Exclusive Interview with OTEP

Otep Shamaya is a singer-songwriter, poet, and painter currently living in the heart of Los Angeles. She is also the lead singer of the metal band Otep. Although she loves music, her other passions include writing, fitness, and politics. 

As Shamaya sips on her espresso while writing down everything from song lyrics to poetry, she listens to Rav Shankar and Amadeus Mozart, as her inner creativity comes to life. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Otep about life, writing, and music and here is what she had to say:

(Q) Behind every musical mastermind lies a source of inspiration, as a result. What or who inspired you to become involved in music? Tell me a little more about how Otep came about...

I heard The Doors perform THE END and it opened my mind to all the possibilities music could create and offer. But also bands like Rage Against The Machine, Slipknot, Nirvana, System of a Down, Nine Inch Nails, Manson, and The Deftones inspired me to open my muses to all sorts of music and messages.

(Q) Your sound is so unique. Although some people consider your music to be within the nu metal genre, there are others who find your style to be more industrial and death metal. To me...that is the place you want to be because it's better than being boring. Where do you see yourself? 

Essentially, we make MUSIC. I am very satisfied that people have a difficult time classifying us. We have so many diverse inspirations its nice to know it shows in the work. A successful apprentice is at their best when the master is evident in the work. I rather enjoy the title ARTCORE. It seems to represent what we do the best. Others have called us HEAVY METAL. I like that too.

(Q) A voice is a voice and your voice is so unique. In fact, when I hear you sing I know it's you singing. I have to ask...as you can take on everything from ballads and uptempos to screaming and clear vocals to actual neo soul and rap, do you find yourself wanting to do something you have never done before? Meaning, is there a certain style you have always wanted to tackle?

Thank you. I want to do more spoken word performances.

(Q) What I found really fascinating was the fact that you were invited to play Ozzfest before you got signed. That is really killer. I have to ask...what was it like playing at Ozzfest?

We went from playing in front of 200 people to 20,000 people in a matter of weeks. It was existential. It was incredible. It was religious. I am grateful to the Osbournes for believing in us.

(Q) I think it is amazing that you are openly gay and not afraid to hide your sexuality. For those people (whether youth or adult) who are gay, but in still in the closet...what would you like to say to them? What advice do you have for those that want to come out? 

It's such a difficult position because its so very personal. I would say that you should be proud of who you are, know that people will love you for who you are, and seek happiness. Be strong, be proud. You are not alone. 

(Q) It is absolutely wonderful that you are an advocate for not only the gay community, but also animals too. I heard that you have been a vegetarian for quite a while. How long have you been a vegetarian?

Thank you. I've been a vegetarian for six years.

(Q) You are a phenomenal writer. In fact, when I read Little Sins I was impressed by how bona fide your ballad poetry is. For you...what is the main difference you notice when writing music versus writing poetry?

Good writing has a melody to the language. Its when the melody rises to the crest that I know it has a possible life as a song.

(Q) Menocide from the album Sevas Tra garnered a lot of controversy years ago, as some people found the need to criticize your lyrics. You handled the individual(s) who criticized you with class by addressing them on your personal blog. For those new artists starting out, what advice do you have when it comes to accepting criticism?

Ignore them. Write your truth.

(Q) Tell me a little more about the newest album Hydra… 

It's a dark, art core album about a vicious avenger named Hydra. This is her story.

(Q) For those reading this interview (including your fans) we would like to know what projects you have in store for the future. What are your plans as of now?

Write the wrongs. Sing more songs. Live life to the fullest.