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Mixing Monitors for PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey recently hit the road with a number of her longtime live sound engineers and UK-based audio provider Skan.

Monitor Engineer Magali Couturier
Monitor Engineer Magali Couturier.

London, UK (February 6, 2024) — PJ Harvey recently hit the road supporting her latest album, I Inside the Old Year Dying, working with several of her longtime live sound engineers and UK-based audio provider Skan.

Monitor Engineer Magali Couturier has been with PJ Harvey for some years now, and has exact expectations from her vendor, including knowing that dedication comes from the top. “I first met [Skan Director] Chris Fitch at Glastonbury in the ‘90s, it was the first time I’d seen a ‘boss’ that was so ‘hands-on.’”

In terms of her mix, Couturier defines her work as creating a “delicate balance,” noting, “Polly has a lot of effects that change from song to song, so it can be very complex to mix. It’s not like you make a sound and that works for the whole show; it can go from atmospheric to something very rocky or folky,” she says. “That balance may change from venue to venue too, where a small detail may bring a song to life or to sleep. This gig is extremely rewarding as a monitor engineer—you really become a part of the performance and the creative, live process. Working with musicians like those we have in her band is why I do this job. Nobody is doing the things that she and they can do together. It’s art.”

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Harvey and her band now use Sennheiser 2000 Series IEMs, with Ultimate Ears UE11s, said Couturier: “The 10-piece band used to be on wedges and has now switched to in-ear monitors. The reason for this is that the stage would look better, there wouldn’t be black boxes scattered around and the musicians would be freer to move around,” she explains. “The transition was an interesting journey, given the type of music they play and that none of them had used IEMs before, but thankfully, we made it! Even though it’s quite unorthodox; none of them use in-ears in the same way. Polly wants to hear the record, so my aim with her mix is to make it as close to her records as possible.”

Monitors for Harvey and Company are mixed on a Yamaha PM7 console with an RPIO Stage Rack: “I think the PM7 is a great-sounding desk. I use everything internally, with the addition of an external pedal board. I don’t get caught up in being overly technical; I like my desk to be intuitive, and to mix with my ears, not my brain.”