Melody McKiver is an emerging Anishinaabe musician, media artist, traditional powwow dancer and artist, and arts educator of mixed ancestry. Melody is an enrolled member of Obishikokaang Lac Seul First Nation on their mother’s side, and their father’s family are settler Canadians of Scottish/Lithuanian origins. Melody currently lives and works in the small town of Sioux Lookout in Treaty #3, northwestern Ontario, and has previously resided in Ottawa, Toronto, and St. John’s NL.
As a solo performer, Melody explores the range of the viola’s possibilities, spanning from minimalist to danceable, often incorporating laptop processing and looping. They are currently preparing an LP of works for viola, to be released in 2017, and a digital/cassette release with their experimental duo Lyubov Orlova.
Within media arts, Melody works with digital video and photography to capture images of Indigenous resurgence, and uses this footage both editorially and within video and sound art. They have also worked on a number of documentary films as both director and cast, that are currently in production. Melody’s works “Surveillapocalypse” (2014) and “Ga Waabmin Gaye / Nemolnek Elt Ni’nen” (2014) have been screened and installed in Auckland, Brooklyn, Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa.
Melody is affiliated with Tribal Spirit Music, plays drums with Toronto’s Indigenous hip-hop fusion band Red Slam Collective, frequently collaborates with Colombian-born and Toronto-based musical provocateur Lido Pimienta, and accompanied Cree/Irish trip-hop singer isKwé on a tour of the UK in the summer of 2014. Melody has scored films for directors Mosha Folger and Christian Chapman, composed the score for the Article 11 production of RECKONING, and composed string arrangements for Lakota hip-hop artist Frank Waln. They are a part of the Toronto-based programming collective BOLD AS LOVE, dedicated to the promotion and intersections of Indigenous and people of colour artists and musicians, and the Asinabka Festival committee in Ottawa. Along with Omushkego comedian Darren Sutherland, Melody was the 2015/16 co-host of The Circle on 89.1FM CHUO Ottawa, a weekly radio show devoted to Indigenous music, news, and events.
Melody holds an MA in Ethnomusicology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland (2014), with research interests in Indigenous electronic music, artistic processes of decolonization, urban Indigeneity, and Two-Spirited studies. They are a graduate of York University (2010), where they completed a BFA Honours Major in Music, Minor in Race, Ethnicity & Indigeneity as a Member of the Dean’s Honour Roll.
Melody has studied classical violin and viola with Peggy Hills, viola improvisation with Matt Brubeck, drum set with Chuck Burrows, and has worked under Dr. Mark Chambers, Mike Murley, Casey Sokol, Lorne Lofsky, Kelly Jefferson, Mark Eisenman, and Dr. Michael Marcuzzi. Melody has performed and recorded contemporary classical, jazz, free improvisation, indie, folk, hip-hop, funk, and reggae at venues and studios in Auckland, Wairoa, and Te Kaha in Aotearoa/New Zealand, London UK, Bristol, New York City, New Orleans, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City, the Electric Eclectics Festival, Banff, Edmonton, Sioux Lookout, and St. John’s NL.
Melody’s musical practice spans across viola/violin, drums and percussion, and guitar, drawing upon a broad set of influences that includes hip-hop, electronic, contemporary classical, jazz, and blues. Melody also records and produces digital media under the pseudonym Gitochige, which is the Anishinaabemowin word for “they play an instrument.”
Melody McKiver est une musicienne émergente anishinaabe, artiste multimédia et programmatrice artistique. Son origine est issue de la Première Nation de Obishikokaang Lac Seul ainsi que de l’Écosse et de la Lithuanie. Melody a maintenant établi ses quartiers à Ottawa mais est souvent appelée à travailler à l’extérieur de Toronto. À titre d’artiste soliste, elle explore toute la gamme des possibilités de l’alto, de l’expression musicale minimaliste jusqu’à la musique aux rythmes incitant à la danse. Elle y incorpore souvent des éléments d’échantillonnage greffés de boucles musicales. Melody prépare présentement un album éponyme pour alto dont la sortie est prévue en 2016, ainsi qu’une diffusion numérique de son duo de musique expérimentale Lyubov Orlova.
Melody is the grateful recipient of a 2013 Aboriginal Arts Project grant and 2016 Aboriginal Musicians Travel Assistance grant from the Ontario Arts Council.