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Guy Harris

Voiceover artist
Guy Harris

Multi Vox award-winner Guy Harris is one of the UK’s best known voiceover artists and in-demand to the tune of up to twenty jobs a day from his huge and diverse client base.

In addition to corporate and explainer videos, he can be heard on countless TV and radio adverts, programmes including This Morning, Loose Women, Good Morning Britain and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, on ads for Apple’s iPhone and in many of the best known retail chains. Even during our interview three new pieces of work appeared in his inbox, including an in-store piece for ASDA about British Sandwich Week and a job enquiry for Piers Morgans Life Stories on ITV!

An Aston Spirit mic is always at hand in Guy’s vocal booth.

Apple, BBC, ITV, Disney, Global, Bauer, numerous retail chains
Guy Harris is using:
Twenty a day

“I never planned this when I was younger, I fell into it by accident, I was a skateboarder for years and worked in a skateboard shop. I ride a Boosted Board now, which is a battery powered skateboard. It does 22mph! I cruise around Wakefield on it early in the morning or late at night. Some forty year-old on a skateboard? Ha ha… who cares!

Back in 1994 the local radio station was looking for people to go on air and I used to contribute all the time. I entered an impressionist competition the DJ ran and I won that. So I fell into radio by accident, doing characters and voices.

During my time as a radio presenter I thought I should try and make some money out of voicing. I made a demo, put myself out there and I started getting booked. I thought to myself ‘Oh my god I should have done this years ago!’ I started to make extra money alongside the radio job. Over the years I got more and more voiceovers so when it got to the point when radio was changing – they were networking more and more shows – I thought I’d concentrate more on the voiceover stuff. Soon I was doing 20 jobs a day. Even now I can still run up 20 in a day. It’s more competitive than it ever was, but even today, so far, I’ve had 13 or 14 jobs in.

I’ve been doing this 19 years now. When I first started it was all local radio commercials, I’d call that the ‘bread and butter’; they’re quick and easy, 30 second commercials, and you could get lots of them. Certainly from a financial point of view if you voice a commercial and they tell you it’s running on ten, or fifty radio stations, you don’t just invoice the once! So you’re always looking out for those little beauties!”

Voice of God

“I love the variety of work. When I first started it was all character stuff but I did an iPhone 5 ad for Apple a few years ago and they wanted it all very conversational, it was the one that went “ears are weird, I don’t know what shape that is but they’re not round, so… why would headphones be round?” The moment I put it on the website I got inundated. Everyone wanted ‘conversational’, ‘Apple read’ if you like. I enjoy it, it’s easy, it’s just me talking! And it really hit home that you don’t have to be all shouty; “COME ON DOWN AND BUY THIS!” - just talk to people as you would normally. I started doing more corporate work, explainer videos and radio commercials using that style.

The amount of work I was getting made me change my strategy, I wasn’t going to chase video games anymore as I did when I set out. They’re great and I’ve voiced a few over the years, but they’re exhausting! You’re standing in a booth for hours and you’re shouting and you’re having to do all the different mannerisms. It’s physically quite demanding. Strangely, I used to do 80% character work, now it’s probably only 30% as my natural style is in more demand.

I voice radio, TV, I’m on a lot of kids TV – people say once they put Nickelodeon on there’s no escape from me! – I do a lot of in-store stuff, which I quite enjoy; I’m the voice of Wickes, and you’ll hear me in ASDA, Co-op, Morrisons, there are about 30 stores you’ll her me in. I do on-hold phone work, explainer videos, corporate videos, e-learning. And the weird things Is that it’s very rare that I’ll start a day with any more than three things in the calendar, but by five or six o’clock… even as we’re sitting here now I’ve had two jobs come in, an on-hold and a Voice of God [a term used to describe event announcements]. I did VoG for Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway a few years ago, put a clip on the website and now everyone wants to book me for that!”

Upholding standards

“It’s not uncommon for me to be in the booth at 6am because of the time differences. I do a lot in Dubai and there are a several producers in Dubai I work with who know I’m up early. Some jobs take a while but some are really straightforward and may only take ten minutes. Sometimes because of the fee I charge I have to remember they’re paying for me using an Aston mic and a Neve preamp in a professional studio - and for 19 years’ experience!

There are some great people out there who are doing podcasts who realise they have a mic and some recording gear and that their acoustics aren’t bad, and they think ‘maybe I could dabble in that’ so they put themselves on websites like Fiverr and People Per Hour and end up charging a pittance for what is a professional service. That’s the bugbear of the professional market, but business is business. There are standards to uphold; have they got the experience to bring the words to life off the page?  If they have, then they should be charging standard industry rates! I have been very fortunate to travel to some amazing places, experience a lot of things and make some sound investments along the way, not something i could do if I didn’t uphold the right fees for our industry.

The client who is looking for the cheapest voiceover, in my experience, tend to be looking for the world on a plate, they want absolutely everything, whereas the one who respects that you’re a professional voiceover artist and have a professional set-up, studio and attitude for it, they are the clients who come to you with a script that’s finalised and approved, they know what they want, they’ll have the facility to get you on the line via Skype, IP, ISDN or phone and direct it. So I’d rather wait and work for the person who says ‘I respect what you do and I understand the difference, and why I’m paying you a bit more.’ There’s still room for Marks and Spencers alongside Aldi and Lidl!

Because it’s a more competitive market than ever before I want to keep making sure that even after 19 years I still give 100%.”

Doubling up

“When I first started out I put a mic in a wardrobe, lined it with acoustic panels and hung a duvet behind me and that lasted me for a good couple of years.

I thought if I was going to do this properly I wasn’t going to go to Tandy or Maplins and get a mic for thirty quid, I went and bought a Neumann, a TLM103 which is still on my desk here, although I’m using the Aston Spirit right now. My thought back then was that I was working in radio, earning a few quid, if I get a good mic, decent ISDN and a good mixing desk then if there’s anything wrong with the audio it’s down to me, not the equipment.

After a couple of years I built a proper studio on to the house. I duplicated everything, two Soundcraft M8 desks, two TL Audio preamps, two ISDNs, two finalizers - just to add a little warmth – the reason was I was earning some good money from people wanting to get stuff the same day, and if that mixing desk went down and had to go off for two weeks I could have lost a couple of grand in work. Happily the mixing desk survived so I still have the other one in a box somewhere…

When I first plugged in the Aston Spirit I thought ‘Oh, ok, that sounds nice!’. It looks nice too, it really does look the business. I have a Neumann U87 and a Sennheiser MKH416 in the booth as well as the Spirit. Listening to this now, the Spirit’s just got a lovely sound to it. If I’m honest, I can’t tell the difference between the Spirit and the Neumann U87. That’s reassuring; in my head I have two really expensive mics to choose from. But when they told me the price of the Astons I said ‘What? You’re kidding! That means everybody’s going to get one. Dammit!’ It’s a lovely piece of equipment. I like the Swiftshield too, I feel very reassured when I’m using it.”


Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. INXS, Queen – I’m on about my tenth viewing of the film Bohemian Rhapsody – and I like big show musical numbers like The Greatest Showman, and La La Land. I like 60s music too, I enjoy listening to Tony Blackburn on Radio 2.

Q. And your favourite podcast?
A. I listen to a lot of property development and business podcasts but outside of that my favourite has to be Joe Rogan.

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. When I was a kid I wanted to be a stuntman or a TV cameraman. As I grew up I realised my body was quite thin and weedy so the stuntman thing went out of the window. I did dabble in video for a few years so if I hadn’t fallen into radio I’d probably still be doing that, but definitely working for myself.

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. A mic that has a setting to add that extra little bit of ‘something’ that my Neve preamp adds to already great mics, and a setting which gives to a really gutteral sound – a bit of extra depth for when I’m doing the ‘movie voice’.

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. Stylish, clean, affordable and exciting – exciting that a brand has come along and is delivering something of that quality for that price.

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?
A. INXS, ‘Never Tear Us Apart’.

Q. And which film?
A. The Notebook, with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.



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