Sunday, March 12, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Karrie Keyes

Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.

Day 11: Karrie Keyes

I am breaking format from the blog a little bit today. Our featured Woman in Audio today is Karrie Keyes, and I’d like to take a little time to explain how I met her.

I had recently become Vice President of the Western Region of the Audio Engineering Society (October, 2016). My goal as a member of the AES Board of Governors is to help discover how to address diversity and inclusion in the organization. Right away, I began reaching out to as many women as possible. I first reached out to Terri Winston at Women’s Audio Mission (a future guest on this blog), and visited WAM in San Francisco. Being surrounded by women at their facility in San Francisco was transformative in ways that I will try to explain during my interview with Terri later this month. 

More recently, at an AES student event in Denver, a friend asked me if I had heard of I looked them up and discovered another world of women in audio of which I was only peripherally aware. As it turns out, was actually born from an AES Conference panel, “Women of Professional Concert Sound” (San Francisco, 2012) that was hosted by WAM and moderated by Terri. 

Around the time I was getting my feet on the ground with my new AES position, I was planning a trip to LA for NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants conference). I reached out to Zionya Nolan, a woman of color in audio (who I look forward to meeting in person!) to try to arrange a lunch date. She wasn’t going to be there, but suggested I reach out to Karrie, so I did.

Karrie subsequently invited me to be a panelist at a mentoring session at NAMM hosted by Soundgirls. From that event I met Catharine Woods, Fela Davis, and Jett Galindo. And the rest is history: from these connections I decided to start the “31 Women in Audio Blog”.

At the mentoring session, I witnessed the powerhouse that is Karrie Keyes’ organization, Their activities are gaining momentum and they are currently in the middle of their annual fundraising for their Live Sound Camps for Girls. Karrie explains, “we have some awesome rewards available and all proceeds benefit the camps. Over 70% of the girls attending our camps receive financial aid. ” (Mix Messiah Productions proudly donated a $125 AES Membership which has been snapped up, but there are other ways to support, please consider doing so). 

You can read more about Karrie here, but she was kind enough to answer a few questions just for me.

She recalls that listening the radio and music lessons were the childhood experiences that led to her love for audio. Since started her professional career loading trucks and learned the trade by working shows. Eventually she became the monitor engineer for Pearl Jam. As she has emerged as a respected professional, she says that in her leadership roles with Pearl Jam and SoundGirls.Org involve the important aspect of listening: “Really listening to the artist to determine what they need sound wise onstage,” She says. “And with SoundGirls.Org, really listening to the challenges women face in this industry. ”

She doesn’t like being asked what it’s like being a female engineer. Instead, she would prefer “to be asked the same questions men are asked. To at least be given that respect.”

When I asked her about her role models, she replied, “Angela Y. Davis and the awesome women that are leading women led organizations.  Laura Whitmore of Women’s International Music Network, Fabi Reyna from She Shreds and Mindy Abovitz of Tom Tom Magazine, Women like Beyonce, Madame Gandhi and Grimes that are taking control of their careers and art.”

Karrie is still doing live sound. When asked about her upcoming projects, she says “I am looking forward to Eddie Vedder solo tour in June throughout Europe and am of course the next adventure with Pearl Jam.”  

Also, SoundGirls.Org is hosting Live Sound Camps for Girls in the summer of 2017.

Finally, and just as exciting, SoundGirls.Org also has started a directory for women in music production. Women are invited to add themselves to the database.

Thank you so much to Karrie for being an amazing powerhouse of advocacy for  women in audio, for helping girls get into the live sound field! 

-Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC