It seems most appropriate to ask “Why Ziibiwan is awesome” in Anishinaabemowin. Translations between English and Anishinaabemowin, the traditional language of the Anishinaabeg peoples, are always a messy business. Words and concepts don’t always smoothly transition between languages and cultures. These transitions get further impeded after centuries of colonial trauma. I’m questioning my own grammatical translation as I write this, and I know that Ziibiwan and I share similar familial histories of language loss and reclamation amidst Canada’s ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous peoples – even children. That undercurrent of resistance percolates amidst our music, both of us (predominantly) instrumental composers.
I was honoured this past August to be invited home by the youth council of Lac Seul First Nation to help out at their annual youth conference, hold music workshops, and share my music. I had the opportunity to connect with David Hodges of N’we Jinan while we were both in Frenchman’s Head and write and record string arrangements for Echo My Soul and have a cameo in the music video. I’m proud to support the talents of amazing youth (and cousins!) in my family’s community.
SONG CREDITS: Jenelle Manitowabi, Tayler Drew Bottle, Cassie Capay, Chelsea Bunting, Melody McKiver.
Song mixed and produced by David Hodges, Joey Langlois & Melody McKiver.
Some great press from Exclaim! and Ottawa Showbox from the performance on August 19, 2015 at the Arboretum Festival, co presented by the Asinabka Festival, live-scoring films by Mosha Folger and Christian Chapman.
Though the hour felt like a relatively short time in which to display her talents, Anishinaabe artist Melody McKiver’s performance was a captivating confluence of both sound and vision. Dedicating the first half of the set to her standalone solo work, McKiver demonstrated a focused, technical approach to the viola with two original compositions. “Theresa,” written at the height of the Idle No More movement, saw her pluck the strings of her instrument before clicking a loop pedal to layer steady melodies over top, while “Ziigwan” did well to capture the arrival of the spring season, for which it was named.
The second half saw McKiver showcase her film score work, playing compositions in time to projections of two films on the church wall. Aided by her array of pedals, she recreated her impeccably layered four-part viola score for Inuk filmmaker Mosha Folger’s stop-motion production The Big Lemmingand her more minimal, emotive score for a segment of Christian Chapman’sEdmazinbiiget, which highlighted her inclusion of reverb and delay effects. 8/10. – Callum Slingerland
And via Eric Scharf at Ottawa Showbox:
Opening the night was Anishinaabe viola player extraordinaire, Melody McKiver. She started with two originals making excellent use of looping pedals and had me captured right. Then she took it up a notch. There is something truly special about watching projected short films as someone performs the soundtrack live. The films, which were projected on the church wall and presented by the Asinabka: Aboriginal Film and Media Arts Festival, were Edmazinbiiget by Christian Chapman and The Big Lemming by Mosha Folger. It was a fascinating experience I want to be a part of again.
I was asked to write an article for the Canadian Music Centre’s online publication Ontario Notations.
Check out our most recent issue of Notations! We feature an article by CMC Associate Composer John Beckwith regarding his piece Wendake/Huronia, written to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Samuel Champlain’s voyage to Lake Huron; however, Beckwith also seeks to reflect the impact of colonialism on First Nations communities in the region. Melody McKiver contributes a thought-provoking commentary on the public commemoration of Canada’s colonial past, and how indigenous artists assert their identities and histories in such a cultural climate. We also feature an interview with artist Ange Loft regarding her Idle No More community project, and we contrast different approaches to artistic research and collaboration that seek to represent the experiences of First Nations communities. (emphasis added)
A direct link to the publication in pdf format is available here.
Closing out this year’s X Avant festival, Lido Pimienta turned her headlining set inside-out, giving stage time over to friends and collaborators who performed in various combinations. Anishinaabe violist Melody McKiver, for example, would show up during the set-capping all-in throwdown, but also played their own material, including a solo piece as well as a collaboration with clarinetist Robert Drisdelle. They led off with this, joined by Mas Aya’s Brandon Valdivia as he wound up a mini solo set of his own.
It was a great evening at the Music Gallery, and keep an eye out in 2015 for Lido Pimienta‘s next album La Papessa, on which I have a guest feature.
I had the great pleasure of working with Inuk filmmaker Mosha Folger on the score of his latest stop-motion film, based on the print “Avingaluk (The Big Lemming)” by his grandfather Pudlo Pudlat. I wrote and recorded the first draft of this score while in residency at Debajehmujig during April 2014. I re-recorded the final score at Knox United Church in Edwards, Ontario in August 2014. The film premiered this past fall at imagineNATIVE in Toronto.
The score was written for viola in four parts, and was written, recorded, and performed by myself.
NOW Toronto published a Q&A with the music programming collective I work with, Bold As Love. Click through to read the full article.
Rosina Kazi, Jamaias DaCosta, Elwood Jimmy, Cherish Blood, Cris Derksen and Melody McKiver are Bold As Love, the arts collective of poets, musicians, actors and activists committed to community-building and -bridging by bringing people of colour (PoC) and Indigenous artists onstage in multiple disciplines. Saturday (November 15) marks the second in their series of six presentations – this one celebrating the 16th birthday of Kazi’s social-justice-motivated underground electronic band, Lal (with Nicholas “Murr” Murray and Ian De Souza), joined by Montreal spoken word musician Moe Clark.
Bold As Love’s MO is bringing together PoC and Indigenous artists. Why is that important to you?
Jamaias Da Costa, poet/journalist: We share a similar experience of being under-represented in the mainstream. Whether at festivals, concert series or other events, PoC and indigenous artists are often tokenized. We want to forge conversations between indigenous artists and other artists of colour – as well as our audiences. Everyone is welcome, of course, but there are specific experiences that indigenous and PoC artists can speak to.