On The Mic with Jai Santiago

December 10, 2021
They muse over voice acting, training, trade unions and remote working – and create a heady mixture of audio opinion, observation, learning, philosophy, & downright humour!

 

Jai Santiago is an American Voiceover, Film/TV actor based and writer known for The Mask I Wear (2019) and How to Become an American (2018).

 

Listen to the full episodes in our Podcast:

Season 1 - Ep2: Source Elements On The Mic with Jai Santiago

 

Interview

Mike Aiton: Hello and welcome to Source Elements, 'On the Mic' with Mike Aiton, and today my special guest, it says on my script, brackets victim, is Jai Santiago from Atlanta.  So today I will be jiving with Jai.  Jai, hello. And how's the weather in Santiago?  In Santiago?  Jai, Hello, how's the weather in Atlanta today?

Jai Santiago: The weather is good.  It's nice and sunny, it's cool.  It's fall, autumn so it's not hot, not too cool.  It's kind of just right, right now.

Mike Aiton: Oh, luxury, as they say.  Right, I'm going to start off and let our listeners get to know you.  As a mechanism for getting to know you, we're going to ask you our little introduction, which we call which flavor source which is a series of very quick questions you must answer within five seconds, and they must be short and succinct.  They're very silly questions, but it'll enable us to get to know you and have some fun.  So question one, what is your favorite biscuit?

Jai Santiago: Chocolate chip.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  Are you Mac or PC?

Jai Santiago: PC.

Mike Aiton: Starter or Pudding? 

Jai Santiago: Pudding. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, analog or digital recording?

Jai Santiago: Definitely digital.

Mike Aiton: Do you play the guitar? 

Jai Santiago: No, but I love people that do. 

Mike Aiton: Oh, because my next question would have been strat or tele.  Okay.  Because most sound engineers are also guitar players, or many are anyway.  Favorite microphones for voiceover. 

Jai Santiago: Whoa.  

Mike Aiton: I'm going to have to hurry you.

Jai Santiago: There's so many.  I like the roadie,

Mike Aiton:  Okay. You’re DAW of choice?

Jai Santiago: Adobe Audition. 

Mike Aiton: Okay. And what's the most recent music that you bought?

Jai Santiago: The most recent music that I bought?  Oh my gosh.

Mike Aiton: It's a hot one that because it’s not something we do very often.  

Jai Santiago: I know.  It was like, a jazz soundtrack from this TV show called for all mankind on Apple TV Plus.

Mike Aiton: You like jazz then, tasteful man.  What's the most recent software that you bought?

Jai Santiago: Oh, wow.  The most recent software?

Mike Aiton: That you're allowed to publicly tell us?

Jai Santiago: McAfee. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  What famous people have you met?  Or who's the most famous person you have met?

Jai Santiago: The most famous person I've met?  

Mike Aiton: Apart from me.

Jai Santiago: The most famous person I've met, probably, Janet Jackson.

Mike Aiton: Whoo, okay.  And what are your favorite studio monitors?

Jai Santiago: Let's see my favorite studio monitors, Dell. 

Mike Aiton: Oh, okay.  Sorry. I meant sound speakers you've taken- how naive of me to instantly think everyone knows what I'm talking about?  Surely not, good answer.

Jai Santiago: You meant speakers. 

Mike Aiton: Yeah, I did.  Okay, I'm going to change that question to speakers. 

Jai Santiago: Sonos

Mike Aiton: Okay.  Mountains or beaches for holidays.

Jai Santiago: Mountains, with beaches. 

Mike Aiton:  Oh, interesting. I can see we're going to have fun today.  Preferred headphones,

Jai Santiago: Preferred headphones, Sony.

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

Jai Santiago: By the way.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  And your favorite compressor?  Or favorite plug-in?

Jai Santiago: RX elements.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  And which studio would you most like to visit or use?  Do you have a dream recording studio?

Jai Santiago: I don't know the name of it but I would love to record in the place where, oh my gosh. Jimi Hendrix did his last album, his last studio album?

Mike Aiton: Oh, Electric Ladyland I think 

Jai Santiago: Yes. 

Mike Aiton: Good choice.  Okay, what famous person alive or dead would you most enjoy a night out with?

Jai Santiago: Tom Hardy.

Jai Santiago: Oh, interesting, okay.  Mine would have been Robin Williams, we're both crossing the pond with each other's choice. 

Jai Santiago: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Okay. Who would you most like to have recorded or worked with?  

Jai Santiago: Dead or alive? 

Mike Aiton: Either.  For some, there's not much difference. 

Jai Santiago: Yeah, right.  That's a tough one. 

Mike Aiton: I'm going to have to hurry you.  If you don't know say pass.  

Jai Santiago: Prince. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, interesting.  Last person I interviewed also said Prince as well.  Favorite actor

Jai Santiago: Of course that would be one.  Wow, oh my gosh, they're too many.  I'm allowed two?

Mike Aiton: You're allowed two.  

Jai Santiago: That's not easier Mike, let's- I'm going to say, Morgan Freeman and Jeffrey Wright.    

Mike Aiton: Ooh, okay, cool.  Thank you that finishes up our quick-fire question round.  So that's what flavor sauce.  

Jai Santiago: Nice. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, let's talk about your career path now.  How would you describe your current occupation or position now?

Jai Santiago: I would describe it as very chaotic in a good way.

Mike Aiton: Because you span different genres don't you?

Jai Santiago: I do, like, it's all over the place, everything from commercial to promo to some longer-form things like audiobook, and, like everything in between. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  So you're essentially self-employed and freelance, rather than staff anywhere?

Jai Santiago: I actually am staff somewhere but interestingly enough, it gives me a lot of flexibility so it's worked out really well.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  And you have your own studio? 

Jai Santiago: I do. 

Mike Aiton: Whereabouts is your studio?  

Jai Santiago: In my office in my home, I record in a studio bricks isolation booth.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  How would you describe your job to someone who doesn't know, our industry particularly well?  Let's think it in terms of your voice acting career?

Jai Santiago: Yeah, I would tell people that I spend a lot of time in a padded box talking about things with the potential of getting paid and making a living from it.  

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

Jai Santiago: Describe to those who know the industry well?  

Mike Aiton: I didn't tell you today was going to be easy.

Jai Santiago: I'm a voice actor, I'm a voice talent.

Mike Aiton: Okay, right.  Let's, let's start off with your background.  How did you start in your career? 

Jai Santiago: It was completely random, to be honest.  I used to work for a pretty big hotel chain, a hotel resort chain.  And I was like, a senior marketing manager at the time, and my boss wanted me to, in his words, you know, work in my executive presence.  Because I was doing a lot of presentations and things and I'm naturally shy.  So I wanted to do things that would kind of get me out of my shyness or helped me with my shyness.  So I was doing things like Toastmasters, speakeasy where I would get up in front of people, they'd tape me and I'd do these speeches or presentations.  And I'm like, what else can I do to get rid of my stage fright basically?  And I found-

Mike Aiton: Is it more shyness, or is it more stage fright?  Because they're not quite the same thing, although they can obviously have an overlap.

Jai Santiago: Wow, I'd say it's definitely a mix, it's definitely a mix.  

Mike Aiton: And did doing so help?   

Jai Santiago: It did.  I was lucky enough to find a voiceover studio here in Atlanta that really, really, kind of put me on my- gave me like a great foundation, and helped me in a lot of ways, and it just kind of went from there.

Mike Aiton: Did you have a mentor relationship with someone?  

Jai Santiago: I wouldn't say mentor but I definitely leaned on the studio- the studio, a school here in Atlanta a bit just in terms of ongoing training and workshops and things like that.  And it's been really, really good.

Mike Aiton: So would you say your method of learning has been a mixture then of on-the-job training plus some sort of academic type foundation courses and structured training?  So you've had a sort of a cross mixture of both?

Jai Santiago: It's definitely been a cross mixture of both because initially when I started, I did, the intensive training, and then afterward I did like my first demo and then I sort of- I just kind of did these random auditions and I wasn't doing any training.  And so my 'training' and I'm using air quotes was me just, auditioning for these random things.

Mike Aiton: Auditioning, yeah, the hardest audience in a way?

Jai Santiago: Exactly.  And it's like, there were no bikes at all, like, nothing ever came of it but I was practicing.  And then I took a step back, took a pause, and, I did more formal training, more script analysis, more commercial things, more promo things, getting like specific things, to work on and get better at.  And that was really the difference for me, honestly.  Once I started back with the training, things definitely, they took a pivot or a turn.

Mike Aiton: Okay, so experience and then some initial training and then having further training in which to sharpen your experience or to understand effectively, your experiences of the workplace?  

Jai Santiago: Exactly, exactly. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  So what is it you most enjoy about your job?

Jai Santiago: I love that, from day to day, you never, really know what you're going to get.  You could get something that's- you get a corporate thing or something that's supposed to be really fun and like, youthful, or something that's supposed to be really elegant, luxurious.  Like, it's so different kind of all over the place and that's really what I like about it.  Like, it's never the same from day to day.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  Well, and, what would you like to do more of, and indeed, less of in your career?

Jai Santiago: I would love to do more- I'm not going to say polish, but like more of the luxury spots, like the travel, the destination types of things, or the luxury products or things like that, I really like those.

Mike Aiton: A discerning gentleman.

Jai Santiago: Right.  What would I like to do less of?   

Mike Aiton: Yeah, what's the churn?  Every job has its equivalent of postage stamp licking?  

Jai Santiago: Right.  Not that I am not a fan of it.  Like, I love it I just, I don't think I'm very strong in it is animation, character voices to be specific.  They don't frighten me, I'm just not really- it's not my strong spot. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  And are you actually doing now what you thought you wanted to do?  Or is it what you've ended up doing?

Jai Santiago: I would say yes.  And just because like for me, like, I'm very young in my career still, so I feel like, at this point in time, I'm definitely doing what I set out to do.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  And what advice do you think you would have for the next generation or those who might be starting out?  

Jai Santiago: Train, train, train, you can never get enough of it. 

Mike Aiton: As in John Coltrane, I'll get back on my horse.

Jai Santiago: It could be, it could be.

Mike Aiton: Was he the jazz saxophonist who notoriously got laughed off the bandstand as a teenager, and then went away and practiced 12 hours a day, and then came back two years later, and absolutely blew everyone away, because he'd done so much training that no one could touch him.  It was the end of saxophones as we knew it.

Jai Santiago: Oh was he laughed off the stage?

Mike Aiton: I believe so, I think it was Coltrane, or I may be wrong, but I have a feeling it may be.  I'm 55 and a half senile so don't take anything I know for granted.  Okay, so what sort of personal qualities do you think are best suited to being a voice actor?

Jai Santiago: You got to be flexible and adaptable.  I mean, you have to be somebody like me who is typically, I've always been like, by the book and pretty rigid in terms of like process and method.  And what I found is I mean, you have to be flexible and adaptable to change and just be ready to kind of morph into different situations when it calls for it.  

Mike Aiton: So it sounds like from now having talked to you for a little while, I get the impression that there can be quite a sensitive side to you, you're quite in touch with your sort of emotional side as a man.  And some men come across in that way and others don't, I get the impression that you can be quite sensitive and in a complimentary way.  

Jai Santiago: That's very perceptive.  Yeah, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve.  And I think it helps with some of the reads that I do.

Mike Aiton: And how do you take directorial criticism?  How do you find you respond to it?

Jai Santiago: I'd say I take it pretty openly.  Like I said, I mean, you have to because I've always looked at everyone that I'm getting direction from, I mean they're there in that capacity for a reason.  So definitely, I take it with an open mind.

Mike Aiton: So you like to be able to listen, absorb and then expand on?  

Jai Santiago: Exactly.

Mike Aiton: And add your flavor to what's being asked?

Jai Santiago: Exactly, exactly. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  What do you like or dislike about how you learned and the educational process in your industry?  I mean, for instance, if there'd been such a thing as a degree in voiceovers or sort of voice acting, would you like to have studied that, for instance at university?  College, I believe you call it?

Jai Santiago: No, I mean, knowing me like I probably would have.  Because most people don't know that a voiceover is a voiceover that, that's what it is until they get into it, and they start doing it, or they know someone that does it.  But yeah, I mean, if there were a degree in that I probably would have gone that route, me just being me.  What I liked about the way that I started, when I found Atlanta voiceover studio, they immediately put me in the booth, and I was recording on- I was on the mic and taking direction from the engineer and I thought that was awesome.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  Do you find that my sound engineers do have good creative input?  Or do you find that something the suits and the creatives behind them tend to do with your sessions?

Jai Santiago: I always thought the engineers are gods, they definitely know like, what- they definitely have an opinion on what sounds good, or they can kind of give a nice redirect that you're not even thinking about.  It's kind of like an "aha", you know, like, "Oh, I didn't think about that.”

Mike Aiton: Okay, that's good to hear.  Because sometimes it's when you're this side of the glass, it can be difficult to know whether sometimes the part of the skill of running a session is to know when to put your hand up and say, I've got an idea here that may help us, or to know when to sort of hold back because the creative behind you doesn't like that.  And I've never really asked anyone the question in the booth, "What's it like for you when you hear an engineer chip in?  Is it like "Oh, God, here we go, the sound engineer is giving his ten peas worth.  

Jai Santiago: Well, it's always interesting, because, I was in a session the other day, and, we'd done all these different takes and versions.  And so the creatives, they were like, what else differently, could we do?  We've got all these different versions and so they were asking the engineer.  And he was, "Well, why don't we try, you know, XYZ?"  And they were like, "Yeah, yeah."  So I mean, it's the engineer, I feel like always has a nice redirect or an option that you can try, at least that's been my experience.    

Mike Aiton: A different perspective sometimes, maybe, yeah.

Jai Santiago: Definitely. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, that's good to know, thank you.  So which YouTube channels or Instagram accounts would you recommend for people who are trying to learn or indeed people who are experienced to pick up good tips?  Is there anyone in particular that you follow that you like that you can recommend?

Jai Santiago: I follow Atlanta Voice Over studio, I follow Trailer voice artists, I follow Real Voice LA, and let's see some others off the top of my head, I'm blanking,

Mike Aiton: It's not easy when someone puts a gun to your head.

Jai Santiago: I know, I know.

Mike Aiton:  But in general you are actively listening to other people and still searching always for other things?

Jai Santiago: Definitely because it never ceases to amaze me like in each of those accounts that I just named, they're following people and it's kind of like going down like a rabbit hole almost.  Because you find people, other artists, or other studios and engineers that you just weren't aware of.  And, yes, I kind of, like use those as like a blueprint or like a jumping-off point.  And then kind of, you know, look at what they're looking at, and it just kind of goes on this endless dovetail into things.  

Mike Aiton: Okay.  So what nuggets do you think you learned early on that have stayed with you?  Almost like mantras in your career?

Jai Santiago: Nuggets?  Some of the basics, like the technical things- or not technical things, but I guess common sense things.  Make sure you're getting a lot of rest, you're staying hydrated.  You're eating the right things.  You're consistently training, being nice to the audio engineer.

Mike Aiton: Oh, you can so come again, you're so welcome in my studio.  This is music to my ears.  Okay, what advice would you give to your younger, ambitious self?

Jai Santiago: Don't be afraid to do something that isn't by the book.

Mike Aiton: Can you give me a good example of something where you think you've maybe gone outside your comfort zone, and it's worked for you?

Jai Santiago: Definitely like I said, you know, you were asking about if I would have done a degree in voiceover if that were a thing.  And I said, knowing me, I would have.  I've always done things by the book, or how they were supposed to be done.  And I've always- the flip side of that is I've always had a creative side and I've always wanted to- I've always felt joy in creating things, that didn't exist or putting my spin on something.  So what I've found is with anything that I've done by the book, I've found a way to put a creative spin on it.  If that makes sense? 

Mike Aiton: Yeah.  If you suffer what- every creative person can have creative block or repetition syndrome, where you think, oh, you know, I'm struggling to reinvent the wheel for this one.  What do you find that unblocks, your creative block for you?  I mean, I'll give you an example.  For me as a sound engineer, my hobby is photography or playing the guitar.  And I find that if I'm struggling, sound-wise and not feeling very inspired, I will often go off tinker with some of my pictures in Photoshop or whatever, and then it gets me creatively excited.  And then I'll do that for 20 minutes or so and I get all sorts of, "Oh, look, I can do this, isn't this fun?"  And my creative juices start flowing again.  And I put that down, go back to sound, and suddenly, it's easy.  And I feel inspired again.  Is there something that works for you in that way?

Jai Santiago: Oh, yeah, it's music.  Like, I'm always listening to music always.  Like, I get up and I immediately turn it on it's playing out my home throughout the day and at night, when I'm going to sleep like it's constantly on.  And so when I definitely have like a creative block, and I'm-  like, if I'm trying to create something, like some original content, and I feel like I'm being repetitive, I definitely step back and I just listen to whatever is on at the time and take a while and I come back and that kind of gets me going again,

Mike Aiton: Okay, and do you have a particular music genre that's your favorite?

Jai Santiago: You ask the hardest question, it's really all over the place.

Mike Aiton: We want to challenge you on this podcast.

Jai Santiago: I know, I love jazz, I love- I don't know if you call it like, I guess like, adult, alternative contemporary- I hate boxes and categories.  Because some artists they kind of blend like these genres. 

Mike Aiton: Sure.  Are you thinking sort of snarky puppy sort of alternative jazz or?  

Jai Santiago: Like I told you like, I love a nice guitar riff, Zeplin or gosh, like Hendrix.  Like, I just, I really-

Mike Aiton: What's not to love.

Jai Santiago: I know.  I'm like what's not to love about those guys?  Just anything that can- like I can just - like just kind of bob my head to, just kind of like just kind of relax to, I love it.

Mike Aiton: Do you listen to much improvised music?  

Jai Santiago: I don't actually

Mike Aiton: Okay.  It's not everyone's cup of tea jazz.  Or that quote, what is it?  Define a jazz musician? Someone who's willing to put 10,000 hours worth of experience, get in a car, drive 300 miles, and go and get paid 15 pounds to play to three people. 

Jai Santiago: That's pretty accurate. 

Mike Aiton: And there you have it, that's jazz.

Jai Santiago: I love it.

Mike Aiton: Okay, right, let's get geeky, it's time to get geeky now.  So talk me through your home studio setup.  You said you're a PC man?  

Jai Santiago: I am PC for sure.  Just because I was on Mac for a while- like I say a while like it's been a while, years ago.  I don't know why, but I just kind of migrated to PC and just kind of never went back.  But my studio space, I'm in a studio bricks, it's the voiceover edition isolation booth.  It's a one and my audio interface is- I'm using an Adobe Audition with Scarlett-

Mike Aiton: Two by ten, yeah.   

Jai Santiago: Yeah.  And that's pretty much the setup really.  

Mike Aiton:  Okay. 

Jai Santiago: It's nothing elaborate, pretty simple.

Mike Aiton: And are you presumably windows 11, is it? 

Jai Santiago: Yes, yeah. 

Mike Aiton: And do you have a sort of relatively standard graphics card or? 

Jai Santiago: Yeah, pretty basic. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  So which microphone are you on? 

Jai Santiago: I am on the roadie NT one.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  Do you have a pop shield?  Or do you have like a filter?

Jai Santiago: I'm using the pop filter that actually came with the package that I got.

Mike Aiton: Okay, let's now ask the $64,000 question.  Studio chair because sitting is the new smoking, everyone stands these days to perform?  Or stands to work in their studio? 

Jai Santiago: Yes. Yes. 

Mike Aiton: That is everyone apart from me.  So are you a stander or a sitter?

Jai Santiago: It depends on if it's short or long-form.  And I'll tell you a funny thing.  So actually, yeah, I totally stand to get- because I like to move and I use my hands when I'm reading.  But if I'm doing like the longer form things like audiobook, I'd definitely sit.  And I have like a standard barstool.  But for the longest time, it just didn't dawn on me that, maybe I should get a cushion for this thing. 

Mike Aiton: Butt cushion.  

Jai Santiago: Exactly.  And so like, I got one like, like a few months ago and I'm like, "Oh my gosh," I'm like "Why have I not done this before?"  It was like life-changing.  

Mike Aiton: I can imagine.  So you haven't gone down that that sort of Herman Miller Aeron chair route sort of thing? 

Jai Santiago: Yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Of orthopedic chairs or anything? 

Jai Santiago: No, no, no. 

Mike Aiton: Not tempted.  That's probably because you're, you're young and agile.  When you're an old click-

Jai Santiago: Yeah, yeah, young and agile, I'm not that much younger than you.

Mike Aiton: Okay, you're too kind.  How has the global pandemic affected your work?  Have you found- what's been your experience of the last 18 months?

Jai Santiago: It actually enhanced it and like helped it.  Right before the pandemic and this right before the pandemic you had to be in a studio or have like a really nice sound treated space to record in.  But for booking things like more times than not, the creators wanted you in a studio somewhere.  And so, the pandemic changed that because you couldn't go anywhere and everything was, shut down and so you had to record in your own space.  And, yeah, like right before the pandemic, we downsized our home.  So, I lost my bigger space and so we have a much smaller footprint now, and everything's on one level.  And interestingly enough, as fate would have it, our neighbors on either side of us, one couple, they play for the symphony orchestra.  And so they were giving lessons out on the front lawn, and the husband does a lot of woodworking and he was always sawing or centering the drill. 

Mike Aiton: Drilling, yeah. 

Jai Santiago: And I'm just like- so it's like, it never failed no matter how I tried to treat my space it just wasn't working.  And I'm like, oh, my gosh, I'm like, I've tried acoustic blankets, and the foam and the pads and the sound from the outside was still getting in.

Mike Aiton: Yeah, all those sorts of things, they control the acoustics of your room, but the only way to literally stop other things getting in or out is either mass or space

Jai Santiago: Exactly, exactly.  And ultimately, I stumbled across studio bricks not realizing it was as popular as they are and it helped immensely.  Because like, once the pandemic like really hit all of like, the auditions like increased threefold and the opportunities present themselves threefold.  So, long way to get back to your initial question, like how did it change things?  I would say-

Mike Aiton: You got busier?

Jai Santiago: Yeah, I definitely got busier

Mike Aiton: Before the pandemic, what percentage of your work as a rough back, in fact, packet guide was remote?  

Jai Santiago: Before the pandemic?

Mike Aiton: Before the pandemic? 

Jai Santiago: Like, very little, like maybe 2%.  Like it was almost 90% or more, it was always in studio.

Mike Aiton: Okay. And during the pandemic, it's been up almost 100% has it?  

Jai Santiago: Definitely, definitely. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  And how is the Atlanta area sort of coping now in its COVID times?  Are things beginning to slowly open?  Or are people still keeping studio spaces closed?

Jai Santiago: Studios are definitely open and definitely, I mean, people are more open to having people in studio if they're vaccinated, or they're testing negative.  So, I mean, it's definitely opened up a bit since it started for sure.

Mike Aiton: Okay, how do you personally find working remotely?  

Jai Santiago: I love it, I absolutely love it.  And that's what I love about- like, I've always known about Source Elements and Source-Connect from the time I started, I've always known about it, but I'd never used it.  And, once I started doing things, remotely, like, I need to, get on this and see what it's about and see how easy or challenging it can be used.  And I absolutely love working remotely.

Mike Aiton: Oh, that's good to hear, I'm glad we can facilitate it for you.  And how do your clients do you think find working remotely?  Do you think post-pandemic or as the pandemic tails, do you think working remotely is something that's here to stay?  Has it become more attractive to people?

Jai Santiago: It's definitely more attractive people and it's not going anywhere, it just makes it easier, especially with everybody being essentially global, everywhere, like it just- it makes it easier.  I was working with an engineer who was in Barcelona, and Source-Connect allowed that like it just makes it easier.  So I don't- it's definitely not going away.

Mike Aiton: I'm glad to hear that, worried about our pensions.  Okay, because, at Source Elements we have a philosophy that when we're apart, making things together, helps us stay connected as human beings and creating a bond.  How do you feel about this?

Jai Santiago: I mean, I love it.  I mean, because like when you meet, or you network with somebody who's in a completely different geographic region the perspective can be the same sometimes, and it can definitely be different.  And it's just nice to be able to kind of create and collaborate with somebody that's on a different wavelength than you are.  I mean, I love that part about it.

Mike Aiton: Yeah.  Can we describe your workflow in more detail?  Are you using, obviously, Source-Connect for us to be able to talk today, are you using Source-Nexus at all or?

Jai Santiago: I am not and actually once Source Elements started doing the certifications. I was like, I need to get on that and transparency, like, I'm using it in a very elementary or basic capacity at this moment.  Knowing that there's more that I could be doing with it that I'm only unaware of.

Mike Aiton: So you'd like to learn more like how to use the queue manager and all these sorts of things and how to integrate it with picture and? 

Jai Santiago:  Oh, definitely, for sure. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  Well, people go check out the academy, go get certified, I'm just certifiable, that's all I'll say.  What advice would you pass on to someone who's is trying this remote workflow for the first time?  

Jai Santiago: I would say keep an open mind and embrace the possibilities that a remote workflow will allow you to do.  I think, someone trying for the first time will be definitely pleased with the outcome. 

Mike Aiton: That's good to hear, thank you.  Are there any potential pitfalls to avoid do you think?

Jai Santiago: Pitfalls to avoid?  For sure, for sure, for sure.  I would say, when you start out with Source Elements, making sure you connect with a team to do your port mapping and things like that, as opposed to not doing that unless you're really Uber technical, and you just know what you're doing.  I'm not a sound engineer or, a techie guy.  So, I definitely leaned into every- all the help that I could get setting up initially.  And I would say, you know, that would be the pitfall.  Because once you're in and you're connected, and everything is good, and you're doing your echo test, and things like that successfully, I would say you're pretty golden at that point.  And I know, some people just may not be aware of that.

Mike Aiton: Okay, thank you.  What would you say is your top ingredient for the recipe for your personal success?

Jai Santiago: Persistence.  I mean, you have to keep at it, no matter what you keep going.  You can get in your head, a lot of times, I've been guilty of doing a few takes on- I say a few takes- a couple of takes on an auditioning something.  And then listening to them after the fact, after they've been submitted going, "Oh, I should have done this, or I should have, why didn't I do this?"  You know you've got to do it, let it go, and go on to the next thing.

Mike Aiton: It's interesting you say that, because as a sound engineer, I've always thought that there's the old maxim that mixes are never finished, they're merely abandoned, due to transmission.

Jai Santiago: I like that, actually, I like that.

Mike Aiton: I've always said to any trainee that I've ever taught or anything the day you don't think you could have done anything more is the day you've run out of inspiration or the day you've got conceited.  And we all think I could have done more, I could have done- if only I'd done that and that.  And that's what drives- I think, for me, that's what drives me is it's similar for you where you will always think, yeah, you do what you do and then there's always the desire to do it better.

Jai Santiago: I mean, for sure definitely.  And you always take a little bit of things from the past and you kind of they evolve into like something new or something different.  Because there's always that, "Oh, why didn't I do that?"  Or you listen to something like, we talk about when you're creating something and you get like a mental block or creative block and you step away.  And for me, like I'm listening to music, and I'm like, "Oh, that's nice maybe I should try something like that."  And you come again, and it just puts a different spin on it.  I mean, so it's always constantly creating and being open to doing something better than you did it before.

Mike Aiton: Yeah, it's that desire to always achieve.  

Jai Santiago: Uh huh.

Mike Aiton: Okay, what would be the thing you would most like our listeners to take away from listening to your interview?

Jai Santiago: I would say listen to the voices around you and find the beauty in everything you're listening to.  Know that there's an emotional connection to what's being said, to what's essentially being read.  And the delivery in it and just enjoying the beauty in that delivery. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  So what would you like as your audio epitaph?

Jai Santiago: Oh, gosh, I can't say I have one.  

Mike Aiton: I'm not dead yet.  

Jai Santiago: I know, I'm like, I don't want to put it out there, then something happens.  I would say always continue speaking, always continue talking, always continue telling stories, always be flexible. 

Mike Aiton: Okay.  So is there anything you'd like to sort of, say in terms of your frustrations with the industry in terms of union, non-union?  And I know that's a big thing in the States sort of thing with technical engineers, I don't know if it is with voice people.  But certainly, in the UK, some people I speak to seem to sort of, get slightly cross with the devaluing of talent that can occur.  Do you have any opinions on that?

Jai Santiago: I kind of go back and forth because actually, I'm not in a union.  And it's given me the flexibility to do things for both but there definitely comes a point when like you have to join.  So I feel like because I'm not in a union I feel like my perspective might be a little different than most that are.  I mean, I definitely see- there's definitely some beauty being in a union, obviously, with the coverage and the benefits and things like that.  And the opportunities on the non-union side, the flexibility to just do tons of things, is, I found it to be really good for me, just in terms of experiences and getting to work with different engineers and different people, different creative teams.

Mike Aiton: So for you, it's a sense of paradox, then?

Jai Santiago: Yeah.

Mike Aiton: In that, you see advantage in it, but there's also advantage in not being in it as well?

Jai Santiago: Yeah, definitely.  Because I go back and forth, it's like, should I join or not join, do I need to join?  And at some point, I will have to, because you get to a point and like, "No, you have to".  But it's, yeah, I go back and forth just because, like I said, being non-union, like, you have the flexibility to do so many different things, and you're not limited to not being able to do something because it's non-union.  And so that's kind of how I feel about it.

Mike Aiton: That's how I am on many things, many things in life are gray, they're not black or white and there's paradox in a lot of situations.  How do you feel about rates in the industry?  Are they maintaining their sort of- Is it that you don't feel there's- or do you feel is there a race to the bottom in terms of with competition or?

Jai Santiago: I think, generally speaking, I think the rates have been pretty reasonable.  I mean, you get the- again being non-union every now and again, you run across a series of rates that are, not standard or, just not copacetic but for the most part, I feel they're on par.

Mike Aiton: Okay.  Some people argue that there's when there's too much competition, you get this sense of a race to the bottom where everything becomes the lowest common denominator and every client is trying to avoid talking to an agent and wants to go direct.  And can you do this for $25?  And you kind of go, no.  We have the same in the sound industry.  

Jai Santiago: Yeah I'd definitely go no, I'm like absolutely not.  Like, you can talk to my agent about that, but yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Do you find having an agent protects you from a lot of those awkward conversations?

Jai Santiago: Oh, God yes.  And it's for sure where we talk about starting out and just auditioning for any and everything you can get your hands on, and then getting representation and getting quality auditions which has meant a world of difference to me personally.  So, I mean, definitely, having representation helps, it totally helps.

Mike Aiton: Cool, okay.  Is there anything you want to get off your chest now?  You want to tell the world?  

Jai Santiago: Oh, gosh. 

Mike Aiton: Or is it like, please, please make this lunatic go away?

Jai Santiago: No get off my chest.  There's so much I want to get off my chest but I'm going to be politically correct.  

Mike Aiton: You don't have to be. 

Jai Santiago: Yeah, nothing I need to get off my chest.

Mike Aiton: What drives Jai bonkers? 

Jai Santiago: Short guitar riffs, I want them to be longer.

Mike Aiton: Ah, music onto my ears. Yes. 

Jai Santiago: I want them to be longer. 

Mike Aiton: Oh, longer and louder, yes. More amps at 12? 

Jai Santiago: For sure. Yeah, for sure.

Mike Aiton: Okay, cool. Well, thank you very much for joining us today.  It's been really fun talking to you and very, very interesting as well.  And it's great to have a very different perspective from the UK perspective and one from yourself.  And I've enjoyed getting to know you and hearing what you have to say it's been fun, thank you. 

Jai Santiago: Yeah, I've enjoyed this very much.  Thank you for having me. 

Mike Aiton: Okay, so how can people contact you or get hold of you if they love the sound of your voice and the cut of your jib and they wish to work with you?  How would they get hold of me?

Jai Santiago: I'm on Instagram at JAI underscore Santiago and my website is my name with no spaces.com

Mike Aiton: And those are the best ways of getting hold of you. 

Jai Santiago: Definitely yeah. 

Mike Aiton: Brilliant. Okay, well thank you very much for your time.

Jai Santiago
https://www.jaisantiago.com

Interview with Jeffrey Machado

We interviewed Jeffrey Machado, Source-Connect Certified and an encouraging, cheerful, clever and comforting voice actor based in California.
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Jeffrey Machado

Jeffrey Machado, the guy behind Encouraging Word VO, started his professional voice acting career in 1993 and has been going strong ever since. He has a spirit younger than his body, with the range to portray a variety of characters: the witty dad, the fun neighbor, the nerdy sidekick.
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