Our next featured guest is VO extraordinaire G.K.. Since 2009, G.K. has worked with CMD on a multitude of promo spots, specifically for sporting events with the NBA and USTA.
Still buzzing from recording a high-energy spot for World Tennis Day, G.K. and I took a moment to unwind and talk about his life as a professional VO artist.
CMD: Where did you grow up?
GK: I grew up half an hour outside of the city in New Rochelle, a little city in Westchester. It was far enough away from the city to have that house-with-a-backyard kind of life but also very close to the city so whenever I needed a city fix it was just a 30-minute drive or 40-minute train ride.
CMD: How did you decide to get into VO?
GK: It was a thing that I fell into. Long story short my dad is in radio working as a DJ for about four decades now. When I was in school I looked into acting and modeling gigs and I guess somewhere along the way I learned that I had a face for radio. And then boom! I met up with a voice over coach and made a demo and I’m still turning a profit from that demo years and years later. It was the greatest return on an investment I’ve ever had. It’s given me a career that’s lead to opportunities for on camera hosting and all the things I originally wanted to do. It’s the greatest blessing of my adult life.
CMD: That’s awesome that your dad was an inspiration for your career. How did he get into radio and were you involved with the studio at all?
GK: My dad went to high school with Bob Marley and they were close friends. When Bob Marley and the Wailers started making it big they’d ask my dad to be their MC when they came through the northeast. So that led my dad to a radio job as a DJ playing reggae. He was the only guy in NY doing reggae at 107.5 WBLS. And then from there he created his own show, which would play at a nightclub where he had a recording studio and satellite connection. I would visit him all the time and I used to be a guest host here and there. Serious hands on training!
CMD: So it sounds like you’ve been doing VO work for a long time. Looking back on your experiences what would you consider your biggest accomplishment?
GK: I guess my success came in stages. Especially when you’re a kid and you see your first paycheck and you realize you can make money off of VO work. So my small gigs grew into consistent clients and some of them grew into different projects. You know, there are TV commercials but there are also promos, audio books, animation, etc. I guess everyone’s goal is to be the voice of something. I’m happy to say that I’ve done everything you can do in the VO world at least once.
CMD: What do you think has been your favorite genre in the VO industry?
GK: If I had to narrow it down to one it would be commercials. Both from an on-screen actor’s standpoint and a voice actor’s standpoint commercials are probably some of the coolest things you can do. I’m not a very ‘hey look at me’ kind of person so voice over is great for that. The thing about a commercial is that it can come on anytime anywhere without any fair warning. If I was on the TV show I’d have to swallow my pride a little bit and be like ‘hey guys not sure if you’re doing anything, but if you’re really bored and you really feel like it, do you mind checking out this show at this time, on this channel, and look for me?’ But commercials just show up in people’s lives at any moment. Sometimes people I know actually recognize my voice. I did an exciting record a couple years ago for Sprite featuring Lebron James. The spot was about people being different and original. It was produced well with a real budget so I think that’s the best commercial I’ve done.
CMD: What’s the most challenging project you’ve had to record?
GK: Those are usually the long form spots. I’m the voice and on camera host for a STEM math program with Scholastic. So every now and then I have to come in and rerecord the audio because they come up with new test questions. However, I’m very math deficient so I basically have to trick kids into thinking that I know math and I really don’t. So that type of work is challenging. I’ve done a lot of long form presentations for financial service companies. Often the copy is so bland which makes the record challenging, but it’s all rewarding. I don’t think I’ve ever done a VO gig that I wished I hadn’t done.
CMD: What do you love most about VO work?
GK: It’s very convenient in a lot of ways. It’s a new age, so you can do a lot of recordings from your in-home studio if you have one. It’s weird; I’ve made a lot of money in my bedroom not wearing much clothing, but not in a morally questionable way.
CMD: What are your hobbies outside of VO?
GK: I’m usually in hustle mode most of the time so I’m either acting, hosting or doing stand up. Right now I have a podcast. It’s called The Julian and G.K. Podcast. If you’re a wresting fan you’ll love it. Other than that, I play basketball, I work out, and I listen to a lot of music. In a perfect world I’d also be a signer/songwriter.
CMD: Do you have any advice for people looking to get into VO?
GK: You have to do what you like. And you have to do what you’re good at. I think that’s making the best use of your time. I did a lot of corporate America work while I was doing VO on the side, but it took years for me to figure out that I could make VO a real fulltime career. I wish I were the kind of person that can work a 9 to 5 five days out of the week hoping to not be challenged. Unless you got it made in the shade you have to work and if you don’t like your work then you probably don’t enjoy your life too much. That’s what corporate America taught me and I’ve been on this mission ever since to hustle and make VO my career and keep it my career. I have a lot of places like CMD to thank for that. VO isn’t the most tangible thing in the world but when you’re around creative people and it’s a nice environment good things happen, and I really think CMD is a testament to that. Anybody who’s willing to give us actors a shot whether it goes far or doesn’t you’re not going to regret trying. VO is an amazing thing to do.
To listen to The Julian and G.K. Podcast for free, download it at the Apple Store here, or check it out on Youtube here. To see a photo of G.K. hanging out in our studio lobby, visit our Instagram. Thanks to G.K. for speaking with us!
More resources for The Voice Shop and CMD
The Voice Shop is CMD’s voice over coaching and education initiative. Our mission at The Voice Shop is to help new and experienced VO artists establish and develop the skills necessary to succeed as a voice over professional. For VO classes ranging from the fundamentals of VO to how to build a home studio, check out The Voice Shop.
CMD is an audio post house and VO studio located in NYC. If you are an experienced voice talent who would like to join our roster, we invite you to complete our New Talent Form for consideration.