Monday, 17 November 2014

-Tda -Tda -Tda TA-DA!

have worked really hard on speech and voice. Probably only comparable to the energy I had to put into science in my last year at school. And I still - tda - tda - tda - tda to make sure my slightly audible lisp doesn't hit the spotlight.

I can still remember the first time I was able to sound the rolling 'R' sound required for my father tongue as a child while sitting in my dad’s car (although both my parents are bilingual they had decided that my mother would speak only English to me and my father on Afrikaans). I can almost as vividly remember the first time I managed to sound an 'S'. What it boiled down to was years of speech therapy as a child, and 2 rounds of swallow therapy as a teenager. Yes, you read correctly. I could not swallow correctly, and had to learn by a speech therapist how to do so. My poor parents spent many an afternoon with little Chandwé (as I said my name) going -tda -tda -tda -tda -tde -tde -tde -tde etc etc etc etc.

Which is why I think my parents were so happy and thankful when I got accepted to study drama

"All that speech therapy as a child, and now you're going to talk for a living"

I even had radio as a subject for a semester while studying, and specialized in emotive voice in performance in my third year. And then while doing my Masters I did a three week intensive voice and body workshop with an amazing facilitator from America. Deborah Kinghorn lead myself (and a few notable other South African actors) through three weeks of Lessac Kinesensic training.

A year ago my would-be and now agent recommended I get my voice onto voicebank. One of the reasons why he signed me was because of how my voice sounded on the phone. But I found the process rather intimidating when I looked it up online. I had to write my own copy for a fictitious brand, make an appointment and go into their big expensive studios to record. Despite having all the right training the thought of going into a professional studio, and paying to have a pro record my own copy scared me a little. In the beginning of the year I attempted to open my account to do just that none the less. But when I had technical problems and it became difficult to create the account I allowed myself to opt out. Easily. I had other things to be done after all. I had my Masters work to do, I had to write a show, and a bundle of other excuses. About a month ago I tried again. And didn't allow myself to just opt out again. It was time to make it work. A few phone calls later, and help from the IT department, I managed to open my account. Three weeks ago I went in and recorded two voice clips in English
My agent had suggested a “sexy sell” voice clip, and I had figured a good corporate one would open up many doors. I did my research and wrote my radio copy for two fictitious brands. A lipstick for the sexy sell and an investment company for the corporate. When I got to the studio the friendly technician who put me completely at ease asked me what I was doing:

“A sexy sell, and a corporate”

“To be honest, our most searched categories are corporate, soft sell and conversational. Usually when copy writers write for a sexy voice they already have someone in mind when they write the copy. I suggest that you do a conversation bit instead”


Perhaps I looked a little like a cartoon deer in headlights. I trusted his opinion, he was the one with the experience, but I had practiced my copy in a specific way. And quite frankly I felt out of my depths sitting in the office with my large printed copy in front of my covered in pencil marks indicating how I would perform it.

“Tell you what, lets record you sexy sell, and then lets just try it in a conversational way”

“Lets do that” I was relieved for the option given to me.

I moved into the studio. Sitting behind the microphone with the headphones on my ears I started to relax. We fixed the levels so that I could hear myself, and so that I could hear the technician. It started to feel familiar. I space in which things were created, and less like an office. I did my corporate recording in a handful of takes.

I heard through my headphones while standing in the studio.

“Let’s try the second clip. Do it in the sexy way like you practiced”

After the first take I heard

“Uhm...Let’s try that sexier”

I did.

“Now do your copy in a lighter, conversational way”

One take.

“I really like that. Come out and listen”

It worked. A lot better than the first pseudo-sexy takes. Two weeks later my agent called with good news.

“You’ve been booked to record an advert for radio. After two weeks on voicebank. Well done”

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