When I first heard Maddy O’Neal’s music, I was happily listening to SoundCloud on my iPhone, allowing its awesome mind-reading technology to shuffle through different tracks based on some magical algorithm. The lead single off her upcoming debut album, “No Master Plan,” came on, and immediately my ears perked up, but I didn’t look down at the title of the track on my iPhone. When the song started to really bump and gel in my ears, a few questions came to mind. First: “Nice, Pretty Lights hasn’t released a new track for about a year. About time!” Then, as the song progressed, I realized it was a perhaps a bit too originally melodic to be Pretty Lights, so I wondered, “Wait, this isn’t Pretty Lights, is it? Who could this be?!” At that point, I looked down at my iPhone and realized this song I was vibing out to was produced by Maddy O’Neal. The next thought that came to mind was, “Damn, this woman kills it, I need to get in touch with her and showcase this talent I’m hearing.” Sure enough, here we are, and here’s an awesome interview with the one-and-only Maddy O’Neal. She hails from Denver, is ironically opening up for Pretty Lights at Red Rocks on August 12th with Marvel Years (check out our interview with Marvel Years here) and she just released the second single off her upcoming debut album, Introspect, titled “Just a Glimpse.” She’s the real deal, trust us.
Sound Fix: Hey Maddy – thanks for taking some time here to answer some questions for our readers and your fans. To start things off, tell us what you’re up to over the next few weeks.
Maddy O’Neal: Thank you guys for reaching out! Well, I am currently putting the finishing touches on my album right now, so that should be all ready to go by the end of the week. Super excited about that! But other than finishing mixes and masters on that, the next few weeks I’ll be working on new music, now that I have a clear head, and getting ready for upcoming shows. Really trying to get my sound dialed on my mixes and experimenting with new ways to play my live set.
SF: You just put out a fresh track, “No Master Plan” which is the lead single off your upcoming debut LP, Introspect. We loved the release over here in Brooklyn. Fill us in on the details surrounding the new album! How many tracks? Do you have a release date?
MO: Thank you! I was really excited about that track in particular since it was the first time I’ve ever recorded original vocals on a song. I’ve made a ton of music over the past few months so it was hard to pick and choose and figure out which tracks and how to release all of it. It started as a 5 track EP and has grown into a 9 track LP. Just added a new track to the bunch last week. It’s kind of cool because I made all of the music in the same time period and I think it really represents a wide spectrum of feelings and vibes but in a cohesive way. I don’t have an exact date for release but it is looking like the end of July at this point with a second single release in between. I tend to be a hoarder when it comes to my music **laughs** so I figured I would put the best of what I’ve made out so that I can then move on to some of the other ideas I have.
SF: This project marks your divergence as an artist from your previous musical project, Krooked Drivers. How does Introspect distinguish itself from your previous music with KD?
MO: My new project has really given the opportunity to explore realms with my own production that I otherwise might not have done – like singing for instance. I just felt a sense of creative freedom with my writing and will continue to explore different styles. It was definitely different to not have another person around even to like listen to what you’re doing or get an extra opinion on it, but I think that’s what made me take risks. It’s really tough to say what exact things I have carried over into my new project but it definitely still has that strong hip-hop / electronic fusion vibe. The style and process is very similar, I’m still sampling from vinyl a lot of the time, chopping samples, laying electronic elements and baselines but I think, or so my peers have told me since I have shown them some of my new stuff, is my new material sounds a little more organic and melodic. It will be interesting to see how fans and listeners hear that influence or difference.
SF: With this new project you’re keeping it simple by sticking with “Maddy O’Neal” as your stage name. Is there reasoning behind this, versus creating a stage moniker?
MO: Well, initially right after I decided to start my solo project I thought about a new stage moniker for weeks and weeks. I had a lot to try to coordinate as I was working on new music, trying to really formulate this new vision and figure out what the necessary steps I needed to take to launch it all would be. Everyone kept asking me about it and then saying, “Oh, it will just come to you!” **laughs** Well, it didn’t. I had a few monikers I was on the fence about but ultimately, just using my name felt right. It was kind of this period where I was finding myself again and keeping my name just kinda felt right – and that’s part of what I’ve been learning a lot lately too is to go with your gut instinct.
SF: How would you describe your experience as a producer in what could be considered a male-dominated electronic music industry? Who are some other female producers you admire that you’d like to shine a light on with this interview?
MO: I think being a female in this scene is kind of like a double-edged sword. People are twice as likely to pay attention to you at first because you are in that small percentage of women in an otherwise male-dominated industry but also twice as likely to write you off as well, or underestimate the amount of work you do and the talent you possess. I really hope that I can be a part of that push in dispelling some of the stereotypes with what I am doing in some way or another, or inspire other females to get into the scene as well, like some of the women in the industry did for me. ill-esha has been a huge influence to me as a friend, musician and mentor. Even when I was on the fence about having to start over on my own she always had the most encouraging words for me and has been a huge pioneer for women in the industry. She has seen trends come and go and has been there when there were even fewer females in the spotlight. She’s also one of the most talented and hardworking producers I know. Some other women that I have been super inspired by are Anna Lunoe, Clozee, Megan Hamilton, Alison Wonderland, and Mija. All killing it right now!
SF: As you’ve progressed your career as a producer, what musicians and/or bands have been some of your biggest sources of inspiration?
MO: I think especially living in Denver I have been so blessed to have such an amazing family of musicians and friends out here that we’ve all kind of fed off of each other’s creative energy/vibes in one way or another. I try to make it out to a variety of different shows regularly whether it be my friends’ shows or just music events in Denver to take in an abundance of inspiration and perspective – but a lot of my friends and other artists out here including Michal Menert, Pretty Lights, SunSquabi, Late Night Radio, Break Science, Mux Mool, GRiZ, Big Gigantic, ill-esha, Dynohunter, Unlimited Aspect, etc., (too many to name) have all inspired me so much just watching all of that grow organically out here. On top of local music I also tend to listen to a variety of different types of music from Rock n’ Roll to Hip-Hop to Jazz and everything in between. I try to keep my mind as open as I can because the coolest part about the style of music I make and sampling in general is I’m able to fuse all types of genres together/ Some producers that do that really well and that I have always admired are people like DJ Shadow and RJD2 among so many others.
SF: We’ve seen some awesome videos and recordings of your performance with Michal Menert at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco, CO back in March. What other upcoming performances and festivals are you most looking forward to at this point?
MO: Well, the one I am most excited about is my upcoming performance at Red Rocks Amphitheater opening for Pretty Lights on Friday, August 12th (tickets here). It has been an absolute dream to be able to even step foot on that stage at some point in my career and I still don’t think I’ve quite processed that it is actually happening. My mom and brother are flying out for that one too so I am excited to be able to share that experience with them. But other than that I will be playing Stilldream Festival in California at the end of July and UpNorth Festival in Michigan in August as well, along with a second date with Pretty Lights in Nashville in October. So I’ve got a ton to look forward to, which is extra motivation while working in the studio.
SF: Over the next 12 months, what are some things you’re trying to accomplish with this new solo project?
MO: Now that I have finished my debut album, where I kinda wanted to be able to showcase what I can do on my own – I really, really want to collaborate with other musicians, producers, and artists as much as possible. I think that’s one of the coolest things we can all do is put our brains together. We can all learn something from one another as well as expand our minds and work together in this awesome creative community we’re all a part of. It’s always cool to connect with other people on that level and push each other to grow/think differently.
SF: Are there any artists in particular that you’d like to collaborate with as “Maddy O’Neal?”
MO: Too many! There will be lots of that on my next album.
SF: Finally, we like to end our interviews with an open forum. Anything else you’d like to share here that we didn’t get around to with these previous questions?
MO: I really just wanted to give a huge thanks to the amazing fan base I have that have been behind me 100% with my new project. It has been so overwhelming in such a good way to have all the support I do with this new beginning. Really feels like a family and I am eternally grateful for that.