Interview: Otep Shamaya



Well, despite my best efforts, we were unable to score an in-person interview with Otep Shamaya, due to her busy tour schedule. We were, however, able to score an email interview and I’m happy to say it turned out great! Keep reading guys! A very big thank you to Rachel and Victory Records for making one of my dreams reality! Also, an incredibly big thank you to Otep for taking the busy time out of her schedule to respond so quickly!


New Transcendence interviews OTEP

BearlySinister: Hello, New Transcendence viewers and the world alike, I’m here with Otep Shamaya of the infamous underground metal band, Otep. Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview, I’m a huge fan and this has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.

BearlySinister: On the subject of touring, how well do you get along with all of your tour mates on this tour? Is there any tension behind closed doors?

Otep: Actually, there is. We all hate each other’s guts. I’m just kidding. No, of course not. We love One-Eyed Doll, we’ve toured with them many times and I admire their skill and passionate performances. It’s really like an extended family. We get to share the stage with some amazing artists and musicians and that is something we are very grateful for. As headliners, we always try to treat everyone with respect and with the same care we’d want to be treated if we were opening. We want an atmosphere of fun and mystery and magical experiences.

BearlySinister: A little over 2 months ago, you released your final album “Hydra” which, as I’ve stated in my review of it, is some of your darkest and most twisted material to date. What was your inspiration for this album and why, if I may ask, is it your last?

Otep: It’s based on a graphic novel I’ve been writing. HYDRA is essentially an anti-hero; she only wants to destroy the corrupted. She doesn’t believe anyone else has the right to do what she does. She feels all these other killers do it for the wrong reasons, they cheapen the holy sanctity of her “cleansing”. Once her targets have been neutralized, however, she is overcome by this biting emptiness that forces her to seek another prey. Fortunately, the world is ripe with vermin and she has a never-ending supply.

BearlySinister: Who did you work with on the album and how was your experience with them?

Otep: I wrote with the producer Ulrich Wild. He’s worked with everyone from Pantera to The Deftones to Dr Dre and so many other amazing artists. He’s a great songwriter and an incredibly talented producer. We’ve done 3 albums together; Smash the Control Machine, ATAVIST, and HYDRA, and each time we get stronger and more intuitive as a team. I also worked with guitarist Aristotle, bassist Collyn McCoy, and composer Tristan Wallace. It was a fantastical experience to work with these talented artists.

BearlySinister: I know you are a very outspoken person and I absolutely love your lyrics and your poetry. Do you derive most of this from life experiences or is it all In dreams you’ve had?

Otep: It’s both. Its experiences and instinct but all driven by the power and mysticism of the subconscious. This is where the muses live.

BearlySinister: So, I’ve noticed that you are very descriptive with your wording. I recently bought your first book, Caught Screaming, and I could literally hear you narrating it in my head. How is writing your poetry different from your lyrical content?

Otep: Thank you for allowing me inside your mind. I think they are very similar in many ways. My songs usually begin as poems and the ones that seem to work in the exterior realm are then considered as songwriting material. Others seem to work best as interior magic and remain so.

BearlySinister: Alright, on a slightly more personal subject, how does being a woman in the metal scene affect you? Do you feel empowered to be in this position? Is there anything you would change?

Otep: Ask any woman in any field what it’s like and you’ll have the answer. It’s always a struggle, it’s always a fight, it’s always an endeavor to prove yourself, to defeat stereotypes, to rise above expectations. I think the Metal genre is still a big boys club, especially if you don’t pander, which I don’t. I’ve seen it change, however, and all for the better. There are more women attending shows, more women starting bands, more women proud to be in this scene and owning it. Some of our most vicious pits are started by women. Some of our most passionate fans are women. And what I love is how cordial and accepting many of the men seem to be. Our audience wants to be inclusive; they are a tribe of warriors. All are welcome here.

BearlySinister: We’re nearing the end of our interview so I have just a couple more questions for you.

BearlySinister: You just released the video for “Apex Predator” which is, honestly, one of the most incredible videos I’ve seen in years. What was the inspiration behind the song and the video?

Otep: Thank you. I was able to team up with the amazing director PR Brown (who worked with me on album art and videos from SEVAS TRA to The Ascension) to create this twisted and seductive short film. The narrative behind APEX PREDATOR follows the lyrics. HYDRA has fallen in love with one of her victims and is enamored by this person’s defiance and strength. The woman that she has captured is just like her in many ways and as the story progresses, HYDRA begins to question whether this person exists at all. She wonders if this is just a figment and all of this is happening inside her mind, she can’t be sure, but then suddenly she finds herself inside the cell where the victim was, hurt just like her victim was, and the cycle returns and recoils infinitum. It is the sexiest video we’ve ever created. YouTube has flagged the video for inappropriate content because of the same-sex love scenes but no one seems bothered by the fact that there’s a woman performing fellatio on a firearm. I think that’s very telling about our culture. We embrace violence but reject love. This, of course, was deliberate. I wanted to challenge those phobias, to test our species, to see what would offend people more: love or violence.

BearlySinister: Do you have any rituals you like to perform prior to writing or recording? How do these affect your mind set?

Otep: I have many mantras and rituals that I perform, indeed. Mostly, I prefer isolation. I can calm my mind and focus.

BearlySinister: I truly believe in your motto “Art Saves”, but what, may I ask, initially lead to this being your motto?

Otep: Growing up in a house full of violence, in a neighborhood decimated by poverty, the hopelessness of both those things were very overwhelming but when I was drawing, when I was writing, when I could make my mother smile with a picture I’d created, I felt released, I felt liberated and unchained. I could soar. Art saved me.

BearlySinister: Alright, I guess that about wraps it up. Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart. Is there anything you would like to say to our viewers?

Otep: Much love and much respect. Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and my work to you. May your life be extraordinary.

Catch Otep on the rest of the Seduce & Destroy tour with Picture Me Broken and One-Eyed Doll! While you’re at it, go pick up your copy of “Hydra” and discover a darker side of music.