AJ McKay Voiceover

Imaging In 2019 – AJ McKay

Welcome to the “Imaging In 2019 Series” – a blog series that interviews inspiring producers and great creators of Station Sound.

AJ McKay

AJ McKay

This week’s guest is someone who I’ve known about for some time but I got to meet in Dublin in August.

Funny story – I was transferring back to Dublin via Charlotte, NC. I received a text from Kelly Doherty saying that AJ was on the same flight! 

It turns out AJ had passed by me as I was boarding and recognised me. Small world – especially given we were both transferring via Charlotte!

We had so much fun at the Euro VO Retreat with J Michael Collins, and yeah we may have even had the best late night out in Dublin.

AJ is a really cool guy and has heaps of experience and advice.

Welcome AJ McKay to Imaging In 2019!

1. How did you get started in the Voiceover World?

I started in radio at the age of 15. I’ve always had an obsession with microphones and recording equipment since I was a kid. I built a “studio” in my bedroom that consisted of boom boxes, cassette decks, and a reel to reel machine and would record fake radio shows when I was a kid. I started sending those cassettes to the local morning radio show and they would play bits and pieces of them on the radio. Little did I know, I was a “morning show bit”. lol 

I eventually wound up getting my first gig at an AM country station when I was 15. My parents would take turns driving me to work each night. 

2. Who are your idols and people you look for inspiration from?

A huge mentor and influence on my career has been Joe Cipriano. His body of work, his attitude and desire to give back to the community have been a huge inspiration for me and on my life. I am super lucky to have become friends with him and his family over the years and have been very lucky to be able to work with him and learn from him. Other huge influences are or have been:  Don LaFontaine, Brian James, Dave Foxx, Steve Stone, Eric Chase, John Frost, Will Morgan, and so many others.

3. What is your opinion on Vocal Coaches - have you used one in the past and are they worth it?

ABSOLUTELY! A GOOD voice coach can bring performances out of you that you never realized existed. They can fine tune your reads and really help take your career to the next level. I work with a variety of coaches that specialize in different genres of voice over. 

4. What makes a killer demo for a voiceover? (Different styles/something creative that makes it different)

Number one, it must be a showcase of your skills and abilities. A great demo will showcase various styles of reads and vocal qualities and emotions. The production should complement those reads and help tell the story. You want to work with demo producers who have experience or backgrounds in the particular genres that you are doing a demo for. Ask about their credentials and qualifications. For example, if you are doing a Promo Demo, ask if they have ever voiced, produced, engineered promo sessions for a broadcast terrestial or cable network. A great demo producer really needs to know trends and have a working knowledge of how those types of demos should sound. 

5. You are a Voiceover but also an Imaging Producer. Do you think it makes your job easier having both skills?

For sure. I really feel that it is an advantage being both a talent and a producer. As a talent, I know what producers want or typically need so I try to give a few different options when I read copy. Plus, I’ve written creative for years and still do. The more skills you can bring to the table, the more valuable you are. That applies to not only Radio Imaging, but all aspects of voice over. My company, AJ McKay Creative is a full service production company. I voice, produce, and write and offer full production services for companies, radio & television stations, and advertising agencies all over the world. I’ve had projects that required mutliple voices and I cast friends and colleagues in the voice over world from time to time. Plus, I work with JMC Demos as the lead Audio Engineer/Producer and 

6. What are your current goals as a voice artist?

Definitely to find  a better balance between my VO career and the production/demo side of things. I want to refocus things a bit and really dive back in to doing more promo work. I am absolutely in love with the world of promo both from a voice over aspect and a production aspect as well. 

7. Tough question time! When someone outside our business asks what you do for a living - how. do you explain it?

I tell them that I talk into  a microphone for a living. LOL

Then I explain that I am a voice actor and that I lend my voice to companies all over the world to help enhance their product or brand. If I still get funny looks, I just tell them that I am one of the voices that they hear on the radio or tv when a commercial comes on. It just depends on the situation and whether I have time to go into things in greater detail. 😀

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