Photos by Ryan Winckler
Over the past several years, women have taken the music world by the horns. Artists such as Gwen Stefani and Haley Williams have even broken boundaries on female rock singers. Women continue to break down the barriers today in this male dominated industry, proving that women deserve just as much recognition for their talents.
On May 27 and May 28 ODESZA performed at two back to back sold out shows at Red Rocks in Morrison, CO. The Seattle-based duo brought out a drum line to compliment their live performance. What was especially noticeable at the performance, was that there was only two females performing at the show. One of whom, is Melody Monroe.
THE BEGINNING & THE LOVE OF MUSIC
Festival Squad was fortunate enough to catch up with this 27-year old Colorado native to hear about her love for music and what her career in music looks like post-show. We learned that Melody has been involved in music forever. In fact, both of her parents met while playing in a church band. Her and her brother took to their love of music at an early age.
“Music has been a part of my life since my earliest memories. I remember singing and making up songs as early as first grade, and my dad officially put me in lessons at the age of 8. We often joked that the only real rule in the house was “no quitting piano til you’re 18.” In middle school I wanted to join band and ended up choosing the trumpet, which I would continue to play for the next 12 years. I went to a high school with an excellent music program, and was introduced to marching band and drumline — and eventually got exposed to Drum Corps International (DCI) as well as the indoor percussion scene — all of which are highly competitive variations of the marching band activity with different instrumentation. I played trumpet and toured the US with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle corps for several summers, and then got involved with the Blue Knights Indoor Percussion Ensemble. These organizations, while being competitive in nature, taught me the value of effort, practice, dedication, friendship, and ingrained an appreciation for music of all kinds.”
PERFORMING WITH ODESZA
As her love for percussion progressed, so did her skill set. Melody continued to pursue what she loved, and began to teach/run a percussion ensemble out of Denver called Rise Percussion. After receiving an email one day, the group was slated to perform with ODESZA at the 2016 Red Rocks show, as well as their shows at Vertex, Day for Night, and Snowglobe.
“The people in the ODESZA family are so real, and down to earth – genuinely kind and talented humans. It was a pleasure and an honor to watch the process and see the machine in motion.”
It should come as no surprise that this musical goddess is not just a highly skilled drummer. With a lifetime of music training under her belt, she is also a singer, songwriter, composer and a producer. In fact, she has been a “one woman show” for about two years all over the city of Denver. She sets up with keyboards, a looping device, ready to perform a series of covers and original songs. This is where Melody can truly unleash her training in percussion and blend it with her passion for poetry.
“Singing is an inseparable piece of my character, and the piano is the perfect vehicle.”
Her long term dreams as a musician are as powerful as she is. She describes some of her solo goals to include a 50+ person hornline, speakers and subs. For now, Melody is focusing on touring the country, playing festivals and dive bars, and van living/camping at the same time.
WOMEN IN MUSIC
Breaking through as an artist is difficult, and arguably more difficult as a female performer. Melody is a woman looking to change just that.
” I want more opportunities and visibility for women in music. The more we hear women’s voices, the better off we are. And the truth is there are quite a few voices out there, from a strictly vocal perspective — but there are so few female producers and managers. It often seems like long stretches of the path depend on negotiating with men in a position of more power than me. Many women in the industry have dealt with this too and I guarantee most (if not all) of us have horror stories. I’m not saying that a female dominated music industry would be all rainbows by any means — but we are starving for a shift in the dynamic. And this generation, my/our peers — we see this. It is happening. It’s uplifting. There is much to look forward to — but also much to remain aware of. “
PERFORMING AT ELECTRIC FOREST
Melody is no stranger to festivals. Since her first festival at Wakarusa in 2011 she has been hooked. Now, Melody has made a pact with herself that she would not attend another music festival until she was performing at it. Instead, she chose to focus on her dreams as a solo musician and dedicate long hours and sleepless nights to what she knows and loves. She has performed at Vertex (with ODESZA and as a solo artist) and now, Melody is performing at the world renowned Electric Forest. Specifically, she is performing at Electric Forest through a Her Forest event. This event is a curated event that is dedicated to providing opportunities for women, as well as humans identifying in the LGBTQ community. She is proud to be apart of such an incredible event.
“My understanding, or hope, is that one of the best ways to start the process of empowering others is to empower myself. To go after this whole thing with all that I’ve got, spreading the message that this human experience is complex; painful, rewarding, vibrant, and often times simply mundane. And all of those things are okay and beautiful. And all of those things are why music is my therapy.”
Melody Monroe’s EP New World Sparrow is available here as well as through Spotify and iTunes. You can also catch up with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Catch Melody LIVE at Electric Forest TOMORROW (Friday) at 1pm at the Observatory Stage!