Being the voice of the main character in a popular game; recording in the most bizarre places; providing live commentary at an international trade fair: Voicebooking’s voice overs go through a lot. In The client is always right – stories from our voice-overs you get a glimpse into the life of a voice over (and maybe even your own). This time with our Swedish voice over Benjamin. Are you reading along?
Introduce yourself quickly; who are you and what do you do?
Benjamin Hagberg from Stockholm, Sweden. I now work full time as VO professional. Mostly from my home-studio booth.
How did you become a voice over actor?
From my childhood I have some really fond memories of voices and great narrators from children stories that I listened to on tape cassettes. I particularly remembered a Swedish reading of the famous ”The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. The narrator had such a charismatic voice and did the different character voices with the utmost brilliance. This fascination for what you can do with the voice has always followed me. As for my career as a voice-over, I grew into the profession over the years.
I went to a preparatory acting school for 2 years back in 2006. There, I was introduced to the possibility of recording VO. After graduation, I freelanced for a while as an actor while continuing to develop my voice. I got help through private training with voice coaches and people studying to become Voice teachers. I loved to train my voice in my spare time, as it kept me motivated.
At the same time, I contacted as many voice agencies as possible in Stockholm. Some called me to come and record voice samples. Nothing happened for a few years. But around 2012, an agency called me. They told me that it stood between me and another voice for recording a national radio commercial for Lufthansa. Lo and behold, one week later, they told me I got the job!
Things started to progress slowly from there. Around 2013-14, I began getting more and more jobs. So I set up my own recording space at home. Years went by with me doing Voice Over work part-time. In 2018, the same year my wonderful son was born, I was flooded with more VO jobs. So I could finally make it a full-time career. And that’s where I am today. Now I also have a professional recording booth at home which is wonderful! My own ”office-space” which also fascinates every person visiting our apartment
What do you love about your job?
I love when I get into the state of being completely absorbed” in the moment” and forgetting everything else when performing a voice over job. This is what I call “the magical state”. It doesn’t happen every day, of course. But when it happens, it’s a wonderful reminder that voice work is my true passion. I also love the everyday routine of recording and working with my voice, which is at the essence of my job as a VO.
If you weren’t a voice actor, what would you like to do then? And why?
I think I would like to be a stage performer, maybe a singing performer. The world of theaters has always fascinated me. I have always liked singing and performing as well.
But it could also be something completely different. I could be someone who works with ideas and production for films, particularly documentary movies for OMNIMAX-theaters. I’ve always been fascinated with these OMNIMAX-theaters and the amazing films they have. I love the feeling of being completely transported to another world, whether you’re flying around in space or exploring the deep canyons of the Grand Canyon.
Why did you choose to be a part of Voicebooking? And what do you like about Voicebooking?
I can’t remember for sure how I heard of Voicebooking but I remember I registered to become a voice at Voicebooking back in 2014-2015. And then in 2017, they wanted me to be a Swedish voice in their archive.
Since then I have had the fortune to be a part of this agency. They have given me the opportunity to work with some really high profile clients and develop my career and my skills as a VO. I really like that Voicebooking is such an innovative and dedicated voice agency. It’s one of the best voice agencies I have worked with.
The fact that they invite us voice-talents to an annual event in Amsterdam is something special. This is really appreciated by me as a VO-talent, since it gives me the chance to meet people who work there and get to know the business better. It also makes me as VO feel special.
What project did you like the most/are you most proud of, and why?
It’s difficult to single out just one project, but I particularly enjoy projects that allow me to showcase my vocal abilities. For instance, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some trailer projects for Nickelodeon, as well as several dubbing projects for various video games, which I found to be quite enjoyable.
Some memorable projects involved performing as a sports commentator for a radio commercial, and I’ve also had the opportunity to be the pre-recorded announcer for live events for different companies. Generally, I enjoy projects that challenge me to step out of my comfort zone and allow me to surprise myself and the client.
What was the most crazy voice over job you have had? Which job was the most fun to do?
Craziest? One that comes to mind is a job where I recorded pre-scripted presentations for every person at a 50th birthday party. The client wanted each guest to be highlighted over loudspeakers at the party while they were seated. The script was a bit strange but hilarious, and my performance had to be over the top to match the vibe.
The most fun job? Maybe one where I dubbed the Swedish version of a Babbel commercial. It was called” An alien abroad”. The character was an alien walking around London who couldn’t speak a human language. But with Babbel’s help, he soon spoke with a perfect Brittish accent. While doing the dubbing, I was supposed to speak as if I was behind a mask. It helped a bit that I had a cold that day, so my voice sounded naturally muffled.
Every craftsman/woman has their own special set of talents. What makes you the voice actor that you are?
There are a few things that makes me the voice talent I am. One is my ability to understand the “business” of VO. I’m good at understanding and adjusting my voice and tone to different genres and types of the target audience. That is very important. You have to understand that reading an instruction manual for medicine differs from reading a cereal commercial. Clients are often very much aware of the style they are looking for in the delivery. They would appreciate it if you, as the VO, could deliver as they wish.
As a Swedish VO, I often get to do VO where the original English version is available, and they want the Swedish VO in the same tone and style as the original. I can adjust the tone or style of my Swedish delivery easily. Then the interpretation and reading come naturally. Maybe that’s one of my strong sides as a voice-over, the “ear for it”.
Lastly, I noticed throughout the years that I’m able to have a lot of energy in my voice and that I’m able to sustain long voice-sessions without getting too tired in my voice. I read a lot of audiobooks which can be tiring for your voice. But voice training and techniques I’ve learned during my career have greatly improved my stamina.
What advice would you give your younger voice actor-self?
This is a tricky question. Well, one thing. Trust in yourself and your abilities. Don’t pretend to be somebody else, meaning don’t try to ”imitate” other styles of voice. Trust in the fact that it is your voice that you should portray, not how you think a voice-over ”should” sound like. This is still something I struggle with today though. I have to remind myself to trust in my own voice.