“Can you sound like a mad clown in a cowshed?”
The phone rang. It was a regular customer. “Can you sound like a mad clown in a cowshed?”
“Do bears shit the pope?” I quipped.
“What?” said the customer. “Never mind. I’ll send you the script and we’ll give it a try.”
The script was an intriguing series of non sequiturs and the voice direction was “Emma Clarke. Spooky.”
I love a challenge and as I drank in the creative potential of the script my enormous voice brain was sparking ideas for the voices I could use, a kaliedoscope of colour and noise. I was excited.
The ad was promoting a horror theme night, set in a farm. (In my job, I’ve learned not to ask too many questions). The customer played me the music bed – a startling cornucopia of sound effects, music and audio darkness. I loved it.
“Just roll and I’ll give you a bunch of stuff,” I said to the customer, my tonsil-remnants a-tingle with voiceovery anticipation.
The customer hit record and I let rip. I recorded each line in loads of different ways, with all sorts of different tone colours. I whispered, I screeched, I teased. I circled the mic, getting a range of vibes and effects. For a couple of the lines, I even got my cleavage out (in the audio sense, not actually – that’d be awful – and pointless, in a remote recording session). I went guttural then lighter, I sounded like a demon, then a temptress, then a ghost, playing with major and minor keys, murmuring and shouting, going staccato then languorous, oozing the vowels, then torturing them.
Finally, I’d finished.
“What do you think?” I panted.
“I’ve never heard anything quite like it,” said my customer.
A few days later the audio had been approved by the head honcho and my customer sent it over. I’m really pleased with the result. I don’t often get to hear finished audio.
I played the ad to my accounts guy who happened to be in the office, frightening debtors. He’s a joyless individual who prefers to spend his leisure time in the dank coldness of abandoned factories, alone.
“What do you think?” I said, desperately seeking his approval.
There was a long, long pause. The clock ticked. Empires rose and fell. My ovaries withered.
“To be honest,” he breathed eventually, green smoke coming out of his nose, “it’s a bit cheesy.”
“Well fuck you,” I said.
My accounts guy is pictured below, in weekend attire.
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