The Scream: Keelan Biggs
Learning to sing is one thing. Learning to tune the gravel from your voice and produce music, on the other hand, is a friggin' challenge. But who are we to tell you the dos and don'ts of the screaming world? We're far from confident when it comes to teaching you a thing or two about vocals. That's why we're teaming up with well- respected vocalists in the UK to help shed light on the secrets of the growl.
Keelan Biggs (AVIIRA) has stumbled upon our curious mitts and sent us his fifty pence worth about harmonising and what have you. So, if it's to be a hardcore frontman of a band you desire – then start by hearing the guy out. This talented Gloucester dude will point you in the right direction and prevent your throat from bleeding. You know – if that's actually a thing.
How did it all start for you? What made you want to be a vocalist in a band?
Honestly. I knew I wanted to be in a band from around the age of eleven or twelve when I discovered bands like Slipknot, Linkin Park and Korn. I started learning guitar but wasn't great. So I tried drums. The same thing happened. I could play a few bits here and there but not to a great standard. I eventually gave vocals a go and I took to it much quicker than everything else. The rest is history. Screaming isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world – what were your expectations when learning to do it? Did you think it'd be an easy or more complex journey? When I first started I didn't realise just how much goes into screaming. But in order to scream without damaging your voice takes some figuring out. And learning to maintain stamina takes a lot of practice.
There's harmonising in a room with a few people and then there's performing in front of a crowd. How long would you say it's taken to reach a level of confidence when bringing your voice to the stage? It really has taken me a long time to get over the stage fright. I'm usually a very introverted person so the idea of getting on stage made me feel pretty uncomfortable. In fact, back in the early days I had to have a few beers or some whiskey to help me get some confidence. Not that I recommend doing that! It may help with the nerves but as you can imagine it can cause your performance to suffer. There's a wide range of scream techniques out there – what would you say is the hardest to achieve? It's different for everyone! That's the awesome thing about screaming; some people find the higher screams easier whereas some others find low growls easier. You really have to figure out your own voice over time. Me personally – I find mid/low aggressive screams easier than high screams.
Your vocal cords – surely they burn out during an hour-long set? Is there a way to prevent yourself from aching during a show? Two major things: 1) Practise proper technique. 2) Always drink water while practising or performing. A few companies out there do offer products to help keep your voice in shape. I personally use a company called Vocalzone. They make teas and throat sweets that are specifically designed for vocalists. They really do help soothe your throat if you do happen to overdo it.
Are there certain ways of warming up for a show? Is it really as easy as diving straight into a session or are there steps that need to be taken prior to the set? You never ideally want to go on stage without warming up. It's the same deal as normal singing. If you do you're more likely to burn out your voice. Any simple vocal warm-ups work really. Have a look online at different vocal warm-ups and find something that feels right for you. Personally I warm up by humming different pitches to myself and walking around the venue singing random stuff. Probably not the best of warm-ups but it does the trick for me. What advice would you give to somebody starting out in the world of scream? Firstly, find a space you can practice without distraction. Then look on YouTube for screaming tutorials. Focus on learning breathing techniques first then work your way up. There are really in-depth lessons online if you don't mind paying for them; just Google Melissa Cross and you'll find one of the best screaming teachers out there. But if you're really struggling with something and need some help feel free to message me on Instagram (@keelan_av) and I'll try my best to help out!
How many hours a day of practice would you recommend to an aspiring vocalist? Only half an hour to an hour max at the very beginning. You need to give your vocal cords time to adjust. After a while, you can go for a little longer. Just don't be an idiot. If your throat hurts – STOP.
Any final tips for those wanting to pick it up? Keep the volume down. This may sound stupidly un-metal but trust me. Focus on getting a decent tone to your voice and let the microphone and speakers worry about the volume. So many people ruin their voices thinking louder means it sounds better. It doesn't. It's just going to cause you damage. Apart from that be yourself and have fun!
That's all we'll be taking from Keelan for now, but be sure to swing by and follow both him and AVIIRA on their social handles. You can also pick up their EP "Relentless" and a bunch of cool stuff on their merch store. Here's hoping you've found your next sound – or better yet – career choice. Thanks for taking the time to give us the lowdown on the world of scream, Keelan. Keep smashing it in the world of metalcore.
Who would you like to hear from in our next quarterly issue of The Void? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there's a vocalist you have in mind who's fit for The Scream – give us a shout!