Midwest born and (mostly) raised
A few days after Nixon and Haldeman recorded their 18 & 1/2 minutes of silence, I took my first breath in Davenport, Iowa. A few blocks away, the Mississippi River rolled inexorably towards the Gulf, taking little notice of either Nixon or me.
Maybe I’m here to replace those 18.5 minutes of blank tape. I think the national angst over the next few years impressed upon me a simpler mission: to fill the silence. To push back the emptiness with sound and let it reverberate throughout the void. Then to increase the volume, then to make the quiet parts loud. And louder. And louder still.
Looking back, I took a path based on the example set by an L2 UltraMaximizer. (Audio engineers who survived the Loudness Wars understand. And wince.)
The quest to fill the never ending void with sound, like an outspoken Sisyphus, turned out like every quest to fill that never-ending void. I cranked out an endless stream of radio spots for car dealers, nightclubs, cage fights, furniture stores, and anybody else that wanted slambang, inyoface, explosions-within-explosions production style. I made a decent living doing it and, by my measure, should have been happy and fulfilled.
I wasn’t. And I didn’t know why.
Philosophers and psychologists alike have said a fulfilling life is only possible after facing your fear. My fear was silence – I still had “dead air” nightmares, 20+ years after signing off my last radio air shift. As much as I tried to rationalize, avoid, and ignore, the fact remained inescapable: finding fulfillment in voice work for me meant not just facing but embracing silence, because that’s how you tell a story. I needed to be a storyteller.
John Cage said that music is what happens between notes. Following his lead, I found the story is what happens between words.
Words are heard and disappear the moment they’re uttered but a story – a story can exist for thousands of years, outside the bounds of energy, matter, space, and time.
Stories are born to the silence. Giving that silence a shape so the stories within can be felt by all is my craft.
The Boring Stuff
I live in Iowa City, Iowa, where for almost a decade our house has hosted hundreds of foster kittens and cats for the local shelter. Since my studio is in the home, we are able to provide care for neonatal kittens lost or abandoned by their mother. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to nurse 6 energetic but clumsy kittens who are all hungry RIGHT NOW! Difficulty: one bottle means one nipple.
And that’s why I’m not a hand model.
Before committing full time to voice acting, I planned on becoming a radio DJ, champion skateboarder, roadie for Cocteau Twins, medical doctor, retired at 30, club DJ, professional hog roaster, nightlife impresario, famous author, karaoke legend, restauranteur, Jay Leno’s replacement (if Conan didn’t want it), and the ruthless meth lord of New Mexico.
The last two aren’t true, but I like to think that the rest of those experiences filter down into every performance. I think a lot of things.
Hockey and Hawkeye wrestling take up my idle time in the winter; kayaking, long walks with the hounds, and gardening get my attention whenever it’s warm enough.