Born in Wisconsin and residing in Las Vegas, Mary Zimmer is the “new” vocalist of Helion Prime. She officially joined the science-based melodic/power metal band in 2019, after lending her voice to the band on two tours. Mary has been a singer, musician and vocal instructor for more than a decade. She has a Youtube Channel called “VoiceHacks” with content about singing, screaming, music theory, as well as reviews and reaction videos. And she just dropped a brand new concept album with Helion Prime on October 5th, titled “Question Everything”. We had the chance to discovered more about Mary and the new album in the interview you can now find below.
MG: Hello, Mary. Thank you for speaking to Metal Goddesses. How are you?
Mary: I’m doing great, thank you!
MG: Let’s talk about Helion Prime and the new album “Question Everything” first. You’ve been in more bands over the years. What made you attracted to this project in the first place?
Mary: I actually began filling in for this band as a touring singer and really grew to love the guys in the band and I really enjoyed singing their material, so we eventually decided to join forces once it seemed like Sozos wouldn’t really be able to logistically be as involved as they needed.
MG: The songs on the album speak about figures that contributed to the development of the humankind with their ideas and immense knowledge. Are you looking to encourage the listeners to take an interest in these people, science and philosophy, or is it more like a tribute to and recognition of these figures?
Mary: In this case, Jason wrote and constructed the entire album concept about the scientific figures, so I’m not sure which angle he was looking at when he chose to do this. But if I had to guess, I would say it’s a bit of both. Some folks are learning about the scientists, others already know about them and it’s a tribute.
MG: Do you have a personal favourite out of all these great people you sing about on the album?
Mary: I think my favorite is Katherine Johnson. She’s the subject of the song “Madame Mercury.” Her story really speaks to the successes people can have against daunting odds, and she’s certainly an inspiration to folks all over the world.
MG: “The Gadfly” is a song in memory of the philosopher Socrates. It is the third single off the album, and the first one released with a music video clip. Why did you choose “The Gadfly” to be released together with a music video?
Mary: The music video gave us a chance to show the story of Socrates in visual form, essentially, which focuses on the end of his life, primarily.
MG: I really like the title song “Question Everything”, it’s such a fast and epic tune. It features Heather Michele and Sozos Michael, previous singers of Helion Prime. Also, John Yelland (Judicator, Dire Peril, Principium) is a guest vocalist on the song “Words of The Abbot”. I would like to know more about the writing process of these songs. Was it easy to combine your individual ideas and approach? How was the process of creating the lyrics and vocal melodies of these songs?
Mary: For this album former vocalist, Heather Michele, wrote lyrics and melodies for the vocals and worked directly with Jason as a writing team for this record. So no other vocalist wrote lyrics or vocal lines for the record, including myself. We wanted to do it this way because I am very new to the band and style of writing and we wanted to make sure to keep the “Helion Prime” sound really solid and strong on this record, especially because the fans are getting used to yet, another vocalist and the writing team really tied the catalogue together cohesively. For me, it’s very challenging to sing vocal lines that were written by someone else, however, they’re great songs and it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to sing them.
MG: There’s a Misfits cover of “Kong at the Gates/Forbidden Zone” closing the album. Why did you decide to include this cover on “Question Everything”, despite it being a concept album?
Mary: We have an original song called “The Forbidden Zone” on the record, so we thought we might as well do a tribute to the Misfits song of the same name.
MG: Mary, you’ve been active as a vocal coach and in the music industry for ten years now. I suppose ten years is enough time to be able to see how things have changed in the industry, is that correct? What has caught your attention the most throughout these years?
Mary: What has changed most is the evolution from physical product to monetized music listening streaming and that has been a very positive change for all musicians everywhere and I personally vastly prefer living in the digital era of music now, as opposed to the strange in-between “Myspace” era of 10 years ago. It’s an utterly fantastic time to be a musician. There are so many resources at our fingertips. The only limit is our attitude, willingness to educate ourselves about the new music industry landscape and tools, and writing good music. That hasn’t changed, even with all the abundant opportunities for musicians, the songs still have to be good.
MG: Congratulations on the success of your YouTube Channel “Voice Hacks”. I had a look at your videos and found very varied content on it. Vocal exercises, musical theory, singer’s analysis, interviews, reactions… you make it very easy to find something interesting to watch whether you are a singer or just interested in bands, metal and music in general. What it’s like to be a Youtuber?
Mary: It’s alright, I kind of became a “YouTuber” by accident. I’m a vocal coach and vocalist first and foremost who kind of “fell” into YouTube as a result of using it as a hosting place for my tutorials and other resources for the people I teach. But it’s clear folks are really interested in the topics covered so I’ve just kept going and it’s become its own thing now which is great.
MG: It’s been 4 years since you started the channel and you also give lessons via Skype. What led you to use these digital means and, for example, not to set up a physical academy? Was the fact that you can reach more people and have fewer expenses among the reasons?
Mary: I’ve been doing all lessons online since 2013 because physical in-person lessons are out of date and relatively impractical. Most people prefer not having to leave home for their lessons.
MG: You sing, give lessons, have a Youtube channel, tour… Among all the things you do, is there something that you enjoy the most above the others?
Mary: I think I enjoy performing the most, but I do enjoy all of these things.
MG: Thank you for your time, Mary. The perspective of the new album is very interesting and original. I wish the new album to have a warm and positive reception. Anything else you’d like to add?
Mary: Thank you so much for covering our band Helion Prime and for the interview!
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– Interview by Beatriz Gamarra