Melody McKiver is an emerging Anishinaabe musician, media artist, and arts programmer of mixed ancestry from Obishikokaang Lac Seul First Nation and Scottish/Lithuanian origins. Melody is Ottawa-based and frequently works out of Toronto. As a solo performer, they explore the range of the viola’s possibilities, spanning from minimalist to danceable, often incorporating laptop processing and looping. They are currently preparing a self-titled LP of works for viola, to be released in the spring of 2016, 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. Their most recent works “Surveillapocalypse” (2014) and “Ga Waabmin Gaye / Nemolnek Elt Ni’nen” (2014) have been screened and installed in Brooklyn, Vancouver, 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 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 is the 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 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.
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.”