Rendezvous with Maddy O’Neal, The Rising Soulful-Bass-Meets-Disco Queen [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

All photos used with permission of Maddy O’Neal

The elements tried their best to conspire against us at Same Same But Different Festival – high winds, rain and lightning – and nearly prevented me from interviewing Maddy O’Neal. Thankfully the rain cleared, the stars aligned and a dreamy golden hour blessed us as I sat down with the rising soulful bass queen. Maddy has been busy touring and working on her new LP, Ricochet, which is out now and is absolutely amazing – give it a listen below. Do yourself a favor and go see Maddy O’Neal this fall. I assure you, you will have the time of your life dancing and grooving! Check out her tour schedule here and her socials here

Maddy remained calm and poised despite ongoing weather delays and a hectic weekend of three shows and lots of travel. She was dressed to the nines in a patterned kimono and chic shades as she sipped on a coconut and looked perfectly at home on the beach. She was lovely to speak with – she’s warm, kind and genuine. I first saw Maddy play at Pretty Light’s show at The Gorge Amphitheater in 2017 and couldn’t wait to see her play again at SSBD; she absolutely slayed her set and had the time of her life doing so. 

Festival Squad: Maddy, thank you so much for sitting down with me – I really appreciate it. 

Maddy O’Neal: Thank you for having me. 

Maddy & Me at Same Same But Different Festival 2022

FS: Your new album Ricochet came out on September 20th and I have it on repeat. Thank you for sharing it with me before the interview and congratulations on creating an album that has so many diverse and unique tracks. Can you tell me more about your process in making this album and what it means to you?

Maddy O’Neal: Yeah, so I’m so excited that it’s finally coming out! [Laughs] I started this record maybe last December, which is when I started gathering ideas for the whole record. I drew from every inspiration I’ve had throughout my entire life as an artist, and it’s really cool to see it come together. The inspiration behind the name Ricochet actually came from the last couple of really crazy years that we’ve had. If you remember, it really felt like everyone was kind of all over the place. When I started writing this record, it really felt like I returned home to myself and I could trust my own creative process and my vision. I really needed the break from touring to find that flow state of writing again. The name came from that feeling of bouncing back and I was like, “all right, I remember why I do what I do.” And then I just kind of let it go, which feels really cool. 

FS: Who or what inspires you to create your unique blend of soulful bass meets disco funk? 

Maddy O’Neal: I’ve had such a broad spectrum of musical influence over my life. My brother was in an indie rock band and then I started digging for vinyl– funk and soul records. I also think getting into the electronic music scene when I did at this very pivotal time in 2008, when Big Gigantic and GRiZ and Pretty Light and that whole era was kind of coming up on the scene  – I was heavily inspired by all of those things over the years. And I feel like I finally found my niche within all of that, which is cool.

FS: What kind of set do you plan for Same Same and why did you choose to go in this direction? 

Maddy O’Neal: I’m debuting a couple of songs that I haven’t played before from my record,which I’m excited about. It’s always fun to play songs for the first time. I don’t know this audience very well, so I was hoping to give people a little bit of everything Maddy. 

FS: If you could collab with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why? 

Maddy O’Neal: Oh, man, this is always like the hardest question ever [laughs]. There’s just so many people I would love to work with: Erykah Badu or Lauryn Hill would be magical. And as for artists that have passed, obviously any of the classic hip hop legends, like Biggie (The Notorious B.I.G.) [laughs] –  that would just be epic – I’ve never used that as an answer before. I think a lot of where my mind goes is like the hip hop and R&B world of soulful people, which I feel was so much stronger in the past, which is why I love sampling from that era. [I’d love to work with] anyone in that soul era– Aretha Franklin, that’d be special. Oh my goodness, or Nina Simone. 

FS: Tell me about your creative process. What does a day in the life look like for you? 

Maddy O’Neal: When I’m creating, it kind of always looks different. Sometimes you’re not feeling inspired at all and you just have to sit down and start from nowhere, like start matching with the synth and see where that takes you. I think there’s a myth that you get struck with inspiration. Sometimes you just have to sit down and work through it, you know? Sometimes I’ll come off of a weekend of festivals and am filled with all the energy from being in front of people and meeting new people and I’ll just feel alive – that’s when the cool stuff comes out.

FS: What is something you feel is not getting talked about enough in about your music or the music industry in general? 

Maddy O’Neal: One of the coolest things I think is getting more attention now is all of the female inspiration and the women that are coming up in the scene. And I think you can always highlight that more and more. We’ve made a lot of progress in lifting people up over the years. I think just more of that, let’s keep doing that. 

FS: We’re in the, going in the right direction. 

Maddy O’Neal: Yes, totally.

FS: If you could make another type of music different than your usual, what would it be? 

Maddy O’Neal: I’ve been really into house music lately and I have like this secret side project with Megan Hamilton called Housewives. I’ll just bust it open– Megan and I have been working on Housewives behind the scenes for the last couple years. We actually almost launched it at the beginning of 2020, but it was just not good timing to launch a brand new project. I love DJing house music and creating [house music] now. 

FS: I actually interviewed Megan here last year here. She told me about Housewives but asked me to keep it on the DL. She spoke very highly of you and how much fun she has had working with you on this project.

Maddy O’Neal: Oh that’s awesome. She’s, really, really great.

FS: I’m excited for it to come out. Do you have a timeframe of when you’d like for it to be released? 

Maddy O’Neal: It’s ever changing. I actually just saw her at Secret Dreams Festival a couple weeks ago and we were pow wowing about it. I needed to get this record out and get through this era of what’s happening, and then we can revisit this [project] as a whole. But I’m excited for it– that’s all I can say [laughs]

FS: and then you guys need to tour and perform together! 

Maddy O’Neal: Yeah! Touring with your best friends is just the most fun. 

FS: Are there any other special projects you’re working on that you can tell us about, besides Housewives? 

Maddy O’Neal: No, I’m not. I feel like I learned so much writing this new record that I’m just really excited about the music that I’m working on at the moment. You always get to the next level when you really focus on a project. And I feel like I’m there and I’m really excited to dive into this next chapter after learning all the things that I did. 

FS: When you’re not making music, what are some of your hobbies or interests? 

Maddy O’Neal: I’m very much a Colorado girl. I snowboard in the winter and I hike and I need to be outdoors. Being in nature is the necessary counterpart to my lifestyle. I also do yoga every day, which is very important for my mental health.

Festival Squad: Thank you so much for your time, Maddy. I’m looking forward to your set later today!

Maddy O’Neal: Thank you for having me and I can’t wait either!

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