Hear new beats by Maddy O’Neal, Marvel Years
Music producers’ tour stops in Frisco for electronic evening
Electronic music producers Maddy O’Neal and Marvel Years first toured together back in 2013. The longstanding partnership has led to a new collaborative track that releases digitally Friday, Nov. 12, as well as a concert in Frisco the same day.
“We’ve been touring around the area for a while, and the mountain towns are always my favorite part of the year — getting to tour within my own state,” Denver-based O’Neal said. “That’s always fun.”
O’Neal performed as a duo for five years from 2010 to 2015 before going solo. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she’s been in Colorado since 2008, when she came to study marketing and public relations at the University of Colorado Boulder. The local Front Range scene of GRiZ, Big Gigantic and Pretty Lights got her producing music her sophomore year as she transitioned from electro-soul fan to creator.
“My dad and brother were both in bands, and I listened to music that was all over the map, but I had never heard someone fuse funk and soul and all of these classic sounds with electronic music,” O’Neal said. “It blew my mind that I could pour all of those influences (into music) and also make something totally new with it.”
O’Neal taps into that sound via synthesizers, keyboards and drum pads, allowing her to improvise during live shows and evolve her style over time. She used to go into record stores, dig for vinyl and chop up samples to make hip-hop beats. Then she started incorporating more synthesizers to create a little heavier sound as well as occasionally working with other musicians like horn players or vocalists.
“The more you learn, the more I moved away from sampling, and I learned things to fill in those gaps.” O’Neal said about sprinkling in the live instrumentation to make the song her own.
Her latest obsession? Future bass, a type of modulated synth sound.
“Instead of it being like heavy dubstep, I kind of use synth in the place of the whompy bass, so it has this synth fluctuation instead,” O’Neal said. “It’s a little more melodic.”
What: Marvel Years and Maddy O’Neal with Vincent Antone
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: 10 Mile Music Hall, 710 Main St., Frisco
Cost: $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Visit 10MileMusic.com to purchase.
For Cory Wythe, the man behind Marvel Years, the musical journey to production has been slightly more recent.
“The first time I ever met Maddy was like the second show I ever played, I was like 19 at the time in Denver,” Wythe said. “It was pretty cool.”
Raised in Manchester, Vermont, south of Burlington, the current New York resident got a guitar as a birthday gift from his parents when he was 11. He played in bands growing up, but it wasn’t until he took an electronic music class in high school that he started making mashups of songs and uploading them to YouTube. Then, a couple of years into touring, he started to teach himself piano.
“I’m trying to learn as many instruments as I can just to make the live show more exciting,” Wythe said.
Wythe and O’Neal want to not disappoint audiences as concerts return. In March 2020, the artists dealt with many canceled shows as the festival season disappeared. The lack of crowds led to mixed emotions, yet they found themselves with more time to learn and grow during the pandemic.
“It was almost like freeing in a sense, because I had so much time to just kind of work on music and not think about how it’s going to go at shows and release schedules and all of that stuff,” Wythe said.
Their first in-person show post shutdown was Halloween 2020 in North Carolina. The clever setup had audience members watch from their hotel balconies as musicians performed on a stage in the courtyard.
But before then, Wythe supported himself with donations via livestreams on platforms like Facebook and Twitch. O’Neal started giving one-on-one production lessons over Zoom.
The curriculum stemmed from a 12-hour music production course she taught at the very beginning of 2020 in Costa Rica for women in a music retreat. She said teaching other women inspired her and reminded her of why she is in the industry.
“I just get excited when I see more and more women wanting to get involved in this world because there are less of us,” O’Neal said.
Each also took the time over the year to pare down their creative process and go with the flow in terms of writing songs.
“I’ve been simplifying those things and turning off channels in a song and creating space for sounds to breathe, which is hard to do, but it has definitely made a difference in my workflow,” O’Neal said. “… The empty space between notes is just as important as the notes. It makes a bass line hit harder if there’s not three other sounds on top of it or in between it.”
“Don’t Stop” — the new track by O’Neal and Wythe — is a product of managing creativity during unprecedented times and getting out of a slump. O’Neal said they started it in the middle of the pandemic but didn’t polish it up and finish until right before this tour. Featuring fan-made vocal tracks, the midtempo song is also accompanied by a new music video.
It’s the second collaboration between O’Neal and Wythe, the first track made roughly four years ago, and Wythe said their styles mix well together. He said people will be able to hear each musicians’ input at certain times yet also not be able to discern who did what at others.
“The second time around is always fun because you’re already in that comfort zone,” O’Neal added.
The track can be heard during Friday’s show as they co-headline with separate sets, and Wythe said he might play the guitar with O’Neal, too.
“We’re pumped,” O’Neal said. “It feels good to be back on the road and see people smiling and see your friends and people all over the country that you haven’t seen in so long. The energy that we’re met with after people have been inside for a long time, it still feels so fresh. People are just extra pumped.”
Attendees must be fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken with 48 hours of the concert.
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