Modern Vocal Training

Pamela Moore - Solo Aritist

 

 

BIOGRAPHY BY: AUSTIN JENKINS


Pamela Moore has had a very diverse career. She got her start doing session work on the radio, and from there went on to 

record with one of the biggest metal bands of all time, Queensryche. She is famous for her portrayal of "Sister Mary" in the 

Operation: Mindcrime 1 & 2 albums. On top of her work with Queensryche, she has recorded and released records with both 

Radar, and her own solo project. Stories From A Blue Room, her most recent solo effort, has received rave reviews 

worldwide. It is a mix of rock and electronica, and features Jeff Loomis from Nevermore on guitar. 



INTERVIEW BY: AUSTIN JENKINS

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Austin: Let me start off by finding out who your biggest influences were as a singer?


Pamela: I grew up listening to many styles of music, from Gospel to Jazz, Opera, Pop, Hard Rock. Back in

          the day I loved to listen to the music of Journey, Heart, Vanilla ice and Madonna.. *sheepish grin* 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Austin: What kinds of vocal training have you done throughout your career? Before the training, were you a natural or did it 

          take some work?


Pamela: I haven't had too much vocal training. In fact, the bulk of my vocal training experience came while

          attending High School. I have what is considered a "natural vibrato" and have always found it easy

          to pick up harmonies.


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: You've had a very diverse career in music. Where did you get your start, and how did you work to establish yourself

          as a working vocalist to the point of being asked to sing on Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime album?


Pamela: I started by teaching myself how to play guitar and piano which eventually inspired me to begin

          writing songs. In College I was into a lot of folk and Jazz music but had a strong desire to branch

          our and grow other styles of music. So, I started working in club bands and eventually started

          singing for radio and Tv commercials too. I remember singing an ad for a Music store in Seattle

          called Guitars Etc. Geoff Tate and Chris DeGarmo heard the radio ad and set out to find out who

          sang it, they found me, asked me if I would be interested in singing a duet with Geoff on

          their record and the rest was history, Operation MindCrime and Operation MindCrime 2!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Austin: Whats your process of learning a new song? I'm sure you've had to learn songs quickly before, especially for your

          work with Queensryche, so how have you been able to learn them most effectively and quickly? 


Pamela: I usually will listen to the song over and over and then at some point start "mapping out" the lyrics

          and phrasing. When it comes time to rehearse the song, I make a mental note of what the song is

          about, the message it is trying to say, if any. I am fortunate to have the ability to learn songs

          quickly, especially if I like them! 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: What sort of things do you do daily to maintain your voice? 


Pamela: I drink lots of water, exercise, take vitamins, supplements and get lots of sleep!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Austin: Do you follow a certain diet to maintain the range and quality of your voice and your overall health?


Pamela: Not really. However, I try to stay away from dairy. It tends to produce a lot of mucus...gunk...that

          is hard to work around when you have to sing.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Austin: I want to get some in depth detail on your actual vocal technique now. You have a huge range, and a lot of power. 

          How did you develop the range and power? What sorts of exercises did you focus on to get to the point you are at 

          today?


Pamela: My range has grown over time. If you are an active singer, you will find that as long as you are

          singing properly and taking care of your body and emotional well being, you will increase your

          range and power. I think technique is all relative to what type of singer you are. I try to do a lot of

          breathing exercises and voice "stretching" (sliding tones) but when it comes time to get on stage

          and perform I think it's the adrenaline that helps with the high notes. LOL 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Austin: When you are singing in your higher registers as opposed to singing lower, what do you change? Do you push more, 

          sing louder, etc.


Pamela: It all depends on what the song calls for as far as phrasing but if you are talking about the harder

          rock songs, I am careful to use proper breathing and voice placement by using my diaphragm and

          stomach muscles for support. 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: Do you have any idea of how wide your range is now? Has it improved or diminished over the years? 


Pamela: No... I haven't really looked into that... I DO know my voice has improved over the years and that

          is exciting.


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: How do you approach breath support? Do you just let it happen naturally as you do when you speak, or have you 

          trained to get it down perfectly? Do you push anywhere to support your tone as you sing? 


Pamela: I try not to think about "when to take a breath here, when not to there" it all has to do with

          phrasing and interpreting the song in the best way possible. I don't really think too much about

          it... its all feel.


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: How do you manage the break point, where you transition from chest voice to head voice? Is it something you've 

          worked to develop, or do you have crutches you use such as increasing the volume or altering your tone to get through

          it? From your songs, it sounds like you've got a great deal of control behind the change.


Pamela: Again, for me it all depends on the song and what parts of the song need more attention then

          other parts. It can be tricky if you have a very noticeable break point so it's all about

          interpretation. If I am trying to keep the same intensity on one note as sing I usually try to stay in

          either a chest voice or head voice all the way through...


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: You've done a lot of touring recently with Queensryche. Give me an idea of a schedule for you on tour? Do you start 

          getting your voice prepped for the show as soon as you wake up, do any physical activity, etc.


Pamela: Well, first thing is morning coffee or Tea! Lots of water all day too! Then through out the day I

          "test" my voice to see where it's at. I do a few "sliding" notes from high to low, (low to high) to see

          if there is any drastic breaks that need to be addressed. If my voice is really tired, I will ease into

          my warm ups very gently, remembering to stay relaxed because if I get freaked out or uptight

          about things, my vocal chords will start to constrict and not cooperate. Its all a mind game really…


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: What kind of warm up process do you go through before the show to get your voice ready? Do you warm down after

          a show? 


Pamela: As I had mentioned... I like the Sliding note warm up and simple scales. I've never heard of "warm

          down"? What is that? (Laughs) 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: People often get sick while they are on the road; how do you manage to stay healthy and perform at your best night 

          after night? Do you take any vitamin supplements?


Pamela: I take vitamins and supplements everyday. On the road I use hand sanitizers, airborne,

          Emergen-C, and if I get sick I take liquid silver and olive leaf. You really have to be careful on the

          road because once a band or crew member gets sick EVERYONE has a good chance of catching it!


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: When you do happen to get sick, what kinds of things do you do to make sure your voice will be normal and ready

          to go that night? 


Pamela: I try to get as much sleep as possible. Apple cider vinegar and warm water gargle really helps for

          a hoarse voice. I also try not to talk until it's time to begin some gentle warm up exercises.... 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: When you sing live, do you tend to sing louder than you would in the studio, or does it stay about the same?


Pamela: Yes, singing in a live concert situation tends to get my adrenaline going and this amps me up!


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: For early morning performances like radio shows, what kind of stuff do you do to wake your voice up and get it

          ready to sing?


Pamela: It's always a challenge to try and get your voice prepared for early morning performances,

          especially when you had a show the night before! The best option is to try to get at least 8 hours

          of sleep. This can be a challenge when you're forced to sleep in a small compartment on a bus

          with other roommates! But it's doable. I also try to wake at least one - two hours before the radio

          show and have a hot beverage to wake me up, usually hot tea. I will grab a bottle of water too...

          Hydration is key! While preparing my morning beverage I very gently "wake up" my voice with low  

          humming exercises. As I feel the vocal chords gradually loosen I start to push a little more but

          careful not to strain. Make sure you are relaxed and calm and ease into your regular vocal routine. 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: What kind of monitoring set up do you use live? If the monitors go down, can you depend on your technique and 
          
          resonance in your body enough to sing without them?


Pamela: We use in-ear monitors which are nice but took me a bit of getting familiar with after using floor

          monitors and fills for so long. It's a very different sensation and in a lot of ways I had to retrain the

          way I heard myself! I like the in-ears system very much but you really have to have a great monitor

          tech who understands the in-ear system and can help work with you on what sounds best for you.

          you have someone you can trust to help you, it's really a great tool.

          

          I've had monitors go down during live performances and it is challenging! Especially when you are

          performing in a live arena or auditorium where the slap back (delay) is severe. Anyway, when that

          does happen, I try to listen to my "inner head voice" and front of house PA. It's tricky but easy to

          do if you listen really hard and concentrate. What I mean about "inner head voice" is; try talking

          out loud then plug your ears while you talk... the experience of what you sound like while plugging

          your ears is what I call hearing "inner head voice". 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: Now I want to move on to your recording technique. Give me a summary of your normal vocal recording process. 

          Some people try to do everything in 1 or 2 takes, while others do a dozen takes and comp together the best 

          results...do you do either of these, or something different to get your results? 


Pamela: I've tried all kinds of ways to record my vocals in the studio, from singing a song 2 or 3 times all

          the way through, listening to it and choosing the best "take"or in rare cases being asked to sing a

          song line per line! (Which isn't my favorite) Having said that, any of the techniques you mentioned

          work well and there is no right or wrong way to record, it's just a matter of how you respond and

          what you're comfortable with.



          While I was recording Stories From A Blue Room, my producer Neil Kernon asked me sing all the

          softer parts of my songs on one day and track the more powerful parts on a different day. (For

          those who have heard my latest record, you know there are some very dynamic parts to the songs;

          combining intimate, up close and personal verses followed by very strong and rocking bridge and

          or chorus lines.) The theory behind this technique is that when you sing louder your voice warms up

          and typically changes in texture. I was skeptical when Neil first suggested it but trusted

          him completely and I am very happy with the end result. 



          The best advice I can give you is have fun! Avoid doing too many takes over and over because at

          some point your interpretation of the song will begin to fade and sound tired. If you are having

          trouble maybe come back to the song later. Whatever you do, just remember the end result

          depends on you. You are the icing on the cake, so to speak. Don't be afraid to try out different

          things, experiment, create! After all, that is how magic happen 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: When your recording, do you use any technology like Auto Tune or Harmonizers, or do you like to fix the out of tune 

          notes by redoing vocals, and do harmonies by actually layering them on yourself?


Pamela: I like how vocoders sound on the voice for certain songs... it has a neat effect. But other than that,

          you would have to ask my producer! I think too much effect on a voice takes away from it, but

          again, it all depends on the song...


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: How do you keep your voice fresh when your in the studio tracking for hours at a time? 


Pamela: I love being in the studio so I don't tire that easily while tracking. I love it...but I do drink water

          and have a nice glass of red wine when we are done for the day!


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: Your most recent effort, Stories From A Blue Room is different from what most people know you as, which is a metal 

          singer with Queensryche. How did you approach the writing process for this style of music? Do you write all of your

          own melodies and lyrics, or is it more of a collaborative effort?


Pamela: Yes, it is a very different side of me and I meant to do that. My copartner, Benjamin Anderson

          came up with the musical idea's which in turn really sparked my melody and lyric process. I write

          in many different ways, either writing a whole song on my own, (music & lyrics) or collaborating

          with another musician adding my own lyrics and melodies.


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: What other projects do you have in the works right now?


Pamela: I am rehearsing with a group of musicians in Chicago. We are working up a live set of music and

          hope to be booking very soon. I have also started writing with them and doing a few live unplugged

          shows for radio stations. 


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Austin: Finally, what is the biggest piece of advice you would want to give to someone trying to break into the music industry?


Pamela: Be true to yourself and what you believe. Don't try to be someone you are not. Learn about the biz

          inside and out and surround yourself with true friends who care about you, people that you trust

          and who will be honest with you as well as supportive. Have fun, and don't ever take yourself too

          seriously!