Denver has been the home of many talented musicians and producers. One that has been rising the ranks in the community is the queen of funk, Maddy O’Neal. With a discography consisting of collaborations with some of the biggest acts including CloZee, Megan Hamilton, Dominic Lalli, and Manic Focus,, you can always expect her to release fresh tunes, unlike anything you’ve heard before. Maddy O’Neal’s recent LP “Ricochet” is a culmination of the styles of music that have been an inspiration to her since her childhood.
Since her debut album in 2016, she has released four EPs and played over ninety shows every year, for the past FIVE years. Maddy’s live sets know no bounds when it comes to experimenting in any genre; they can often switch between bass, jam, funk, trap, soul, and even house. Fans might have caught one of her recent electrifying performances at Lollapalooza, Secret Dreams Music Festival, or Same Same But Different. This upcoming weekend she will be taking the stage at Lost Lands Music Festival and will also be bringing all those vibes to Live Oak, FL at this year’s Hulaween.
“Ricochet” fuses elements of future bass with jam, creating a unique listening experience with multiple instrumental and vocal additions from some of the most talented names in that space including Honeycomb, Moonzz, Ryan Jalbert, Alana Rocklin, Benny Bloom, and Balkan Bump. The album kicks off with the smooth and tasteful track “The Way Home.” The bass and synths deliver listeners a relaxing melodic experience while still carrying that bass-forward Maddy O’Neal punch.
She then kicks it up a notch with “Back To Basics” with vocalist Def3. His addition of hip-hop vocals pack a serious punch on top of the filthy trap beat Maddy throws down on this one. Jumping from this directly into “Change Of Pace” with Moonzz had me absolutely floored. Her voice is so phenomenally effervescent. Paired with the ripples of bass and craftily orchestrated beats, those vocals make this one a real treat.
One of the most notable tracks on the album is “Affected.” If you’re not deep in the jam scene, you may not realize the magnitude of this collaboration. Pulling together a monumental cast of vocalists and musicians including Ryan Montbleu, Ryan Jalbert of The Motet, Alana Rocklin of STS9, Benny Bloom of Lettuce, and WhyAwake, she has truly recruited the A-Team on this track. “Affected” has got it all from impressive vocals to dreamy bass lines, guitar riffs, and horns to turn up the funk!
We had the opportunity to interview Maddy and speak to her about her brand new album. Check out the conversation and stream“Ricochet” below!
HIHF: Who are some of the biggest inspirations for your music?
I draw inspiration from so many different things. I was heavily influenced in the earlier years by a lot of the music I was sampling from funk and soul music from the sixties and seventies. Combine that with my love of indie rock and hip hop, it made for a pretty cool combination I think. Some electronic acts that really got me excited about merging genres when I first started were RJD2, DJ Shadow, the whole Pretty Lights music roster, GRiZ, Big Gigantic, etc.
HIHF: What was working with CloZee like on your collaborative track “Zest Please?” Can you tell us a bit about how that came together?
That song was such a cool collaboration. In 2020, I was really feeling this yearning for creative collaboration because we were all so isolated and I was used to constantly being surrounded by other creatives on the road. I started writing musical ideas and sending them to friends to spark this need of mine and Chloe actually happened to pop into Knew Conscious when I was filming a live stream there for Shambhala Music Festival. I had no idea that she moved to Denver and we exchanged contacts. Then, I sent her a few of the ideas I had been working on the following week and she chose the idea that eventually became “Zest Please” to work on. She took the idea and worked on her own a bit and we got together and finished it together in my studio. That song helped us both work through some creative blocks the pandemic had brought on so really felt good to push it out.
HIHF: What are some tips you have for any up-and-coming producers?
Go all in. Learn as much as you can, and immerse yourself in the culture you want to be involved in. Having like-minded people around you is a major part of being successful. Never stop learning and at the end of the day be yourself. Trends come and go but there is only one of you. Finding your sound takes time but the more you experiment and the more time you put in, the further you go finding what you like.
HIHF: Who did you grow up listening to?
In my high school years, I was listening to a lot of underground indie rock music. My brother was in a bunch of bands in St. Louis and I looked up to him and his musical taste a lot, so I was always looking for the new cool thing from him. In my younger years, my dad played guitar and listened to a lot of Grateful Dead, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul music. You can definitely hear all these influences in my music I think.
HIHF: What does a dream collab for Maddy O’Neal look like?
This is always such a tough question because there are so many people I’d love to work with. Erykah Badu or Lauren Hill would be an absolute dream or Khruangbin, Little Dragon, TroyBoi, etc. The list could go on and on.
HIHF: “RICOCHET” is packed full of collabs, we are especially excited for your massive collab on “Affected”, how did you come up with such a choice selection of artists/ musicians?
“Affected” was actually one of the first songs I started because I knew I wanted at least one or two songs on the record at a disco tempo. I started the track with the organ tones and the beat and sat with Ryan Jalbert AKA Jalbatross to record guitar first. Originally, it had kind of a placeholder Moog sample as the bassline that he recorded his sound into but I quickly realized it needed a much more pocket groove which is when I tapped Alana Rocklin from STS9. We have been talking about making a track together for a long time and it just clicked that she would be perfect for the tune. She recorded a combination of slap bass and some Moog undertones that really sat perfectly with the guitar. I sat with the tune for a bit after going back on the road and couldn’t figure out what it needed or the direction I wanted to take with it for a while so it sat around until the very last minute — it was the final song I finished on the record. I sat with it for a week or so tweaking and re-arranging the tune and was hearing these horn stabs in my head. That’s where Eric Bloom (Lettuce) came into play.
I sent him the idea while I was on the road to see if he was vibing with it and he nailed exactly what hat I was going for. At this point, I realized I was pretty much orchestrating my own band of badass musicians and producing it which was a really cool approach as I’m usually digging for samples and pulling in pieces of things to attempt a similar feel. After arranging his recordings I felt like there was still something missing. My buddy Why Awake had sent me some vocal pieces I had chopped and screwed with, but there’s a point where you feel like you just know it’s a vocal tune versus instrumental. I sent it to my manager Phil and he asked me if he could send it to one of his other clients Ryan Montbleau as I was brainstorming vocalists who may fit the vibe. Ryan told me he had actually been daydreaming the day before about a song he could use a song idea he has written for. It was a very serendipitous moment and his vocals tied the whole song together so perfectly.
This song was the first time I had really pulled in that many live instrumentalists on one song and it was super fun and challenging to be able to orchestrate/produce it that way. It’s definitely a first. It feels like the most unique track on the record and it came together piece by piece into this pretty catchy disco cruiser that’s got all the vibes.
HIHF: What was the vibe you were going for with “RICOCHET?” What do you want fans to know about the album?
The title in itself represents a feeling of returning to myself. After the last few years we’ve had, the dust finally settled and I really felt this “bounce back” feeling. Writing the album was a moment of clarity for me after all of that. I fully trusted myself and my creative vision again, which was the best feeling in the world. That was the theme throughout, whether I was being experimental with tempo or style—which there’s a lot of in the record—I just really tried to let it flow over trying to be one thing or another. It’s one part bass, one part soul, trap, glitch, disco, etc. I really tried to combine every aspect of my influences in one cohesive storyline and I think it really captures that. There are some chilled-out listening vibes that I really wanted to sweep people away into a vibe with and some others that really make your head knock. Through and through it sounds the most “me” I’ve ever felt musically and that’s pretty badass.
HIHF: You have an exciting performance coming up at Hulaween, what can fans expect from your set?
Hulaween is a favorite of mine for sure. Festival sets are a whole different thing than a club show. I’m going to go all out for this one. Definitely expect to hear a lot of the new tunes and maybe even some VIP/remix edits of them by then. Lately, my sets have been a bit heavier than usual so watch out nah…
HIHF: Any exciting plans for the future that you can tell us about?
Well, the rest of this year is jam-packed. The album release is a big one and my tour starts right now as well. There are still a few more exciting show announcements to come over the next week or so, specifically my big hometown Denver headline that will be announced by the time this is out. Also, already working on a remix album to follow Ricochet and locked in a lot of really awesome artists for it already. Big things to come all around 🙂
Huge thank you to Maddy O’Neal and her team for coordinating this conversational interview. Be sure to support her Ricochet album below and show her some love on social media!
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