Aixa Kay – remote audio narration recorded with Source-Connect
December 10, 2021

In this episode we go truly international with masters educated bilingual voice actress Aixa Kay, a native Arabic and English speaking Saudi Vancouver-ite. We talk about being a person of colour in the industry, and how to succeed in niche markets. Find out the incredible subtilties of Arabic and just what is the “threat board”. We talk trade unions, the power of community, and growing up as a Saudi woman vs the culture of self-promotion.

In this episode we have Aixa Kay, bilingual VO recording audiobooks and narration remotely via Source-Connect.


Aixa Kay (pronounced eye-sha) is a Saudi Canadian actor and writer. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Portland State University and was the head-writer for Um Elhala, a prime-time sitcom that appeared in MBC1. In 2013, she moved to Vancouver, BC to pursue acting. Then, in Jasmine Road (2020), she performed her first lead role in a full length feature.

In 2021, she narrated two audiobooks and launched the podcast “Saudi Sisters” which discusses family, culture, and working in the arts as BIPOC women. Also in 2021, she had her theatrical debut in the Vancouver Fringe Festival, and completed the mentorship program at WIFTV and Penguin Random House Audio.

Listen to the full epidote in our Podcast:

Ep7: Source Elements On The Mic with Aixa Kay


Mike Aiton: Hello and welcome to Source Elements on the mic with Mike Aiton.  And today my special guest is Aixa Kay.  She’s a Saudi Canadian actor, writer, and voice artist voicing lots of narrations.  And interestingly enough as I gleaned off your IMDB profile, you’re one of seven children born both to a nuclear physicist and a children’s author.  So that’s art and science covered then genetically.  Welcome.

Aixa Kay: Hi.  Yeah, as you would have guessed, it was a very difficult time growing up with a physicist and writer, each one wants you to be on their side.

Mike Aiton: Which country were you actually brought up in, Saudi Arabia or in Canada?  

Aixa Kay: I was born in Saudi Arabia in a city called Jeddah.  And then I moved and lived most of my life and Riyadh, which is the capital.  And then, throughout middle and high school, I moved to Vancouver, Canada for a bit, went back did my university, went to Portland for my master’s, went back to Saudi, and then I finally decided to move to Canada again, and that’s home since 2013.

Mike Aiton: So you’ve got some air miles then?

Aixa Kay: Yes, oh my god, yes.  They’re so good, I recommend them.

Mike Aiton: Okay, we’re going to start off with our Quick Fire question round, which we call, Which Flavor Source.  I’m going to give you some very quick questions so our listeners can get to know you.  And you’ve got three to five seconds to answer each one, a maximum of one line.  And if you need to give two answers, give two answers, that’s absolutely fine.  Okay, here we go.  Your starter for 10, fingers on buzzers, no conferring.  What’s your favorite biscuit or cookie? 

Aixa Kay: None. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, you’re a disciplined woman then.  What’s your favorite book?

Aixa Kay: Body Keeps the Score. 

Mike Aiton: Who’s that by? 

Aixa Kay: I cannot remember.

Mike Aiton: Are you Mac or PC?

Aixa Kay: Mac.

Mike Aiton: It’s like, how could you even ask me?  If you go out for dinner, do you prefer a starter or dessert? 

Aixa Kay: Hmm, both. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, great answer.  Analog or digital recording, which do you prefer?

Aixa Kay: No, comprende, I don’t know what that is.

Mike Aiton: So you don’t have a background recording on tape at all?

Aixa Kay: Tape? 

Mike Aiton: No, tape.  You’re even asking me what’s tape?  

Aixa Kay: No I know tape, I was born in ’82 so I know tape.

Mike Aiton: Okay, not relevant to you then.  Do prefer listening to vinyl or CDs.

Aixa Kay: Oh, if there’s wine involved, vinyl.

Mike Aiton: Do you play a musical instrument? 

Aixa Kay: Unfortunately not. 

Mike Aiton: And what’s your favorite digital audio workstation for editing audio?

Aixa Kay: Audacity.

Mike Aiton: What’s the most recent music that you purchased?  It’s a tough question this one because a lot of people don’t buy music anymore. 

Aixa Kay: Well, I do an iTunes.  I don’t know- I’ll just say the last song I remember which is ‘f**k you very much’. 

Mike Aiton: Who’s that by? 

Aixa Kay: I don’t know who it’s by, I’m bad with names.

Mike Aiton: What’s the most recent software that you purchased?

Aixa Kay: I think I’m running out of time, pass.

Mike Aiton: Who’s the most famous person that you’ve met?

Aixa Kay: Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair. 

Mike Aiton: Pretty big. 

Aixa Kay: I’ve met a lot of big people.

Mike Aiton: Mountains or beaches for holidays?

Aixa Kay: Mountains. 

Mike Aiton: Preferred weekend would be a city break or the country?

Aixa Kay: Country. 

Mike Aiton: And what’s your most hated colloquial phrase?  I’ll give you an example.  Mine is people who say anyways.  

Aixa Kay: Hmm, like.

Mike Aiton: Okay, that instantly brushes my buttons and works for me.  Thank you.  What’s the last film that you watched?

Aixa Kay: ‘I remember the time when the world broke open’. 

Mike Aiton: Oh, I don’t know that.  

Aixa Kay: Yeah, it’s an independent indigenous lead movie, really nice.

Mike Aiton: Is there a favorite studio that you would like to use or to visit?

Aixa Kay: Oh, I have no idea, pass. 

Mike Aiton: Which famous person alive or dead would you most enjoy a night out with?

Aixa Kay: Oh my god, you want me to narrow the world down?  Oh, God.

Mike Aiton: Not really spread it wide, have two?

Aixa Kay: Have two, okay. I’ll say Obamas’.  And an athlete, what’s her name?  It’s an Egyptian athlete, she goes by Zainab.  Zainab and she won medals. 

Mike Aiton: Long distance or?   

Aixa Kay: You can find her in the ‘lift like a girl’ documentary. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, interesting choice. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Who would you like to record with or work with?

Aixa Kay: Pass.

Mike Aiton: And do you have a favorite voice or a favorite actor?

Aixa Kay: I love the actor, she’s called Crazy Eyes in ‘Orange is the New Black’.  She’s an African American actress.

Mike Aiton: Yeah, that’s a series I haven’t seen but I have heard very good things of it.

Aixa Kay: I think you can see from all those questions that I do struggle with time limitations.  It’s very hard, it puts me in a place where I’m like, I don’t know.

Mike Aiton: That’s good.  You’ll find everything else afterwards, easy. 

Aixa Kay: Okay, good. 

Mike Aiton: Let’s move on. 

Aixa Kay: Alright. 

Mike Aiton: So let’s talk about your current occupation.  Where are you based?

Aixa Kay: I’m based in Vancouver BC. 

Mike Aiton: And how would people get hold of you?  What’s the best vehicle to get hold of you?

Aixa Kay: I am on social media.  So it’s on Instagram, @aixakay and Twitter it’s @Kay.   

Mike Aiton: And are you employed?  Or do you freelance?

Aixa Kay: I work freelance, most of my income is narration in voiceover.

Mike Aiton: And do you have your own studio?  I think you do?  

Aixa Kay: Yeah, my own closet. 

Mike Aiton: If you have to go to a studio, do you have a preferred studio in your area?

Aixa Kay: I’ve tried maybe three different studios in Vancouver. And definitely so one was sound kitchen. 

Mike Aiton: That’s a famous one the sound kitchen. 

Aixa Kay: Okay.  My knowledge about like, the landscape in voiceover like the formal one is very limited and I’m embarrassed about that.

Mike Aiton: Don’t be you’re amongst friends. 

Aixa Kay: Okay.  But I love the- whenever I go there, because it takes a lot of the pressure off of you, as opposed to working from home.  And they’re usually like yourself, and like audio engineers are so understanding that the more the voiceover talent is comfortable, the narration is going to be easy and fast.  So they make you feel loved and cared for.

Mike Aiton: Oh, you are so kind.  

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: Sound engineers will love you.

Aixa Kay: I love them.  Oh, my God, I love them so much.

Mike Aiton: How would you describe your job to those who know the industry well?

Aixa Kay: My job is to trust that if I’m cast for something, that there’s something about me that is enough.  So to just bring my best self forward without trying to put on anything extra.

Mike Aiton: How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t know the industry particularly well,

Aixa Kay: I get scripts, and I get some text and I have to read it depending on what kind of genre it is.  So if it’s for commercial, or if it’s for narration, whatever genre it is, I have to know what the listener needs.  And so I’ll read it in a way that makes sense to the listener.  And make sure that my voice is everything, it is my body, it is my emotions, it’s my face.  So the narration has to be everything at the same time.

Mike Aiton: Let’s talk about your background now.  How did you start in the industry?  I mean, obviously, you’ve been to university and done a master’s degree.  But how did you start as a voice narration actress?

Aixa Kay: Oh, voice acting was really interesting. So when I moved here in Vancouver in 2013 I wanted to be an actor but I was very shyit seemed like a really far shot.  So I started taking classes with ‘On the mic’, which is a very great school in Vancouver for voiceover.  And it was a class called acting for voiceover.  And then when I took the class, the teacher said, oh, Aixa you’re going to make a great actor.

So I started doing acting.  But when the pandemic hit, that’s when I am like, holy shit, I’ve got to find me somewhere where I can have some agency over my career and my life and income.  So that’s like, seriously during the pandemic, is when I set up I just like Chris did, I paid a lot of money to get proper equipment and set up.  And that’s where I started on pay-to-play websites.  

Mike Aiton: That’s quite a brave step in a way if you don’t mind me saying because you’ve invested in the equipment relatively early on in your career.

Aixa Kay: Oh yeah.  I was like, at that time when I was doing it, I’m like, I’m going cuckoo in a closed apartment during the lockdown, and I’m doing the craziest thing, I’m going to regret it.  I was absolutely wrong.  It was the best decision like for voiceover, sometimes the equipment and the setup and all that preparation is maybe, I don’t know, I’d say 70% of the job, yeah.

Mike Aiton: Along your career path you’ve had some forms of formal training with ‘On the Mic’, but also some of your training has been literally on the job site well? 

Aixa Kay: Yes. 

Mike Aiton: Which way do you enjoy learning more?

Aixa Kay: I definitely enjoy learning through being on the job.  So the struggle for me is that I’m a person of color and I speak another language.  So English is not my first language and I’m functioning in an English-speaking society.  So taking classes here, the tricky thing about it is the teachers are not going to be aware of my niche market.  They’re not really going to have the knowledge that will help me practically in my career.  They will teach me some stuff about the work, but I had to be in real life, I had to, like be fishing for my own food, because that’s the only way where I discover what works and what doesn’t.

Mike Aiton: Carving your own niche, so to speak?  

Aixa Kay: Yeah, yeah.  And you know, different markets have different expectations and requirements.  Like for example, in North America, they want a lot of casual, girl next door, conversational.  But then there’s a lot of other regions where they want somebody to sound really cool.  Or come with their, like deep voice or like, soft female little kid voice.

Mike Aiton: Yeah. Many voice actors and actresses are very flexible and varied with their ability of what they can do.  What would you say is your strongest style?

Aixa Kay: I love that question because I used to be embarrassed that I’m not very good with all styles. And then I just found out that the best thing is just to figure out what you’re good at.  And working with pay-to-play websites was useful because they help you early on figure out what the clients want.  So a lot of auditions I was submitting, I was booking things that related to narration.  And so I’m like, okay, people like me in narration, commercials more so in my own language, but narration more on the English side.  Even I got a mentorship in Penguin Random House Audio, which was awesome also, because of narration. Narration.

Mike Aiton: And narration is something then you’ve found that is a strength for you and that you enjoy doing? 

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: Because as a sound engineer, I enjoy recording duration. 

Aixa Kay: Really?

Mike Aiton: Well, for the simple reason that quite often there’s many things that I find, as a sound engineer that you can add to the party.  Sometimes it can be grammatical because I studied Latin when I was at school, I went to old farts English boarding school.  But because of that, I’ve had a good background in grammar.  And we had a theater at school so I’ve learned to act as well. 

Aixa Kay: Amazing. 

Mike Aiton: That wasn’t for me.  But we learned a lot about diction, we learned a lot about timing.  We learned a lot about emphasis. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: And all these sorts of things.  And sometimes you can suggest to someone, if you put a little micro pause there, pretend there’s a comma, it may help your delivery.  And that can help sometimes because as a voice actor, you can sit there and with such a vast script that you have to wade through occasionally, you can miss a detail in the narration.

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: And sometimes if you’ve got another set of ears, who’s being a viewer, we can sort of get, “I didn’t quite follow that, or I didn’t believe what you said because”.

Aixa Kay: Absolutely.

Mike Aiton: I find it quite fun, as long as the artist is receptive.  Because some voice artists don’t like being directed by the sound engineer and some production staff don’t like that they sort of, “shut up and engineer that’s your place.”  And I’ve always believed and I think from your reaction, the same thing, it’s a team game, we’re there to- between the three of us to produce the best we can.  

Aixa Kay: Absolutely.

Mike Aiton: It doesn’t matter who’s the idea is.  It’s all about how do we get the best product? 

Aixa Kay: Yeah, and you know, believe me, like, sometimes when you’re the voice artist, and you’re in the booth, and you’re all alone, and you’re just speaking, you really lose sometimes the sense of that feedback, what’s happening on the outside world?  Like what’s going on?  And having that feedback, come back at you is the kind of care and safety that oh my god, it’s invaluable.

Mike Aiton: Okay, so something you like?

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Alright.  What do you most enjoy?  Which part of your job do you most enjoy?

Aixa Kay: I enjoy the excitement of topics and subjects and material that you get to work with.  Like, you just do things from all- I don’t know how to say it.  But you might be doing something for Netflix or something about sports or something about nonprofits or something about women empowerment, like whatever subject it is, there’s always something surprising and you learn so much about subjects just by reading the script for it.

Mike Aiton: I enjoy that too, the sense of becoming what I call the five-cent expert. 

Aixa Kay: Yes. 

Mike Aiton: You know a tiny bit about a vast variety of subjects if you work on a lot of documentaries, and I find that quite enjoyable.

Aixa Kay: Yeah, I agree.  And then also there’s those people that you discover like there’s people that you get to talk to and know and which is nice, because eventually, it’s no longer a judgment about yourself is like, “Oh, I didn’t do a good job”, or it’s just, “I click better with those people, I like the style of those people.”  So it becomes a nice way for you to have sense of who you are as well.

Mike Aiton: So what would you like to do more of an indeed less of in your career?

Aixa Kay: I would like to do more commercials.  I would like to do more film narrations, and a lot more Arabic, and especially in my dialect, the Saudi Arabian dialect, and it’s Najdi, Najdi is very specific to my region. 

Mike Aiton: Yeah. 

Aixa Kay: Because I noticed when I do those, it’s just a kind of a connection to heritage and there’s a lot of things that I don’t have to think about when it’s my native language, as opposed to when it’s another language.

Mike Aiton: Do you enjoy working in Arabic more?

Aixa Kay: Saudi? Yes.  The standard classical Arabic or MSA?  No, because it’s like when you’re talking about Greek or Latin, but maybe not in that way.  This is a language we read in books, and informal TV, it’s not the street language.  And it has a lot of grammatical specifications.  For example, one time I was recording a test material for people who are studying Arabic and so there was intermediate and advanced.  You have to know what kind of accent is on each letter you’re speaking.  So the pronunciation is so critical like you can make, for example, five mistakes on a five-letter word. 

Mike Aiton: Wow. That flips my mind because, in English, it can be a sophisticated language in that there’s an easy way of it being funny, we’re got good at humor in English.  We don’t have very many words, it has the smallest vocabulary of many languages.  But it has sometimes the largest sense of difference for the same word, so there can be a lot of subtlety involved in English, I think, which is with not so many words, which I found quite joyful in a way.  

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: It appeals to the inner snob in me.

Aixa Kay: Well, you know, we’ve got to take pride in our language, seriously, it is our story.

Mike Aiton: Absolutely.  Are you actually doing now what you thought you wanted to do?  Because it’s interesting, you touched on theatrical acting, sort of cinematic acting.  And then you hinted at your shyness, across the microphone- you do not come across a shy whatsoever, you’re a very warm and humorous person.

Aixa Kay: Aw, thank you. 

Mike Aiton: But so are you actually doing what you thought you wanted to do?

Aixa Kay: I think- I’m approaching my 40’s, I’m 39.  And I’m just so amazed at how much there is more to life every day if you choose to.  So I never imagined that I will be doing voiceover and I feel like that’s an extra gift that I have.  I would love to do more film and TV.  Unlike voiceover, I haven’t found my niche.  And there’s something liberating in voiceover that I can take agency over my career and get my own work.

With film and TV, there’s still- you’re really a lot of times attached to an agent, and an agent to casting director and a casting director to the producers and directors will approve.  So the journey of having more, I guess, people of color, people with accents in the film industry on screen is not as fast and forward-moving as it is in other areas of work. 

Mike Aiton: Do you think the difference in that, as a voice actor, we only hear you?  In the same way with a radio drama, you have to imagine where you are.  You’re given hints and clues with sound effects and atmospheres, but it’s not presented to you on a plate.  Whereas with film and TV, you either look like Tom Cruise or you look like someone else?  And do you have the look of an American lawyer sort of thing?  Maybe a lot of big casting agents sort of tend to cast people without knowing perhaps their style of acting or knowing their personality?  More sort of, “I don’t want that person because they don’t like my mind’s eye picture of what a corporate American lawyer looks like”, or whatever part they’re trying to cast?  Is there too much visual clichés is what I’m asking?

Aixa Kay: There might be and I mean, this is like a huge subject.  But I would say that it’s also because the way the industry was structured is very slow-moving.  And so everybody wants to do and work based on what already exists as opposed to seeing a new way forward.  I just think it’s an aging old structure.   

Mike Aiton: It’s not agile in that respect, is it particularly?

Aixa Kay: No, no.  And maybe because there’s a lot more money involved. So there’s this sensitivity about change.  And yeah, I think voiceover I’m trying to think like, even voiceover a lot of times, there’s money involved when you do animation and stuff.  I’m just thinking that, like when it comes to my personal experience of that is, because with voice over, you can from wherever you are, and thanks to Source-Connect one of the big enablers and facilitators, you can be at any-

Mike Aiton: Oh I like the cut of your jib there.

Aixa Kay: Yeah, you can be anywhere in the world and you can, audition for any region, any country.  So for a person like me of color, who has an accent, I have access to other regions.  Whereas with film, I can only audition for my city, my province, there’s a lot of passport stuff and legality involved so I think that’s also another aspect.

Mike Aiton: That’s actually a very good point actually.  When you’re working, how do you take direction or critique?

Aixa Kay: Oh, I’m very open and very excited when somebody gives me feedback.  Because in this industry, it’s really hard to get feedback, it’s usually you get the job, or you don’t.  And so having an opportunity where somebody reflects back to you things or gives you some cues, or, “Oh, my God, that is invaluable.”  It’s like going to school for free. 

Mike Aiton: Goldust. 

Aixa Kay: And then I think, as you do more voiceover work, you separate yourself from the product like you do it, and then you’re just listening to it and observing it as a third party.

Mike Aiton: So if you’ve went visit a studio, for instance, to work in a studio, do you prefer open or closed talkback between takes?  Do you like, as soon as you hit stop or take do you like to have the talkback open so that you can hear how people react?  Or would you rather just wait for the specific direction when it’s sort of speak when you’re spoken to style?

Aixa Kay: Ah, interesting. I’ve never had one where it’s open. 

Mike Aiton: Okay. That tends to be the younger sort of set of audio engineers who tend to be more egalitarian.  Us old farts tend to have the, like, God switches where, “I’m speaking now, and I wish you to listen.? 

Aixa Kay: Oh, maybe that’s my age level so that works for me. 

Mike Aiton: Yeah, okay.  What sort of personal qualities do you think are best suited to your job?

Aixa Kay: Professionalism.  You have to be flexible, efficient, fast, and really fun, and kind to work with.

Mike Aiton: That’s interesting, kind to work with, I think is such a big one. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: I find that sort of flouncing behavior, I’m very intolerant of.

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: I think you have to have an open personality and want to go, “Oh, okay. You didn’t like that?  Alright, then how about this?”

Aixa Kay: Yeah, yeah.  Because this way, also, you create comfort on the other side to give you feedback, and then the dialog is open and going and you deliver.  Because it’s very fast-moving, it’s ridiculous just how fast-moving it is.  And so, like, people want to know that they say, I need this, you’re like, I’m here, I’m ready.  Two hours, I deliver.  We don’t like it, do pickups, I do pickups, I deliver.  That’s it goodbye.  Nobody knows the other person after that.  So it’s just that you have to be part of like, willing to, like, kind of come in and out of it and move forward.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  How do you think learning in this industry has changed, for better or for worse?  Because now there seems to be a proliferation of people who teach or want to make a living as voice coaches on the internet to try and teach the youngsters how to become voice actors?  

Aixa Kay: Yeah, it’s very tricky with coaching.  Like both on film, TV, and voice, there’s, I think saturated industry of teachers.  So being able to know who’s good and bad is a huge challenge.  There is a lot of money being spent from artists up and coming, that don’t really have a lot to spend because there’s that guilting in the industry that you constantly have to be in classes.  So I would say I am the kind of person that has always been in classes, like at least three kinds of classes per month.  And now reflecting back, yes, it has shaped me a lot but I think also there were a lot of times where it was a waste of money.  But the only way to know because there’s no standard, there’s no way of categorizing coaches-

Mike Aiton: There’s no arbitration of quality is there?  There’s no arbiter of quality?

Aixa Kay: No, it’s hard.

Mike Aiton: Because it’s down to how well people sell their course, isn’t it? 

Aixa Kay: Exactly. 

Mike Aiton: I’m a guitar player. And everyone promises me, “Hey, take my guitar playing course. And you can master the thread board in three days.” 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: And I’ve just thought of a good pun, though.  We could turn it into a sort of threat board, turn it into the threat board, yeah because it threatens me.

Aixa Kay: Yeah, I’m telling you’re something, I think you’re undercover like famous person but I don’t know that, yeah.  

Mike Aiton: Definitely not. I have a great face for radio, yeah.  And all these people promise you can unlock the threat board in three days.  And they can’t, you need to spend 10,000 hours on your instrument to get good. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: There’s an old saying, “Wes Montgomery didn’t come out the womb knowing how to play jazz, it took him 10,000 hours and a lot of learning. 

Aixa Kay: That’s true, that’s true.  And like a lot of times you’re marketing somebody and a teacher, oh, because they booked that many credits on these shows and I don’t know, I wish there was a way where there are more free things to artists.  And I’m part of the Union here in Vancouver so I do get a lot of access to courses but then you know, you have to already be in the union.  

Mike Aiton: Unions got kind of killed by Mrs. Thatcher.  I’m wearing my political hat here which is a bit dangerous, in the 70s.  But unions are not very strong in the UK.  And I remember when I joined the BBC, as a youngster straight out of university, I remember going around the entire sound department, 120 People at Television Center, and said, “Who’s a member of the union and why?”  And the percentage of uptake was extremely low and the uptake of people who were happy with their union was even lower.  But there had just been a strike where the entire sound department had gone out on strike to back up the technical managers.  And then when the sound department went out on strike about something the technical managers didn’t come out and back them up. (? I asked at- at a bad time). 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: What’s been your take of unionization?  And has it been a healthy thing?

Aixa Kay: Well, I know it’s always a big question.  A lot of people join the union and then leave the union, especially for certain voiceover actors, because a lot of projects that come into town are non-union and so being in the union, restrict them from working.  And also a lot of aspects of union is confusing for people who work in the international market as myself.  So there’s been a bunch of questions that I had, and when I ask other colleagues in the union, when it comes to international markets that they can’t help me with.  So it’s always like navigating “Am I doing the right thing? Or is this the wrong thing?”

Mike Aiton: So there can be a little bit parochial then with that outlook?

Aixa Kay: Yeah, it’s challenging. Like, if you asked me, “Why are you in the union?” The only reason I will give you is because, with film and TV, they say I have priority to get auditions for, so. 

Mike Aiton: So membership of the Union gives you fast-tracking into an audition compared to a non-union person?

Aixa Kay: Yes, priority

Mike Aiton: Interesting.  Because as I was saying unionization is not very strong in the UK, so my experience of it is extremely limited. 

Aixa Kay: Okay. 

Mike Aiton: And I was recently asking some North American people because I think a lot of the entertainment unions are about to take a vote on a ballot of whether to strike or not, over streaming media?  And it’s dropping us about paying properly for what it’s doing.  But I think I’ll shut up on that one because it’s not a topic I know a lot about.  Moving swiftly on? 

Aixa Kay: Yes. 

Mike Aiton: Which YouTube channels or Instagram accounts would you recommend for people who are learning or even indeed for more experienced people?  Who have you found useful to watch or to learn from?

Aixa Kay: Oh, I loved Booth Junkie.  Also in the first maybe three months when it was pandemic and I decided I need to buy a mic, I just kept coming across his videos.  I learned so much from him, and I love how he simplifies it, he is very straightforward.  He does a lot of comparisons, a lot of tech education, he’s just- overall I love his channel.

Mike Aiton: Thank you.  I’ll go and check him out. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: What nuggets do you think you’ve learned early on in your career that have stayed with you?  What’s resonated with you that you learned early on?

Aixa Kay: Well, I guess everybody knows the fake it till you make it aspect.  I’ll give you an example.  Like, I started with pay-to-play websites, and then people are like, “oh, can you deliver this ready video, edit it, and everything?”  I’m like sure, they liked my audition.  And I had no idea, even what to do.  I was very new to Audacity, I didn’t know how to deliver a final product. 

The community, always rely on your community and be present for it as much as it’s present for you.  And if there is no community, then you create one by extending hands to other people.  It’s I think, trust and abundance, and generosity sometimes gets lost in cities.  And so when you people feel like you’re extending, it starts to just awaken that element of themselves.

Mike Aiton: There’s, yeah, quite an altruistic side to you, I can detect about sharing knowledge and wisdom?  

Aixa Kay: Yeah, I would say I’m grateful that 60% of what I learned and what I’m doing is because I had people show up for me and help me,

Mike Aiton: There’s always the old adage of, if you don’t know how to do something, say yes.  And then go find out afterward 

Aixa Kay: Yes, yes, exactly.

Mike Aiton: Yeah, it can’t be that hard. I remember once I was with a client, quite relatively early on in my career- I had left the BBC was working in a post-production studio in Soho. He said to me, “Can I have reverb on that?”  I said, “Hang on reverb?” and started leafing through the book as if I was looking for what reverb was?. He goes, “it’s kind of like Echo.”  And I said, “I know I’m just having- I’m just pulling your leg.”  He found that very funny.

Aixa Kay: It is very funny.  Oh, my God, imagine his heart like crashing on the floor he’s like, “What the hell did I do in my life?” 

Mike Aiton: “Why have I got him?”  Yeah, anyway, what advice would you give to your ambitious, younger self?

Aixa Kay: Go for it earlier and don’t ask permission.  I feel the greatest gift of being in my 30’s heading into my 40s is that I learned that nobody really knows and everybody’s guessing their way towards something.  But some people are better at presenting knowledge, they present like they know.  I’m not a promoter of like fake confidence.   It’s just the confidence in that this is the process, being lost is not wrong, it’s part of the process.  And so being lost with intention is important.  So don’t wait for somebody to be the authority on something to give you the approval, there are so many varieties and requirements in the world.

Mike Aiton: So in a way, you’re saying seek forgiveness, not permission?

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Go for it. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah, go for it.  Go for it and don’t be shy.

Mike Aiton: I have two mantras.  One is, is seek forgiveness, not permission.  And the other one is walk gently with a big stick. 

Aixa Kay: Oh, that’s nice, I like that one.

Mike Aiton: You know, that’s kind of many things all wrapped up in one, it’s like about being kind to people.  I remember when I was relatively young in my career, and a runner came in.  And he was obviously brand new first day on the job, didn’t have a clue. I  think we were doing a commercial, so the roomful of advertising executives and production people and me and I think I had an assistant there. He walked in and went, “who wants drinks?”  And you could tell he was like a startled rabbit in the headlights.  I thought, “Uh-huh”, and I grabbed a pen and a paper.

As people were reading out what coffee they wanted, and whether they wanted zebra milk, or whether or they wanted their eggs over easy and all that kind of jazz and this poor guy was trying to remember, and I wrote it all down for him and then handed him the piece of paper at the end.  I said, “Next time bring a pen and paper.”

Aixa Kay: Aw.    

Mike Aiton: he came back later and went “Thank you, you dug a hole a hole there,”.  And I said, “You know what, it’ll never e a hole for you again, you’ve learned a really valuable lesson, also you came back and said thank you to me.”  So I said, “You’re always welcome in my room, anytime you want to sit and watch me mix and learn something, just come in.  If there’s no clients here, you’re welcome.”  

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: Always treated the little people as tomorrow’s big people. 

Aixa Kay: Gratitude goes a long way.

Mike Aiton: And be kind because you know what? 

Aixa Kay: Yes, absolutely. 

Mike Aiton: I was that thirsty little twat once and I was someone who wanted to know and people looked down on me a bit and went, “Who are you to ask such a difficult question?”

Aixa Kay: Yes, you know, I one thing I also learned is there’s with newcomers, a lot of times they think that there is an exclusive club, or that there’s people who already have a party going on. A lot of times people who are not being open to you, it’s not because they have a, like exclusive or party going on, it’s because they’re just not open.  And so treat yourself like you are already in the party, it’s just don’t feel like you’re excluded. A strong feeling a lot of times when we’re coming into an industry like just join in the dialogue.

Mike Aiton: Is that a sort of a female reaction?  If I may be as bold as to ask the question?  I’m sometimes slightly cautious about asking this question because I never view anyone in terms of their gender.  I find someone and go, “I want to work with you, because I’ve heard what you do and it’s great, please, I need your help.”  Not because they’re a man or because they’re a woman.  I think gender should always be a non-issue.  But unfortunately, in society and the workplace, it is an issue for some people.  And please feel free to plead the Fifth Amendment. Have you found gender has been an issue for you?  Because you’re a couple of times you’ve mentioned people of color?  So you’ve said it can be harder for people of color, is it harder as a woman do you think?

Aixa Kay: So I think gender is an issue for me, because of my upbringing,  I grew up in Saudi Arabia in a time when it (?was) very well segregated at that time.  I went through all of school in a girl’s school.  When I hit puberty, and I was required by my family, I don’t cover now, but I was required at the time to cover and wear a hijab. 

Mike Aiton: Yeah. 

Aixa Kay: There was this always sense of like, don’t sit with boys, don’t.  So there’s always a- gender is very strong in the back of my mind. 

Mike Aiton: Yeah. 

Aixa Kay: But as I moved to Vancouver, and I started to transition, it’s taken me a long while to have a comfortable friendship with a man.  And it’s getting easier with age, I think because I don’t know because I have a son who’s 15 and I think I’m starting to also look at men with more of compassion. 

Mike Aiton: Sure, you’re looking at your son, and you’re seeing with your mothering eyes, and you’re not viewing him as a predatory man, which is perhaps that’s some parts of a misogynistic culture, if some elements of some cultures can be like that, and think that men always are that way.  And I’ve always thought of myself as a man who’s quite in touch with my feminine side, you know.  I don’t view myself as black or white, pink, you know, and I don’t care about my gender is like irrelevant, really, I prefer-

Aixa Kay: Yeah. You get that vibe here in Vancouver as well.  And just like also re-tracking, is that-  to remember that in those countries that where they show that man is predatory, or whatever.  Remember that these ideas are perpetuated by men, so they’re the ones who created that. It’s not like women suddenly woke up and say, “Oh, I’m going to mistrust or distrust men.”

It is changing for the better, but it’s very, very slow, it has to be a journey.  Being in the industry here, I didn’t find difficulty being a woman and with men, a lot of the help and recommendations I got were from male colleagues.  But I do feel, again, it’s being a person, who is a person of color who has an accent has really been the most challenging for me.  Because even if people want to help me, they don’t know how to help me, I had to figure out my niche market on my own because it only applies to me. 

And actually, that is the greatest gift at the beginning when you think, “Oh, like, it’s really challenging for me working here.”  But actually, you realize, there’s such a saturation of people who are, I would say, I’m just going to use like, randomly like white people who don’t speak another language, who have very clear accent, there’s saturation and huge competition, huge, huge.  So when I have a niche market, I have less competition.

Mike Aiton: You’re a big fish in a small pond, which is the Arabic speakers and who are female, and also who are proficient at what they’re doing and also who are based in Canada and have a good sort of a bilinguality.  Oh, that’s hard to say. 

Aixa Kay: Bilinguality.

Mike Aiton: You guys earn your money.   

Aixa Kay: Yeah, yeah.  Or like here, a lot of times when they’re based here or the end, they want somebody who has an accent, either ambiguous accent or wants a specific Arabic accent.  And in the current climate, they can’t bring a random white person and then tell them to put on an Arabic accent because now nobody accepts that anymore.  So it does give me room to be at the top of the shortlist.  

Mike Aiton: Okay, let’s change tack a bit now.  And let’s talk about techie nerdy nonsense.  So you’re using a Mac?

Aixa Kay: Uh huh.

Mike Aiton: Is it a laptop, an iMac or?

Aixa Kay: MacBook Air. 

Mike Aiton:  Okay.  You use Audacity, you say?

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: And what’s your interface that you like to use?

Aixa Kay: It’s mix Prix de. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  And who’s that made by? 

Aixa Kay: It’s made by Sound Devices.

Mike Aiton: Ah, okay.  They make the location recorders. 

Aixa Kay: I owe that recommendation to an audio engineer who was recording audio when I was doing a film.  He is the one who helped me set up my, like, basic equipment.  And again, he’s- so there you go, that’s the man who helped me out. He’s what I swore by it, and he says, it’s good for me because it has a limiter, so it helped me when I’m recording on my own not to worry about, you know,

Mike Aiton: Over modding?  

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: What microphone are you using? 

Aixa Kay: Oh, TLM 103.  

Mike Aiton: Ah, the classic? NOIman, yes. 

Aixa Kay: NOIman.  

Mike Aiton: The best thing about NOIman’s is in 50 years when you’re recording your best-of album, that NOIman will still be around and there’ll still be spares for that microphone available.

Aixa Kay: Yes. 

Mike Aiton: You get what you pay for with them.

Aixa Kay: Oh, yeah.  But when I first got it, I was terrified of how it picks everything.  I could hear my neighbors I could, discover all the depths of my mouth.  I’m like, “What is wrong with my mic?”  

Mike Aiton: Yeah, the amount of voiceover artists who slurp endless amounts of coffee and then you have to go, “milk, it’s not great.”  You really ought to be drinking apple juice and water, or a couple of drops of lemon juice in your water, get rid of the acidity, gets rid of all the saliva and stickiness in your mouth.  And but no one ever does, but hey?  Are you studio chairs?  It has been said by some wise sages that, is sitting the new smoking?  Because it seems that a lot of you voice people like to stand when you perform.  

Aixa Kay: Oh.  Very interesting question.  But I do stand because I feel like I have better access to my diaphragm-

Mike Aiton: As the actress said to the bishop. 

Aixa Kay: And also my movement-

Mike Aiton: Sorry, I was being rude then. 

Aixa Kay: No, if you ever said a joke, and you see me silent, that means it’s English and British, difficulty in translation.

Mike Aiton: Okay, anyway, moving swiftly on from that one.  Let’s think now about the pandemic.  I mean, my standard question here would kind of be, how has the pandemic affected your work?  But it kind of inspired you to start working and forced you to begin work effectively, didn’t it? 

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: The pandemic has been your friend?

Aixa Kay: I am grateful to the pandemic in that sense because, you know, when humans are tested, I think they bring their best survival skill forward.  Because they kind of get a bit so relaxed and comfortable.  And so yeah, with the pandemic, like, within three months, I went from, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, to like, I have my setup.  I am on maybe five different pay-to-play website, or just like voiceover casting websites.  I started to like, record every day even for fun, not because I have to, like reading poetry and Arabic text.  Oh, and I started to also learn Audacity, which is not very difficult, but you still need to learn a few things. 

Mike Aiton: Sure. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah.  And especially like when you’re delivering stuff as you need to have basic audio editing.  Like, it’s not like you rely on the studio to do it. 

Mike Aiton: No, you’ve got to have some basic abilities to be able to top and tire law, or you take the best takes and select. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: What percentage of your narration work is remote now?  I mean, what is Vancouver still in a state of lockdown?

Aixa Kay: Yeah, there is a lot of people who go to the studio, but there’s stricter measures because, during the pandemic, I recorded an audiobook.  That’s like five months or six months ago, I recorded in a studio and it was fine.  But right now, I’d say 90% of my work is from my studio.  And I just recently wrapped an audiobook narration recording for Penguin Random House and it was 320 pages, about 30 hours of narration studio time. 

Mike Aiton: Wow. 

Aixa Kay: In my closet.

Mike Aiton: So you got to be careful where you say that 

Aixa Kay: Yeah, I’m not going crazy.  No, but my closet is relatively, it’s nice, I like it.

Mike Aiton: It’s got a good acoustic, I have to say.  You sound very, very smooth, smooth, and natural coming to me.

Aixa Kay: Yeah, I got also a recommendation from the audio engineer about what kind of foam to get and stuff.

Mike Aiton: So how do you see working in post-pandemic times?  If indeed there will ever be a post-pandemic?

Aixa Kay: Oh, I think there’s going to be more efficiency in the industry.  For example, I just remembered I was reading on “on the mic”, I think they’re providing some content, where they said a lot of union members were disadvantaged by the pandemic because they were people who are used to going to studios and never had a setup of their own.  And who was ahead of them were the people who are non-union who are used to doing a lot of work from home. So they couldn’t provide, they couldn’t book jobs because of not having access. 

A lot of people are already going to have their setups, there’s going to be less reason for people to be in studios because that way they’re saving on actual space.  I don’t know if- I would love to hear your own feedback.  But I feel a lot of people are trying to cut back on the separation of like the role of the engineer, and are expecting voiceover talent now to be taking on a lot of engineering responsibility.  And I don’t know if that’s really true but I feel like that’s a direction where it’s heading? 

Mike Aiton: Potentially, I think for some forms of work- I always think never fear the future, you know, AI is not going to put us all out of work.  Spoken websites that can speak text are not going to suddenly make Penguin Books, book all their work via them.  You need personality, you need input, you need all the talents and skills. Machines are good at doing simple things, and routine things well.  And in the same way, I think for me, post-pandemic, I think it’s a lot of people are going to get used to remote working and it opens the door for more choice for people. 

Suddenly, why do you have to drive into a city spend an hour commuting in by, trains, taxis, have lunch somewhere expensive?  When there’s, for some simple rudimentary jobs, there isn’t a need to do so.  I think if you’re starting to work to picture or doing stuff that involves a lot more, you need more sets of eyes on the screen.  And when you’re recording narration, it’s hard I think as a narrator, often, if you’re looking at your script, you can see the picture change in your peripheral vision.  But you can’t follow the picture and follow the script at the same time. 

And occasionally, you need someone else to be able to say, “Oh, that was a great performance, but it felt like you were just a bit behind with the pictures.  Let me just move it a second.”  Because you’re so busy concentrating on your performance, you can’t concentrate on the pictures as well. 

Aixa Kay: I totally agree. 

Mike Aiton: so that’s the sort of work that’s, A, can be done remotely, but you start to need a remote engineer as well as a remote producer, I think.  And that’s when the complexity level goes up, is I think when you need more eyes on the product, you’ve got.  If you’ve got three people paying attention to what’s happening, you’ve got less chance of rubbish coming out of the room. 

Aixa Kay: Right.

Mike Aiton: When you self-produce something and self-monitor, I think it’s much harder.  And that can be the inherent weakness with non-studio-based work.  But I think there’s a lot of work that’s done in studios, that doesn’t have to be, doesn’t need to be.  And I don’t think sound engineers should or studios should feel threatened at all, because actually, a lot of what they may lose is some of the rudimentary stuff.  Talking books aren’t the most fun for an audio engineer to record.  It’s much more fun to record a commentary because you’ve got sound and picture and there’s, all sorts of things to do with timing that aren’t involved in pure audio. 

But audio for books, that’s something that sort of thing where it’s quite high volume, quite time consuming, but it’s not very dynamic in its changing setup.

Aixa Kay: Yeah, I think you’re right.  I am always terrified of that time when I might book a job where I’m required to match with video.  A lot of times I get those but where it’s not really live direction or live recording and it’s, it’s very time-consuming.  The last two that I did, I swore to God, I will never do it again.  Because they don’t have the capacity for a large screen in my studio, I only have like an iPad space.  And so I just like, really I will respect and appreciate people who will make you go to a studio and get it done. 

Mike Aiton: Yes, or work remotely, but with the right tools that allow you to concentrate on your job. 

Aixa Kay: Mm hmm. 

Mike Aiton: And other people have watched looking at the synchronization and worrying about all those sorts of issues. 

Aixa Kay: Yes.

Mike Aiton: I think that’s, that’s part of the joy.

Aixa Kay: And that makes me again, say, how having Source-Connect has been so good for me.  Because when I get the job done while I’m on it, and I have an audio engineer with me, I leave the booth and I’m done.  I don’t have to like think about pickups, or redos or I, don’t know, it’s so fantastic. 

Mike Aiton: Yeah that’s great to hear.  Thank you.  What advice would you pass on to someone who’s trying this sort of remote workflow out for the first time?  

Aixa Kay: I always advise people to think of the worst-case scenario, and just be comfortable with that.  So the worst-case scenario is that it’s not going to work out.  They’re going to say, “Oh, like, it’s terrible, whatever.”,  then you’re going to lose that job.  And a lot of times, especially when you’re doing remote, there’s just a pool of potential out there.  So as long as you did the preparation, and the testing yourself, the worst-case scenario is that this like will completely be off.  But more likely, you’re going to have a little bit of glitches in the beginning, and then it’s going to work out. 

So you’re getting paid to practice and learn and as long as you’re very receptive and flexible, and not too stiff with the people with you on the line, it’s going to be okay.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  So the pitfalls to avoid will be lack of preparation, effectively, will it?

Aixa Kay: Yeah.  And it’s very- I know, it’s very subjective to say what preparation is.  I guess a lot of voiceover artists will never think that they’re prepared enough. 

Mike Aiton: Interesting. 

Aixa Kay: And so read, give it a read, give it a- think about it, imagine it.  Have your computer ready, restart it, everything, all the software’s up and running.  Like I’ll just give you an example, I had one time a live recording session with participants from three different countries.  And all of a sudden, in the middle of recording, the neighbors upstairs decided to start doing renovations. 

Mike Aiton: Oh, no. 

Aixa Kay: then I had to like, they were there.  And they’re like, “Okay, shall we end it or reschedule?”   I’m like, “I’m so sorry, can you hold on?”  And I go down to the concierge, and then we talk and then we tried to go upstairs and that took about 20 minutes of their time. 

Mike Aiton: Yeah. 

Aixa Kay: And I know, it put me in bad light.  I was very clear with them is that I’ve done a lot of work, this is the first time it happened.  But on some level, I think everybody during the pandemic has become more compassionate and understanding that this is part of the risk that you’re taking.  If you’re booking a talent from their home, this is part of the risk.

Mike Aiton: You can’t 100% plan for that, no. 

Aixa Kay: No. 

Mike Aiton: That’s hard to mitigate yeah.  What would you say is your recipe for success?  What are your top ingredients?

Aixa Kay: Curiosity, hard work, and fun.

Mike Aiton: Interesting, fun.  That’s good, I like that. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah, fun. 

Mike Aiton: If you don’t have that sense of fun, it’s every job is like licking a postage stamp, isn’t it?  And it’s boring.

Aixa Kay: Yeah. Yeah.  And if you’re not having fun, they’re not going to have fun listening to you.

Mike Aiton: No, I think that’s really important. You hit the nail on my head there for me.  What would be the thing you would most like our listeners to take away from this interview?

Aixa Kay: I think that this is a message I want everybody to hear, it is very possible and the sky’s the limit. So if you’ve been curious about voiceover, don’t just continue thinking about it, or waiting to get an approval from someone or a school, just take the first step, go on to websites that pay to play or whatever websites that do voiceover.  Start to see what their requirements are, take it one foot after another, don’t think about like 100 years from now or like a week or a year.  Right now, what is the next- only the next step that I have to do?  And just do it one step at a time and always think the worst-case scenario is like, “Oh, this wasn’t for me.”  So until you’re sure that it’s not for you just keep going.

Mike Aiton: Yeah, you don’t know till you try. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: If you if you’re frightened of failing you will never succeed.

Aixa Kay: Yeah, so go at it with that thing that, “Oh my god the world has so much that I don’t know yet, and let me try this.”

Mike Aiton: Having now sort of thought about that what would you like is your audio epitaph.

Aixa Kay: Oh, what’s that word?

Mike Aiton: Oh, an epitaph is an inscription on your gravestone that encapsulates you?

Aixa Kay: I have a tattoo on my neck and in Arabic, it says ‘hoorah’ which means the feminine of free, so she is free.  I would like that to go on my grave.

Mike Aiton: That’s nice, I like that.  There’s a sense of spirit in that isn’t there? 

Aixa Kay: Yeah, my name is alive.  So all for just being like, alive and full and happy and having a choice.  

Mike Aiton: How would you like to change the industry if you could? 

Aixa Kay: I’m still not sure about how that’s going to look like, but I feel the audition process for film and TV. I would love that to change.  I don’t think it’s efficient, I don’t think it’s fair but I don’t know how a change will look like.  With voice over. I would like to see more independent groups and people, like more community building or spaces where people can build on each other’s experience.

Mike Aiton: Okay, sort of what more like Facebook groups that are friendlier sort of thing? 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Because obviously, Facebook groups can be a little bit poisonous on the internet.  It’s the internet, I have an opinion. I’m going to speak it.

Aixa Kay: Yeah.  And a lot of times us as artists on the internet, really what we’re doing is trying to promote ourselves and book our next job.  So it can- for somebody who’s coming in and reading it will think, “Oh, everybody’s amazing and successful.”  But it’s really you’re not my audience, my audience is the other people out there who are going to see that I’m professional, and I do work.  And so yeah, that’s not a good place to figure out how to connect sometimes.

Mike Aiton: Yeah, I mean, there’s that cliché that I remember when I was thinking going freelance, and someone said to me, being freelance is 95% sales and 5% talents.  

Aixa Kay: So true.

Mike Aiton: You have to have that ability to be able to go out and sell yourself, which culturally, for English people is a little harder.  I think there are differences- I mean, do you find that being Canadian and also, Saudi Arabian as well, do you find that there’s a culture clash in that, especially being, perhaps a woman working in this industry as well, in terms of the Saudi Arabian side of things and the Arabic where is it harder to promote yourself because it’s not seen as acceptable to promote yourself?

Aixa Kay: Yeah, excellent question, like, you’re just exactly saying the- exactly what the situation is.  I think North American people have an easier time at self-promotion, it’s culturally accepted, it’s the way that they function a lot of the time.  So people who are coming from other cultures and other industries don’t present as well, because they’re trying to be humble, or trying to be honest.  For example, one time I get a booking, and they’re like, “Oh, do you have Source-Connect?”  And you have to slay it saying, if you have Source-Connect, I didn’t have it at the time.  

Mike Aiton: Yeah. 

Aixa Kay: She was like, “Why do you say I don’t have Source-Connect?  All it has to do is you download the thing and you do the subscription.  Say, I have Source-Connect.”  So you know, it’s a lot of those little things, “Don’t say I don’t know something”, and show off is very fine. I think, coming from Saudi Arabia, and yes, being a woman who’s always trying to like accommodate, so it makes it harder.  But somebody told me once the quote is, you don’t have to be smaller for somebody else to be bigger, that you can both be bigger together.

Mike Aiton: That’s a really interesting quote, actually. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: It sounds like a translation from something to me, because it’s not- that doesn’t sound like an English quote, but it still resonates with me.  Because other people’s perceived size or stature shouldn’t be affected by who you are. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: And in the same way, I think some of the most talented people I’ve ever met in my industry have been some of the most humble people and have been the people who are very interested in everyone in the rooms, ideas and opinions and haven’t been prima donnas at all. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah.  It was interesting. I took one time a course online from England.  It was with what’s this, the biggest theatre school?  

Mike Aiton: The Old Vic?

Aixa Kay: The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

Mike Aiton: Oh RADA, yes.

Aixa Kay: Yes, RADA.  And I took a course and so there are only two North Americans in the class and the rest were from England.  And it was fascinating how grounded people on the English side were and us from North American side were like [makes sounds] and they’re like they talk and they’re already breathing.  As an artist, as an actor, oh my god, I appreciate it so much. And like, I think it’s nice to travel in between countries every now and then to figure out where you click, and where you align on a moral and ethical level with yourself.

Mike Aiton: Yeah, that’s a really good point because I’ve always found that in the sound mixing sort of field, people find it much easier to walk in and go, “Hi, I’ve got 97 BAFTAs my name’s John, I’m really successful.”  Whereas an English person might have like 56 Oscars, but he would walk into the room, look at his shoes shuffle a bit and go, “Hi, can I go now?”  And he’d be embarrassed to be there. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah.

Aixa Kay: Yeah, our gift as British, we’re not very good at self-promotion at all.  It’s very anti our culture and it’s hard for us to do.  We’re shy, I think, as a nationality.  Hard to believe, given we have Fawlty Towers, and Billy Connolly and so many larger-than-life characters.  But because of that, I found that there’s a great tendency in North America for a lot of people to do exactly the same thing as everyone else has done, they don’t rock the boat very easily.  And I find there’s a little bit more what I would call, out the box for want of a better cliché, out-of-the-box thinking that tends to happen in Europe.

Because there’s less of a sense of Mr. Famous who’s got an Oscar does it, therefore I must do exactly what they do, or I’m questioning their purpose and their reason for doing something.  So I find there can be more imagination technically, in Europe,

Aixa Kay: I think anytime a human is connected with their vulnerability and their truth, I think there’s a lot of exploration that happens.

Mike Aiton: Yes, vulnerability is very, very important, I think in the creative world. 

Aixa Kay: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Again, that comes back to the question about direction and stuff.  If you’re not prepared to be vulnerable, you’re not prepared to be critiqued? 

Aixa Kay: Yeah, true.

Mike Aiton: You become harder to work with I think.

Aixa Kay: Yeah your ego stands as a barrier.

Mike Aiton: Yeah. That’s fascinating.  Well, I think we ought to probably wind it up then, I’ve taken up far too much of your time.  But it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you.  Thank you very much, I found it very enlightening.  And now I know Arabic for all sorts of interesting things. 

Aixa Kay: Oh, thank you, it was really- 

Mike Aiton: I’ve never talked to someone about the career of a voiceover in Arabic or and especially as a woman before.  So it’s been fascinating, thank you very much for your time.

Aixa Kay: Oh, I really appreciate your time.  It was wonderful chatting with you and so much of like, I just love how funny you are.

Mike Aiton: Oh, you’re very kind.  Thank you.  Okay, bye-bye.

Aixa Kay: Bye-bye.  



Aixa Kay

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