Relentless Beats

Rb Exclusive Interview: Maddy O’Neal on the Road to Gem & Jam

Maddy O’Neal, once part of the duo Krooked Drivers, started her solo career in early 2016. Now almost two years later she’s built quite the reputation for herself. She’s been seen on lineups like Summer Camp, Camp Bisco, and Sonic Boom, and has been serving as support for industry leaders like Pretty Lights and Big Gigantic. Maddy is determined to become a leader in the male-dominated live electronic genre. Her seemingly effortless style that blends rock, funk, blues, indie and even a bit of hip-hop has her recruiting fans with every appearance or new release. 

I had a chance to speak with Maddy O’Neal before her upcoming appearance at Gem & Jam Festival in Tucson this weekend. Check it out!


It seems like 2017 was a big year for you. ‘Maddy O’Neal’ was seen on lineups across the country. What were some of your favorite shows last year, and what are you looking forward to in 2018?

2017 was definitely a crazy one! Every show is special in its own way I think. Some of the highlights I would say would be my Denver headliner at the Bluebird, Red Rocks with Big Gigantic and The Gorge Amphitheater with Pretty Lights. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow in 2018, expanding my live setup and also being able to be more flexible in my performances- playing DJ sets as well as my all original shows etc. 

In addition to finding yourself all over lineups, you’ve been working with some of the best in the industry like Pretty Lights, Lettuce, and Big Gigantic. How have those connections influenced you as a producer, and who do you hope to work with in the future?

It’s been incredible to be able to play and connect with these guys as they are some of my biggest influences and I look up to them a ton. Being able to connect with these artists and observe the way they work as artists has been hugely inspiring as a producer to see how they operate on a level such as that – from internal communications to live Show production and all the way down to song structure and choices for live shows. The connection between the Music and performance aspect has definitely been huge. 

The ‘Parallels’ EP was awesome! It seems like you pulled inspiration from multiple genres, but everything blended together effortlessly. Tell us a little bit more about it.

Parallels was my sophomore EP as a solo artist and also was the first whole album I’ve done that was primarily sample free – so it really challenged me in a lot of ways. I had to restructure the way I went about sitting down to produce a track entirely. Rather than going and digging for records and samples to start a vibe, I was starting from scratch with a sound or drum beat etc. I think this album definitely helped me expand my production style in a way I didn’t expect when I started with it – and I dug from all of my influences, genres, experiences etc – searching for those parallels that got me to that point. The best music happens for me when I let things happen naturally rather than trying to force a genre or deadline. That’s what parallels was. 

Gem & Jam, between the mineral vendors, live art installations and performers, various workshops and unbelievable music, is an outstandingly unique festival. What, or who, are you most excited to see? What unique elements will you be bringing to the festival? We can’t wait to have you!

Gem and Jam has always been one of my favorite festivals! I think I’ve played it for the past 5 or 6 years actually including the years with my older project. This year’s lineup is looking pretty epic too. I’m excited to reunite with a lot of artist friends there, and also to see acts I haven’t seen in a while like STS9, etc. Also excited for acts I have not seen live yet like Masego. Gem and Jam is always a good one to discover new music as well because it is such a perfect sized festival–you can do it all if you want. I’ll be debuting some new tunes that are on deck to be released and most likely some unexpected sit-ins. Too many homies out there not to 😉


Gem & Jam takes place this weekend, June 25-28, at the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson. The lineup is unparalleled and as you can see, it’s a favorite of fans and DJs alike. Grab tickets here.

Connect with Maddy O’Neal:Facebook| Twitter | Soundcloud

Show Comments