Marta Gabriel is best known as the singer of Crystal Viper. She is now releasing her first album „Metal Queens“ with her solo project MARTA GABRIEL, on which she pays respect to her musical idols. She talked to us about the unusual song selection, her diverse musical skills and why taking a break is not an option.
Hello Marta, greetings from Germany. How are you doing just before the release of „Metal Queens“?
I’m doing just fine, thank you for having me!
Unfortunately, the album release is still within the pandemic period – how was this time for you as a person and musician and how has it changed you? What do you miss most, and why concerts and festivals?
You’re right, concerts and festivals are something I miss, but I also miss my friends and my band mates. Members of Crystal Viper live in 3 different countries, so due to restrictions and problems with travelling, we actually haven’t seen each other for more than a year.
With Crystal Viper you just released „The Cult“ in January, and half a year later your solo album is already on the way – you seem to pour yourself into work! What about some time off or a break?
I love music, and I love all things related to music, such as recording, composing and performing so much, that I don’t really think about it in “work” categories. Music is my biggest passion, something I can do 24/7. So no, no time off, and you can be sure that the new Crystal Viper album, and the solo album, aren’t the only things I did within last year!
How did the idea to start a solo project come about?
We knew we won’t be able to play any shows right after “The Cult”, so instead of sitting, complaining and doing nothing, we decided to use that time the best we could. I love performing, recording and playing, and I love sharing it with the people, with the fans. I’m a fan myself, I listen to a lot of music. And I like to record cover songs, as it’s my way of showing people what are my musical roots, where it’s all coming from, and it’s my way of paying a tribute to my favorite artists. So when all those elements got connected, it resulted in the making of „Metal Queens”.
„Metal Queens“ is a cover album, but the selection is quite atypical, as most of the tracks are not so well-known to the masses and young listeners today. How did you choose the songs?
I chose the songs pretty easy, as I simply chose some of my favorite female singers, and then my favorite songs of them, although it was hard to limit myself to only 10-11 tacks. I made a list of my favorite songs, and then we were checking with my producer how I sound in them, if we need to change the key, or if I can sing in the original one.
You sing „Reencarnacion“ in Spanish like the original. Do you also speak Spanish or other languages besides Polish and English?
No, sadly I don’t speak Spanish, but I plan to finally start learning it. It’s sometimes funny when we tour Spain, and people come to me and they talk to me in Spanish – Marta is a typical Spanish name, and I often hear I look Spanish.
Can you also imagine a „Metal Queens 2“? I assume, you have more songs in mind that you would like to realize?
I surely can imagine it, as there are at least 20 or even more songs I would still like to record, so who knows, maybe if people will like this album, I will do “Metal Queens II” in the future? That would be pretty amazing!
Do you know some of the musicians personally or did you get in touch with them during or after the creation of the songs?
You mean the original artists I covered? Yes, I know some of them, and I’m friends with some of them.
Are there any plans to record own songs with your solo project as well?
Yes, that will surely happen sooner or later!
You brought both Eric and Cederick from Crystal Viper. How did that develop? Did it make the writing and recording process easier because you already knew each other anyway?
Cederick and Eric are incredibly talented musicians, they are professionals. Except that we are friends, we understand each other without words, and they are serious in what they do, so working with them means that everything will be done on time, and will be done perfectly. There is this saying, that you don’t change the winning team. So when I started to work on “Metal Queens” I wasn’t really thinking about doing it with anyone else – Eric and Ced were my first choice.
How did the making and recording of the album go, did Corona change much of your regular processes, and did you learn something new about recording and stuff?
We actually recorded “Metal Queens” the same way we recorded the new Crystal Viper album, “The Cult”, totally remotely. We haven’t met in the studio. We were in constant touch, but I recorded vocals and bass in my home studio in Poland, Cederick recorded drums in Sweden, and Eric recorded his guitar parts in Germany. Then all the tracks were sent to Sweden for mixing, and then back to Poland for mastering. Easy!
Todd Michael Hall is one of the guest musicians on „Metal Queens“. You recorded a very nice version of „Shallow“ with him – how did that come about?
Todd is a friend of mine, and of course an incredibly talented vocalist. We met some years ago when he was singing in Burning Starr, and I joined them as their touring guitarist. We stayed in touch, and a few years later Todd joined us when we were recording a Riot-cover with Crystal Viper. When we realized that we will meet in Sweden – Crystal Viper and Riot were both playing at the Sabaton Open Air – and since we both like “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born”, we decided to record it and film a simple music video, which you can see on YouTube.
In Crystal Viper you play the guitar, on your solo album you play the bass. I saw you play the keyboard on your Savatage cover version of „When The Crowds Are Gone“ – do you play any other instruments, and is there any instrument at all that you don’t play and still want to learn?
I actually plan to learn playing drums. I can program electronic drums and I usually do that when I work on demo versions of my songs, but it would be cool to be able to play all drum tracks myself.
Musically, you’ve always been very traditional, both with Crystal Viper and now with Blazon Stone and solo. Do you also want to try out a completely different direction?
Yes, I think that it will happen one day. You know, I’m a classically trained musician, my main instrument is a piano – I finished music school in piano class. I also like classic rock, many pop artists, movie soundtracks… So who knows!
You are a woman who sings in metal bands, which is often generalized as „Female Fronted Metal“ in the context of promotion – what do you think about such a categorization?
I have no problem with that. Well, obviously it’s not a genre, but if some people prefer to describe bands that way, then why not. Promotion is one thing, but I guess there are also people who aren’t fans of female vocals in Metal, so it might work as anti-promotion as well.
In July Crystal Viper will play three gigs in Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. How excited are you after this long time to finally be back on stage?
It’s absolutely incredible, these will be our first live shows in 15 months! I think “The Cult” is the best Crystal-Viper-album and I really can’t wait to play these new songs live!
Are you also planning live concerts with your solo project?
No exact plans yet, and I wasn’t thinking about it before, but I actually got a few offers to play this material live, so yeah, that would be really interesting!
Streaming: I could live without it, but I admit I sometimes use Spotify.
80s: Best era when it comes to music and movies!
Games: I love old school arcade games, from the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
Nature: I absolutely love nature, I’m leaving the concrete jungle whenever I can!
Current favorite album: Impossible to list only one, but it would be probably something from Judas Priest or Iron Maiden.
Life without music: Impossible!
Marta Gabriel in 10 years: Still singing, playing, recording and performing (I hope!).
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! The last words are all yours.
Thank you for your support! I really hope that you will like the new Crystal-Viper-album “The Cult” and my solo album “Metal Queens”! There’s a lot of heavy metal on them!