The New Voice of YU: Celebrity Student, Justin Lundin
I first met Justin Lundin, Syms 13’ in 2008, when we attended the same yeshiva in Israel, and we’ve been roommates from then till now. Over the course of that time, I’ve always enjoyed introducing him to new people and seeing him surprise them with his amusing and unusual talent. It usually takes a little persuasion on my part, but usually I can get him to talk about his voiceover work. Countless jaws have dropped at his impeccable rendition of the deep movie trailer voice. Alternatively he produces fits of laughter with his impersonations of the Orcs from Lord of the Rings, Barry White, and the Dark Sith from Star Wars.
Justin’s fascination with voiceovers began when he heard the voice Don LaFontaine, the original movie trailer voice. After hearing the voice, Justin began attempts to imitate it, forcing his vocal cords lower and lower. “Vocal cords are like muscles” Justin says, “the more you train the deeper you can push it.” With a strict workout regimen, he could soon mimic the voice fairly well, for a fifteen year old anyway. Soon he was putting the voice to use. At first it involved simple pranks, like calling the school on behalf of his fellow students to get excused absences. Before long , he was moving on to bigger projects. In high school, Justin belonged to his school’s filmmaking club and was involved in making documentaries; those were his first real voice-over projects.
When he went to Israel for his year abroad, Justin began to professionalize his voice-over work. “I worked for two productions companies in Israel. It was a big step for me because it provided me with real experience in voice-over and the ability to refine my skills” Justin says. The fact the he actually got paid taught him that his voice could be used for more than just pranks and fun. Currently his voice can be heard in the promotional video for Merkaz Chareidi, a vocational school, and several projects for TorahLive.
When Justin came to YU, finding clients became much more of a challenge, and Justin returned to using his voice for pranks and fun. He used several voices in the HASC standup comedy night in November 2010, his first semester. It wasn’t until a friend referred him to a website called fivr.com, where people can list services for a base price of five dollars, that he returned to professional voice-over work. By 2012, he had a steady stream of clients coming in through fivr, with gigs ranging from independent movie trailers to video game previews to audiobook samples to radio commercials. “It was a lot of fun at first, but I got so busy that it started taking up almost all of my free time” Justin says a bit of a wry smile.
Finding a space for his new obsession was difficult. Although he was using a high-end microphone, Justin did not have a studio to work with. Instead he did all of his work out of his dorm room, on the third floor of Muss. “It was kind of difficult making recordings with music blaring from the streets and random dudes singing loudly in the shower. It wouldn’t go well with clients to get recordings that had shower versions of the Maccabeats L’cha Dodi faintly in the background”
Ever the perfectionist, Justin would wait till the neighborhood slept and re-record and edit his recordings on his computer to ensure a professional grade product. His efforts paid off, and soon the reviews started coming in. Justin achieved a 99% positive feedback rating with one review even asking, “Will you marry me?”
Aside from giving him a broad range of scripts, working on Fivr required Justin to hone certain skills other than his trailer voice. His vocal pitch ranges from movie trailer deep to news anchor crisp, to casual, conversational promotional work. He also does a variety accents, including English, German, and Russian, and in one video game trailer, he can even be heard speaking in a thick Scottish brogue.
Over time, as his name began to spread, Justin started working on gigs outside of Fivr. Soon he felt ready to launch his own website, justinlundin.com. “Fivr was great because it gave me experience with a broad range of scripts and the confidence to branch out on my own” Justin tells me. But Justin felt ready to move on. By working through his own website, Justin was able to be more selective with his clients, favoring fewer, yet bigger clients, over the many small, one time jobs he had on Fivr.
Although Justin continues to work with a wide range of clients, receiving gigs from places as diverse as Jordan, China, and Germany, there are certain things Justin will not do. He states on his website that he will not record profanity, explicit material, or anything that promotes racism or hate. Although he has turned down numerous gigs for this reason, Justin refuses to compromise on his personal and religious values. “Over time I’ve received some pretty racy stuff, but clients are pretty understanding when I explain that I feel uncomfortable with the script.” On occasion, clients have wanted Justin’s voice enough that they would work with him to remove profanity. Sometimes, though, the theme is too explicit to fix, and Justin won’t take the job. The clients are understanding, though, and will normally return for other jobs.
While he’s not busy doing his professional work, Justin is always happy to help out friends. He’s done voicemail greetings and custom ringtones for more than just a few of his friends, and he recently started doing the introductions for YUNews, the recently launched Yeshiva University student news report which can be found on YouTube.
Although Justin is an accounting major at Sy Syms and will be graduating this year, he is not sure exactly what the future holds. He tells me, “I really enjoy voiceover work, but it’s a difficult field. I’ve also spent a lot of time preparing for accounting. I guess only time will tell.”