar conviction. You have to be able to lift the words off the page. You have to bring the script alive. If it’s a product you have to make sure the brand message gets through.

Is it an easy life?

Ask yourself… can you cope if the phone doesn’t ring or no offers come through on email. Even some of the UK’s busiest and most well known voice artists have quiet days. Can you work well under pressure or tight time constraints? Are you sociable? Over time you build relationships with your clients. Try not to be a “I’m here for the script and nothing more” voiceover. Some producers might want that if they are busy but remember, they had the choice of who to give that script with ‘MALE VOICE 20’s – 30’s’ to, and they chose you.

And finally for now… can you also wait over 3 or more months to get paid and survive? (some do honestly take a while, it’s the nature of the business)

What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up around 7am and check my emails on my phone. As I have many overseas clients, their day began many hours ago. It’s not un common for me to be voicing at 7am or earlier if booked in advance. I’ll make an omelette, have some honey and warm water and come through into the studio. I work with the 2 biggest on hold companies in the UK and one of them seems to get in nice and early so I might have a bunch of them waiting for me to warm me up. These are self directed and I email the mp3’s back.

Generally my work comes in by email or phone. As the phone rings I try to book each session in as quick as I can for the producer as they are often keen to get the ad made so they can move onto the next. The work that comes in by email I will often voice in between LIVE ISDN jobs. I often de-breath the audio and send back. I do that to save the producer time. I have used editing software for years so I’m pretty fast to be honest.

If this is one of the busier days, sometimes it will get to 2pm and I realise I haven’t eaten. So I might go raid the fridge for something. Usually a salad. I don’t drink tea or coffee so I just keep on with my honey and water and regular Tap Water (Yorkshire Pop).

If I get a slow point in the day I’ll make sure the demos are all working on my website & soundcloud. I’ll maybe have a look through You Tube too to see if any of my work has made it on there. If it has I’ll either favourite it or save a copy for my site. I’ll also update the news feed on my page.

The day starts to slow by 5pm and usually after that it’s mostly email jobs. Again thanks to working worldwide jobs can still be coming in. If I have time I’ll just crack on, if not I’ll find out if I can get it to them 1st thing in the morning.

Bed is still around midnight and then… do it all again the next day.

I often run a “day in the life” experience. I allow around 4 or 5 hours for anyone aspiring to get into the industry to come and sit in on a typical day. I’m not saying I know everything about voiceovers but I can show someone what to expect in a typical day as “a voiceover”. They can ask as many questions as they like and see how a day runs. One guy that came experienced a day of 23 sessions, it was pretty crazy. (by the way I pay for the lunch too) Get in touch via my website for costings.

Final thoughts? 

Every day I am grateful that I can come downstairs and work all over the world in my shorts and tee shirt and for that I say Thank You to anyone who has ever booked me.

You can visit Guy's website here

A good voice is essential, but an understanding of how to lift the words off the page is most important.

Guy Harris. Voiceover artist

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