Multi-media artist, Marykate O'Neil, has released six albums, a few cassettes, and a couple of .45’s. Her music has been played on the radio and featured in movies and television. Marykate has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe to big festival crowds and to empty seats in darkened basements. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout NYC galleries and are held in private and University collections.
Marykate’s music has been described as --- Elvis Costello meets Astrud Gilberto; a female George Harrison; a Capote-esque storyteller; and most frequently like herself. The Boston Globe might have said it best (or at least the funniest) when they said: "O'Neil's literate lyrics feature the sort of off-kilter insights Emily Dickinson might make if alive today. After listening to commercial radio, hearing O'Neil sing is like reading Sylvia Path's brutally honest poetry in the wake of watching "American Idol".
In 2002, Marykate recorded and released her self-titled debut album, financing the project with 'pre-approved' credit cards. The record caught on among indie-pop fans and reached the top 10 in college radio. CMJ magazine called the record an 'essential listen' saying, ""If Elvis Costello and Astrud Gilberto swapped spit in another time dimension, singer/guitarist Marykate O'Neil would be the musical spawn of their eros. A doll-faced talent with enough 60's chutzpah and '90's cynicism to spark her own songwriting genre." Rolling Stone gave the record 4 stars and said: "Marykate's skillful melodies and delicate voice are veritable pearls of sweetness. Truly original, Marykate has crafted a style with humor and irony intact anchored in daily life." The record was released in Japan, Australia, and throughout Europe. Three songs from 'Marykate O'Neil' were covered by Japanese film and television star Tomoyo Harada. Soon after, the Nettwerk music group picked up "Marykate O'Neil" and re-released the album, broadening O'Neil's exposure.
In 2006, O'Neil released "1-800-Bankrupt" which was hailed by Filter magazine as "pure magic" and Venus as "witty, angsty goodness." Also in 2006, O'Neil's song "Mundane Dream" was featured in the Sundance award-winning film "Stephanie Daley" starring Tilda Swinton. Performing Songwriter declared, "1-800-damn right! - the record sparkles with classic touches and Marykate's winning vocals are full of tenderness and humor throughout. To paraphrase XTC's Andy Partridge: 'It's really super, Supergirl'."
In 2008, O'Neil released 'mkULTRA' which made critics 'best of lists' with NPR's world cafe saying: 'O'Neil is a mix of sugar and spice and sometimes everything not so nice'. The weekly dig said: "O'Neil has the unflappable ability to intertwine the sweet and sour like an expert bartender." Quick on the heels of the mkULTRA, Marykate released "Underground" which Paste called one of the most anticipated records of 2009. According to All Music Guide, "Underground suggests that O'Neil has indeed arrived."
Marykate's primary focus has been on painting since 2009. Her work is filled with sly- affectionate nods to the New York School; the Bay Area's figurative movement and pop art, while carving out a unique place for itself as a contemporary counterpart through her use of color, layers, texture and humor. O'Neil has studied painting at the Art Student's League, Parsons, the New York Studio School and Mass Art. "The more I paint, the more I feel like my paintings look like my songs sound --- at this point they have become a continuous process for me. Both are ‘left of the dial’ explorations of small every day moments. I am drawn to contradiction existing side by side: bitter/sweet; simple/layered; witty/angsty; tenderness/humor. Whether I am writing or painting, my approach is always the same --- to make something that can be viewed or listened to 'on repeat' and with each experience find a little something. O'Neil is currently working on a project entitled, 'primary chords and colors', which unites her songs and paintings in preparation for her 2023 solo show at the Blue Mountain Gallery in Chelsea.
Marykate grew up in a small New England town and currently lives in NYC. In addition to her painting and songwriting, O'Neil has long been involved in civil rights and education. She earned her B.A. in philosophy from Boston University; M.A. in education and politics from Columbia University and J.D. from the University of Connecticut.