Jamie Muffett is a little bit like me. A transplant from Europe, living and working in this strange land called the USA.
When I first came to America, I settled in beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It’s the place Jamie calls home right now.
I asked Jamie how he ended up in the United States. This is what he told me:
“My wife is American and moved over to live with me in the UK in the early 2000’s. After what felt like decades to get her citizenship (5-6 years in reality), we decided to bugger off to the US to pursue our dreams in the Big Apple. My intention was to work in music, which I did as an audio engineer/producer. Gradually that got sidelined as VO work became my primary source of income.”
What do you miss most when you think of home?
“I miss the people I like spending time with – friends and family. And Marks and Spencer’s food hall… oh man the food hall! I love America, but it’s obsession with putting sugar in every food stuff is tiresome. WHY IS BREAD SWEET, AMERICA? WHY?”
What was hardest to get used to over here, and why?
“I found it super easy to get comfortable in the US. On the whole British people are treated with far too much respect here (lol). People think I’m fancy and intelligent based on the way I speak, which is not really the case, and a little galling for my wife who lived in the UK during the Bush administration, and received the polar opposite treatment by my compatriots.”
Have you always had this dream of becoming a voice over, or how did you end up making your living as one?
“The dream started with me imagining a job where I was my own boss and could work during the daytime. I have indeed become my own boss, but the joke’s on me as I type these answers at midnight. I have always loved acting, but music seemed like a better way to get a girlfriend when I was 14, so that kind of took over. I am certainly more inclined toward acting than music, but it took me some time to reconcile that.”
You have a background as an audio engineer. What do you wish voice overs without that background would understand that most of them don’t?
“That noise reduction isn’t the solution! The amount of audio I hear that sounds like the talent has a bag over their entire head from too much noise reduction, is insane! Spending a little extra time early on to get your space sounding as good as it can be, and then being sparing with processing/dynamics, will pay dividends every single time you record thereafter. I describe audio as a fine piece of Kobe steak from the butchers – unseasoned, uncooked, ready to be worked by someone who knows what they’re doing.”
What’s does your recording chain look like at the moment? Do you suffer from GAS (audio acquisition syndrome) and how do you deal with that?
“I don’t have GAS, because I’m a tight-ass. My recording chain is simple: Sennheiser 416 or Rode NTG-5, into an Apollo Twin, into Pro Tools. I apply a touch of LA2A compression (no more than 2-3 db of reduction at the peaks), and Pulteq EQ (a gentle boost in the high frequencies, a roll off at 300hz) and that’s to tape, so that it goes out to SC/IPDTL as well as being recorded to my DAW. The compression and EQ sounds raw, it just gives it a little lift.”
What’s one piece of audio equipment you wish you had, that makes you salivate?
“Either a vintage Telefunken U47 microphone in mint condition, or a vintage Teletronix LA2A compressor. A notable mention here would be the Legacy mastering speakers that I regularly used at a studio in NYC. They were big, transparent, made out of walnut, and could blow your face clean off at 50% volume.”
A lot of people may know you from the VO School Podcast. Was the podcast your idea, for how long has it been on the air, and what are you most proud of when you think of it?
“There seem to be waves of charlatans coming into our industry, promising quick riches to unsuspecting folk looking to start a career in voiceover, and 2017 was one such wave. I did the usual eye-rolling and complaining online, but then it hit me that if you can’t beat them, undercut them! So I decided to start a podcast that gave rudimentary information away for free, taught by legitimate and trusted industry professionals.
The aim was to offer a reasonable alternative, highlight actual experts, and educate listeners to enough of an extent that they were able to spot the BS peddled by these b*stards. And to a certain degree I think that it was successful. It doesn’t happen every day but I’m regularly contacted by folk who tell me that they began their careers after listening to the pod, and that it played a significant part in their journey. That makes me proud.”
For those who haven’t heard about it, what is VOcation and why was it created?
“VOcation is a project that Carin Gilfry and myself conceived back in 2018 (or was it 2017?). There was no regular voiceover conference in NYC, which seemed crazy given the vibrant community Carin had cultivated in the Voice Actors of NYC Facebook group. So together with the VO School Podcast we pooled our resources and set to work. We thought that it was important to distinguish ourselves among the excellent conferences that already existed, so we decided to niche down on the business of voiceover.
We felt that this offered the most value to our community because it’s the thing we spend most of our day doing. It can also be the primary determining factor in whether a voice actor fails or flourishes. Talent is important of course, but there are thousands of talented (and poor) voice actors struggling to make ends meet. We wanted to teach something that would give immediate value and impact peoples careers, whatever stage of the journey they are at.”
The next conference is going to be at a resort in Mexico. Are you taking a page from J. Michael Collins’ playbook here? Luxury destination. Limited number of participants. Top coaches?
“There is no competing with J. Michael! He has been an extremely loyal supporter of ours from day one, and we both consider him a friend. There are certainly similarities as you outlined in your question, but the conference itself is quite different. It’s in the Caribbean for a start! It will be at a luxury hotel resort, with more attendees than the Euros. Like the Retreats however we have reached for the stars when it comes to speakers, and we’ve been thrilled that they all said yes! The other key differentiator is that we have stuck to our core principle of focusing on the business of the business once again.”
Won’t participants be distracted by the weather, the pool, the open bar? I mean, who wants to do any work when you can sit under a palm tree and listen to Julia Whelan reading an audio book?
“That’s a risk that we’re willing to take! 😉 But it is a work trip – which is why you can write it all off on your 2022 tax return!”
Name some upcoming attractions in Cancun… like who are the coaches, what topics will be covered, and what will make this event special.
“Our keynote speaker is the legendary Dave Fennoy! We are also thrilled that the incredible Tina Morasco from Sound & Fury casting is coming – VOcation Cancun will be her first EVER voiceover conference! Mara Junot, Jordan Reynolds, Everett Oliver, Sarah Natochenny, Maria Pendolino, Tracy Lindley are just some of the other awesome speakers who are spending the weekend with us.”
Lastly, do you see yourself ever coming back to the UK, will you set up residence in Cancun, or are your American roots too deep?
“I can’t see myself moving back to the UK anytime soon. Is the internet good in Cancun do you know, Paul? If so, I’m certainly not ruling that out!”
Thank you Jamie!
Tickets to VOcation Cancun (Feb 9th – 12th 2023), are under six hundred US dollars, and that’s for the conference only. Click here to reserve your spot.
I hope the bread won’t be too sweet, but the company certainly will be.