In less than two months Gem and Jam will be upon us featuring rare mineral vendors, live art installations, various workshops and of course, beautiful music. I got the opportunity to interview Maddy O’Neal to talk about her recent music endeavors and her start with Gem and Jam. Maddy O’Neal is a powerful and melodic artist who combines a lot of different elements from different genres including hip-hop, jazz, and indie, all of which provide her with an intricate sound.
Maddy grew up in a very musical family with both her dad and brother being in a band at one point in their lives. She played piano and cello for a bit but never stuck with it, but in 2010 she was gifted her first ever sound production software by her brother. Maddy pulls inspiration from a lot of different genres, I grew up on rock and roll, blues and indie rock... discovered and dove deeper into electronic music when I moved to Boulder for school back in 2008. Dug deeper into the hip-hop and sampling and digging for vinyl records from the 60's and 70's and discovered new music every day.” The Parallels EP is a Maddy O'Neal's first sample free EP which means all the sounds used were made by her and not samples from a catalog.
Maddy has been a busy woman this year not only going on tour with Lettuce but she also dropped her Parallels EP a few months ago, she played at Lightning in a Bottle and she just played at Red Rocks with Big Gigantic, Big Wild, and Whethan. I asked Maddy O’Neal about her two-week tour with the always funky Lettuce and she said it was, “One of the coolest things about touring with them too was to see how diverse their fan base is. Anywhere from young kids to older couples my parents' age and everyone in between. Was really really cool to open up the show every night and feel the love from all angles.”
Before her tour with Lettuce, Maddy O’Neal performed at Lightning in a Bottle which is similar to Gem and Jam in that it features many different genres of music, workshops, motivational talks, and even cooking lessons. “Lighting in a bottle was such a rad festival. I had heard such amazing things about it over the years and it was amazing to be able to experience it for myself this year. The festival is beautifully put together and has such a unique vibe. Was really awesome to be a part of such an eclectic lineup of music.” I believe that festival exposure will be a big boost to Maddy O’Neals already large fan base in these next few months. It is no doubt that we don’t see large amounts of females in mainstream EDM right now, but Maddy O’Neal is a quickly rising star when it comes to female electronic artists and producers.
Artists such as Anna Lunoe, Mija, Alison Wonderland and Rezz have been leading the forefront of female producers but so much more is coming up each day. “I think we all just continue to push that envelope and support one another. Those ladies are definitely huge inspirations to me and the way that they have dominated in such a big way. Change never happens overnight but it's so cool to see more and more females crushing it out there and inspiring others.” Seeing female artists perform on their stage is an empowering thing knowing how harsh and cutthroat the industry can be. Maddy O’Neal used to be a part of Krooked Drivers but left to do her own thing which has worked out well for her. When I asked what it was like being a solo female musician and she responded in an amazing way.
“Well, my mentality approaching anything in my life is the more knowledge you have the better off you'll be. and If you show up, be professional and know what you're doing, people will treat you no difference whether you are a male or female etc. I don't necessarily categorize myself as being a "Female producer" or try not to at least. I wanted to be respected as an artist in general for the same reasons everyone else is. I definitely have felt this urge that I have to prove myself more everywhere I go because people aren't used to seeing nearly as many female DJ's - and with that, I also feel a responsibility to be a role model to younger women and artists as well. But at the end of the day - respect is earned regardless of who you are and I always approach everything in this industry with that mentality.”
There is no argument to the fact that Gem and Jam is a different breed of a festival. It doesn't adhere to a single genre and music is only one of the many enticing aspects of the festival. Maddy O’Neal first heard about Gem and Jam through a friend and she played for the first time in 2013 and every year since. One of the most exciting parts of Gem and Jam for Maddy is, “a great escape from living in Colorado in the winter and getting to go the sunny Arizona in the middle of the cold. I don't always stick around for full festivals when I play them but Gem and Jam have always been one that I wanted to. Such family vibes.” Although Gem and Jam is awhile away Maddy O’Neal claims to be working on a lot of new music mixed with old-school vibes guaranteeing a great time, and hopefully she will bring out her drummer, Colby Buckler.\