We’re feeling incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to ask one of our favorite artists, Maddy O’Neal, some questions before she sets off to perform at STS9’s one of a kind Wave Spell Festival, August 16-19, in beautiful Belden CA! Maddy O’Neal has been making huge strides towards becoming a female leader in a male dominated live-electronic genre and we couldn’t be more excited to see her perform on the west coast. She fuses her rock n’ roll family roots with jazzy hip-hop influences and state-of-the-art production techniques to create an undeniably appealing sound that spans genre divides. See what she had to say about her self taught approach to music, collabing with Manic Focus and Bass Physics, playing in the Everyone Orchestra this summer, and the TWO sets she’ll be performing at Wave Spell this month!
Euphoric: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us! We’ve been big fans since the beginning! When it comes to your productions and live sets, your music really stands out in a compositional and professional sense. Have you had a musical background throughout much of your life?
Maddy O’Neal: Thank you so much! and nope…I’m pretty much self taught in everything music. Picked up the software I use (Ableton Live) about 8 years ago now and started out by sampling from vinyl and chopping samples making “beats” and that progressed as I taught myself more about theory, playing keys a bit etc. I figured out early on though that I had the ear for the way things worked together whether I knew the technical term for what was happening or not.
We love seeing all the momentum behind your solo project! Can you tell us a bit about the journey leading up to “Maddy O’Neal”?
Well as you may or may not know I was in a duo project for about 5 years before I left to begin my solo journey. There was a lot going on in my life when I decided to make that move, my father passed away and just a general feeling of discontentment…I needed to shake things up. My personal life and new exploration and new beginnings with my project were very synchronistic… I needed to do something different, challenge myself and kinda find my voice again on my own. Very very grateful for all of the support I had when I made that move…from all of my artist friends and fans alike…its crazy to think it’s only been a little over 2 years. Crazy.
What are some challenges you face as a woman in the music industry?
Ya know, I get this question a lot….and although I know there are plenty of situations and stories out there, for the most part my experience has been a positive one. I always feel like I have to prove myself more and explain to people, yes I do write all my own music etc but other than that I have been treated with respect from my peers in the industry etc.
You’ve done some pretty awesome collaborations lately with the likes of Manic Focus and Bass Physics. Do you have a certain process when you sit down to work on a track? Is it different when it’s a solo track compared to a collab?
It’s pretty different every time. Inspiration can come from just about anything – A beat I hear, a sound, a sample etc. The process with those collabs were different in their own elements as well. The Bass Physics one – Arja had sent me a few beat sketches when we talked about doing a track together and let me pick which one I was feeling to roll with and we went back and forth on a few different versions of it. The Manic one was kinda of the opposite I had sent Jmac a track I was a bit stuck on but idea was there – and we kinda collaborated on it from there.
You’ve had a pretty consistently full schedule of shows lately. What’s your secret to staying focused and healthy while on the road a lot?
Still trying to figure that out, lol. Its def tough to stay healthy, rested and focused when your schedule is so all over the place. I have been finding balance when I am home – going to yoga a ton or just getting out doing hikes or walks – something active everyday to refresh the brain and body. I am really hoping I can try to continue that as much as possible on tour this fall. The secret is to be able to slow yourself down and figure out what ya need.
Speaking of playing a lot of shows, what’s been one of the most memorable performances for you so far in 2018?
One of the most memorable moments I think for me was being a part of the Everyone Orchestra at Summer Camp this summer. Even though it was only a piece of the jam – it was something so far out of my norm and comfort zone it…I got to lead a jam with members of Umphreys, Moe, Papadoiso, Roosevelt Collier, Mike Dillon etc. To be able to improv and be in the moment with those cats was the coolest thing ever. I’ve always wanted to feel the magic of being on stage like that with a group of musicians and just going with the flow. It was a challenge in a lot of ways and expanded my mind in a ton of ways too. I’m pretty sure that was the first time that they had a “producer/Dj” be a part of the orchestra in that way too so it was a new experience all around.
That sounds pretty incredible. For those of us who have not yet had the opportunity to see you perform, what kind of set can we expect from you at Wave Spell next month?
I am doing 2 different sets at Wave Spell. I am gonna do one more DJ oriented set (still with all of my own music) and then do a more on the fly live style set for the second one- theres gonna be so many artist friends out there I always love to have people sit in and jam on tracks etc in a setting like that – so gonna kinda go with the flow on the second one 🙂
Who are some other artists that you’re excited about seeing perform at Wave Spell?
Pretty much everyone! lol The whole lineup is a ton of friends of mine – I think there are going to be some cool collaborative sets popping up all over so thats going to be interesting to have everyone in the same place and see what kind of improv combinations arise.
Lastly, if you could give any advice to aspiring DJ’s and producers out there, what would it be?
Work hard. Never give up…cause there will be plenty of times that you want to..lol this industry is not for the weak hearted. Take your time and find your sound – don’t try to follow trends or sound like anyone else, trust your gut and what comes out of ya. Network with your local community and other artists – building that family is what it’s all about, and when you meet the right people you are stronger together. Play as much as you can when you are first starting out…there’s so much to learn about every aspect of the industry as you go, listen to people and pay attention to how things work.
Thanks so much! Be sure to catch one if not both of her sets at Wave Spell and grab tickets HERE!