Features, Print December 1, 2017

Maddy O’Neal: Big Year, Bright Future

by Jed Murphy

For the last year, EDM artist Maddy O’Neal has been hitting the road hard. For this St. Louis native turned Denverite, it’s all been a dream come true as her music has taken her to some of the best venues in the world. With a relaxed, nuanced style of electronic music that is more about melody and rhythm than pushing cliches, it’s no wonder she is becoming one of the most sought-after artists in Colorado. We caught up with O’Neal mid-tour to discuss the industry, her music, and her goals for the new year.

You have had a big year of touring and have played a lot of great shows. What have been some of the highlights?

It has been a busy year for sure. Playing The Gorge amphitheater was definitely one of the highlights. I never thought I would get to experience playing on such an incredible stage/backdrop… and Red Rocks, which will always take the cake for me. There’s just something so magical and intimate about that place. All my friends who’ve played it multiple times told me the more and more you get to play it the more you get to take it all in. I felt that for sure this year having it be my second time in as many years.

In previous interviews you spoke about moving away from sample heavy writing. Your latest EP Parallels is your first work being sample free. What inspired you to make this change musically?

I decided to take that leap for a number of reasons – so I can sell and stream my music freely without having to worry about getting sued or running into copyright issues. But mainly because I am always trying to challenge myself in every aspect of this craft. Switching up my process makes me think about music differently and pushes me to improve different skills than I’m used to relying on- giving it a more live feel.

The EDM and electronic scene has gone through a lot of changes in the last few years. Where do you see it going as tastes change?

Well, one can only hope that people’s tastes will eventually weed out the BS (lol) but I think one of the major things I am seeing from my end is this return to live instrumentation and musicianship. More people expanding their sound and live performance to more of a band set up, myself included. The only thing with that is that it is much more difficult to tour with a full band. My hope though is that we see more of a merging of those worlds and I think it’s already happening.

Once touring is over, how do you see yourself spending your time?

Well, first, sleep. Ha. But right now in particular (I’m actually on a plane heading home from tour as I answer these questions) I plan to get myself back into a routine. I do a lot of yoga and try to be as active as possible when I’m home. I look forward to snowboarding in my off time this winter. It’s always nice to get out and remove myself from the noise. Give myself that time to escape. Honestly, I’m most excited about writing music again. I’ve been touring so much this year I haven’t been able to really dig in at the studio like I want to. So much inspiration from my experiences I’m ready to channel musically!

Who are some current musicians you admire?

Oh man, so many. I am so so lucky to have such a great community of them around me in this crazy music family. If you’re gonna make me pick, I’m gonna have to say touring with Lettuce was a pretty mind blowing experience. Every single one of those guys are masters of their craft and they never stop wanting to learn. Blew my mind to watch all of them night after night – was very inspiring.

What’s the best meal you had on tour?

On this last tour I would have to say the meal I had right after the run was over. We enjoyed a crab feast with clams and other items on a monster seafood platter at this place in San Francisco. It was incredible.

Going into 2018, do you have any personal goals?

Absolutely. I want to do all of the things I’ve been telling myself I’m going to do – lol. No more excuses. Those things include singing more – expanding my live setup to include a vocal box, drum pad etc. Practice keys more and expand my knowledge of other instruments. And a more personal goal is to take care of myself. Everyone knows touring can be super hard on the body and mind. I need to really take advantage of my time and health in the best way possible. When you take care of yourself and feel good it affects everything else in your life.