There was a moment a few years ago—a relatively brief moment in her three-and-a-half-year career—when PJ Harvey was ready to leave music for good. This feeling first started to haunt Harvey when she was writing songs for her 2016 album Hope Six Demolition Project , a major exploration of the inequality and suffering caused by American belligerence. “I went through a huge skepticism that maybe I wasn’t as good a songwriter as I was,” Harvey said. “I just found that I lost the joy of my youth without even realizing it.”
A tour of the album followed, throwing Harvey further into creative trouble. “I do have a strong work ethic,” she said. “So I kept going because I thought, well, this is going to pass. But the tour was really physically demanding, and it was a long tour. As my physical strength waned, so did my sense of direction and purpose I’m not quite sure what I’m doing.” The day-to-day challenges of touring ended up raising more existential questions, too. “You’re in your fifties and looking at your life and wondering if you’re living up to your potential? Are you happy? Is there anything you need to change about the rest of your life? I think I’m going through it all
It was surprising to hear Harvey being so candid; partly because she rarely gives interviews. Although Harvey is arguably the most famous British musician of her generation – she has two Mercury Awards, seven Grammy nominations and two bestselling poetry books – you feel the media attention and acclaim It’s not the reason she does it. Part of the story of how she reignites her creative flame begins with her refocusing on the little things in life. “It’s so beautiful here,” she gleefully says of the Dorset weather when we meet on a warm June afternoon. “Sunny, but not too hot. Where are you?” London, I replied, deep inside an office building. “I bet it’s really sweltering in there, isn’t it?” She hesitates, as if afraid of sounding rude – and when I confirm it’s sweltering, she gives a long, generous laugh.
Harvey’s decades-long chameleon appearance — and the mystique resulting from his resolute avoidance of the media — meant it was hard to know what to expect. A strand of tentacle hair from her sophomore album Rid of Me, or her lacquered lips and bright blue eyeshadow To Bring You My Love era? Is it the signature black dress and gold handbag slung over the shoulder on the cover of Tales from the City or is she wearing it throughout Ann Demuelemeester High Priestess Costume Make England Shake tour? None of the above, of course: she’s just Polly Jean, a girl from the Dorset countryside who has basically stayed in the Dorset countryside and is probably more comfortable talking about her current natural surroundings than her latest The deep meaning behind the record. In fact, she’s at her most relaxed when she doesn’t have to take herself too seriously. “I feel a lot more free now,” she said of this new chapter in her career. “I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to erase those boundaries that might exist between things.” 2016
The same sentiment applies to Harvey’s style, which she always approaches with a quiet delicacy style. It’s not hard to see how Harvey’s uncompromising approach to fashion — wearing sequined mini dresses or bright pink tracksuits and playing earth-shattering electric guitar riffs — has inspired today’s generation of musicians, from Olivia Rowe Drigo to Phoebe Bridgers credits her voice and style as an influence on her. 201620162016