The vocalist Jonny Craig from bands like, Dance Gavin Dance, Slaves, and Emarosa, uses a technique to intensify a sustained note and/or phrases, and I can't figure out how he does this, and continues to do this without needing surgery to fix a polyp or nodules from improper technique. When he does it, it sounds like a throaty, raspy, powerful, soulful note. It's kind of a mix of unclean (harsh) vocals and clean vocals. So, my question is this: what is the technique called, and how can I learn it?
This style of singing is known as singing with an aspirate tone. It is desirable in pop music for many reasons that are not necessary to list here.
You can create this sound by not moving an adequate amount of air through your vocal cords; the result of improper vocal resonance and escaping air produces the aspirate (raspy, airy, wispy) sound you find attractive.
This kind of singing generally doesn't hurt the human voice, however, the nature of your question itself is indeed the reason why people have vocal issues.
In the music editing process, certain musical frequencies are amplified and diminished to make a more desirable recording (mix) which is what you are used to hearing. You will never be able to achieve the volume of vocal rasp heard in the recordings because it is amplified for aural effect. People run into problems when they don't know this and try to recreate the sounds as loudly themselves.
Frequencies are also manipulated to make the vocalist's voice sound more powerful and full, certainly much more so than in real life. Behold, the magic of music production.
Hope that helps.
Him live and him in recording are pretty similar, he can do what his voice promises live. Maybe not perfectly, but he also strains his vocal chords sometimes which is extremely dangerous. His full potential, IMO, was in both Downtown Battle Mountain albums, take Blue Dream and Surprise, I'm From Cuba Everyone Has One Brain + Swan Soup, Purple Reign, and Open Your Eyes and Look North.
While he definitely uses a bit of falsetto, he mostly shows off his natural capabilities live, (I would watch some of his live performances with Slaves and Dance Gavin Dance, and his solo tours) he has a very soulful voice, its melodic, natural and ear catching. Possibly one of the best vocalists I've heard in the genre besides Tilian Pearson who can hit super high and moderately low notes in one whole song entirely.
Jonny is made fun of so much that it seems like he hides his true potential and I really hope in the new Slaves record coming out soon, he shows his potential, because in True Colors, he hit notes I've never heard him hit before, which was sick, so I hope all the best on there new album, his voice might really shine with this album.
I'm saying from experience and hearing him live and in studio. Now, if you want a sort of fake high voice, but admirable vocalist, Patrick from Too Close To Touch has a definitely super high and airy voices but in his live performances, he barely hits his notes because he sings in so much falsetto and so much pitch shifting is used and heavy production, and also it was blazing hot and his outfit didn't agree with our southern heat and he probably would've passed out if he would've stayed there any longer.
But yeah, Jonny Craig definitely does what he puts out there. You won't be completely disappointed, he sings with all his heart and soul on the stage so, no music production doesn't play completely in this but, somewhat it does. Hope this gives you an idea of what live vs. studio sound is with him. :)