Episode 038 – Strong Coffee Strong Women™ with Lili Wexu
“I spent a lot of time on my own, experimenting, trying to figure out what the upgraded version of me looked like. Honestly, that process never stops.”
“I spent a lot of time on my own, experimenting, trying to figure out what the upgraded version of me looked like. And honestly, that process never stops.”
Lili Wexu is an author, award-winning film and voice-over actress, and my voice acting coach. You’ve seen her on Grey’s Anatomy and Alien vs Predator and if you’re into video games, she’s voiced some of the most popular out there.
From a young age, Lili knew her voice was special. She spent years developing her signature sound and after a lot of work and reinvention, she’s created a multi-faceted career that keeps her relevant in an ever-changing and fickle business.
In this episode, we chat about getting over the fear of criticism and what it was like her first day on the set of Grey’s Anatomy.
I’m thrilled she’s on the show and I hope you enjoy my conversation with the amazing Lili Wexu.
- Join Lili’s email list
- Instagram: @liliwexu
Lili Wexu is an accomplished film and voice-over actress with over 25 years of experience in her field. She’s appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and Alien vs Predator, and lent her voice to the Assassins Creed II video game. She’s also had the honor and the privilege of announcing at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. These days, she spends most of her time recording commercials & manifestos.
Lili has written what her friends in the business call a “modern Voice Acting bible”. The 3 part e-book series called “Get Clever About VO Voice Acting & Announcing” helps aspiring voice actors carve a path for themselves in today’s voice acting business.
Lili coaches voice actors, radio/TV announcers and aspiring voice talent privately, and is currently developping several curriculums for group classes, both in person and online.
[00:00:00] Chris: All right, time to unset. How you doing today? How you feeling? That’s enough small talk. Let’s get after it.
[00:00:12] Hey everyone, it’s episode 38. Welcome to the show. My guest today is an author, award-winning film and voiceover actress and a coach. You’ve seen her on Grey’s Anatomy and Alien versus Predator, and if you’re in the video games, she’s voiced. Some of the most popular out there from a young age, Lily Wex, who knew her voice was special.
[00:00:32] She spent years developing her signature sound, and after a lot of hard work and reinvention, she’s created a multifaceted career that keeps her relevant in an ever-changing and fickle business. I’m thrilled she’s here today. So let’s get right into my conversation with the amazing Lily Wex. Cool. Here we are.
[00:00:52] All right. Welcome to the show. Thanks for being here.
[00:00:55] Lili Wexu: Such a pleasure, Chris. Such a pleasure.
[00:00:57] Chris: I, I have to say last two guests on strong coffee, strong women neither of you have drink coffee, so I am failing at that, but I’m drinking coffee for the both of us. I’ve got my little local brew going on and I’m really excited to have you here.
[00:01:18] Tell me you’re from Canada. You grew up in Canada. When did all of it start for you? When did you get into, did you get into acting early or was this a later in life thing?
[00:01:32] Lili Wexu: My mother since I was a kid was like, you’re an actress, you’re an actress. And I didn’t think there was anything else that I would ever do to be honest, because I just wasn’t given any other options other than that.
[00:01:45] Basically, I did a, theater in school and things like that. But really what, the big thing about, so I did love acting and I loved watching skits. There was a famous French Canadian TV show that I would watch. It was all like, like snl, but maybe more kid friendly, or maybe not, but I just would watch it and laugh hysterically and thought that’s what I wanna do.
[00:02:07] But also I had this super strong connection to my voice, like when I was a kid. I don’t know if it’s because I noticed that my voice was lower than everybody else, but I just thought, I, I felt like my voice was special. So weird to say that. But
[00:02:21] Chris: seriously, even as a kid,
[00:02:24] Lili Wexu: Yeah, i’s really cool was in camp.
[00:02:26] I was in camp, so I must have been like seven or eight years old. And I just thought, and I watched this movie, adventures and Babysitting and the, it’s Elizabeth Shoe brings the kids to a bar in Chicago to a, like a blues bar or something like that. And I, there was this big blue singer there and I thought that’s what I wanna do.
[00:02:44] And I just thought, somebody should discover me. Like I had heard of the concept of like models being discovered and I just thought somebody should discover my vo, my voice. And then, I went and had singing lessons at school and I was singled out and humiliated in front of the group, and I just, that just killed my career right there.
[00:03:01] But, so from that age, I just still had this connection to my voice. And then when I was about So I, I wasn’t very good at taking direction when I was a kid so the acting thing takes what a shock very quickly. And then I got back and then I got back into it as a young adult.
[00:03:23] And when I was 19 that year, like everybody was like, you have such a great voice, you should do radio and. And I was like, okay, great. And then the opportunity actually weirdly arose. So I went, I this, there was a radio station that was doing this campaign and they needed someone bilingual and they knew that I was And they asked me, can you come to the station and read some liners?
[00:03:53] And I did that. And then one of the guys that had brought me in basically was, has had a freelance business and sometimes he needed a female voice. And he would call me in and he basically, taught me everything he knew and how to record at home and all that. And basically I’ve been recording like that yeah.
[00:04:12] Since I was 19. So before, before you could, it was even cool to have a studio like I would call producers and I would say, I have my own studio. I could record for you. They’d be like, what are you talking about? No, no honey, you’ll come to our studio if we need you. And so
[00:04:27] Chris: were you still in Canada or did you get to LA by that
[00:04:30] Lili Wexu: point?
[00:04:31] No, so I was in Canada then. I lived in the US as a kid, which is why I’m bilingual and speak English. But no I was living in Canada and yeah, I moved to LA about 10 years ago, so that’s when that happened. But yeah, so I was 19 working and it’s, that’s the way it started. And then, I was acting at the same time, cuz really that’s what I wanted to do.
[00:04:56] I just wanted to act, it’s just, I so happened on this voice thing and I saw it as a ticket out of my circumstances from my home. I had a really. I’ll say a colorful family.
[00:05:12] Chris: I think we all do so I think we
[00:05:13] Lili Wexu: all do. Yeah. Colorfuls are good. So it was just kinda my, yeah, so it was kinda my ticket out because I just felt like I wasn’t gonna go study.
[00:05:22] Like unfortunately, I. I think I would’ve loved being a student and being, being a teacher even. And, but that just, it just wasn’t encouraged in my family. And not that they don’t support that, it’s just for whatever reason, it was like we were all just surviving at that point.
[00:05:41] And so I saw voices, like just my ticket to freedom to what I wanted. And it did afford me that because, I did end up, one of the prerequisites I had when I was young is I wanted a job that would allow me to travel and to just to live anywhere I wanted. And voice did that. Like I did that, I moved to Argentina for a couple of years and I was able to, that’s when I transitioned to voiceover full-time when I was living in Argentina.
[00:06:06] And it went super well. Like at that time it was, it became common to have your own studio and it wasn’t a weird thing anymore. And it was like a great. Bonus and you could just work a lot if you had a studio. And yeah, it did allow me to travel and obviously it’s what enabled me to move to the US as well.
[00:06:25] Chris: So this is like way ahead of the curve. You have your own studio before, like I remember back in the nineties I was working in Nashville and in the studio scene, in the music studio scene and Pro Tools. Was like still 150, $200,000 program that Steven Spielberg was using to track movies. And then, not more than less than a decade later, you buy an iMac and it comes on it.
[00:06:52] You have garage band, which is basically, so what were you cutting on when you were like, 19, what were you like tape? What
[00:06:59] Lili Wexu: were you using? Yeah, that’s funny. That’s what they were doing at the station for sure. But we were they were using reel to reels over there at the station. But the guys that were that trained me and at the time, a program that was really popular in radio.
[00:07:14] Was because the guys that really, took me in were radio guys. And basically they were just DJs doing freelance on the side because they do commercials and then clients would come up to them and say, Hey, could you do my commercial too? I want your voice. Because a lot of times the ad buys at the stations, like you would just get whatever voice was available to add to, to voice your commercial.
[00:07:32] But those guys became popular. So everybody at stations was using a program called cool Edit Pro. And cool at Pro cool at a pro was amazing and is still amazing. And is now Adobe audition. No shit. So I, yeah and this is why I’m still like, so I started off on a, on a PC like everybody else.
[00:07:59] And I would use Cooled Pro and then eventually I migrated to Mac, but I was so reluctant. Because all the programs like Pro Tools, when it became more affordable for us to use Pro Tools, logic Pro, they were so difficult to edit with. They’re just not quick VO editing programs. Cool. Edit Pro was like, you could just, highlight something, delete it, copy paste it.
[00:08:21] It was just like you didn’t have to do 4, 5, 6 mouse clicks to just get to the thing that you were doing. Those programs are just way advanced and it was, voiceover is just QuickBase, it always was a QuickBase kind of business. And there was just no time. So I would record eventually on my Mac because, I couldn’t get the Cool Pro on the Mac.
[00:08:44] So I would record on Logic Pro and Pro Tools, and then I would transfer, the audio to the Cool Edit Pro, and then I would edit peacefully. In there, and I was just waiting and I wrote emails to Adobe and I was like please just buy cool it at produce. And then eventually they did, they bought, and they rebranded it, called Audition.
[00:09:02] So I’m in heaven, like when that happened, I just was like, I signed up right away and yeah. And for years, it was just one cost and now they’re doing a subscription, unfortunately. But yeah, I still, I’m still addicted to that program,
[00:09:15] Chris: Yeah, that’s amazing because you are, you’re in Argentina.
[00:09:19] This is before, and I don’t want to go too far down the tech rabbit hole cuz everybody listens, isn’t listening for that. But I just, I find it interesting that you’re a decade or so more ahead of the curve. Because now, everybody’s cutting post covid. Everybody’s got the studios at home and stuff, and Mac software and all these softwares are really game changers.
[00:09:39] And the preamps, all the stuff you can get on the consumer level is PR is. But I just find it amazing that you were that far ahead of the game and that you were that intuitive enough as a kid to know that your voice was so special and you leaned into it. When you’re doing all this voice acting and stuff, you come to the states after Argentina, and then how do you end up on Grey’s Anatomy?
[00:10:00] That’s what my wife is you gotta ask her about Grey’s Anatomy and you gotta McDreamy or Maximi. I can’t even believe I asked that stupid question, but that’s the whole. That’s where everybody’s gonna go, so we might as well just get it outta the way. Yeah, totally,
[00:10:13] Lili Wexu: totally. So yeah, so I lived in Argentina, then I went back home for a little bit, and then that’s when I got the Olympics.
[00:10:20] I booked the Olympics. I was able to do the opening, the closing ceremonies in Canada, and that was a big ticket item. And I, they asked me to do multiple things in the Olympics, but we chose that because it would enable me to, it was a high enough ticket item that would help me get a green card.
[00:10:35] So we petitioned for a green card and then I got it. So I moved. And I was acting, I was always an actress in the background of doing voice work. It’s just voice work is just took off, but I was always acting and always perfecting my acting, always in class always in class.
[00:10:54] And obviously the best teachers are in LA so I was just so happy to be in class here. And I got an agent and then one day I had an audition and it was for Grey’s Anatomy, and I was. Just Florida, I’d auditioned for that office a few times and it’s funny because like you work, people don’t realize it’s such a small role.
[00:11:12] It’s just a couple lines. But when you know, it’s just as hard to get those big roles as those small roles. Like just to be seen, just to have them know who you are, know your name and agree to have, to carve out. Five minutes for you to get to that office. I’d been there several times and hadn’t booked.
[00:11:30] And then that day I remember I, I usually would coach for every single audition. And that day I didn’t have time. Like it just happened so quickly and they had me, back then you had to go in person and I just wore my doctor’s uniform and I just my, and my coach had said, never do that. Don’t do that.
[00:11:44] And I said, I’m doing it. I’m wearing the lab coat. It’s, I’m playing a doctor, I’m just gonna do it. And I went there, I said my lines and I got the role and I was. Over the moon and on set. They were just as amazing as the show is, which is not always the case. I went onto a show famous director.
[00:12:07] Everybody loves him. And he was not even he didn’t even look me in the eye. Like he didn’t even he spoke to me without looking at me. And I was like, wow. But Grey’s Anatomy was. The complete opposite. The writer, the director, the other actors, all came up to me, shook my hand. Thank you for being here.
[00:12:26] We’re so glad to have you today. And they were just like the nicest salt of the earth people you could ever imagine, like you just cry leaving that set cuz you’re just like, I want to make this my home. Like I want to come back. Yeah. They were just amazing. It was an amazing experience. It went. Very quickly.
[00:12:42] It’s just a day shoot. But yeah beautiful experience. Definitely a highlight for me.
[00:12:47] Chris: So was it a set, was it a sound stage or was it a location? Did they do all that stuff? My chair’s squeaking. I’m sorry, it’s driving me crazy. Was it a sound stage or was that a location?
[00:12:59] Your set, your scene.
[00:13:00] Lili Wexu: That was a sound. It’s not a sound stage, is it? It is a location, but it is on a, it is on a set, I believe it’s on a set. Like it’s a dedicated, it’s always the same set, obviously, cuz they film their a lot of the time. But it’s an actual building, like it’s not a sound stage. Yeah.
[00:13:16] So it’s like the unit there, the,
[00:13:19] Chris: yeah. So you’re not going to a hospital in la they’re locking down a location, you’re shooting? No,
[00:13:23] Lili Wexu: no. Did they fill, it’s. Too many years and they, they sure they need those locations all the time. So I guess they, they have it down. If it was another, one season, two season show, they probably would.
[00:13:32] Chris: But no, it’s cool to hear that they were all really nice to you. Cuz I’m wondering what the first day is this leads in, I guess we should, in full disclosure, I should tell everyone that you’re my acting coach, which that’s the whole onus of me doing this because when I signed up for classes with you I was trying to think of what you were dealing with when you walked on set for Grey’s Anatomy.
[00:13:58] Like how what were the butterflies? What was, and you’re not, it’s not Grey’s Anatomy. No disrespect, you’re badass, but I was nervous as shit. Like I couldn’t imagine what you were dealing with on Grey’s Anatomy. So that’s where I was going with this. Like, how do you quiet the mind?
[00:14:15] I know you’ve got all the practice and the rehearsal down and you practice for that moment where you actually. Get the gig and you show up and you gotta deliver. But butterflies like, what are you, is there any kinda mean it’s freak scene for Lilly in the green room back there or No, it’s just like game on.
[00:14:31] Yeah. When you go knock
[00:14:32] Lili Wexu: it out? Yeah. No, it’s always nerve wracking and especially for doctor roles or detective roles or, cause they always give you this technical language and your only concern is like not messing up the lines because especially when you’re a day player is, which is what we call people like me who’ll go and on set just for the day or.
[00:14:50] Don’t have a recurring role on the series. Like you just have, there’s no margin for error. Like you have to go in, you have to be perfect. You’d have to, you have to be, wonderful, easy to work with be able to just get your lines out, be directed. It’s just has to be perfect. The, there’s just no room for error.
[00:15:07] You don’t have all that build up of trust, trusting confidence that, you know
[00:15:12] Chris: Yeah, you so get four or five runs at it and it’s the technical line that you gotta nail that you don’t sound like you’re reading. Yeah. Cause you’re a doctor and you should know these words.
[00:15:21] Lili Wexu: Yeah. It’s always stressful.
[00:15:24] The beauty of it though is that when you do a lot of auditioning and you go on set regularly, It just becomes a job, like you just you’re always a little bit nervous and you’re, maybe more excited. You’re like, wow, this is like Grey’s Anatomy, like I’m on this set. You see these people, you’re like, wow.
[00:15:40] So you’re excited, but you’re also just extremely focused and You’re watching everything, all the details, because there’s so much more to acting than just saying your lines like continuity. If you grab something with your right hand, you have to always grab it with your right hand, you know that stuff cuz you’ve worked in production.
[00:15:59] So there’s just a lot going on in the actor’s head when you’re on set. So I think all those things just make you very focused. But, nerves are a real thing and especially when you’re. I think that when you’re, in, in your case of being a student, it’s nerve-wracking because you just don’t know how that teacher’s gonna be and you don’t know what you’re gonna be asked to do.
[00:16:25] And it’s vulnerable and it’s scary. And when you’re on set, it’s a little bit of the same thing cuz you just don’t know who the people are gonna be and how nice they’re gonna be. Like I said, the other experience that I had the guy was just like not even looking at me, I was. It’s tough cuz your ego takes a huge blow and you’re just like, wow.
[00:16:41] Like I’m not even a human to this person. Like I’m not even considered important enough to look it in the eye. And you have to still focus. You have to still be like, all right, that’s fine. Like whatever, I’m gonna say my lines and ask me, ask and do whatever it is that he asks of me. So you have to compartmentalize and you do get better at that with experience of just continued exposure.
[00:17:01] And I think it’s maybe the same thing. I don’t know, I can’t speak for you, you’ll maybe speak to this, but it’s like with a teacher, it’s. At first, at the beginning, you’re like, oh my God, who’s this person? What are they gonna ask me to do? And you’re scared. And then eventually you build that trust and you feel more comfortable.
[00:17:14] So the same thing happens on set. It,
[00:17:17] Chris: it’s definitely that way. With me, with you I had the benefit of seeing you. I did some, when I was initially thinking about going a little further into voiceover I have the podcast and all this stuff, but I really love recording. I love scripting.
[00:17:35] I love composing the music. So this kind of like, all of this stuff is in my wheelhouse from years and years of doing it. But I was just, I read, I started with your books and they were just so approachable and full of re what I resonated with you with. It’s just like when I started writing.
[00:17:53] Books. Books. My wife gave me a masterclass with James Patterson when Masterclass first came out. Oh, wow. And I was like, I don’t read James Patterson. I don’t write, thriller, steamy thriller stuff like, but I said, I’m gonna do it. I just did it. And what I got from him was his outline.
[00:18:14] He. Gave the way he outlined a book, he it’s like specifically, and it clicked holy crap, this is what’s been preventing me from getting my books done, is this, is, this is my roadblock. And so when I got to your book and books, the bundle that you have, which is awesome, if anybody’s looking to get into voiceover will give all the information at the end, but the approachableness of it all, and I was, and then I saw you on YouTube and I thought, you know what?
[00:18:43] Yeah. I’m scared shitless, but she seems like a really cool person. No BS with her delivery and she’s also got this, I just, I resonated with that, so I was, yeah. I was terrified because I’ve been on sets with directors who are complete assholes and they don’t just Yeah. They don’t just get in the heads of the actors.
[00:19:04] They get in the heads of the entire crew all the way from catering to the truck drivers. Absolutely. They ruin everybody’s day. Absolutely. And it’s mood on, and if your on set is
[00:19:11] Lili Wexu: just vile Yeah.
[00:19:12] Chris: Yeah. And if you’re on that set for 30 or 60 days, can you imagine that bullshit every day? Having some jerk off show up and just start throwing his attitude all over.
[00:19:21] Everyone, when they’re all in a creative space, they’re all trying to be open and channel and vulnerable to this product, to this thing that they’re creating, which is such an esoteric concept to begin with. And then you throw that into the mix. So yeah, when I started with you, being vulnerable was, Really hard because there’s the self-conscious thing in your head that says, God, you look so stupid and you sound so stupid.
[00:19:45] That’s what goes through my head. You know that cuz we’ve talked about this. You
[00:19:49] Lili Wexu: push me, we all go through that. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve, it happened to me in my own acting classes, it’s a tough spot to beat. Do you still struggle with that at all? I have tremendous respect. Yes. If it’s, if I’m, I can, I’m just as everybody, if I’m trying something new with a client and I’m like, I’m gonna try this thing and see if I, can pull this off, I, I might be, I might sweat a couple bullets there for a minute, so it’s just, it, we’re, as artists, we’re always, I don’t think you ever reach. That level, like you get more confidence because of the positive experiences that you’ve had. So you build up, it’s like a buildup of like goodwill and good experiences.
[00:20:30] Chris: But yeah, you got in the black box so you can spend it a little bit.
[00:20:36] Lili Wexu: Exactly. And and when people know you and you’ve worked with them again and again, like you, you have all this goodwill and this trust that’s built in. But and when you have a lot of demos and people know what to expect and you’ve auditioned for them, and so there’s all this stuff, the references that make them feel like, okay, this is great, but if you’re trying something new, like you’re always gonna be that artist who starts back at Square one of oh my God, is this any good?
[00:21:00] What am I doing? Yeah. It’s always you get more confident. With being not confident, I guess you get less scared because you know that it’s not gonna go as terribly as you imagined it when you first started, right? Yeah. Like when you first start, you’re like, I’m like, I’m literally gonna die if something.
[00:21:17] Yeah. Oh yeah. If the teacher doesn’t like me, if I mess up, like it’s going to be death, and you realize
[00:21:22] Chris: electric, electric bolts are gonna shoot outta the computer. It’s gonna be like, you just
[00:21:26] Lili Wexu: yeah, exactly. It’s gonna be like what do they call it? Like instant.
[00:21:31] Instant combustion or whatever the expression is. Yeah.
[00:21:35] Chris: Spontaneously, combust. We’re all spontaneous. Combustion. It’s over. We’re all dead. Yeah. So then, cause you dropped the line, you messed it up, we’re all
[00:21:41] Lili Wexu: dead. Yeah, exactly. And then you realize over the years that you’re like, actually no, that doesn’t happen.
[00:21:47] And so you’re not as terrified as you were when you started, but it’s still scary. It’s always scary to start something new and I gotta tell you that in my career in any career there’s always curve balls being thrown at you that push you back to square one. Like I’ve had issues with my voice, I’ve had, or things change, very rapidly and all of a sudden whatever you’re doing is not working anymore, and you’re like, holy crap.
[00:22:17] Have to change stuff now. And I have to rethink my whole way of approaching this work. And there’s always curve balls that happen that put you back. Into that vulnerable position. So even I don’t believe the life of an artist is just a never ending. It’s like we always go back to the chopping block, like to the, we always go back to that place where we’re almost feel like we’re gonna die.
[00:22:43] It’s like we can’t escape it. I dunno what the word with that for that would be, but
[00:22:47] Chris: No, I think it’s really interesting because I come from a different, Area where I understand the confidence you’re talking about. Like you, you’ve done it for long enough to know that when a client wants something that isn’t really right, that your instincts might be or isn’t great.
[00:23:04] Not that it’s not right, there’s no right or wrong, but you’re looking at something and you know it could be better. You’re sitting in a production meeting and you go, this is not really where it needs to be, but you’ve done it long enough so that you have the confidence to say that and pull that off.
[00:23:17] But when you start something new I’m looking at you and I know your track record is decades long and I’m looking at you and I’m thinking, God, I’m never gonna get there. And what I realized was like way after, which I’m glad I realized after I actually booked my classes with you, because I would’ve freaked out if I had time to think about it.
[00:23:36] But it’s like there’s so much more. On the acting level then there is that I first perceived I’m thinking, okay, it’s a voiceover class. We’re gonna talk about voice, we’re gonna talk about, but then when we get into our classes and like you break it down to the line, to the syllable, to the word, I’m thinking, holy shit.
[00:23:57] This is like way out of my comfort zone and I, it’s just, it was terrifying. So I think it’s what I think is cool about all of this, and what I like to do in these episodes is just for people that are trying to start new stuff, or thinking about starting, whether you’re, whether you’ve been in photography your whole life and you gave it up to have a family or whatever, and you wanna get back, or you’re painting, or you wanna start a bakery, it’s all terrifying, right?
[00:24:25] Like the fear of criticism. The fear of failure. But you just gotta step into it, right? You just gotta find an a an ally. Yeah. That, that is, speaks your language and step into them and trust them.
[00:24:40] Lili Wexu: Yeah, support is so important when you start something new and I, and I agree with you that starting something new is always so difficult.
[00:24:45] Or even reinventing yourself. Like I gotta tell you that, I’ve been doing things the same way at some point for 10 years, and I was earning good money. It’s not that it wasn’t working, but the industry totally changed and I had to just go back to the drawing board and be, and be told like, no, what you’re doing is not good.
[00:25:03] And I was like it’s making me money so it can’t be that bad. But I understand that it is just preventing me to get. From getting to the next level, and I wanted to get to the next level. And that meant like starting from scratch again, and so starting new things, reinventing yourself, adjusting to trends in the marketplace and, it’s always very humbling and having a partner and support is just so key.
[00:25:30] And I, I just want to tell you, Chris, that you won’t. I believe that you’ll be doing this for a long time. I think this, you’re right where you need to be, but I also wanna say that I did it for decades, but it doesn’t mean that those decades weren’t spent Kind of wasting time and doing things, approaching things the wrong way.
[00:25:50] So sometimes you could be doing things for a shorter time, but more efficiently, yeah. Yeah, I certainly, what I’m teaching what I’m teaching you now is way more efficient and of the times than what I was taught, 20 years ago, right? When my mentor took me under his wing, he was all about modulation of the words, and that stuff is so it’s just it can be helpful in certain scenarios, but it’s just so limited.
[00:26:15] You also have to, I think whenever you start something new, you always have to feel like I’m here. This is everything in its right time and there is absolutely no such thing as I need more experience. I need. That’s like you are gonna get to where you’re gonna go probably more efficiently than those who came before you, especially if you decide to get support and get coaching and get help in whatever you’re doing because you’re gonna be piggybacking off of that person’s mistakes.
[00:26:44] So you’re gonna avoid a lot of the mistakes they made. And so your traject, your trajectory. Will be different. And you won’t need to waste like 10, 15 years like I did. Like I didn’t waste them. They supported me, but, it’s like you don’t have to be lost doing it on your own.
[00:27:00] I was on my own, I didn’t believe for a long time. I didn’t even believe that I needed coaching. I was like I’ve been taught by a pro, like in the industry and I’m already working who’s gonna coach me? And that was like such the wrong attitude because it’s kept me stagnant for so long.
[00:27:16] Chris: No, that’s the beauty I think of these, of the, technology takes a lot of crap because of all of the negativity surrounding it. But that’s the beauty of things like you to me, and all of these classes and all of this masterclass. And all of these levels of instruction that, you know.
[00:27:34] If you’re looking to do something or reinvent yourself, which I am trying to do myself because, I’m living in Mexico and I wanna stay living in Mexico and I don’t want to keep traveling back to the states to work and all that stuff. And the writing business has changed as much as the VO business.
[00:27:51] So I’d like to see it. I’d like to get your take on how is it different now? Other than, we know the technology and we know that everybody. Has a studio pretty much now. But what, when you had to reinvent yourself, like looking at your trajectory as it’s gone, cuz you started way back when this stuff wasn’t, and isn’t wasn’t as prevalent as it is now.
[00:28:14] Like you, anybody can go buy a MacBook Pro and a $300 microphone and just start recording themselves, but yeah. So how has the business changed for you? What caused you to look and reinvent yourself? What? What did you especially post covid?
[00:28:31] Lili Wexu: Yeah there’s, it’s been constantly changing, but, the, the style of delivery has just changed dramatically.
[00:28:41] And so I just had to constantly Just keep searching for ways to, with coaches and on my own experimenting, just experimenting to figure out like what was the upgraded version of me going to be, and that’s a process that I gotta be honest with you never really fully stops because.
[00:29:09] What I’ve noticed is, now, so there are a couple things. So when you’re young, when you’re in entering into this business and you’re in your, late teens, early twenties, you’re gonna be like if you’ve got, if you, if your voice and your deliver, your instrument is appealing to the marketplace, like you could just work without wondering anything about your style or what you’re doing, like for a long time if you’re working because you’re gonna be popular for a long time.
[00:29:37] But then when you hit. Your forties and your fifties and later on, like you’ve gotta be able to adjust a little bit more because you’re a little bit less popular, right? So the pool of people that want you is just like the target market. Most of the stuff that. The big brands are selling are for the target market of 18 to 35 or whatever.
[00:30:01] And then after that demographic, it’s like a younger demographic. So all those companies are looking for those voices to represent them, rightfully that’s what they’re selling. So when you get older, then you have to okay, how am I gonna address this new market, this new kind of, and this happens in acting too, because you look different.
[00:30:21] So obviously, when you’re young it’s like the, you’re the young, beautiful, whatever, whatever you’re casting is, you’re gonna be in that role. And then you hit 30, or you get a baby and then it’s oh my God, Pete, look at you differently. And where do you fit in?
[00:30:34] So it’s a little bit of that. So as you age, you keep having to. You keep running up against okay what is a market telling me about what it wants and how can I serve it? Like, how can I fit into this new market that I’m suddenly propelled into? So like general trends change, but then there’s also like your own aging is also putting you into a different category.
[00:30:59] Right? And thankfully, voice is one of those beautiful things that. Yeah, your brand changes. And so thankfully voice is not as vulnerable as like looks. So cuz I know people who are in their, like my, one of my favorite coaches, she’s early seventies now and she still sounds like a kid, and in fact she was voicing kid characters for her whole career.
[00:31:21] Awesome. So that, and that can happen, but, there’s still some changes. There’s still some changes and I cannot sound like a 20 year old, anymore without it sounded fake or forced. So it’s like I can be in the thirties, but it’s still you have to adjust and That takes work, experimentation, coaching, testing the knowledge of
[00:31:46] Chris: yourself, knowledge of where you were and how you tap into whatever your talent is.
[00:31:50] It’s you. Yeah, exactly. Comes down to your extreme knowledge of your self-awareness,
[00:31:56] Lili Wexu: your own awareness of your instrument. Your instrument. I, that’s why I call it like, I call in voice acting like your instrument because it’s inside of you. You are that instrument, your personality, your voice your demeanor, your attitude, your point of view your emotions, your circumstances, all that are, play, make your instrument play a certain way.
[00:32:16] And so you gotta push at all those strings. This is why acting training for voice acting is so important because if it was just voice it would be easy. But it’s anything but right. It’s so hard to get the gates.
[00:32:30] Chris: There are so many interest intricacies.
[00:32:33] Lili Wexu: Yeah. But to get back to your questions so you know that, so tho the changing times really for me was all about performance as far as equipment and how the industry changed with COVID and all that, it just brought in so much more people.
[00:32:50] To the market. So all of a sudden, like the pool just grew of people going on pay-to-play sites of people who have agents of people just out there, on five or in all those places where people go to promote their services. There’s just so much more populated, right?
[00:33:08] So that also the pressure, I call that like pressure from the market also plays a role in having to reinvent yourself because all of a sudden you’re like, I can’t. If I’m just trying to serve this. If I’m trying to serve the market the same way I was five years ago and there were less people like, I’m just gonna fail.
[00:33:28] Nobody’s gonna find me. So you your niche becomes like so much more important because that singular kind of energy. That thing that makes you, you is just a, it’s a bigger hook and it’s easier to connect with than if you’re like Mr. Jack of all trades and doing it all. And it doesn’t mean you can’t do it all.
[00:33:50] It’s just that your marketing has to be more specific and you have to really lean in, lean into your strengths so that your niche becomes like very clear. So my sound became a lot more edgier. I just leaned into more of my natural characteristics of my voice when I’m actually just speaking normally, like with you right now, right?
[00:34:14] Whereas before and there’s still always gonna be a lot of authority in my voice and things like that because I have a lower voice, so people with lower voices have just a little bit more authority and gravitas and all that stuff, and that this, that is also. Good for a certain niche, but I had to lean into other characteristics of my instrument, of me, my personality, to to address the market.
[00:34:37] And that’s really helped me to stay on top and keep people coming, amidst all these new people coming in. Yeah. And so that’s what I teach my students because it’s like you can’t just be generic as you report. You can’t just do a beautiful read anymore. Like you need to be able to do a beautiful read.
[00:34:55] That is most definitely like VO 1 0 1. You need to be able to do that, but that is not going to be enough. You have to have a singular voice. You have to have something. And that’s why I also tell people like, don’t worry about trying to do, be great at. 50 different things. Just be great at one thing, have a signature sound for one type of thing.
[00:35:15] And then once you are super comfortable doing that under pressure with clients, when you’re nervous, you’re still able to perform at your highest level with that, then move on to the next thing you know? And then tackle that until you build that con and then tackle that so that you’re like spreading your wings, like slowly.
[00:35:33] And you’re able to really test the market with. The one thing and seeing okay, is this working? Is this not working? Because that’s what you have to do now because it’s so populated. Changing times put pressure on us on multiple different level levels, and we always have to go back to the drawing board. That’s just always what we have to do. You this business. And I feel like it’s like that in all the businesses because of tech changes. You’re never, you never arrive. Like you never just be like, ah, finally I’m here. I’ve never said that. Like I earn more than I initially need or wanted.
[00:36:12] And I never one day thought this is it. That’s exactly what
[00:36:17] Chris: my next question was gonna be. Do you ever arrive? Do you ever feel like you’ve arrived? And I knew the answer just because of our talks in class, but I wanted you to speak for the people out there. So with all of this stuff that you’ve done and that you continue to do, you still don’t feel like, oh, I’ve made it.
[00:36:32] I’m sitting here. You’re sparking up a stoke. No, you’re just drinking. You
[00:36:36] Lili Wexu: know. No, I just made a new demo. In fact, I just made a new demo and I was like, because I wanna test this sound that I’ve been developing even further, push it further into, deeper into one of the industries I wanna break into.
[00:36:50] And no I’m not done. Like the day I say that is the day that I’m retiring, yeah, of course. And I don’t know if that really will ever really happen, Yeah, you just never, you’re never content. There’s always like something where you’re like, I’d like to do this. Because what happens too when you do this for a long time is that you start to decide like what you want to voice and what you would like to voice, and you don’t always get to do that.
[00:37:16] Like you might dream. What is doing that
[00:37:18] Chris: for you? Movie? What is that for you? I didn’t mean to interrupt me teacher on it. What’s your favorite? What do you really dig doing?
[00:37:24] Lili Wexu: For me right now, it would be sports promos, like really, but not traditional. Yeah, not traditional sport announcer spots.
[00:37:35] Yeah, just bringing my edge and my personality to, to that industry. Yeah. Yeah. Which is odd cuz I do sports, but I don’t really do team sports, but I love. I guess I have an athletic mentality about what I do. I’ve carried myself in my profession, like an athlete with that kind of dedication and that, and I get those drawbacks too because I’ve had things happen to me physically that have impaired me.
[00:38:05] So I have felt what it feels like to be an athlete and to lose some of the faculties that you have to be able to make you do your job. And I don’t know. I just, it’s just a feel that I, a feel that I really. Respond to I, I cry watching sports. I, it’s just, it’s just, when, when you see people surpassing themselves I really.
[00:38:28] It really being a part of a culture of where people surpass themselves, is really is something that I’ve feel like I’ve always tried to do with myself. And so it corresponds to me, that’s what I’m into right now, but, that’s not, that’s awesome what I was into years ago, right?
[00:38:47] So it’s just yeah, but, and you don’t always get to live out that fantasy, but you can try. That’s the beauty of marketing and, trying it and coaching is that you get, get to try those things. It
[00:38:58] Chris: seems 2010 or 12 when you did the Olympics, that was like maybe subconscious bubbling down there of your, cuz you did that.
[00:39:07] So that, there are very few theaters where people surpass themselves other than the Olympics. That’s the
[00:39:13] Lili Wexu: Olympics. I know. You know what’s funny? Yeah. And what’s funny about that is that when the Olympics, I was living in Vancouver when the Olympics got the bid when the city got the bid.
[00:39:25] And I remember telling my roommate, and she can, to this day, she can tell you we’re still best of friends. I remember telling my roommate, Andrea, I wanna work for the Olympics. I don’t know how, I don’t know if it’ll be like a commercial during the Olympics, but like I wanna do something in the Olympics, and I don’t know how it happened, but somebody came out of the woodwork, asked me to do a, like a pre-Olympic thing.
[00:39:49] It was like a live, event. And then they invited me to that and I did that. And then they passed my name on to the Olympic producers and then they reached out to me and I got the gig. So I guess it was all like, so you got some stuff, like you can definitely try put it out.
[00:40:09] Put it, put what you wanna do out there, manifest it and it works. I know I don’t like that. I hate that work because sometimes I hate it to, because, you know why? Because it doesn’t always work. So I don’t like to say things that if it’s not repeatable, if it’s not a repeatable process, I don’t like, but hey, if you love something, put it out there because, just you, I guess you can’t get attached to the outcome. And that’s the part that I’m always co cautious with people who are really. Heavy into that because I’m like, okay, but just make sure you take actions also to get you there.
[00:40:39] Don’t just. Say it, and then, but in this case, I really just did that. I really just said that to my roommate. I was working as a voice. It’s not like it was like farfetched, but it was farfetched. It was a big biggest event in my career. It was billions of people.
[00:40:55] It’s pretty wild, but, yeah I guess I did manifest
[00:41:00] Chris: it. Isn’t the quote I’ll mess the quote up. But isn’t it like opportunity is where preparation meets luck? Isn’t that the famous quote? Yeah. Lucky
[00:41:07] yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I really luck
[00:41:10] Chris: preparation. You’ve, you were preparing for it and I hate that.
[00:41:14] Yeah. And it’s not manifestations problem, it’s. It’s just that word. And it’s the same thing with the authentic self. It’s true. Yes. And I believe every minute of it, but I’m so freaking tired. The same tired of that of people saying yeah. Just live your authentic life. And I get it.
[00:41:29] And it is true. Yeah. But, so I can’t let you go real quick cuz I know we’re gonna talk, I got a couple more things, but AI’s a big thing right now. It’s messing with the photography industry, it’s messing with all kinds of stuff. Is it affecting the voiceover industry? Do you think it’s gonna be something where, we’re gonna have to worry?
[00:41:47] It’s the rage everywhere. Every social media post is about AI and I did a podcast with a guy named Shane Bako, who’s as ironic as this is he. His, he’s a photographer who prints on glass plate with silver collodion back from like the 1840 nines, and beautiful. It’s this, he prints with silver and he’s Wow.
[00:42:08] Having, yeah, he’s having these immense discussions and he’s being asked on all these formats because photography is now doing, superimposing fake people and situations that never happened. And so there’s, some people making rumblings that AI’s gonna steal your voice. And that’s, oh yeah.
[00:42:26] Lili Wexu: It’s a real cons. Concern. Yeah, it’s a real concern because for me, the biggest concern, to be honest with you, is not for voice acting. Although yes. There, there is something there that we can talk about. But my biggest concern with AI voices is theft. Because our voices, those of us who have our voices out there, like I already had a client, ask me to, if they wanted to clone my voice, and, I refused because I know I don’t wanna be in a.
[00:42:53] Database of AI VO because you just don’t have control where the voice is gonna end up after. And but more importantly your voice think about it like there’s a crime committed, and then your voice is at the crime scene or like you are confessing, to the crime, right?
[00:43:08] It’s it’s so dangerous. I actually think that it should probably be outlawed. Like you cannot, if you can reproduce the likeness of something so convincingly and there is absolutely no way to verify that it is not in. Fact, that person that is, that could be used for very nefarious uses, and I don’t like to.
[00:43:27] I agree. Hundred percent. I’m not I don’t live in fear. I don’t live in a kind of a negative world in that way. I’m not an extremely positive person. I’m pretty realistic about everything, but I don’t, I just don’t spend my days like worrying about somebody’s gonna steal my voice and accuse me of a crime.
[00:43:44] And, I don’t live in that world, but, hey, this is real and this can happen. And if you’re a public person, if you’re like a politician, somebody could steal your voice and totally it’s super dangerous. Let’s face it. Yeah, it’s, I feel like it should be outlawed now when it comes to and for, yeah.
[00:44:02] If you can reproduce anything and the such a likeness where you cannot differentiate it no, that’s not right. Yeah,
[00:44:08] Chris: your voice is pretty much like your fingerprint. It’s so identifiable. The signature is just I just think it’s curious because I know we talked a little bit about it, so I know we’re getting to the end here and I want to I don’t wanna keep you much longer, but if there is, I’ll have all of your social links and all of that stuff in the show notes.
[00:44:27] I’ll also give stuff at the intro, if there’s anybody out there who is looking to even just investigate a little more about the voiceover profession or just voice acting. Or for anything that you could need. Lily’s website is get clever about vo.com/signup. She’s got a newsletter. You wanna talk about that a little bit?
[00:44:48] Tell people
[00:44:49] Lili Wexu: what they get. Yeah. And I just wanna touch upon AI voices, if you don’t mind, just little bit. Oh, sorry. Yeah. Cause we’re talking about voice actors, no, I love that, that we’re talking about how people can get in touch with me and what I’m doing.
[00:45:03] But I just, I do wanna address that because it’s a it’s a thing also. Beyond criminal leads. So AI voices, what’s happening, and people ask me like, are you worried? And and I’m not terribly worried for those of us who understand that this is an art form and that we are all individuals because you cannot direct an AI voice.
[00:45:28] Clients love. Love directing the people that they hire. And so you can’t direct an AI voice and the level right now, and I’m not saying this can’t change, but right now, we’re having the same tone throughout a whole piece of copy. And as when we look at script analysis a lot of that stuff won’t work.
[00:45:55] It won’t work, doesn’t, you gotta change your tone according to what’s going on with a copy. Then there’s the acting. All the things that we do are personality, our emotions, our circumstances, or point of view or attitudes. It changes our variation. It, we have variations in pitch tone.
[00:46:10] Everything right from one minute to the next. So we don’t speak evenly, we don’t speak equally,
[00:46:16] Chris: right? The airiness and the inconsistencies in your voice that make
[00:46:19] Lili Wexu: it actually something beautiful, all that and that is the trend of the marketplace. That’s what clients want, right? They do not want a cookie cutter like, and those who do.
[00:46:30] I gotta tell you that my clients who use AI voices use them internally and they hate them. And a lot of companies who use AI voices were never going to use, were never going to hire voice actors in the first place, right? Because either they’re companies, they just. And B. Exactly. They just don’t, they’re not spending money on that.
[00:46:48] So now maybe they weren’t using voices, they will because they’re there, but that’s it. So I’m not terribly concerned on that level. And if you’re very con, if you’re a voice actor listening and you’re very concerned, get your clients on the line when you’re recording, even if they’re like asking you for an audition and then you know they’re only asking a few people.
[00:47:06] Get them to call in to direct you for the audition share. Let your clients experience the value of working with a human. And last thing I’ll say about that too is that most serious brands wanna work with a human that is unique and not, common that you can find anywhere. They want a unique voice.
[00:47:24] This is why there’s exclusivity contracts, there’s NTAs. They don’t want that voice to end up just everywhere. That’s what I have to say about that. So I just wanted to reassure voice actors because I know there’s a lot of negativity and a lot of fear mongering out there about that.
[00:47:40] And I, yes, we have to be cautious and yes, it can get more advanced and it can make a real impact, but right now just keep at your craft.
[00:47:50] Chris: If you live in fear about everything, you’re never gonna do anything. You’re never gonna do anything if you just, you’re gonna start, that’s the thing. Anything, yeah. So you just gotta, we just gotta do what we do.
[00:47:58] And like you said, your uniqueness will make you a commodity, will make you sought after. Yeah. Yeah. Tell Tell folks where they can get in touch with you or what I have a special, at the end of this thing, I do my five questions, which I put you on the spot, but before that, you get to tell people what’s going on with you, where they can find you.
[00:48:19] All the good stuff.
[00:48:21] Lili Wexu: Sure. As Chris said before, you can find me at Get Clever about vo dot com slash signup. If you wanna get in touch with me, if you want to yeah. Receive my newsletter where I give some tips and some insight about what we do and some. Tips, some stuff that you can try as you build your business.
[00:48:43] I offer coaching one-on-one. There’s group coaching now too, small group coaching, and there’s some on class online classes coming as well. That will be really fun, like script analysis and things like that. Yeah, I love that you won’t necessarily find Yeah, elsewhere. There’s lots coming, so if you wanna get into voice acting I’m your cheerleader and I’m happy to support you in your journey.
[00:49:07] Chris: Yeah. And I can totally second and vouch for all of this because the thing that I love about the newsletters, just like I liked about the books, is. They are full of useful information as far as nuts and bolts on the business, but they also have this extra sauce, which is the encouragement, which, you get, you can get nuts and bolts anywhere and you can get encouragement anywhere, but it’s like when you put the two together in a relatable.
[00:49:36] Package where people can just go, oh, I can see myself doing this. Then that’s where it works for me, where it worked for me and it still works for me. I’m still coaching with Lily’s still coaching me. And I it’s just it’s a great experience all the way around. It’s self-revealing.
[00:49:53] It tells you a lot about yourself. As far as where your comfort zones are and where your own personal magic lies. And it also, aside again from the nuts and bolts, the, it’s just a revealing thing about who you are and what you’re willing and able to learn. And if you’re willing to go to the depths that you gotta go to sometimes to get to the good stuff, it’s a great experience.
[00:50:16] So for anybody considering any of that or just curious, just go to Lilly’s website. I’ll have all this stuff on the show notes, and So before I let you go, I like to do this thing called five questions at the end. And question one which is always my favorite one, is tell me one thing that you love about yourself.
[00:50:39] Lili Wexu: That’s always such a tough question, isn’t it? Yeah. Maybe creativity probably on various
[00:50:52] Chris: levels. Cool. What skill do you wish you had or were better at?
[00:50:57] Lili Wexu: Oh God. Patience.
[00:50:58] Chris: Patience, patience. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. I’m working
[00:51:02] Lili Wexu: on, that’s so hard. It’s so good. It’s funny. You teach so hard.
[00:51:06] Yeah, cause like you teach what you need to, so I always tell my students like, be patient, just take it one day, da. Because I have to tell it my, I have to, I’m the one that has to hear it, most of the time. Yeah.
[00:51:16] Chris: We teach what we need to learn ourselves, right?
[00:51:18] Yeah. Yeah. Alright. Something in your house, you should throw away immediately, but you’re not
[00:51:22] Lili Wexu: gonna. Oh wow. Okay. Wait a minute. Where’s your husband?
[00:51:27] Chris: You could probably tell him. Yeah. No.
[00:51:29] Lili Wexu: The cat, the husband? No. Oh God. Oh, that’s a good one. Cuz we just moved into our new house like two years ago, so there’s not that much junk, but you, oh, you know what does it have to go in the trash or just get rid of it?
[00:51:44] Just get rid of it. Okay. Just get rid of it. I’ve got these two old sound cards I need to get rid of. Like they’re at the, on the, I’m looking at them right now, like these sound cards, like I’m just, I don’t need them. Go away. Yeah.
[00:51:57] Chris: Yeah. We all have that thing that’s sitting there I’m gonna need that.
[00:52:00] I haven’t used that in 11 years, but I’m gonna need it. Yeah,
[00:52:04] Lili Wexu: exactly. There you go. It’s question four.
[00:52:06] Chris: Action. What? What song do you sing at your top of your lungs when nobody’s around?
[00:52:11] Like jam that you just like top of your lungs, Lilly’s in the shower, in the car on a run. Nobody’s around. She’s just jamming.
[00:52:19] Lili Wexu: Yeah, so there’s, God, I’m such a musical person, so this is a tough one. But I will say that I went onto a serious, Very serious Elvis kick since the movie came out like a serious Elvis kick. And Elvis is like my first like probably imaginary boyfriend if there’s such a thing. I just loved him when I was a kid.
[00:52:38] And I got into this song from, I think they showed it in the movie, if I can Dream. If I can’t sing it. Love I can’t freaking sing it, but that song you have to I’ve sung that to the top of my lungs, like the whole Christmas season, like crying, singing, like feeling such a release after singing it.
[00:52:59] Yeah. Lovely. This
[00:53:00] Chris: has given me a whole picture. Whole new respect for Lilly Wex. All right. And last question before I let you go. Give me a strong female who in, who inspires or inspired you in the past Okay. Inspires
[00:53:12] Lili Wexu: you today or in So my most important influence would probably be my own coach, my own voice acting coach.
[00:53:21] Her name is Jeanie Elias. She’s an animation acting coach. She’s absolutely fabulous and she’s just the least BS. Woman in the industry you could ever meet the smartest, she will out eat anybody. She, when you go for sushi with her, you do not even, my God. Look at the menu dollars. Yeah. You don’t even look at the menu cuz she picks everything and she’ll tells you what sauce everything goes with.
[00:53:50] She is just an inspiration and she was so welcoming when I came here. She was my coach before for my animation demo. And just a force of nature and gone through so many things physically too, just overcoming obstacles. And she’s a crazy nut. She makes, I love it. It when I feel like I’m a crazy nut, I’m like, There’s another crazy nut out there in the world.
[00:54:13] And so it’s okay. You can be a crazy nut. Yeah. I
[00:54:16] Chris: love it. I love it. Yeah. We all need partners. We all need partners in our madness. Yeah. Yeah. I can’t thank you enough for spending an hour with me and for all of your insights and being my awesome coach and cheerleader and just the boss of voice acting and all that good stuff.
[00:54:33] So thanks so much for taking the time.
[00:54:35] Lili Wexu: Thank you so much.
[00:54:40] Chris: Hey everyone. Thanks for being here. Thank you for your emails. Next peak episode 39 is the last of season three, and I’m flying solo right now. I do not have a start date for season four. If you are supporting the show, we’ve paused your monthly contribution until we do know what’s going on. I want to say I appreciate all of you guys so much.
[00:54:59] Our monthly supporters mean so much to me. We wouldn’t be here without you if you wanna stay current on the release date for season four, or if you just wanna listen to back episodes until we come back, you can do all of firstname.lastname@example.org next week. Again, I’m flying solo for the outro. I’ll be here.
[00:55:15] I hope you will too. And until that time, you know what I’m gonna say, be nice, do good stuff.
Get on the email list →
Be the first to know when new episodes drop, new merch added, and other cool happenings.