Weird Vocal Work

Sometimes the most interesting gigs are the most unusual –says John Kjøller of Basix

When it comes to gigging it’s easiest to think of the most obvious kinds:

putting on concerts in established venues or recording sessions of one’s own music or backing on other artist’s albums.

But, over the years, we’ve had some unusual work that has pushed our careers forward:

* How Many Cafes? Years ago, when our setup was ALOT smaller, we challenged ourselves to see how many cafés we could perform in – in one day! We ended up singing in 17 cafés! We had a small, portable sound system, performed 2-3 songs in each cafe, and then moved on to the next one. The idea was to “be noticed” – and it worked! We were in several newspapers and received some local TV coverage.

*Feel Good at Work Gigs. In Norway we are doing this really cool corporate thing where we visit companies during work-hours. Everybody from the company will be gathered and we’ll do a 45 min “show” which includes audience participation. The point is simply to “feel good at work”. It’s basically an HR thing. This type of gig also generates an audience for our “real” concerts. And CD-sales :-). These gigs are SOOOO much fun! Unfortunately most Danish companies can’t/wont afford it. Norway is excellent went it comes to art! You may be able to take this idea and market yourself to coordinators at larger corporations in your area who are looking for morale boosting events.

*The YouTube Gig This is about generating more “fans” by spreading a video with appropriate content for a target group that don’t yet know us. We do this through Facebook, relevant newsgroups and related blogs. By ‘related’ I mean related to either what we do (vocal stuff) and/or related to the new target group. For example, We recently recorded a song to go with a computer game and then posted this to a bunch of computer game-blogs!

*Dubbing for Animated Movies. For me this happened because of a connection I had through acting that led me to the Danish dubbing studio for Disney. But normally what you do is:

a. Make a short recording with you talking/reading; do a few “voices” (funny, weird or different), changing the sound and feel of your speaking voice.

b. Record a verse/ chorus from a song, – don’t make it “perfect” – make it sound EXACTLY how you actually sing (if you correct the recording by pitching or cutting/pasting you will get into trouble when arriving at the studio – because they will expect you to actually be able to do what they
heard on the recording.)

c. Then write a few words about who you are, what you’ve done before, and why you think they should take you in.

Send this to the dubbing studios in your area. If they like what they hear, they will contact you and you’ll probably be called in for a live audition at the studio.

* The Train-Thing. We got on a train, years ago, going from Aarhus to Copenhagen (a 3 1/2 hour journey at the time) and sang a live gig in various train cars for the travellers (yes, we had permission to do this!) At longer station stops we would get out and sing at the station platform – and then back onto the train. We brought flyers, with contact-info and website-info. That was fun too!

Final Thought

There are more stories but I think you probably get the point now!

Think outside of the box when it comes to introducing people to your voice.

Try some new and strange ideas – and prepare to be noticed.

-John Kjøller of Basix

My Reactions to this Week’s Peer Review Vids

Anouki – Beyonce Cover

Very Nice job, Anouke! I want you to think about ‘breathing’. There is a tendency in contemporary music to ignore the natural phrasing that goes with our spoken language. Singers are breathing in the middle of sentences – in places that they wouldn’t dream of breathing if they were to speak the same sentence. Sometimes this enhances the artistry of our musical expression (sometimes it doesn’t), but I notice that you are taking it even a step further by breathing in the middle of word. ;-) I’m talking about ‘Mariiiii – (breath) – hiia’. Think about what the words mean and how the language ‘works’. And then think through how to best communicate this in your phrasing. How would I say this? Where would I breathe? How can I emphasize important words?

James Grant – Southern View (Original)

This is a tough performance for me to comment on… because I actually think it is working really well! I stay interested in your story all the way though! If I had to pick out one thing to comment on – in this already very professional performance – it would be that this IS a video rather than merely a recording; I am wondering about your visual expression which is close to not existing ;-) Your words are delivered in a way that makes so much sense, but I see a guy that seems completely indifferent to what he is saying. I’m not asking for an actor, just for more of a correspondence between what I hear and what I see. Perhaps get a mic that doesn’t need you to be so close? Maybe lose the harmonica? Get rid of all the stuff you are ‘hiding’ behind, and let me have the full experience: words, song – and YOU!

-John Kjøller of Basix

See VoiceCouncil’s Exclusive Interview with Basix

With a grand total of 4 international CARA awards, including “Best European Album” and “Best Holiday Album” the Danish vocal pop group Basix has proven themselves to be among the very best of a cappella groups worldwide. Follow the group on or