My Interview with Vocal Talent BENJAMIN CAIRNS!
I enjoy interviewing different personalities from the world of published literature. Often, I will interview authors, reviewers, and sometimes publishers. This time, I am excited to introduce my readers to an orator!
1. I think it’s very revealing to get a glimpse of a person through their own eyes, so I always begin with the same question – please tell us how you’d describe yourself?
I would describe myself as a confused young man trying to bring some light into the world with the talents I have. Whether through teaching, music, or just reading stories.
2. You are a very talented man. Not only are you a musician, but you also teach music and compose it. More so, you do voice work. This is the aspect of your career that I’d like to focus on.
· You are a narrator for audiobooks. How did you enter into this line of work?
· I started about 4 years ago helping my friends with recording a promo for their kick starter. But honestly, this is a newer aspect of my voice work. I have done a few voices for video games and advertisements. This – FELINE FASCINATIONS: The Adventures of Boris and Olga – would be my third audiobook.
· What services do you offer to readers and writers? More specifically, what type of vocals do you offer (i.e. styles, such as narrator, storytelling, etc.)? Are you able to perform different accents, and if so, what? What about other languages?
· Hmm. I consider myself more of a Voice Actor then a Narrator, so I tend to lean toward more fictional books. That being said, I did do an audiobook about how to keep bees.
· The accents I am most comfortable with are Irish, Scottish, and an Old man. Though I do style my voice depending on the character.
· As for languages, I speak and read Spanish and Japanese.
· What motivates you to enter into a contract with an author? Are there certain things you are looking for when you agree to take a project on?
· Honestly, the title is the draw in for me. The Background description is the reason I take the book. Your book, for example, seemed innocent and the character seemed to fit my natural voice.
· Are there ‘red flags’ you look for, causing you to avoid partnering with an author or authors? If so, what are they, and why do you steer clear of these things?
· Grammar mistakes. I am not talented by any means with writing, but if I noticed Grammar mistakes, you know there is something wrong with the editing of the book.
· Also a warning to other Narrators or VAs (Voice Actors), do not give all of your finished work until you have either signed a contract or some payment has been given. It is not fun to do hours of work on good faith and then have someone run away with your voice work.
3. Would you please explain the process you undertake to transform a script into an audible tale:
Let’s see… I usually read the section I am going to record first, out loud to myself. From there, I have a glass of water and do it again, while recording. I can’t spend too much time on the text because after I record it I need to edit it!
4. Let’s discuss this further. I’d like to dig in a little deeper to understand just what it takes to do vocal work.
· A studio is used to remove outside sounds from a recording. How do you address the necessity for such a space? Do you have something setup in your home or do you have to rent a space?
· I have recently moved into a new house, which I am renovating with family. This allowed me to add thick insulation and some sound proofing in my house. I also studied acoustics with my BA, which helped me plan how the recording space was going to look.
· What about equipment? What’s required to make a quality product and do you own your systems or do you rent them?
· I do not have my old set-up anymore. But I currently use a Blue Yeti mic and edit it with Adobe Audition.
· How many hours does it typically take to complete an audiobook, and how do you manage your time in order to accommodate the time constraints?
· It takes a long time. I think for every 15 minutes for recording there is at least 30 minutes of editing that has to be done. You have to listen back to your recording cutting sentence retakes or pauses, depending on the pacing. I can take longer, if I feel the inflection is wrong and need to re-record it.
· What do you enjoy the most about narrating, and why?
· I enjoy reading stories to my nephews and students I teach. Why not spend time reading new books and recording it for others to enjoy?
· What do you like the least, and why?
· Editing… If I could just read it and it sounded perfect, that would make my job so much more enjoyable.
· What advice would you offer someone interested in becoming a voice actor?
· Start now. The more you record and listen to yourself, the more you can improve and get jobs.
· It took me about 2 years before I made any money with VAing.
· Taking acting classes or doing improvisation is also a great help.
· What do you think was the best advice offered to you?
· Keep going, you are getting better.
5. I’d like to address the relationship between audiobooks and literature, particularly how they partner with Indie authors. This is such a new and exciting aspect of publishing that I am thrilled to explore it.
· Do you work with traditional publishers/authors and literary agents? Why or why not?
· I do not, but mostly because I am not connected in any publisher circles. I’m not opposed, but I don’t have the drive to dive into that yet.
· Narrating is a side job for me. Teaching takes up most of my time.
· What do you – as a vocal performer – think of the debate over traditional and Indie? Do you know about it; why, or why not?
· Traditional publication vs Indie publication? I am for both. Why should it matter how you get your thoughts and stories out. Some people get rejected for years with a viable and enjoyable book or product. If they have the drive and would like to self-publish, I am for it.
· Do you think this debate affects you in anyway? Does it even matter?
· Not really. Luckily for me, most people like to have others audition for narrators. Whether that is through an agency or through themselves. I still am able to read and record.
· Is there a stigma with being Indie in the area of audiobooks? Why, or why not?
· No. For me, I think I am still in the amateur end of the voice spectrum. So I am unfamiliar with the way other narrators view me.
· For you personally, does it matter if a person it traditional or Indie?
· Not at all.
· When did you begin providing vocal performances, and how has the field changed since you’ve started?
· It has gotten a lot more connected. There are tons of avenues to reach out to authors and publishers. On the flip side, there are so many it is hard to keep all the differing accounts straight and updated.
· Based on your experiences, what trends do you see in the field?
· I see the field becoming more Indie or self-published.
· e-books and Audiobooks are becoming a much bigger thing than I had imagined. It’s sort of exploding, similar to podcasts.
6. What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?
Well, I am currently working on two audiobooks at the moment. Feline Fascinations: The Adventures of Boris and Olga and Genre Wars. I am hoping both of these projects can be finished by June of 2017.
· Do you maintain an annual performance schedule? Why, or why not?
· I try to record big sections once a week and edit during the work week after I get home and finish day job stuff.
· Do you help authors with promoting and marketing audiobooks? Why, or why not?
· I have not, but that is because I feel my realm of influence is very little compared to the author’s influence. I’m not against helping to promote other’s books.
Thank you so much for your time. Being an author new to audiobooks, I have been very pleased with my experiences. I feel you’re very talented and I hope you continue to have great success!
HOW TO CONNECT WITH BENJAMIN CAIRNS: