Marta Gabriel on her metal queens – interview
Crystal Viper frontwoman Marta Gabriel announced the release of “Metal Queens” – debut solo album, which is a collection of cover songs, and a tribute to the female heavy metal and hard rock singers. We talked with Marta about how she have choosen songs for that LP, how it was to record it during the pandemic time, and many more…
TopGuitar: What has brought you to the idea of making „Metal Queens” album?
Marta Gabriel: A couple of reasons, but first of all I simply love playing, recording and performing, and I love to share the music I do with people. Music makes our lives better, so if at least one person will have a better day because of this album, then it was worth to make it. Also truth is we still can’t play live shows, and no one knows when everything will be back to normal. So I use that time the best I can, by recording more music.
How long did it take to do this? Did you talk about that with your friends, producers or other musicians?
Marta Gabriel: No, it didn’t take long, it’s not something I planned for a long time. It took like maybe 3-4 months from coming up with the idea of such an album, to having finished recordings. Many of my friends didn’t know I work on something like that, but yeah, it was of course discussed with Bart, who produced the entire thing, and with Eric Juris and Cederick Forsberg, who completed the recording line up.
What has intrigued me is your choice of songs to cover… Those aren’t huge metal hits, aren’t they?
Marta Gabriel: It depends whom you would ask, for me those are huge metal hits, I literally grew up with some of those albums, these songs are coming from. But you are right, many younger fans might not be familiar with the original versions of the songs I recorded for „Metal Queens”. This album has very personal meaning, as I was choosing the songs recorded by some of my favorite vocalists, and vocalists that had influence on what I do.
You said that it’s „piece of heavy metal that fans might enjoy even if they don’t know original versions of those songs”. Of course you ain’t did it only for female audience, but „Metal Queens” is a tribute for women’s contribution in metal music, right?
Marta Gabriel: Yes, correct. These days when you mention „female fronted metal”, or female metal singers in general, most people think of acts such as Nightwish, Arch Enemy or Epica. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but when it comes to „Metal Queens” I focus on the female hard rock and heavy metal singers from the golden era of metal, the ‘80s. So we can say it’s a tribute to the original Metal Queens.
There are still much more male musicians on rock/metal scene, but what would you say on female activity on this area? Does it change?
Marta Gabriel: No, I wouldn’t say it recently changed or that it’s changing, rock and metal scenes are still very male dominated. Of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I don’t mind, but I sometimes receive messages from younger girls who write to me that they would love to be metal singers, or metal guitarists. Well, do it, you can, you just need to believe in yourself. I never ever in my life thought that I can’t be a metal musician or metal singer, because I’m a woman. It was my dream, my passion, and I followed it, through all ups and downs. Sure, it’s not an easy way, and you need to work really hard. But I would say it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, it depends on how determined you are, and how much can you sacrifice.
Was it strange to record „Metal Queens” due to pandemic times? Please unveil some details on what studio you choose, what musicians helped you?
Marta Gabriel: No it wasn’t, we did this album the same way like we did the new Crystal Viper album, „The Cult” – remotely. We haven’t met, we didn’t see each other in the studio, but we exchanged tons of emails, phone calls, messages and skype calls. I recorded my tracks in my home studio, Eric recorded guitar tracks at his place, and Cederick recorded drums at his place. When everything was ready, Cederick mixed the album with Bart producing, and at the end Bart mastered the album.
Did you play any guitars on „Metal Queens” or are you only singing?
Marta Gabriel: Except singing, I actually recorded bass guitar for this album. I invited John Gallagher from Raven to join me on bass in the Rock Goddess cover, but the version on which I play bass is a bonus track on the Japanese version of the album, so yeah, I can say I recorded bass to all those songs… As I mentioned John being special guest on the Rock Goddess cover, I also need to mention two guest vocalists: Todd Michael Hall from Riot V joined me in the „Blacklace” cover, and Harry Conklin from Jag Panzer and Titan Force joined me in the „Chastain” cover.
Can you describe the gear that you have been using during recording? I mean instruments, accessories, DAWs, audio interfaces and other useful devices :)
Marta Gabriel: I used Shure SM 7 B microphone with a Triton Audio preamp, and with a Focusrite interface. My DAW of choice is Reaper. That’s my portable rig, which I can take with me wherever I go. All bass guitar tracks were recorded with my old B.C. Rich Revenge bass guitar, and with the Tom Araya signature LTD bass guitar – the tracks were later reamped through a Kemper. I don’t exactly know what gear was used by Cederick and Eric, I just know that Eric used his Ibanez and Fender guitars.
You have signed with Listenable Records both as your record company and artist agency. Why did you choose Listenable and how important it is for you when it comes to „Metal Queens” promotion?
Marta Gabriel: Listenable Records is my record label, but not an artist agency. It was the same like with Crystal Viper – we finished the album, we did the cover artwork, and then it was presented to few labels which we thought could be interested in releasing it. Listenable’s offer made most sense, and I’m not hiding the fact they do an outstanding job with the new Crystal Viper album. They’re a team of super passionate people who love music and who love metal, so I’m very happy they will be taking care of „Metal Queens”.
I saw you with bass last time. Is it a sign of new love affair with bass? :)
Marta Gabriel: Well, not really that new, as I was recording bass guitar for Crystal Viper already couple of times. I played bass in few of the cover songs we recorded, in few songs on the „Crimen Excepta” album which we released in 2012, and I recorded bass for „Possession” – the album we did in 2013. Except that I recorded bass guitar for the Moon Chamber album, „Lore Of The Land”, which came out 2 years ago. Many people don’t know that, because in the music video that was promoting the album, „Ravenmaster”, I was only singing. It’s because I wanted to have more freedom with stage moves in the video, but the bass was actually recorded by me. And when it comes to latest news, I recently joined the Swedish power metal act Blazon Stone as their bassist, and I recorded the new album with them.
BTW, any new ESP guitars in your equipment?
Marta Gabriel: Yes! As we speak I’m waiting for the delivery of my new bass guitar, LTD Surveyour ’87.
And last but not least – what about Crystal Viper? New record „The Cult” is out now – does it mean that you are going to promote such different LP’s simultaneously in the same time?
Marta Gabriel: From one side it’s a bit complicated and odd, as we still can’t play shows, and the European Tour we had scheduled with Crystal Viper to promote „The Cult”, was moved already two times. But I wouldn’t say these two albums are very different, there are many common elements here and there. Both albums are classic, traditional heavy metal. Except that „Metal Queens” was recorded with the help of two Crystal Viper members: Eric and Cederick. So there’s a big chance that if you like the new Crystal Viper album, you might like my solo album „Metal Queens” as well. And the opposite – if you will like „Metal Queens”, there’s a big chance you will like the new Crystal Viper album as well. And that’s actually super exciting: we already delivered two heavy metal albums this year. And I can assure you that’s not everything!
What are you doing while not playing, singing, giging or recording? I mean how do you spend free time, e.g. when you have a week off :)
Marta Gabriel: I love nature, so whenever we have even 1 day off, we either go to the mountains, or we visit some old places, like castles or ruins. I love traveling, so when the situation will be back to normal, I hope to visit as many new places as possible. I also love reading, I’m a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and science fiction books, I also love movies and old arcade games. But yeah, playing and recording takes most of my time. And I love it!