Crystal Viper singer Marta Gabriel: “I’m addicted to creativity and music; everything I do is connected!”
One of the greatest things about heavy metal is it’s global reach and universal appeal. Case in point, the lovely Marta Gabriel and her band Crystal Viper. Hailing from Poland, Crystal Viper are currently promoting their latest release “Possession” on AFM Records. If you are a fan of classic heavy metal and like artists like King Diamond and Iron Maiden, chances are you will find lots to like about “Possession” which is a supernatural, concept album built around blistering metal performances. As the queen mastermind of Crystal Viper’s music and face of the band, Ms. Gabriel recently sat down to answer a few questions from me about her band, her background and the new album; read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: Thanks for talking with us Marta. For those who are unaware can you tell us how you came to Crystal Viper and how the band has evolved since?
Marta Gabriel: Well, I founded Crystal Viper in 2003, and the first official line up got established in 2006, so other members joined me later. Since then we did 5 full length studio albums, bunch of singles and EP releases, we placed bunch of cover songs on various tribute albums, and we played in something like 15 countries.
LRI: You are not only playing guitar but also singing and writing all of the music and lyrics for the band, do you have a favorite among the three, do you prefer any particular element of your job?
Marta: I also play and record all keyboards, piano and sometimes bass guitar to be exact. It’s impossible to say which of all those things I like most, as everything I do is connected, especially when I compose songs: then I record and arrange all instruments and vocals. I’m addicted to creativity and music.
LRI: The new album “Possession” features some pretty memorable melodies wrapped around the heavy riffs. Iron Maiden is a band who always sought to have a great deal of hooks to go along with the heaviness would you say that is also important to your band as well?
Marta: I don’t really think about this, as music that I compose comes out naturally, and the melody always comes first. It’s not like that I sit and think for all day about catchy melodies, because it doesn’t make sense, music plays in my head all the time, and when I have something really good in mind, I record it. But I agree that good melodies in songs are important, as good melody equals good song.
LRI: The whole album is interwoven with a backstory but the track “Julia is Possessed” tells a particularly evil tale, how much do horror movies or books influence your writing?
Marta: A lot! I love good movie scores and horror movies, so when I already knew what the new album would be about, I kind of started composing a soundtrack for this story. We wanted to achieve an atmosphere similar to this one like in the movies “The Exorcist” or “The Fourth Kind” with Milla Jovovich, the same with the video clip we did for “Prophet Of The End”.
LRI: I like the fact that the band is tight and the guys you play with are very accomplished musicians. Is Crystal Viper a fun band for you to play with live? Do you think you have the right guys in the band?
Marta: Of course I do! We have played together and known each other for years, spent a lot of time while touring, rehearsing and partying, we are almost like a big family. If we would think that there is a wrong person in a band, a huge machine, which is Crystal Viper, would stop working. All of us are the right people, in the right places but, at the same time we all are human beings, with regular families, lives and so on, so you never know what will happen. For example, we have a new bass player for 2 years, we didn’t expect that Tom will have to leave us. Even if he is no longer member of the band, he will always be part of the Crystal Viper family.
LRI: You are from Poland and I am not sure what the music scene is like there. Is it pretty healthy and are a lot of young women into the heavy music scene or is it mostly a “guy” thing?
Marta: In Poland metal music lives in deep underground, and I would say it’s guy dominated – like everywhere, actually – and focused on more extreme genres. There are a lot of black and death metal bands, some of them are well known around the globe, like Vader or Behemoth.
LRI: Are most of your musical heroes male singers or did you also grow up liking female metal singers like Doro or Leather Leone?
Marta: Most of my musical heroes are not only singers but musicians in general, as I’ve always loved to listen to Mike Oldfield who is a multi instrumentalist and an amazing composer, also, there are some amazing guitar players like Glenn Tipton or Eddie Van Halen who influenced me greatly, for singers, except that ones you’ve mentioned I really also like Rob Halford, Tony Martin, David DeFeis, Jutta Weinhold, and many, many others.
LRI: You have your own clothing designs and have been working in fashion design for a while now, how did you get into that and do you also enjoy creating designs for Crystal Viper merchandise?
Marta: Oh, it’s a long story. When I started playing in a band, I wanted to wear cool clothes on stage, but there was nothing special in the stores. So I was sewing my stage outfits myself, and from time to time I was making something for my band mates, or for friends. Last year I decided to expand this hobby into something more serious, and I created my own clothing line. From the other side, this is the next possibility for me to do something creative, something that I like, and you know, I can bring to life my most crazy ideas. And I’m even happier, when somebody wears Thunderball clothes, it’s really great feeling! Oh, and I do not create designs for the Crystal Viper merchandise.
LRI: You have made a lot of guest appearances for other artists both onstage and in the studio. Do you enjoy that give and take of working with other bands?
Marta: Working with other people always gives me a lot of joy, and it’s always something great for me to be invited as a guest on someone’s record or live show, and it’s even better, when I have possibility to do something together with musicians that I like, I respect, or who influenced me. Almost every time I can learn something new, so it’s very important for me.
LRI: Thanks again for talking with me Marta and thanks for making a great classic heavy metal style album, is there anything else you wanted to say to our readers who may just now be hearing of you and Crystal Viper?
Marta: Thank you John, for a nice talk, and for supporting Crystal Viper! We are Metal Nation!
Order Crystal Viper’s new album “Possesion” here