Steve Petitt Interview: Meet the Man Behind the Epic VoiceBy Sam van Zoest | June 16, 2011 | Interviews | 4 comments | Share
Many of you may already be familiar with his name, and if not his name, then surely with his voice. Steve Petitt is the man who has been narrating almost all of the GamerSpawn specials ever since they began creating original content. Upon the request of many fans, we asked Steve to leave the microphone for a moment and answer some of your questions.
First off, care to introduce yourself to some of the readers who might not know you?
My name is Steve Petitt. S-t-e-v-e, NOT Stevie, or Stephen. LOL! My real passion is writing and playing music. I’ve been playing since I was about 7 years old as it feeds my soul. I started playing guitar, then drums, piano, bass guitar…and drove my parents crazy! I was the guy in the band that just couldn’t stop playing. Whenever we would take a break, I was always saying…”Hey, can I play your drums, or can I play your keyboard, or can I…”. Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I’ve been in a bunch of bands and had the pleasure to record with some amazingly talented people.
I live in the Pacific Northwest and it’s unbelievably beautiful here. Actually, I’m about a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. Google: Point Roberts, Washington and see the strangest little town in the U.S.! Vancouver is the closest big city and it’s an amazing town.
My amazing girlfriend, (Rhona) is my greatest inspiration. I wrote an instrumental for her that I call ‘Harp Dance’, which she named. It’s a very simple tune, but when I looked at her that day, the notes just fell off my fingertips. She has a cat that thinks he’s a dog. Ever met a cat that plays fetch? It’s hilarious to watch!
What other voice over work do you perform, besides narrating for GamerSpawn?
I can’t really do any type of character voices, although I haven’t really taken a serious swing at that. Most of my work is the narrator/announcer types of roles. I’ve honestly only been doing this for about a year and a half. I was going through a dry spell, musically, and decided to try some voice work. People were always telling me that I should be in radio, but it honestly never appealed to me. So, I sat and stared at my microphone and decided to give it a shot.
Getting the email from EA’s Easy Studio to voice their Battlefield Heroes trailer was a real thrill. They found me, thanks to the GamerSpawn guys. I do radio promos for a talk radio station in Detroit, Michigan and have been doing a weekly top 5 movie review for a station in Lebanon. I do the occasional ‘spec’ commercial job (translates to little or no $$, but they do help to build my reel). I’m thankful for any opportunity, honestly. I even see comments from GamerSpawn’s subscribers, asking if I could narrate their lives. LOL! I wish I had the time to do it all!
Where did you learn voice acting?
LOL! I can honestly say that I’m self taught (probably not a good thing). I just decided to jump in front of the mic and start talking. My voice actor friend only consulted with me over lunch one afternoon, but I do occasionally run things by him for his opinion. Mostly, I just learn from my own experience. I suppose I should find a coach or something.
Do you have any tips for people who want to become a voice actor?
You’re asking me…the noobie? My advice for anyone that puts themselves out there, in any sort of creative area, is to do it for the love of your art, first and formost. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. I absolutely love this ‘chapter’ in my life. Will it lead to a lucrative career…who knows. ANYONE can be a voice artist. The beauty of our own individual, unique voice is something that can’t be easily duplicated. Just decide to do it, and ‘jump in’!
Is your narrating voice something that you have to adjust your voice to do, or is that deep rolling bass actually close to your natural speaking voice?
No. What you hear is pretty much my regular voice. I do add a bit of multi-band compression.
What did you do before narrating and how did you wind up in the voice over industry?
Again…music music music! Oh, and I did work for Disney for a while. Now that was a fun ‘ride’.
I was writing for music libraries that license music for television and film. Usually, I have no idea where the music is being used, since it’s ‘source music’, or background cues. When I see a royalty statement saying that track ‘xyz’ was used for project ‘EIEIO’, I don’t focus too much on where it is. Just knowing that it’s being heard, is my payday. My writing partner directed a bunch of well known sitcoms, but even his connection made it difficult to get my foot in that door.
My tenure at Disney was working with the division that designs the Theme Parks. My last project for them was Disney’s California Adventure (yawn). Just kidding.
Do you have a role model?
Les Paul. He made it possible for me to do the two things that I love…Play [solid body] guitar and record a multi-track song.
So that’s your role model for music. Do you also have a role model for your narrating job?
I honestly hadn’t thought much about that, as terrible as it must sound. I don’t ‘pretend’ to be the next Don LaFontaine, or Ted Williams, or Mike Rowe, or whatever. I appreciate the voice artists that do what they do, but I’m still trying to find my real comfort zone. My unique voice I guess.
A lot of people have been comparing you with “Golden-Voiced” Ted Williams and “That-Guy-From-The-Trailers” Don Lafontaine. What do you think about those comparisons?
This one really baffles me. I don’t think that I sound anything like Ted Williams, and I certainly can’t even begin to sound like Mr. Fontaine. All I can do is offer ‘my’ voice.
I’ve even seen a few comments comparing my voice to Morgan Freeman. I think it’s safe to say that Morgan Freeman won’t have to worry. There’s plenty of room for both of us!
Is narrating for a (gaming) YouTube channel different than narrating for a commercial or radio station?
I don’t really think so. For me, I look at each project as a blank canvas. How I choose to Paint the audio picture always comes from the same place. Oh, that and whatever the tyrant director demands that I do.
What do you think about the GamerSpawn audience?
World Class. The GamerSpawn guys have worked very hard to create the following that they have. Most of the comments come from very intelligent gamers that really know their stuff. I think the gaming industry gets a lot of negative feedback from people that think gamers are just hiding in their parent’s basement letting life pass them by. Now, with the ability to interact in real-time and make friends from all over the world…how can that be a bad thing?!
As you may have seen there are have been a lot of… uhm, remarkable comments on your video’s. Do you have a favorite one?
The comments always crack me up! The funniest comment was from some guy who wanted to pay me to read poetry to him and his woman while they would be…well, you know… Crazy!!!!! LOL!, That has to be one of the funniest comments yet. Your subscribers have a great sense of humor.
Is being a voice actor tough?
Yes, this is a very tough business. The Internet has made it much easier to work remotely, but since I have clients from all parts of the world, I really have to be flexible. You should know that I have to work on Sundays! I’m usually working for GamerSpawn! LOL!
Where do you record?
My previous studio that I had for music, was a 2500 square foot facility filled with equipment. Going to ‘work’ everyday was like going to a toy store for me. Now that I’m focusing on voice work, I have about a 35 square foot room in my house where I work. I must admit that the morning commute is pretty painless.
What does your typical day look like? What is your routine?
My typical day consists of scouring the Internet looking for voice work. I send out my demo links and stare at my email inbox…slurping coffee, until I get a ‘nibble’. One of the things that I pride myself on is my attention to detail. I am overly critical of my work and make some of the most insane audio edits, because it matters to me. Even though my clients will never know it, I do.
So, what do you do once you get sent a script?
I usually just dive into it and see what happens. I learned very quickly, in the music studio, that it’s always a good idea to record everything, because you never know when you’ll get that really great take. The ‘keeper’.
How much time do you spent on the average voice over project?
It really varies, depending on the project. It ALWAYS takes longer than I estimate! I usually give the client a few to choose from, so I let them spend the time. LOL!
Do you make slips often?
Ah…That’s where I spend most of my time. Yes, I stumble quite a bit actually, but I’d like to think that I’m getting better with all this practice. I’m learning that mic placement and the proximity effect can be friend…or foe!
Are there things you rather don’t want to talk about?
I’m not a fan of heavy profanity and I will never voice anything that could hurt the feelings of anyone (I hope). Tasteless, vulgar language doesn’t appeal to me.
What equipment do you use?
I use Pro Tools (Mac based) with a Focusrite preamp and a large diaphragm mic. Pretty basic setup really.
Do you only narrate in English? What about accents (French, Russian, German, etc.)?
LOL! I think I need to focus on English only. My Spanish is full of Gringo!
What about the French accent in the Modern Warfare 3 analysis?
Yikes! That was a real challenge for me. I use a couple of audio dictionary websites when I’m stumped, but usually I have to just make a guess. I know how critical some of the viewers can be. There’s nothing worse than reading a comment that says “Decent voice, but he said [whatever] wrong!” Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of the American English pronunciation, while other times…it’s a total screw up on my part…like the way I sad Team Bondi in one of the L.A. Noire videos. LOL! I thought it was Bond-ee, like Ha-Why-ee, but I FAILED!
I'm the kind of 'soldier' that would jump out of an LAV-25 and shoot myself in the foot.
Are you into gaming yourself?
I love gaming! I have to admit however that in the FPS world…I suck…bad. I’m the kind of ‘soldier’ that would jump out of an LAV-25 and shoot myself in the foot. I’ll stick to the safe games, like Frogger. LOL!
Anything else you would like to say to our readers?
I see the comments (both good and bad) and really appreciate reading all of them. There have been times when I REALLY wanted to respond, but this is about the game…not the voice. I hope your readers know how much their comments mean to me, and I thank them all for their support…and understanding when I screw up a word or two!
This concludes our interview with Steve Petitt, narrator at GamerSpawn. I would like to thank Steve for his time and of course we are all looking forward to his next narrative project. Stay tuned to GamerSpawn to hear more of Steve. I would also like to thank my friend Blond3r for his awesome idea to do an interview with ‘the voice‘, and last but not least, Ajané, for helping me correcting my somewhat broken English… Steve, Blond3r, Ajané… cheers!