Metal Maiden of the Month for February 2015 is MARY ZIMMER. Vocalist for WHITE EMPRESS. Photo by Sweeney Photography THE METAL PIT: You have sang in a few Metal bands. You were a classically trained singer. When did you decide that Metal was the music you really wanted to sing? MARY ZIMMER: "I decided metal was the music I wanted to sing when I joined my first metal band. I was only in that band for about a year but the guys were all older than me and they were the first ones to introduce me to metal on an in-depth level and it was like opening Pandora's box and letting out a whole new world of music for me. I knew I would never look back - that I would always be driven to play this kind of music." How important was your classical vocal training to lead you to the singer you are now? "Very important. Essentially all of the things I do with my voice - even the screaming - are made possible by having a basis in classical singing technique." Photo by Janne Tamminen You have did some training with the Zen of Screaming Melissa Cross who has taught many screamers but most notibly was Angela Gossow. How was it learning from Melissa? "Melissa is a phenomenal vocal instructor and exactly what I needed at the time. I was a great classical singer and also a pretty good screamer when I went to her (6 years ago already), and she really focused on helping me with my rock-style/belter singing. She was the first person to introduce me to the concept of a "neutral larynx" while singing and I learned a great deal from her and vastly improved my clean singing." Who were your vocalist influences? Male or female. "I have vocal influences in every style of metal but primarily the harsh vocals of Thomas Lindberg of At The Gates really moved me to want to start screaming back when I first began. Nowadays I really look to Floor Jansen as an inspiration as she can produce an incredibly diverse amount of vocal sounds with amazing skill!" You know also do vocal training yourself. How rewarding is to teach what you have learned from others or learned on your own? "It is really enjoyable to teach singers and screamers. It makes me learn more about voice technique by working with a wide variety of students. I feel I become a better singer and performer by working with them. And my students are usually very dedicated, hard working individuals who take what I share with them to heart and I am always happy for them when they make leaps in their vocal skills. " Photo by Sweeney Photography How did the band White Empress come to be? "Paul and I met when he was looking for someone to play keys and do backup vocals for his prior band. I couldn't take him up on the opportunity due to my schedule at the time but I really liked talking with him and told him that if he ever wanted to work on anything else to hit me up in the future. He came around right away with the White Empress material and we began working together on the music. He, Will and Martin Skaroupka originally wrote the basis of what would become the music on "Rise of the Empress". Paul lives near me, here in the USA so it was easy for us to become a band but musically we fit together very well. Once we decided to go full-steam-ahead as a band we invited Chela Harper to join and to our delight she loved the music and jumped on board. Then Zac Morris came on to take over drum duties due to Martin having other commitments. Jeremy Kohnmann is the perfect second guitar player having been around in the goth/industrial scene for awhile now." You have a veteran all star so to speak in Paul Allendar (ex Cradle of Filth). How is it working with Paul and using his experience from his past bands? "It's great working with Paul - he's the best business partner I could ask for. He's wonderful to work with and he's put all of his years of experience and knowledge into White Empress, for which I'm totally grateful! I have learned a lot about quality and patience and many other things by working with Paul and it's been a fantastic experience." Photo by Ferris B Photography Describe in your words the sound of White Empress? "White Empress is unlike any other standard subgenre sound in metal. We've pulled from whatever styles of metal we like and incorporated it into something unique. It's still heavy as hell and metal without a doubt but we didn't restrict our art to the limiting constraints of a preconcieved sound or subgenre label. I just recommend taking a listen and deciding for yourself." White Empress cd has been out since September 30th. How was the reaction from fans or reviewers been so far? "So far the reaction has been incredible and we've received several 4 and 5 star reviews of the album. People seem to be very energized and refreshed by our sound because we've finally got something new to offer metal listeners." What are your favorite songs from the cd? "My favorite songs are "The Ecstatic and The Sorrow", "Erased and Rewritten" and "Ours To Burn"" Photo by Ferris B Photography Your in the planning stage of a tour to support it. How excited are you about going out and playing these songs live for the fans? "We are extremely excited. We have a great booking agent and we'll be focusing on overseas territories first, coming to some great locations in 2015 - much to be announced soon!" What would be your advice to young girls thinking of wanting to do what you do and sing Heavy Metal? "I would say - go for it! Don't let anything stop you. You've just got to start doing it and forget what any haters tell you - if it's what you love - go for it!" Thank you for this interview Mary and I wish the best of luck for you and the band on your tour once it gets started. "Thank you so much for having me and for your support of White Empress!"