[INTERVIEW] Maddy O'Neal Discusses Her Mesmerizing New EP, ‘Mind Over Matter’

Maddy O'Neal, Mind Over Matter
| October 25, 2023

Self-taught producer and DJ Maddy O'Neal takes listeners on a sonic journey with her latest EP, Mind Over Matter. Hailing from the musical hub of Denver, Colorado, Maddy's soundscapes draw inspiration from a variety of genres.

Her music is a rich tapestry of textures and atmospheres, with funk and soul roots intertwined in a symphony of low-end frequencies. This unique blend of sounds creates a one-of-a-kind soundscape for future bass and synth enthusiasts, a sound that Maddy often describes as “dirty funky bass music, but make it pretty.”

Consisting of original compositions, drum pads, and interwoven storylines, Maddy's live performances are a journey from grimey bangers to shimmering mid-tempo vocal bass tracks, all delivered with infectious energy. 

With major hits like “Zest Please,” under her belt, she’s collaborated with notable artists such as CloZee, Pretty Lights, GRiZ, Big Gigantic, and Liquid Stranger, among others. Her continually-expanding collection of music, comprising of four EPs, a sophomore LP called Ricochetand two sets of remix albums, keeps her global fanbase craving more.

Now, Maddy O'Neal presents Mind Over Matter, a 4-track EP that encapsulates her artistic journey. The compilation reflects the central narrative of taking control over one's own reality, offering a vibrant and diverse musical experience. 

Check out our exclusive interview with Maddy O'Neal below. 

Maddy O'NealiEDM: You recently released your Mind Over Matter EP. Can you tell us more about the concept and inspiration behind it? How did you come up with the central theme of taking control over your own reality?

Maddy O'Neal: Being an artist is such a mental game - I’ve gone through so many different phases of my artistry. I had a breakthrough writing my last record, so writing this EP was the first time I fully trusted myself and my vision.

It felt like a new chapter for me. It is not always going to be sunshine and rainbows, but you have to ride the waves and sometimes those things lead you to magic.

 

iEDM: The EP is described as “vibrant, diverse, and brimming with collaborations.” Can you share some insights into the artists you collaborated with and how these collaborations influenced the project?

Maddy O'Neal: I love working with other people and bouncing ideas back and forth. Some of the collabs started even before the EP idea was formed.

I discovered Britt Lari, the vocalist on “Bliss,” because I’d seen her work with a couple of my friends and I had been following her on social media. I always keep a list of people I want to work with, especially vocalists, and Britt was on that list for a while. I finally created a song I knew would fit perfectly with her vocal style. 

Torii Wolf is another vocalist who is on the record. I’ve worked with her twice before and I love her so much. The song “Wide Awake” was almost finished and I just knew that it needed something else.

I sent it to her and asked what she thought and she said, “I think I got it.” The next day, she sent it back and that was it. There’s a lot of very serendipitous moments like that.

Sofasound was another one I met years ago and we’ve been talking about working together for years. We sent “Free Yourself” back and forth to each other and it ended up being one of my favorites.

iEDM: What were some of your personal highlights about collaborating with Shylow, Britt Lari, Sofasound, and Torii Wolf? How did you balance your signature style with each of theirs?

Maddy O'Neal: The coolest part about this EP is that we were able to maintain our identities while collaborating with each other. Subconsciously, none of us wanted to overpower the song; I wanted everyone to have their own creative input.

I always choose the people I work with based on our individual styles and how well I think we’re going to mesh. I love working with people that are totally different from me because it’s a challenge and we always come up with something very hard to define.

 

iEDM: Your ability to adapt and excel in various musical styles is evident in Mind Over Matter. What drives you to explore different sonic territories in your work?

Maddy O'Neal: The coolest part about what I do is that there aren't any boundaries. I love working with live musicians and having organic elements in electronic songs. I found a way to brand myself where I'm not boxed in – people don't expect one BPM from me, but it still sounds like me.

One of the best parts about the music I’ve created is that I can fit in a lot of different worlds. I can play with jam bands, the heavier bass world, as well as Pretty Lights and the more melodic acts. I’m just constantly inspired by things that I hear. I listen to all different types of music, so that comes through as my inspiration. 

 

iEDM: Which track on Mind Over Matter pushed you the most out of your comfort zone as a producer, and why? What challenges did it present and how did you overcome them?

Maddy O'Neal: I think the coolest song that surprised me was “Woofer” because it’s probably one of the heaviest songs I’ve made. I was able to maintain this really tasteful balance of it being beautiful and melodic but also smack-you-in-the-face.

I loved how that track came out and I surprised myself by making it. I knew I wanted to make something that was going to hit at a festival. The contrast of heaviness mixed with storytelling elements came through in a really perfect way.

iEDM: “Dirty Funky Bass Music, but make it pretty” is a unique description of your signature sound. How did you develop this distinctive style, and how is it incorporated in the new EP?

Maddy O'Neal: My inspirations come from all over. They subconsciously bleed into my own sound. With every song that I make, I want to evoke emotion and tell some kind of story, even if it's nonsense. When I’m writing, I always come back to the contrast between the heaviness and beautiful parts that feel balanced to me.

 

iEDM: What do you hope your fans will take away from the Mind Over Matter EP and your live performances on the upcoming tour in terms of the emotions and messages you're trying to convey?

Maddy O'Neal: I think I’m in a great position as a female figure. It feels really cool because when I was coming up as an artist, there weren't a lot of females doing what I was doing. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now and it feels like I’m just now getting my moment.

I hope that what I’m doing inspires and encourages other people to follow their dreams. It doesn’t happen overnight; you have to keep putting work into it, and if you love something, it will happen. 

Maddy O'Neal, Mind Over Matter iEDM: As a self-taught DJ and producer, what advice do you have for people who want to get into both but don’t know where to start?

Maddy O'Neal: I learned pretty much everything I know off of random YouTube videos about Ableton and producing. In terms of producing, you have to learn how to do what you want to do first. You can’t expect to write a song right away; you have to put the time in to navigate the tools you’re using first.

It’s very useful to find a community that is doing what you’re doing. That way, you can share tips with each other and lean on each other. You can’t do it alone. Finding a bigger community is what’s really going to push you to be better.

 

iEDM: Your live performances are known for their magnetic energy. Could you explain the dynamics of switching between DJing and playing drum pads during your sets and how it enhances the live experience for your fans?

Maddy O'Neal: It’s way more fun for me to play my own songs because I can break things down. I can cut out vocal chops into drum pads and interact with my music more rather than just playing the master. What’s cool about using the drum pads is I can do things on the fly and switch up songs.

People in the DJ world don’t necessarily see a lot of that so it lights people up a bit. I also do Madhouse sets and DJ sets which is also really fun because my catalog is only so big, so when I can just put a bunch of songs in a playlist and read the room on the fly, that’s another way of interacting with people.

Maddy O'Neal, Mind Over Matter

iEDM: You've performed at major festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Lightning In A Bottle. What are some special moments or experiences from these festivals that have had a significant impact on you or your career?

Maddy O'Neal: This year was a big one for me. I knocked off a lot of bucket list festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella. It was a reassurance to me that I was on the right path. Playing for new fans and seeing that they’re enjoying it without knowing any of my songs is one of the coolest parts about it.

Lollapalooza was a full circle moment for me because it was the first festival I ever went to when I was in high school with my brother. At the time, I never even thought that it was possible, so when I came back to play it, that was the coolest full circle moment I’ve ever had.

iEDM: Your hometown of Denver is one of the tour stops. How does performing in your hometown compare to other locations? Does it hold a special significance for you?

Maddy O'Neal: Denver is my favorite place to play and always will be. It’s the community of people that raised me as an artist from day one and has seen me go through it all.

The coolest part is that in Denver, there’s fans that have been around for 10 years. I always play my most unique sets there because I know my core fans are there. I’m able to get a little weirder and play some older stuff. Year after year it’s been the biggest headline for me.

iEDM: What's next for you after your tour? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations on the horizon that you can tease for your fans?

Maddy O'Neal: I’m going to hit 100 shows around New Years. I’m taking January off to write music because I feel a little crazy that I haven’t had consistent studio time.

There are a bunch of collaborations in the works, some of them I can’t talk about, but some really exciting things coming. I actually have a collab with COFRESI that might come out before the end of the year.

 

iEDM: What future goals do you have for your career as an artist and outside of music to accomplish by the end of 2024? How do you plan on accomplishing them?

Maddy O'Neal: I just want to keep leveling up. I want to feel like I’m growing every day and push myself from a production to performance standpoint. The more and more I write, I'm honing in on my sound even further so I’m really excited to have some time to make more music.

Photos courtesy of Maddy O'Neal.

 

CONNECT WITH MADDY O’NEAL: INSTAGRAM | SPOTIFY | SOUNDCLOUD | FACEBOOK | WEBSITE

 

Read more iEDM Exclusive Interviews HERE!

 

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