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Extreme Voicing with
Sébastien Croteau

High Notes - transcript

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[00:00:00] Melissa: We are here for really interesting talk today. He began teaching metal voices and throat singing 15 years ago. He's trained hundreds of vocalists in vocal distortion, extreme sounds, and creature voice design. He's also worked on more than 30 games. There's a whole list of them. Guardians of the Galaxy, Tomb Raider, Rainbow Six Siege, Outbreak, Prince of Persia, Assassin's Creed 2, the list goes on and on.

And he's lent his voice to more than 200 characters. I don't know if you're sensing that he might be a bit of an overachiever, I'm not sure. So Sebastian now runs a company called the Monster Factory, which is a talent agency that specializes in extreme sounds. So a very warm welcome to Sebastian Croteau.

Welcome to Brava. 

[00:00:49] Sebastian: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you for the invitation. I'm just listening to your presentation. Like, I'm already tired. I'm tired. 


[00:00:58] Melissa: too. I mean, you know, you've achieved so [00:01:00] much. , let's start right at the beginning. All right. We're really, I'm so thrilled to speak to you.

I've been so excited about it. Keep getting texts from people going. Tibetan throat singer. It's like, yeah, I know. So talk to us about your journey. First of all, as a metal vocalist, cause I know this has been a really big part of your life. I'm going to be really honest and say, I don't really know what death metal is.

[00:01:23] Sebastian: of Metallica, but 10 times faster and heavier. The voice is usually way lower. And for most people, the voice sounds like Kooky Monster. Cheers for Kooky! That's good enough for me! Like, when people listen for the first time to Death Metal, usually it sounds like Kooky Monster is singing. And they're right, because we're actually using the same voice technique, except with less pressure.

[00:01:49] Melissa: That's so interesting. You're going to have to send me some links to some death metal after this so I can listen to it. So how did your journey as a metal vocalist lead to you creating monster and creature voices in video games? [00:02:00] So 

[00:02:00] Sebastian: the thing in my, my journey with my voice began. When I was a choir boy, because before singing metal, I was actually singing in a choir when I was like seven or eight.

So it , already gave me a singing background, singing experience how to breathe, how to, to, to project and now, okay. Cause I was sometime the only. The only one singing in the church in Quebec. So I already had that behind me when I discovered metal music. And you know, when I started to listen to metal music in 1989, 1990.

Yeah. I, there was no YouTube. There was no tutorial on how to do extreme voices. There was no nothing. And this is true for most metal vocalists who have done this for a long time. It's trial and error. So you listen to the sound that is produced by the singer and you try to emanate it or to do the same kind of thing.

And I was lucky because, because of my previous experience as a [00:03:00] choir boy, when I started to sing, I think I did have the right Voice technique in a sense that I was projecting I was not hurting sometime. I was coughing a little but that's some probably we'll discuss it later sometime in vocal distortion.

Coughing is not as bad as we think it's sometime part of the training process. Okay, so I started emanating the voice that I was hearing. And then at some point we had an arcade. You know where people go and play video games back in the day when nobody really bought a video game console and I remember I was singing in the parking lot like trying to do a voice and someone just passed by the arcade and say Hey, i'm looking for a singer in my band.

Would you be? I was like, yeah, let's give it a try. You know, you, you never know. And that's how I got started into metal music. And, and, and of course I am still doing it. I've done that for a long time, but around 97, 96 96, 97. [00:04:00] I, and I don't know if some of you have seen that movie, the movie Baraka. Where it's a movie where there's like basically just images around the world and music from that can dance from like a lot of different band and in that movie I could hear a guy doing a diphonic singing so harmonic singing.

Okay. And I was like, this is impossible. Like, I couldn't believe that someone could do two sound at the same time, because I've always been fascinated by, by the voices. And then I discovered it was actually someone who could do that kind of thing. And I was lucky enough to find a teacher in Montreal that was teaching trout singing and diphonic singing.

So I started to have lessons with with him. And then after that, I was lucky enough to actually train with people from Mongolia, namely the band Un Urtu, which in the and still is, was one of the. Big throat singing band touring the world. I was lucky enough also to, to study with Inuit throat singers, with Tibetan monks [00:05:00] and with people from Mongolia, specialists from Paris and, and in the United States.

And of course, you know, when you do weird sound, people notice you. And I had the friend actually was started to work at UB South Montreal. And he heard one of the audio producer, they were looking for. Weird sound for monster and creature and he actually gave my name say this guy's doing like this this this with his voice I'm sure like if you talk with him, like you you you might find what you're looking for So the guy messaged me I went through the meeting And he showed me the visual of the creature that they wanted me to voice.

And I was like, oh, this creature, we could do that. This creature, we could do that. And then I left the meeting and I never heard about it. Never heard about him for like eight months. I was like, I really thought that I blew off my first meeting or whatever slash audition. I add because I wasn't aware of the [00:06:00] delay and the time it takes to do stuff in video games because that that is one thing that I've learned is patient is patience is key and sometime in video game, and they call me back.

They asked me to go in the studio. And the thing is, all the creature of change, like all the voice that I thought that I would do. I have to like change it or adapt it to what was requested of me and since it was the first time. We did eight hours of recording for two days straight. So imagine screaming for eight hours.

Of course I had breaks, but screaming for eight hours 

[00:06:39] Melissa: for two days. I can't imagine that. I'll be really honest with you. That's the part of this job that I, that I really dread the most. And I don't even know how you would do that. And 

[00:06:50] Sebastian: even someone as strange as me, I can remember I had blood in my saliva at the end of it.

So for me, I was like, okay, maybe that's a little too much. [00:07:00] But it was my first time and I really wanted to impress them. So I was like, okay. And for them, it's like, are you good for one? Eight hours? Well, I can try. I'm sure I can, I can do that. And, and I think I did a good impression because afterwards, they actually called me to do voices for Assassin's Creed 2.

And, and if you played Assassin's Creed 2, you have a poison blade. And sometimes you poison people. So they asked me to record two hours of choking sound for all the people that are actually choking on the poison, choking on the mucus. So I remember just like doing choking sound for two hours. And then I went on and I started to do Prince of Persia and the rest, we can talk about it later.

Cause I assume we have other questions. 

[00:07:48] Melissa: I've got tons of questions. That was just question number one. So we might be here sometime, but it's so fascinating, but is it, I don't normally ask people to do their tricks, but I am just really [00:08:00] fascinated. Could you give us an example of an Inuit? throat sound and a Mongolian throat sound and then how that might transfer into a creature sound because lots of people here are advanced actors, lots of people here right at the beginning of their journey.

Some people until yesterday didn't even know what extreme voices or efforts were. So could you give us some examples? 

[00:08:22] Sebastian: Absolutely. The thing is. One thing that I've learned from my experience, it might not be the same for for everyone, but throat singing and the control you get with parts of your instrument really help my extreme voices in the sense that I remember when I started to do throat singing, my metal voice.

Just got so much better. I had so much more control on pressure level on how I was actually able to project on the On the time that I was able also to do that kind of thing So there's [00:09:00] tons of different styles throat singing, but let's go with the main one, right? So there's what we call Tuvan Mongolian throat singing which is usually higher Then Tibetan Troll Singing.

Tibetan Troll Singing being lower. So, let's say that I, I go with Tuvan Troll Singing. And then you can actually use the tongue to select. Ovatone. I
know it sounds like a razor or 

[00:09:47] Melissa: a lawnmower. I could stay here for an hour and listen to it after the day I've had. It's, it's very soporific. 

[00:09:53] Sebastian: So this is closer to Twven Mongolian Trollsinger because the Tibetan style is usually way lower and less [00:10:00] loud.

And the thing is, there is much more air that goes through because it's in a lower larynx position. Right? So there's more air going out. The thing with Inuit trout singing is that it's not that far from boat technique. Because if you listen to Inuit trout singers, sometimes they do like this. Usually there's two women, right?

This is not, this is something that only women do in the Inuit culture. Like, I'm probably breaking, breaking the interweb law. I was going to say, how do they feel about 

[00:10:35] Melissa: you doing it? Yeah. 

[00:10:36] Sebastian: Do they, are they okay with it? I love doing it because I love the sound. But that's the thing. Like, if you listen closely to the voice technique. If you hold it,
It's tuban Mongolian throat singing. And there's another voice technique, that they use with ventricular folds, namely false vocal cord for people we don't [00:11:00] know their scientific terminology. And it's So that Is actually something we use, , in death metal in terms of voice technique. And how do I know that?

It's because in 1997, I went to a ENT doctor. Because they were actually, because vocal distortion has been a long time considered vocal abuse. Okay. Right. And it's only around 1994 or 96 that some people started to do scientific studies about him and they started to show that we could actually control what we were doing.

Because before that, like. Probably most every EMT doctor thought that is what vocal dysphonia, that we could do what [00:12:00] we were doing because we had the problem with the voice. So when I went to see one of the best EMT doctors in Canada, because we were doing a research on. Tibetan throat singing. I remember I was me, one of my other death metal vocalist friend, Marilyn, which is a woman a Tibetan monks and one in with throat singer.

And usually it's kind of the start of a bad joke. Hey, there's a Tibetan monk and with throat singers and two death metal singers going to, to the doctor. And we had laryngoscopic exam, but back in the day, the camera was like huge. It was not through the nose. It was something like this big that we had to put in our mouth.

So I could only hold it for like 10 seconds. Okay. But what we saw in there is that what we were using. To produce the distortion, what's the exact same thing as Tibetan Trollsingers, Mongolian Trollsingers, and Inuit Trollsingers. It is only that we use it a little bit differently. The [00:13:00] vibration pattern is a little bit different, but we were using ventricular folds.

So for me, that was like, wow. So we did not like as metal vocalists. I always thought we invented something we did not. We just took from those voice technique and did something else with it, but it's actually pretty close because even if you look at the sound way. When you analyze the sound wave of TRO singing and metal death metal voices, you can clearly see that we are producing what we call sub harmonic.

Now I'm gonna get a little geeky, I'm sorry. And sub harmonic mean, meaning that we are able to produce a sound below the fundamental node that we're singing. Okay? Because if we go back to the sound example, I was doing.

Most people will think that I sing low.

That's not actually the case. If I take out the distortion when I do [00:14:00] that.

So the resulting sound that you hear can appear low, but it's not, it's like a major trick. I'm producing something below the fundamental note and metal vocalists do the exact same thing, except the sub harmonic is not clear because in Tuvan and Tibetan throat singing, we actually produce a sub harmonic exactly one octave below the note that we're singing.

Okay. In metal music, we do produce a subharmonic, but it's just a bunch of frequencies like stuck together down there, but we're still producing subharmonic. And for me, that was again, a big revelation because I was like, okay, so what I do comes from a tradition and people have been doing what we consider vocal abuse.

But for centuries, if not more, did they [00:15:00] change the way they did that? No, still the way the same. 

[00:15:04] Melissa: It's just this last 10 minutes is mind blowing anyway, by the way. You know, just listening to you produce those voices. I have experienced Tibetan throat singing before, not myself, but I did go to meet the Dalai Lama, not in Tibet, obviously in Dharamsala in India.
And , there were a lot of Tibetan monks. There was a lot of that happening. This is going to sound like a really stupid question, but is there like a pattern to the song or is it just a chant? Is it a chant that continues on and on and that's it? Or are there kind of patterns to it? Does that make sense?

[00:15:37] Sebastian: , the thing is for me, I'm mostly interested in the sound rather than the spiritual aspect of throat singing. Yeah. And, Because I love to explore the voice and its possibilities. And for me, like, , like, I, I had a band after necrotic mutation. We did throat [00:16:00] singing music and I remember we had a prayer.

That is used in Tuvan music that is, comes from Tibet and they use that in, in, in , their own music. So usually when I do that, I don't go into chanting and I don't recite Tibetan lyrics or Tibetan Tibetan prayers. I'm mostly doing it for the sound because that sound for me, like drone singing, it's so calming.

Because, you know, if we go to the fact that we are all vibration. 

[00:16:37] Melissa: Yeah, I'm with you on that one. 

[00:16:39] Sebastian: Right. Doing that for me, the effect that I feel when I do that, it's like, I just focus on that. There's nothing else happening. And I make my whole body vibrate in unison. And that is probably why they use that voice technique.

Even there, there's a [00:17:00] spiritual aspect to it. It's because it makes the body vibrates in a very specific frequency. And this is why I love it so 
[00:17:07] Melissa: much. Your passion is clear, that is for sure. I'm just, so, what, tell me how you've taken those sounds and moved them into creature voices. Show us some of that if you're happy to.

[00:17:21] Sebastian: The thing is, I was, I was talking about the control I got from throat singing, right? Because one thing with the voice is that usually we have what I would call a monolithic approach with the voice. Like we don't work all the parts. You know what I mean? Yeah. Right? When I speak, I don't think about my larynx placement.

I don't think about the opening and closing of my self palate. I don't think about the way that my resonance chamber is placed. Right? This is kind of automated. Right? And the thing I love about throat singing, it enables you to control tiny parts in ways that are not usual. Right? [00:18:00] Because except when we are babies, because that's the thing, a lot of people say, well, vocal distortion is art.

And I'm always saying like, remember, you were once a metal vocalist. And they say, why? When you were a baby, you were doing this. Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! So you were actually doing vocal distortion without having any vocal coach. You were doing it instinctively. So this is something that is built in the voice. And most of the time when I talk to people, my job is basically to help you remember that.

Because it's there. So 

[00:18:42] Melissa: this is interesting. Are you saying to me that you could teach anyone these techniques? 

[00:18:48] Sebastian: Absolutely. Because we all have the same parts, of course, the sound. Let's just take men and women, right? Women have a less longer larynx. [00:19:00] It produces a tiny bit a different sound, but you all have ventricle folds, you have arypiglottis fold, you have vocal cord, you have a resonance chamber you know, you have a soft palate, like everyone has the same part.

So everyone can actually learn how to do those sounds. So let me go back to your question, because I think I, I, I've strayed, I've strayed a little bit. So by gaining control over those parts, I can try them with different pressure levels. So let's just go with, let's say, Tibetan throat singing. Whoa.

Hello. I can actually try talking like this and do a really creepy voice. And if you listen to the voice of the Uruk Hai in Lord of the Rings, meat is back on the menu, boy! It's actually a throat singing, bass voice technique, [00:20:00] which is ventricular folds vibration, right? So that I can just have less pressure than in tuvan and tibetan throat singing and use that.

Or I can increase the pressure from Ooooooooooooh! Oh my god, 
[00:20:20] Melissa: I wasn't expecting that! Do that again, wait, do that again, so.

[00:20:28] Sebastian: Okay. And and most people would say, oh, you're using something else, right? No, I use ventricular folds. The only thing that I'm changing is the pressure level. And of course, like when you augment any kind of pressure level, when you sing or you use your voice would vibrate, vibrate faster. Right? So if I do, like you would see the vocal cord vibrating faster than if I was doing just this.

Yeah, you would see like very slow vibration. So the thing is, because I had the laryngoscopic exam three months ago for my, let's say, biannual, annual 

[00:21:12] Melissa: checkup. I love how intimate we're getting on this. Thank you. Yeah, I know. And, 

[00:21:16] Sebastian: and, and, and the thing is I have to go back again because when we recorded. We forgot to record the sound and that is very important because I wanted to show people exactly what I use for which type of voice effect.

So I'm going back in November and I'm going to have a camera crew take everything. But for the doctor, because it was the 1st time examining me, they were like. We don't understand because even when they treat teacher for voice dysphonia, some of their exam, it shows that they're using a lot of ventriculophones, so false vocal cord, and they were like, we teach them not to use them, but you, you're all about using ventriculophones, like for throat singing, [00:22:00] for death metal, and even for what I would call rock voice, you know, when people do, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! And that, I thought, even myself, I thought the distortion was coming from my vocal cord. And what we saw in the laryngoscopic exam is I'm still using a lot my ventricle folds. Right. And I was like, wow. Okay. So I'm, I'm, I'm using that a lot. And for them, I did, we're like, holy hell. So if we take, for example, Toven Troll singing, I am a robot.

I can use voice technique too. So this is another example. One type of voice that we do is called in ail voice technique. Right? And this is quite different. It's another extreme voice technique, but it's actually producing sound while inhaling. [00:23:00] And it's quite unusual because we're not used to produce sound while inhaling.

We produce sound exhaling, right? And this is something that vocal distortion is done on the vocal cords. So if I do something like.
And I can produce with the different larynx placement.

Sound that can be considered close to some of you might know the clickers from The Last of Us 2. This is how actually they, they did the voice. Some other sound effect that we can produce, we use the uvula. You know, the little thing that is dangling back there most of us don't know how to trigger it, but you can actually do that with, with it.[00:24:00] 

And if you. Saw some some interview with actually the voice actor who did the predator voice from the predator movies, Peter Cullen. This is actually what he used. vibration, and you can mix this with something with, with, let's say the false vocal cord to create something like
voice like that. So all this is derived from, of course, my exploration of my voice, but from the control I got with it. From Droughting . My mind, my mind is, 
[00:24:46] Melissa: we're 27 minutes into this 

[00:24:48] Sebastian: call. I can see some of the faces and it's all like, I 

[00:24:50] Melissa: know it's, but it's holy hell. It's incredible. I mean, it's, why does anyone use any, I mean, it's, I've never heard those sorts of voice.

Well, I've heard those voices, [00:25:00] but all I keep thinking is how on earth do you do that for a four hour session or a two hour session? 
[00:25:05] Sebastian: The thing, I have 33 years of training. Because I've been doing voices for video games since 2005, so I've been doing almost exclusively creature voice acting for the last 18 years.

This is my specialty. Like, if, like, some of you might have a glimpse at my movie collection, like, this is mostly horror and sci fi movie. Because I listen a lot to everything that involves creature and monster. Because that's the thing in the video game industry. Probably 99. 9 percent of all the voices for Monster and Creature are done with Animal Sound Libraries.

Or, something called Dehumanizer, which is a software that modifies the voice in real time. So, having people who can do that naturally is something fairly new. But not that new, because Dee Bradley Baker Yes. And the United [00:26:00] States has been doing it for quite a while, maybe not that extreme, but creature 

[00:26:05] Melissa: voice acting has 

[00:26:06] Sebastian: been around for a long time.

It's not something that is really popular among necessarily voice actors and voice actresses, mostly because the level of training it takes to actually be able to master that, like it's years and years and years and years and years. Like if you look at any rock or metal vocalist. Like, it didn't take a month or a couple of weeks or one year to get comfortable with vocal distortion and to have that vocal endurance.

It's something that can take at least two to four years. Right to get comfortable with some of the stuff, not everything, you know, I give a lot of workshop and a lot of people were like, wow, it's so cool. I want to do that. And I'm always like, try to remind them.

This is going to take time. Focus. And, and you have to dedicate yourself to [00:27:00] that almost exclusively. 
[00:27:01] Melissa: What's your advice in getting started for, for those of us that are already voice actors and perhaps would like to start playing around with.

Little monster or creature sound, you know, what, what's your advice to them? 

[00:27:16] Sebastian: Don't go on YouTube to, to go for a video tutorial about vocal distortion. Don't go there. I can actually like, I could send you a list of channel that are scientifically accurate. Because there's a lot of stuff out there on YouTube about vocal distortion that is absolutely scientifically inaccurate.

If you think about the scientific studies, like sometimes I go in there just for fun and I look at some tutorial and most of the time it starts like this. You have to push from your diaphragm. I'm sure a lot of people in voice acting or in singing have heard that once in their life. Use your diaphragm [00:28:00] to push.

If you Google diaphragm and you look how it really works, you will see that the diaphragm is only contracted because it's a muscle when you inhale. Not when you exam. When you exhale, it's the upper abdominal muscle, the oblique, the intercostal muscle and some muscle on the back into the lower back that are the muscles that are contracting for you to expose the air.

Right? So when, when I see someone starting a video like this, and I know that. It's scientifically inaccurate. I'm not listening to the rest of it because if he's wrong on something as simple and easily Google as breeding and the role of the diaphragm, like, no, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm not going to listen to the rest.

So there's a few channels. I'm going to give you an example. One of my good friend, Mary Zimmer, uh, she's from United States, Las Vegas. She has a a [00:29:00] YouTube channel called voice. This one is really good and it's scientifically accurate. Another friend of mine, Aliki Katriu, she's actually has a lot of video tutorial on extreme voices.

Another good friend of mine, Tony Lincoln, has an incredibly precise series on YouTube about rough vocal effect. And the thing is, they're so good because they know the science. And they've read all the medical, all the scientific studies about rough vocal effect, because, you know, I asked one of my friend actually to do a bibliography of all the research that has been done on rough vocal effect and extreme voices.

And we've been doing research since 1996, and there has been like dozens and dozens and dozens of scientific research about raw vocal effect, but in singing, because if you look in video game, there's only three scientific research about extreme [00:30:00] voices. One research is actually saying there's not enough research.

So, so that's one. 

Usually if you look on rough vocal effects studies, there's one that has been done.

Over the course of 14 years with 20 rock and metal vocalists. And they did all the exam plus the laryngoscopic exam to go in there and see if there's a problem. And even with the dozen of dozen of medical study that we have for rough vocal effect, it's still not enough. There's still a lot of stuff we don't know.

And the problem is. It's not enough data. Like we cannot conclude with the amount of people that participated to those Rob Vocal Effects studies, like categorically, this is the way to do it. 

[00:30:47] Melissa: What tips have you got for those of us that are creating sounds that can help protect our voice, I guess? 

[00:30:54] Sebastian: Like, I'm gonna do a whole workshop on that, so it's hard to summarize it. But, but [00:31:00] the thing is, again, if you want to get good at vocal distortion, you have to engage vocal distortion.

Like nobody was good at vocal distortion. Learn how to do it by doing lip trills and humming, because some people would like you to think that if you just do that, you're going to be good with vocal distortion. Or strophenation, or what we call semi occluded vocal track exercises, the S O V T exercises.

But this is not how you learn how to, like, ask any rock or metal vocalist on the surface of the planet. And, and if you ask them, all they got good at what they do, nobody's going to answer

that's impossible. You have to start engaging vocal distortion, but their way to safely engage them. I'm going to give you [00:32:00] another example. If we talk about airy peglotus fold, not even false vocal cord or vocal cord, airy peglotus fold is something that we can use. And you've all heard it if you listen to jazz once, when you hear Wah, blah blah blah blah blah blah Waaa, wah, wah Louis Armstrong, it 
[00:32:18] Melissa: had the Louis Armstrong's 

[00:32:19] Sebastian: sound Waa, exactly And this kind of vibration is done with Airy Pig's Lattice Fold Which is another set of folds, the tiny one on the side The problem with that is if you lower your larynx You can do like a monster voice, but you cannot project with it because those are not designed to sustain the pressure needed for that kind of thing, but you still got to explore it because you want to be able to build muscle memory.

Learn how to get comfortable with those sound. And sometime like you just need to do that for like a few seconds. And all the time by incorporating vocal distortion in your [00:33:00] routine and by knowing exactly how to warm up for this kind of thing. And believe me, it's not lip trill and humming. Those are good cool down exercises.

Those are amazing, but it's after that you can use , over time, you will get the control and the vocal endurance necessary to actually go to a two, three, four hours of recording session because most of my recording session and the recording session of my voice talent is minimum three hours, minimum three hours.

So imagine three hours of doing those sound and being okay. Because that's the thing when I got my laryngoscopic exam, like the doctor again, were baffled because they were like, you have nothing, like you have an extra amount of saliva, more than most people, but that's it, you are vocally healthy. So how can someone be vocally healthy after 33 years of screaming?

[00:33:56] Melissa: Well, they must be doing it safely. 

[00:33:58] Sebastian: Yeah, or [00:34:00] there must be a way. And that's the thing. When I give workshop. Because if you look at tutorial on YouTube and some, some people say, Hey, try and warm up like this. The problem is it's not designed for your voice. It's generic, right? Because, and that's for me a problem I have some time with giving workshop and vocal coaching in general.

If we never do a vocal assessment before giving warm up. And for me, if I am to send an athlete to the Olympic, the first thing I will do before giving him a training program will be a physical evaluation. 

[00:34:39] Melissa: So would you do that with our workshop? Will you be evaluating 

[00:34:43] Sebastian: us? Usually that's the kind of thing that I have to do one on one because it takes at least two hours.

Of me asking you to do certain sounds, seeing your level of control with it, seeing like a lot of different variables, because this is something that in a group [00:35:00] setting that is hard, absolutely hard for me to do, but most vocal coach don't offer that one on one. What we do is we have a little workshop, but tell you about.

And I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but for me, there's something missing in vocal coaching. There's vocal assessment that you need to do before giving someone a warm up. This is for me, absolutely missing from vocal coaching. 

[00:35:24] Melissa: I think it's really interesting. And even today with this talk, we know , the workshop is going to be digging in a little bit deeper, but it's not going to be, we're all ready to start and go off and do these incredible monster and creature sounds.

, could you tell us more about the inception of the monster factory? What drove you to take these wonderful talents that you found you had and got booked in a car park, which is the best bit of the story to creating the monster factory, tell us about that journey.

[00:35:51] Sebastian: it was what I would call a happy accident. It's because over time, when I started to do voices, at some point, video game company asked me, Hey, do you have any [00:36:00] friends? And of course, doing metal music, we don't have friends, right? We are lonely in our basement. No, I'm joking. Like, of course, I have tons of other metal vocalists, men and women, that I know in Montreal.

I was like, yeah, I know a few. Like, you need female voices, you need male voices. What are you looking for specifically? And then gradually, we started to get more people involved in that. Until Until 2018, I was like Like, because when I started, I had a contract every two year, and then after a couple of years, it was one contract every year.

And before it became something that triggers something in my mind, hey, maybe I should create a company out of this, right? It took a long time. It took actually 15 years, something like that. Before I realized this could be potentially [00:37:00] a niche market. For some of us, and when I say some of us, it's mostly people who are proficient at vocal distortion, mostly metal vocalists, right?

A lot of other people are, are good at it, but , their level of endurance with that kind of stuff and the way they can actually do that. And of course I'm not saying if you're a metal vocalist, you're a voice actor, being able to scream doesn't , give you the capacity to be a creature voice actor.

Of course. You have a starting point, but you have so much to learn. Same thing like having a voice doesn't make you a singer, right? It takes training. So I trained him because I've been doing it for, for so long. So at some point I was like, I incorporated a company. And also when we work on Guardian of the Galaxy.

We did some voices in English because most of the stuff we do is scriptless. We don't have any script line. Sometimes I do have script line. In, in Tomb Raider, I had some [00:38:00] script line in Mayan language. In Prince of Persia, I had some script line in Farsi. In Guardian of the Galaxy, I had some script line in English.

And probably from hearing me speak, you would say, Hey, you have an accent when you speak English. Not when I do vocal distortion. Vocal distortion masks the accent. Interesting. Because you can hear I'm French Canadian. Probably. I 

[00:38:24] Melissa: can hear it from a beautiful place. Montreal is amazing, isn't it? But let me just ask you one last question, 
. With the increasing demand for realistic game audio, how do you see the future of voice acting, particularly in the area of monster and creature voices evolving? I mean, I'm guessing you might have wrapped up most of the market with your services. I don't know. Is there room for more of us?
You know, where's it going to go? 

[00:38:50] Sebastian: There's room. But the thing is, and this is why I travel so much because I do give a lot of conferences. I'm lucky enough to be able to travel around the world for my passion. We [00:39:00] almost met at GDC last year. We did. 

[00:39:02] Melissa: We must have been like six in the night. I was in my coffee shop and you were in five blocks down the 
[00:39:07] Sebastian: road.

I will be in Los Angeles next week for the Game SoundCon. I'm going to be in Belgium for another. The thing is, because people usually use animal sound libraries, sound designer, voice designer, audio director, they are used to that. So this is why someone has to get out there and tell them that there's another option.

And right now, if you look at talent agency that do have creature voice actor, they don't go out there. They don't try to develop the market because the market, like I said, 99. 9 percent of all the creature and monster voices are done with animals and library. So it's like this, right? So it's small. So, so, so this is why for me, it's still really a niche market.

Like, if you go into that and you think, well, I'm going to have a lot of [00:40:00] opportunities. And I don't know, that's not the case. Like, for me, it took me 18 years. To get to the point where now I can actually record almost every week. Yeah. I mean, 

[00:40:08] Melissa: I'll be honest, listening to you is making me think that I'm probably never going to utter another monster or creature sound ever again.

I think I'll just pass everyone on to 
[00:40:18] Sebastian: you. No, but, but remember there's cute creature that doesn't require necessarily huge vocal distortion. 

[00:40:24] Melissa: Okay. Thank you. I'll do the cute creatures then. That 

[00:40:26] Sebastian: you can do. But the thing is, it's one of my arguments with my client. Is that when you use animal sound library, there's no performance.

It's actually taking random sound from animal and try to create an emotion out of that. Show 

[00:40:44] Melissa: it, can you show it? 

[00:40:45] Sebastian: Let's say a humanoid emotion, right? And that's the problem because. You all know as being voice actors and actresses that intent is a huge part of what we do. And we don't know the intent [00:41:00] behind the sound of those animals.

It could be so random as, Hey, I'm, I'm a pig, I'm happy, and I'm, I'm just rolling in You know, in my own shit, I'm sorry to say it like this, or I'm a bear and I'm scratching my back, or, or the thing is, you cannot create sadness, fear, anger, with just a mix up of random intent. For me, it doesn't work. So first, there's a performance that we can do.

That animal sound libraries cannot. For sound designers who work with animal sound libraries, sometimes it takes months to create the same voice effect that they can naturally do. So I usually tell them, you're going to save time and time is money because all the time you will spend creating those sounds, I can do them like this.

And I can do voice match on cut scenes and video animation like this. After that, if you want to play with it. You know, put a monkey with my voice, I don't know, whatever, layered a goat. It happened once, they [00:42:00] layered a goat with some of the goat sound that I did for a video game. But we saved them time. So again, it's still a niche market.

It will stay a niche market for a long time because Right now, I'm the only one getting out there to try and convince a director to, Hey, see, there's a new option. There's another 

[00:42:20] Melissa: option. Simon has asked a really interesting and brilliant question. Really interested to know how long it takes you to warm up to give an extreme voicing performance.

And if you have a favorite voice warmup technique, you could share with us, please. 

[00:42:35] Sebastian: So I do take 20 to 30 minutes. Of warm up of warm up exercises, mostly because what I do with my voice. Require a level of sensibility and control. So I need to make sure every little part are actually going to be able to work together.

Right? The thing is with vocal distortion, [00:43:00] most metal vocalists who have problem or voice dysphonia because of what they do. Mostly come from a lack of control of the pressure level, right? Because for everything that vibrates. You have to have a really precise amount of pressure. Apply, right? It's, it's all about pressure and vibration.

And, most people neglect that. So for me, one of the thing that I do the most out of 30 minutes of warm up exercises, I do 15 minutes of breathing exercise. Right. Because I want to make sure all the muscle, because the thing with extreme voices, it's another level of muscular contraction, because if you don't have a proper muscular contraction of your muscle, get tired.

You won't be able to generate the precise amount of pressure you need to sustain the rough vocal effect, right? So for me, I spend a lot of time doing [00:44:00] that. And then most of the time what I do, because, you know, we talk early about triggering different kinds of rough vocal effects, but really safely with minimal pressure.

This is basically when I'm, my first exercises, I do vocal fry. Because some of this distortion that I will probably do is coming from my vocal cords. Then I do some, you know, and some, some people who have a hard time triggering false vocal cord, you know, when you listen to someone like me was way boring and you're like, you know, boring.

And you do like a side like this, this sound. You trigger ventricular folds, but the thing is, you will feel that if you don't have the proper muscular contraction of the abdominal, it's impossible to do the sound because you need a little push. Right? So I will do that kind of exercises just really low minimal pressure,[00:45:00] 

then I will try to hold it. As much as possible, I do 

[00:45:06] Melissa: that sometimes in the bath. I know it's too much information, but sometimes I will just go, I just do like one low sound for ages. I find it quite relaxing. 

[00:45:18] Sebastian: It's almost Tibetan throat singing, right? Maybe you're, you're doing that and you don't know about it.

And then, because that's the thing with extreme voices, like we talked about a Tuvan and Mongolian throat singing, Tibetan throat singing. If you look at the vibration pattern of the ventricular folds. It's a synchronized vibration pattern. If you look at the vibration pattern from extreme voices, it's what we could call a periodical vibration pattern or unsynchronized vibration pattern.

So this is why when I actually try and warm up for extreme voices, I have to practice and do all the unsynchronized vibration pattern I can do so that [00:46:00] and then also one of the exercise that I do when I want to warm up for a louder sound. I do an exercise that I call the gorilla. You know, when gorilla, they get angry, they start really low.

So I don't sustain the sound. I just do short bursts. But I slowly amend the pressure level, right? So there's a whole series of exercises that I do. Even tongue exercises like stretching the tongue. Playing also with the resonance chamber. Because this is something that people forget about. Is the fact that this is your resonance chamber.

If you're not aware of your jaw position. And how your cheek are tense or not. Because that's the thing, when we produce sound, it goes in there. And if the wall of your resonant chamber or Suff, guess what will happen? [00:47:00] Part of the sound that you're producing will be absorbed. And you don't want that! If you look at the way that I'm doing Troll Singing, look at my jaw, look at what's happening.


Every time, whatever voice taking I'm doing, my cheek is tense. Why? Because instead of having the sound that I produce being partly absorbed, it is actually reverberating way more. So this is another aspect that you can actually fine tune with throat singing. Cause there's some throat singing exercises for that, but mostly breathing exercises and try and engage every little rough vocal effect you can.

[00:47:47] Melissa: My mind is honestly, I've just got so much kind of whizzing around in it, but I'm really interested to know, you know, when you, when you do the workshop for us, we will be working, I'm assuming on just the [00:48:00] very, very baby steps. And I should say to everybody here tonight that this is honestly really advanced, an extreme part of voice acting.

So for those of you that are relatively new, please don't think that you have to master this in a year. So it's a completely separate thing, but it's still fascinating and interesting. And for us, if we could just take 1 percent away from you of, you know, a few techniques or some understanding about how to look after our voices when we're in sessions with clients, because I can tell you right now, I don't think I've ever been in a session where a client has said, is your voice?

Okay. The client had said, we'll leave your, your stuff to the end. And then you have to do them anyway. You know, there's no. There's nothing. So if you can take 1 percent away from this, then that's, that's maybe the aim. 

[00:48:49] Sebastian: And just so you know, I'm actually teaching in the National Institute of sound and image in Montreal, which is a huge educational institution.[00:49:00] 

And I'm actually teaching 3 things. Emote, environmental sound, how to do them properly and how to be able to produce good variation because that's something in video game that is absolutely necessary. I do teach vocal distortion and warmup, and I do teach creature and monster sound to voice talent who don't have any experience in creature monster sound.

So I'm really prudent. In the way that I'm working, especially with people whose job is directly linked with their voice. Because this is something, like, I'm teaching the same thing when I'm teaching a metal enthusiast how to, like, scream like his favorite singer, right? I'm teaching the exact same thing.

But with voice talent that are into voice acting, like I have to give a lot more explanation because their fear of hurting their voice necessitate me explaining it a little bit more than just some people just want [00:50:00] to do like, like this, like there's some people, but you work with your voice. So I can understand all the fear and insecurity that you can get from, Hey you know, it's going to show me how to do vocal distortion.

I'm really careful about the way I teach stuff, especially because I know that you are using your voice as a source of revenue. Right. 

[00:50:24] Melissa: Well, listen, we are coming up to time now, and it would be so easy to overrun. I've got so many questions to ask you, but we 
[00:50:32] Sebastian: could chat another 

[00:50:32] Melissa: two hours. I know. Well, we always talk quite a lot in the, in the sessions we've had already, . But listen, , honestly, it was. Such an incredible, fascinating insight into your world, into making those sounds. It's blown my mind for sure.

We will see you again in January to absolutely that came tonight. Thank you. I really hope you've enjoyed it. Please don't go away thinking you have to master this.

This was just a really informative, interesting session. 

[00:50:59] Sebastian: Like I [00:51:00] said at the beginning, you were once, every one of you was a metal vocalist at birth. You can all do vocal distortion. Without anyone teaching you, you already did. And like I said, my job is to help you remember that. So this is something that you 
[00:51:16] Melissa: can do.

Well, I feel that's such a brilliant challenge, because I just feel like I want to get in a room now and start getting everyone in and start playing, right? And, and that's what we need to do. We need to play and not take everything really seriously and think we've always got to be 
[00:51:29] Sebastian: delivering. Very rapidly.

The thing with vocal distortion is that as an adult, the way we experience vocal distortion is usually linked to negative emotion or experience. When we're coughing, we're triggering false vocal cord. So we're sick. When we're vomiting, we're triggering false vocal cord. So we're sick. When we're angry, we're triggering vocal cord distortion.

When we have pain, we're triggering vocal cord distortion. So as an adult, [00:52:00] Every form of vocal distortion is linked to a negative experience. And what you just said, playing with it, deprogramming the brain from its perception of vocal distortion is something that takes quite a while. But playing, like, for me, I always have, like, what I call the three C's.

Comfort, control, and cookie. Now you're all gonna laugh. Why cookie? It's because you have to enjoy. When you're doing that, you really do have to enjoy it to kind of reverse the perception of the brain towards focal distortion. 

[00:52:37] Melissa: Undoing all those patterns. We're going into therapy now, guys. But listen, you know that we could talk about this forever, 
thank you so much for coming, everyone. 

[00:52:46] Sebastian: Thank you for having me. Thank you for having me. 

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