Meet the Voices: Interview with Award Winning Voiceover Artist Toby Ricketts

BigMouth Toby Ricketts just won 4 out of his 6 nominations at the UK’s biggest voice awards taking home the night’s supreme accolade of Male Voiceover of the Year! So we thought we’d take a look into how it all began for Toby and learn a bit more about the man behind the voice.

Toby Ricketts made radio shows on cassette tapes when he was a kid, and he’s been hooked on the idea of being on the air ever since.  Toby graduated from the New Zealand Broadcasting school in 2001, and started his career in radio broadcasting, working for many stations at The Radio Network and Mediaworks over the years as a studio operator. 

He stepped into the booth one day and – in his word’s – “freakin’ loved it!” 

After voicing the odd radio commercial and doing some part time voiceover work, Toby went full-time as a voiceover actor five years ago. He works from a self-built studio in rural Northland, where he connects via the internet to clients in New Zealand and all over the world – using 4 different accents; New Zealand, Australian, British and American. His Clients include; Netflix, BMW, Audi, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung, Cathay Pacific, and 100s of others.

We sat down with Toby to ask him some questions about his career: 

Who was your first voice acting gig for? 

My first gig outside of radio (my first independent internet-based gig) was for a corporate documentary about a crane replacement in a harbour in Alaska! I had to record a few pages of corporate documentary narration. That was probably about 8 years ago.

What practices do you use to warm up your voice before doing a voiceover?

Truth be told, I do not always do warm ups – even though I tell my students to! You get to know your voice, and sometimes you don’t need to warm up. Sometimes you do need a warmup to get the depth or warmth required for a read. 

My worst time of day to voice is early afternoon, as my larynx is tight. If I do a warm up, I pick a middle note in falsetto and hum it for about 2 minutes, varying the tone. Alternatively, I read something in a high energy style for a few minutes.

What is your favourite part about being a voice artist?

Being able to work pretty much anywhere in the world, having super flexible hours, and it not really feeling like work. Sorry, that’s three things!

What is your number one tip for being a successful voice artist?

Get good at listening to your own and other voices. Get so good that you can do it as you’re reading.

What advice would you give to yourself when you first started out voice acting?

Keep going!

Tell us something about working from your own home studio in Mangonui

My rural lifestyle block offers such nice work/life balance. Once you’ve established a voice career, you don’t have to spend so much time getting the work. It becomes somewhat passive. Since voicework is a fairly efficient form of work (in terms of time) this leaves you more time for your other areas of interest. I enjoy building things and looking after our sheep and chickens!

What is one piece of advice you would give to potential clients?

Do the voiceover at the start of your project, not the end. Many a voiceover has been ruined by there being not enough time to deliver the lines to the appropriate pictures as the film is already cut. Guide voiceovers are often voiced by the editor or the intern, and are usually very rushed as they hate doing it so they fly through it as fast as they can!

What is one piece of advice you would give to voices?
If you want to audition and work online you should teach yourself how to record, edit and process audio. It is the second-most important skill after performance. Watch loads of content, find out what characters or styles suit your voice – what you excel at – and run with it. 

If you’re serious about becoming a full time professional, you have to make the call and then just jump. Take training and constantly reinvest into your marketing. There’s no real way to easily transition from part time into full time without getting a super-lucky break. You just have to do it!

From Sarah at BigMouth Voices

“We are very proud to represent Toby. His professional dedication to the voice over industry is an asset to us on a daily basis. His versatility, quality of recordings, speed of delivery, and professionalism, make Toby a stand out voice artist. The beauty of recording VO in this day and age is that Toby can be based in his studio, delivering top quality audio for clients all over the world, as more and more clients become comfortable with recording with a voice remotely and if required they are able to direct via Skype or use Source Connect during the session.”