One of the few females in a predominantly male field, Karrie Keyes has been Pearl Jam's sound engineer for over two decades!
Women in Music: Karrie Keyes
One of the few females in a predominantly male field, Karrie Keyes has been Pearl Jam’s sound engineer for over two decades!
Known by many fans as “mic-check girl”, Keyes is the monitor engineer for the band. This means that she mixes the sound for the individual members in the band that plays through ear buds or speaker wedges on stage.
Keyes job is not easy. Her job changes on a daily basis and can be affected by water, humidity, crowd size and sweat! A lot of time her communication with the band is via hand signals during the show. During her 24 year tenure, Keyes has rebuilt the band’s monitor system to suit their needs.
Keyes’ passion for audio started at a Black Flag show when she met a sound engineer who offered her a job. In the beginning, she was living on $50 a week and unloaded equipment off of trucks. As one of the few females in the field she encountered sexism, but the variety and travels perks of the job kept her going.
When Pearl Jam exploded in the early 90s, Keyes spent the majority of her time on tour with the band. During this time she was also pregnant and gave birth to twin daughters. In the early years, her husband, aunts and nannies all pitched in to help care for the girls. While Keyes initially struggled with being away from her children, she realized that, “I’m a better mother if I’m doing what I love doing.”
Keyes’ love of audio led her to co-found SoundGirls; a group that supports and mentors women in professional audio. This summer they held camps to teach and encourage women to participate in audio.
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