Sexiest Voice on the Radio or Voice of the Week:…
Rachel McGrath is an incredible talent, and long-time friend of the Benztown team.
Rachel can be heard on 22 stations across the planet, including Star 94/Atlanta, Z107-7/ST Louis, Chanel 4/Dubai, Magic 89.9/Manila, Hot 975/Phoenix, and Cat Country 107 1/Ft Myers. She’s also recently voiced spots for Disney, Huffy, Moes, Ideal Image, and the Georgia and Illinois Lotteries.
1. Which production system do you use and why? Hi! I use Adobe CS5.5 for Mac. I’ve been using Adobe since it was Cool Edit. It’s quite humorous, because in broadcasting school (which was, in and of itself, thoroughly comical), when it was time to learn Cool Edit, I announced that I had absolutely no interest whatsoever in learning “That Program,” because I wanted to be on the air! Yes! On air only- a bona fide radio star!!! Writing that just made me cackle out loud – hehe- because it’s so far from what I ended up loving the most. Thank goodness I put my stubborn ways to the side for long enough to figure out this Production thing was pretty cool, and I wasn’t half bad at Cool Edit! And more importantly, I could do magical things with my voice on my own- without being at the mercy of someone else- which excited me to no end. It took me exactly two radio gigs to realize I was supposed to be a VO /Prod girl, not an air talent- and boy was I happy I’d taken the time to learn and keep up with Adobe. Eventually, in Atlanta, Forrest Martin taught me ProTools – bless his heart – but I decided that the program that was right for me was Adobe. I said this in my last interview, and it hasn’t changed- you should absolutely use whatever program with which YOU feel most comfortable.
2. What do you think of Pay sites like Voices 123 and Voices.com? This is a super popular question within the VO/Prod groups on Facebook. This is my opinion, so please refrain from freaking out if you don’t agree or have had a different experience. I love them. And- here’s the most important part- they’re not for beginners. The general consensus seems to be that if you’re new to the VO world, you can just go to Voices 123 or Voices, pay your $299 a year, and start booking gigs!! But no- absolutely no- that’s not the way it works. When I began my VO career, I was on both sites, and I was lucky if I booked a few jobs a year combined. Then I took a few years off- got some VO training – and started realizing what I was and more importantly- wasn’t- good at. When I signed up the second time around, I became much more selective with the jobs for which I auditioned. And guess what? I book stuff all the time now!! A lot of the “Pros” are onVoices 123 and Voices- in most cases, under different names. There’s just no way someone who isn’t experienced can compete with someone who has had training and “Gets it”. If you’re a beginner, please don’t waste your money- spend it on a voice coach, and make sure your demos are relatively good before signing up. And please, please don’t audition for something that isn’t “You”. There’s no better way to make yourself look like a complete buffoon than to audition for something that obviously isn’t suited for you. Yet so many people do exactly that.
3. What gear do you use? Look at the pretty pictures I attached- and you’ll see my magical land and gear. It’s my walk in closet that I ripped out and turned into a fun, fantastic, phenomenal Cludio. It’s so important to me to feel happy and inspired when I’m working – and the space I have now fulfills all of that. And yes, that’s pink lip-gloss on my Pop Filter. We have a very special relationship.
4. What is the best voice processing trick or voice-over technique anybody should know? Stop putting so much processing on your voice. That’s the producers job, not yours. Unless you’re asked to – in that case, EQ, compress and filter away! And – BE YOURSELF. In radio, that means to really and truly just say whatever you feel and be a little batty. Or a lot batty (ask any of the wonderful people who produce me ….I can’t even imagine what they’d say about me with some of the insanity that leaves my mouth…) Im working on swearing a bit less….In regards to TV, or anything else where going off the script isn’t as routine, it just means to always sound like yourself. Its totally cool to sound energized, enraged, horrified, or whatever other emotion you wanna stick in there-as long as it’s the way YOU would sound while experiencing that emotion.
5. How do you schedule your work? Like this: 1. Stuff that says “H E L P ” 2. Stuff that says “Need ASAP Please, Rachel!” 3. Stuff with a little red arrow in its vicinity (it drives me totally mango guava when people put those arrows near every email they send- hence why it’s number three) 4. Everything else -and I arrange the “Everything else” in the order I feel like doing it. Really- that sounds awful- but- I turn copy around as fast as I possibly can-so if I’m in a CHR-ish mood and just read for two CHR stations, and I have a Mammogram spot on deck and another CHR in the hole, I’m absolutely going to read them out of order – that CHR is getting read first. Then – I’ll take a deep breath, maybe light a candle, and calm down. People can hear whether or not you really believe what you’re saying, so I’ll definitely think of a personal experience regarding illness and prevention. And hopefully, it will come through in the read.
6. What do you love about working as a freelance VO talent? How long do we have?? My favorite thing about it is no longer having my security blankey ( aka a salary). I do not do well in situations where I’m too comfortable. In the end of my last job, I began to feel like I was just going through the motions. I don’t think I hate anything more than the feeling of “having” to do something- versus the feeling of genuinely wanting to do it. It’s actually making my skin crawl right now, imagining doing anything on autopilot. I like to be in the moment and really feel whatever it is I’m doing- I either have to be really enjoying it – or if I’m not, I have feel as though I’m going to learn something from it-or else I’m not going to stick around. Listening to my gut and taking the leap of being on my own has lit a fire under my ass and made me fall in love with my career all over again – exactly what I’d hoped for. It’s also scared me – in a really good way. There’s no better motivation to get more jobs than the fear of living in a box! This past year has been such a learning experience for me. I DO miss the human interaction- jumping and giggling and laughing in the hallways or in my studio with my co workers-who were also my good friends. I’ve had to really create a new routine for myself- and honestly, I’m not 100 percent there with it, yet. But I will be.
7. How did you get started as a VO actor? When I was 22, during broadcasting school (I felt like blowing 12 grand) , I was a promotions intern at 97 9 The Loop in Chicago. While I was scaling fences hanging up signs, I’d watch the jocks broadcasting live, marveling over their position in life. (I cannot even write that with a straight face, but it’s how I felt at the time) Because I wanted to be just like them……..or so I thought. But 2 Jock gigs later, while working as a PD (OMG!) in Parkersburg, WV – my voice guy, Rich Van Slyke, encouraged me to get off the air and way more into doing VO’s and production. He was SO complimentary ….he said it’s what I was “Supposed” to be doing. And he was right. From that point on, I only did VOs and production- and now I do 90 percent VO. I’ll always love being a producer, but I think there comes a time where you have to focus on one or the other. For me, swaying toward VO was the right choice. I adore being a Voice Artist. It brings me more joy than I ever thought possible. There have been so many wonderful mentors along the way- they know who they are- who’ve taught me valuable lessons I carry around daily. And one more thing- when someone gives me a compliment- it MAKES MY DAY! People always say “Oh you must hear that all the time!”. WHO CARES? My heart fills with pink rainbows and my very soul is exhilarated when someone says nice things to me or about me. I’m getting giddy just thinking about it!
8. What is your dream job? I’d say a culmination of all the things I’m doing now, plus more TV. TV is a completely different animal- and I won’t rest until I’ve become the voice of at least one network. When I landed my first National commercial (a Disney spot, at that!), I was jumping up and down like a crazy person- and I knew I wanted more. And you know what? I still jump up and down when I land anything. How could I not? I’m talking into a microphone – and people pay me!!
9. What would be your 3 main tips for a youngster trying to start a VO career? I have more than three, and you can’t stop me from saying all of them. Unless you just don’t print them- then I guess that would be stopping me! -If someone who is enjoying lots of success gives you direction, close your mouth, listen, take it, do it….and like it!!! Repeat. -When you’ve heard “No” for the 97th time, remember that you’re already ahead of most people, in that someone is even listening to give you any response at all. Congratulate yourself for being in this lofty position, then send out fifteen hundred more demos. Don’t give up! You can’t!!! -If you’re going to spend money on anything, spend it on a VO coach. This is a career for which you didn’t have to go to school- however, to get really, really good, training and education are as important as in any other field. – Go easy on yourself! I’m still learning how to listen to my own advice on this one. There are SO many people who will not go easy on you. As a matter of fact, they’ll revel in your failures. Don’t assist them! Beating yourself up accomplishes nothing positive- and in a business where people are standing in line to take your job, you need as much positivity as possible to succeed.