QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Benjamin Machin (CRYSTAL GATES)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello and thanks for your time. Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. What kind of music do you make?

Benjamin: Hi! Thank you for inviting me to this interview, it is a pleasure. We are a symphonic power metal band formed in Uruguay, and now based in Latvia, and we have just released our new album ‚Torment and Wonder: The Ways of the Lonely Ones‘.

Pix666: In 2015 you got an award for the Best National Album in your home country Uruguay. Did that come as a surprise to you and do ‘normal’ also people in Uruguay listen to your power metal?

Benjamin: Yes, it was definitely a surprise, but it was also a specific poll for fans of a prominent metal radio show (El Lado Oscuro), so it’s not like most people in Uruguay listened to us. Actually, most people in Uruguay don‘t really know what metal music is.

Pix666: In the meantime you moved to Latvia. Were there any special reasons for that and does the rest of the band also live in Latvia now?

Benjamin: I wanted to move to Europe, and here in Latvia I got a very good job offer and I took it. It has been great so far. No, the rest of the band remains in Uruguay. We see this as an opportunity to expand the bands‘ reach.

Pix666: Recently the new Crystal Gates album ‚Torment & Wonder: The Ways Of The Lonely Ones‘ was released. How have the reactions to the album been so far?

Benjamin: It has been wonderful so far. We have had some very nice reviews and the listeners’ response has also been very good. We are thankful that our fans from before have been so patient waiting for it, and also very happy that more and more people are getting to know us through it.

Pix666: How do you create your songs and what are the lyrics about in general?

Benjamin: It usually starts from a basic idea that (at least in my mind!) captures the essence of what the song will be. From that point I usually know what I want it to feel like and then it takes a lot of experimenting until it is finished. The lyrics are a part of the whole process. There may be some draft passages here and there, but overall they flow together with the creation process of the whole thing.

Pix666: The new album was released by the well-known label Wormholedeath. How did the contact come about and what advantages does this deal bring you, especially concerning the European market?

Benjamin: We got in contact with them through our current manager, Agrita from THP Production. They help a lot with the promotion of the album, helping us extend our reach as much as possible. They also will edit the album physically basically worldwide, which is pretty cool!

Pix666: Do you already have planned live gigs or a tour for the near future?

Benjamin: We are working on it, we are already rehearsing the songs and preparing them for playing live. We can’t announce dates for now, but we hope to do that soon.

Pix666: You have been on the road with the band for almost ten years now – what have been the most beautiful and unforgettable moments and experiences for you so far?

Benjamin: We actually became a full live band only in 2015, and if you consider the pandemic, it’s been only five years of playing shows. But still, we have a lot of beautiful memories. Our first show in Peru always comes to mind, it was an amazing experience. We received a lot of energy from a lot of people there and made some friends we keep close with to this day. Also our last show in Montevideo together with our friends from Black Smoke and Elixir, where we got a little bit more ambitious in terms of  production, was very nice. We needed the people to join us in it to make it succesful, and they did. It was very moving!

Pix666: In the past you have shared the stage with great bands like Epica, Xandria and The Agonist. Do you have dreams and wishes for the next years with your band?

Benjamin: That’s one thing we will never run out of: dreams! Having them allows us to plan our goals and to go after them, it drives us forward. Our next big challenge now is to start playing live as much as we can in Europe. Also, we are already working on new songs for our next album. We need to make it better than “Torment and Wonder” in every possible aspect, and we will.

Pix666: Do you also like to go to festivals and concerts privately as a fan and if so, what was your last concert and what will be the next one? 

Benjamin: I love going to concerts. The last one was Nightwish in Tallinn, in the ruins of a monastery from the fifteenth century. It was quite magical! The next one is going to be Opeth in Riga in September. I’m looking forward to it.

Pix666: What do you do when you’re not into music – do you have an interesting job or extraordinary hobbies? 

Benjamin: Besides music I’m interested in artificial intelligence.  I am working as a data scientist and also finishing a masters degree on the topic. It is one of the fastest evolving scientific fields around, which makes it a bit challenging to keep up, but that is also what makes it fun and interesting for me. Besides that, I’m always doing something related to music – that’s the best!

Pix666: Do you have any other news about Crystal Gates, that you would like to share with the fans?

Benjamin: I just want to say, that wherever you are, we hope to see you soon!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with your new album and stay healthy!

Benjamin: Thank you again for inviting us and for your very important work, promoting artists like us. I hope we can meet in person at some point!



photos © by Crystal Gates