Soundscaper, Vibe Curator, Festival Veteran: Maddy O’Neal

April 22, 2024 - 08:37 PM

By Lucie Donovan

In light of the upcoming Sol Fest festival in Ponce de Leon, Florida, Denver Lynx Radio had the opportunity to chat with Denver based artist, Maddy O’Neal. Originally a Saint Louis native (Kirkwood High School graduate, for Saint Louisans wondering the obvious question), O’Neal was raised surrounded by music. “My dad was in bands, my brother was in bands, and I dabbled.” She says, recounting her early music exposure. While music entered her life at a young age, O’Neal did not lean heavily into music until later. “You know, I played piano, then I played cello when I was younger. Then I kind of did the sibling thing, I was like ‘well that’s his thing, he’s the musician, and I’m the athlete or whatever. So, I kind of shied away from it, but the older I got… it was just pulling on my soul. ‘I need to end up in that world,’ I thought.’” After leaving Saint Louis, O’Neal headed to Boulder, Colorado, where the production began. “I went to school at CU Boulder. I moved out in 2008, going to CU Boulder, and I kind of started getting more into electronic music immediately,” she recalls. “I started producing my sophomore year of college. I just kind of dove in head first, I was so fascinated and blown away by what I was hearing that it just kind of cracked me wide open. I [thought], ‘I need to know how to make that.’” As a young, newbie musician, O’Neal learned to produce on her own. “My brother is a musician, and I got him the software that I use for Christmas one year, and he just gave me the demo. He always knew that I was envious of his musical talent and that I wanted to be musical, but I never really stuck with an instrument, so I thought it was too late. I took the demo, went down a YouTube rabbit hole, went to Guitar Center, bought a controller, and yeah… it was the most experimental beginning. I was just like ‘I’m going to find as much information as I possibly can.’” 

Using online resources, she began to create her own sound, through lots of trial and error. This was a common method of learning for up and coming electronic musicians at the time, as it was not quite as mainstream as the scene is now. “A lot of people that I came up with [used DIY methods to start] for sure, because there was less information around. I started producing fourteen years ago, in 2010, and there’s so much information out there now, there are DJ/producer schools, but I don’t think any of that existed when I was starting out. [We] didn’t really have a choice. I started going to record stores and digging for vinyl, just chopping stuff up and being like ‘let’s see if I can figure out how to mash this with [that].’” YouTube, records, and a hand-me-down demo lead Maddy O’Neal to the well known DJ and festival veteran she is now. 

Although a newcomer to Sol Fest, O’Neal has played clubs and festival lineups across the country. “I love both,” she says, “this last weekend I was in Albany, it was this 350 person room, the ceilings were low and everyone was just in my face, and I could feel everyone’s energy. I love that vibe, you’re feeling this feedback loop of energy.” The festival scene varies from the club scene, and playing both offers O’Neal a change of pace. “You go and you play a festival, and you might be a hundred feet away from the audience, so you feel more disconnected from the crowd, but it also feels like you can try these bigger moments,” O’Neal expresses in regard to her appreciation for what each scene offers. “I always think ‘bigger’ when I play festivals,” she remarked. While clubs offer a more direct connection to the audience, festivals can get more experimental.

As she anticipates her Sol Fest debut, Maddy O'Neal's versatility and enthusiasm promise an unforgettable experience for festival-goers. With her ability to navigate the nuances of different performance settings, she ensures that each show is a unique and memorable journey for both herself and her audience.


Stay tuned for our interview with Maddy to hear more about her career, tips and tricks for festival goers, and more!


You can follow Maddy O’Neal to keep up to date with new releases, festival lineups, and shows. Listen on Spotify or anywhere you can stream music. 

Going to Sol Fest and wondering what to pack? Click here for a Sol Fest 2024 packing guide.


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