We begin with some ‘Fermata Town’ and their EP called Overtime. We met them back at the Acapella festival in London. They flew on over from the States and played a little set there. They have a fantastic sound! And they loved our dancing… obvs. You can find out more about them at www.fermatatown.com
Chris actually starts by saying “Episode 33”… IGNORE HIM, it’s definitely Episode 34. He’s just ill.
Leading us nicely on to todays guest, someone who doesn’t have any time for that…
He’s a colourful character with so much of energy, hence why this particular episode holds a lot of content. The subjects do jump but stick with it. He’s known all around the world as a vocal coach, for his ‘Raise your Voice’ book series, he’s a distortion specialist, which works lovely alongside his love for rock and he can smash glasses with his own voice.
Yep. Oh, and he loves a Throat Coat tea.
Jaime has been singing since he was a little kid. Inspired by artists like Elvis, James Brown, John Lennon, Led Zeppelin throughout the 70’s, and then the likes of Wham and Duran Duran through the 80s, it’s clear he has a very eclectic taste. When he started gigging back in the good ol’ days, he was expected to sing things like ACDC in x5 45 minute rock sets and repeatedly belting would ruin his voice. After training and learning all he could from 1993 to 2000, he began to really know and understand his voice and felt inspired to write. ‘Raise Your Voice’, his book series took 4 years to write. The book took off and was picked up all over America, which led him to an episode of Mythbusters on Good Morning America. Up against an opera singer in a singing ‘battle’ if you will, he shattered a glass without amplification. The rest is history.
When he started out, a real game changer that came to him in terms of technique led him to what he teaches and how he sings today. Not that it’s ‘wrong’ but a new wave of teachers that say anatomy is the way forward, i.e.. those that speak highly of the tilt/retract/anchor side of things is a method he doesn’t agree with. It was in ’96 when he was burnt out doing scales that he realised a pitch slide was getting full coverage of the notes whereas a scale wasn’t. You’re essentially ‘missing’ notes in a scale but the voice is naked on a siren. The siren encourages freeness. In addition to that, breathing, especially lower abdominal breathing, was also a key factor. Getting deep breaths to the bottom of the lungs. Avoiding the short shallow breaths that raise the shoulders can really assist in extending your range, power and obviously breath control.
The book itself, in a nutshell. What is the message?
“At the core, it is about range extension”. Jaime talks about resonance and tonal enhancement but let’s face it, students come to him with one goal and that is they wanna sing high but they can’t get up there! His inspiration for the book steeps from his vocal coach in 1988 saying.. “You are a bass, you will never sing high”. It filled him with desire to prove him wrong. He really believes your range is always extendable. There are even benefits to singing sharp in error, singing sharp isn’t always a negative! It’s shows you’ve released to sing even higher!
Generally speaking, to extend range he’ll begin with male singers around middle C and females just above that around E/F. Messe de voce exercises and sirens will take you as high as you can go, but then he works in both directions. The idea is to get rid of the ‘break’, smooth it out entirely to achieve ‘one voice’. It’s so important exercises are used daily to train up to your full range, even if you don’t use it in touring and gigging on a regular basis. It is then always ready to go. Oddly if you know it’s there but don’t have to achieve that range regularly, you won’t appreciate the mid range as much which you’re more likely to sing.
Rock singing is known to be a strenuous genre in terms of effort (check out Myles Kennedy for some solid technique!) and we asked Jaime which 3 things are biggest considerations when trying to maintain that much intensity in a professional setting.
And they are:
Getting TECHNIQUE under your belt. There is so much angst and distortion in rock delivery, it’s tempting for singers in the genre to overlook it to get out the raw emotion
VOCAL STAMINA – being able to runaround on stage for an energetic performance, singing on a treadmill can help!
VOCAL HEALTH – things like air conditioning, too much alcohol, not eating/drinking water properly, no vitamins and drinking fizzy drinks, smoking backstage… all of these things can have a detrimental effect. You are a vocal olympian! An athlete. So taking care of your body is key.
Distortion is a desirable sound for a lot of artists… can anyone achieve this? In a word, yes. But a grounded technique is required before embarking on such training. The sensation of knowing you’re doing it correctly is more of a vibration in the roof of the mouth, similar to say gargling water. Any feeling of that burning in the throat is a clear warning sign you’re gonna do some damage. It’s quite difficult to find at first so Jaime attempts the technique with students on varying pitches which tends to get them started. The really low pitch can then be practised for a week or two, before stretching and moving on to higher pitches. There’s most certainly some temptation from those students that want to go from 0 to 60 immediately, but it’s not recommended at all. The vocal freedom must be there before you can add the specific distortion technique.
So how can you reach out to Jaime?
www.iguitarmag.com – is where you’ll find info on Jaime Venderas Vocal Bootcamp
www.venderapublishing.com – is the place to search audios, you can find Auto and Vocal Warm up, in addition to the book ‘Raise Your Voice’
www.venderavocalacademy.com – is his 2 year programme, which teaches everything from vocal exercises to how to record professionally
www.soundcloud.com/vssounds – is where you’ll find some songs recorded with his partner
Our next episode is with Robin De Haas… one not to be missed!
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