To be able to make an impression, bands must be able to differentiate their image and their sound. I would say that the guest of this interview, Gabriela Varela, lead singer and guitarist of “Am Samstag” has perfectly accomplished this! You can read here what we chatted about.
Hello Gabriela! How are you doing in these crazy times?
Hi Benedetta and readers of FemMetal. I’m doing pretty good, thank you. The past two years have indeed been pretty crazy. First with COVID, now the war in Ukraine… Let’s hope the future brings us some light and joy.
Very true! You have a very distinct and powerful voice, which shines in your latest album, “Dualism”: can you share with us how do you warm up before recording or before a show?
Thank you! Easy! Nicotine and booze, of course! No, I’m joking. Even if I smoke before concerts, I never drink alcohol before going on stage because it dehydrates vocal cords. That’s one of my secrets, and I always do so. The thing is that I don’t do any fancy exercises to warm up my voice. I’ve never taken singing lessons, and I have my own technique for screams and growls. To be honest, most of the time, I don’t even think about warming up my voice. I speak all the time! And as a Brazilian, I can speak very loud, so… But when I’m on tour, I try to be more rigorous. I take a glass filled with water and sing/blow into it with a straw.
Has your guitar playing technique evolved during the years?
Of course! I finally took guitar lessons during Covid! When I was younger, my mom used to play the guitar. She always played the same song, the only one she knew. She taught me how to play it, and then I discovered other chords each time I learned a new song. Either by ear or by searching for tips on the Internet. Am Samstag is my first time with a guitar. My experience was mostly as a metal singer. First with the band Minkus then with Science of Disorder. But every rehearsal, every gig with Am Samstag allows me to improve my level. But I can guarantee that my guitar level will never allow me to play solos like Gilmour or Petrucci. I’m not even interested in doing that.
I miss going to concerts so much. How has this covid affected your life, both as a person and as an artist?
Covid has done a lot of damage around the world. There was an escalation of fear, misinformation and oppression. It destroyed businesses, divided friends and families. I took the first two vaccine doses, but I have always been against mandatory vaccination and the Covid pass. And do not intend to take the third dose. For the band, it was a difficult period. We recorded the album in February 2020, just before the first lockdown in March. We had no idea when we would release the album. On top of that, we had over thirty shows cancelled in 2020 because of Covid. It put a big damper on the project. Fortunately, the situation is changing, at least in Switzerland. We can’t wait to go back on stage to play some rock’n’roll!
You and me both! What sports do you enjoy watching?
I am a big sports fan; it’s a passion transmitted by my maternal grandfather. He enrolled me in all kinds of sports clubs when I was a kid, from judo to swimming, even acrobatic trampoline. I was part of the Geneva elite in volleyball, but I had to stop after a serious ankle injury. Of course, as a pure Brazilian, I love soccer. I have a subscription that allows me to watch all the European championships! 🙂 I watch the big events like the Olympics, but not all competitions, of course. I also watch tennis, well, the Grand Slams. But I don’t find the same pleasure watching the new generation as I did when I watched Sampras, Agassi, Nadal or Federer. I’m also a big football fan. It’s a bit like chess, which makes it much more interesting and enjoyable than rugby. Stephan (our bassist) used to play football during his teen years. He’s had this bodybuilder stature since he was a teenager, so it’s easy.
Let’s say someone comes to you and asks you for advice because they want to be an artist. What would you tell them?
Ok, that’s a tricky question! It’s hard to answer because what works for one won’t necessarily work for the other. You can’t even talk about talent anymore. There are thousands of talented people who no one has ever heard of and play on the streets, subways, or small pubs. Music today is all about the address book. If you have the right contacts and money to pay for connections, you don’t even have to be talented to be an artist. So the advice I can give, and in my opinion, it’s by far the only one that counts, is to be persistent. Take any criticism as something positive and move forward.
I am a huge pancakes lover. What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Yum. Pancakes are the best. I also love them. For breakfast I have bread or croissants, eggs, jam, cheese, salted butter (it must be salted otherwise, it’s not butter) or Philadelphia cream cheese and fresh fruit juice. I make them myself. Of course, pancakes with fresh fruits and maple syrup can be part of the menu, but not every day. However, there’s nothing better than a good English breakfast!
It’s so terrible that women, even nowadays, are being treated different than men. Have you ever dealt with an episode of sexism?
Yeah, I totally agree. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced sexism. But this is a big issue for which I hope we’ll soon find a solution, especially when it comes to salaries and high responsibility positions. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to get there. For example there’s this guy in France, and his name is Eric Zemmour; he is one of the candidates for the French presidential election, a representative of the extreme right-wing and convicted of inciting hatred. The guy is more misogynistic than Donald Trump, he says horrible things about Muslims, and he is in the top 3 of the polls. The fact that such a moron can run for the presidency of an industrialized country and, above all, the fact that educated people actually agree with the crap he says shows that we are still far from the notion of equality between all. There has been big progress with the #metoo movement, fortunately. But there are still too many things to change in people’s mentality to be considered equal to men.
I’d like to play a game with you: imagine all the animals of the world could talk. Which one would be the rudest?
Cats. Definitely. They always look at you with that “Fuck you, I’m the boss here” face. Imagine if they could actually talk!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Would you like to add anything else to FemMetal’s readers?
It was my pleasure. But I’m the one who should be thanking you, Benedetta! So thanks. Take care, stay positive, be kind to each other. The Earth is not fucked up yet. Oh, and if you support charity, don’t hesitate to buy our new album. All sales money will be donated to the band 😉
Hi! My name is Benedetta, I’m 29 and I live in Northern Italy. My passion has always been music: I started taking guitar lessons when I was 6. Now I work as a sales representative, but in my free time I interview talented people, I spread the word about my favorite band (MoonSun), and I go to concerts or travel around Europe.
I am a huge collector of anything Tolkien-related, autographs, merchandise, and CDs. I am quite an original person and don’t mind being the voice outside of the choir (even though I play in the church’s choir!).