Jonathan Love is the lead singer for Heebee Jeebees and an acclaimed voice actor. His voice-over projects expand to Canadian Television Network voiceovers and roles such as Obi-wan Kenobi.
I can remember at four or five I had a couple of school teachers sort of say, “Hey, he can actually kind of do this.” They put me in a festival class, in what was the Kiwanis Festival at the time. It was great, and I think I enjoyed it and my parent’s thought, “Let’s get him in a choir,” so I joined the Calgary Boys Choir when I was six or seven.
My piano teacher recognized that I wasn’t great at practicing, but she said, “We need someone to narrate this concert.” So, I said, “Yeah I can do that no problem.” So, I ended up hosting a couple of the shows and playing my piece in it, but from that sort of grew my introduction to some of the speech art side of things and drama, so I was performing Shakespeare by the time I was eight or nine.
I hit university and that’s where everything came together for me. Where you realize that some of your musical training and some of your dramatic training come into play. I actually tried to kick it out of me in the first year, I was like, “I’m a university student, I’m gonna do something serious.” I took some general studies, went into English and got my first degree in English. I just said, “Just to get this credit, I’ll take this dramatic literature course.” I got hooked again, auditioned for a Shakespeare production, was sort of pulled back in.
The nice thing about drama work is you go out to auditions. You audition, you audition and you audition. Sooner or later, I auditioned for a voice-over role. That opened a huge door for me, because of all the vocal training I had, all the experience I had in the studio singing and recording albums and that sort of thing. It was the perfect fit for me to do commercial readings, to do cartoon dubbing, corporate narrations, radio, anything like that. It really opened me to the mic in the booth.
My single best credit is playing Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Clone Wars video game for LucasArts. That was pretty exciting for me because I am a lifelong Star Wars fan. I’ve voiced Listerine ads in Singapore, I’ve done a lot of work on Dragonball, Inuyasha, a lot of these Anime series. Some feature films as well, one’s coming out called Valley of the Lanterns that I play a part in. I’m excited to be sharing some credits with some of the LA based and New York based actors.
The whole time I’m singing with the Heebie Jeebies, and how we started is basically we realized that musicians get dates. If you have a guitar slung around you, you are infinitely more interesting to anyone who’s trying to date you. We just thought, “We’re gonna start a rock band.” But before we could even acquire instruments, we got a gig. That gig was for the University communications department. We’ve always sort of sung so we thought, “We’ll work out a couple of tunes in the stairwell.” It worked and they said, “Can you guys come back for another half hour?” From that event we got three more gigs, we went, “Hold on a second, we’re not a rock band. I guess we might be acapella.”
Heebie Jeebies are a bunch of hacks. It’s incredible we’ve lasted this long. We are celebrating 25 years. We’ve been able to perform in a lot of places around North America. We’ve opened for groups like The Commodores, Spirit of the West. We’ve sung with Paul Brandt, we’ve sung with Percy Sledge. He saw our show before he went on, and said, “Boys, you want to come on and do a song with me?” And we said, “Uh, yes!”
I worked for CBC for a bit, in journalism. I recognized that a lot of journalism work is built on contracts. When you have two kids, you start to go, “Where are the benefits? Where is the security?” And you start looking for something more secure. A position came up as soon as the Taylor Centre opened, I was excited because my first job was at Mount Royal University. I taught speech arts in the conservatory, and it was nice to come full circle. I’m in marketing and communications for the entire institution, but my clients, my area of expertise are the conservatory with music and speech arts education, and with the Taylor Centre concert series.
Jonathan and the Heebie Jeebies will be performing their 25th Anniversary concert at the Bella Concert Hall on December 22nd. More info here: http://taylorcentre.ca/All-Events/heebee-jeebees.htm
As told to Jackson Reed. This interview has been edited and condensed.
This article is part of a series of profiles on industry professionals through the Calgary Journal. To see more like this, visit the On the Job page.
Editor: Shaunda Lamont | firstname.lastname@example.org