INTERVIEW: Otep Shamaya – Otep

Earlier this month, Distorted Sound had the chance to speak to OTEP about the highly anticipated new album, Generation Doom (you can read our review of the new album here). Here, frontwoman Otep Shamaya gave us some insight into the latest’s release, sighting influences from hard beginnings, our unsettled present and potentially furious futures.

This is a welcome return to the scene for you. What especially prompted you to consider releasing new music after the last album?

Otep: Thank you. It happened organically. We were unsigned for about two years. I worked on a book of short stories called Movies In My Head and continued my voice-over acting (The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, PS4 The Last Of Us, etc) and we toured when we wanted and just had fun. The spiritual intercourse between the audience and I rekindled the fire in me. I started writing again in private journals and poetry books and soon discovered that the spirit of Music found me again. Thus, Generation Doom.

Having six albums behind you, does that experience allow for a more expansive consideration of what you wanted to achieve with Generation Doom?

Otep: It does. I knew exactly what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to pander to a genre, I didn’t want to quiet my voice or personal experiences. I wanted to live out loud. I wanted to be my authentic self. And Generation Doom was born.

You’re know for your more artful approach to political & social music making. Where there any pivotal individuals that have helped you mould a distinct sense of self that lead to the person you are now?

Otep: PUBLIC ENEMY, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, Woody Guthrie, Patty Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Moby.

Having a concept in mind for an album seems important to you. With that in mind, with this album, are you specifically trying impact what you consider Generation Doom, or those that created and shaped that Generation?

Otep: Both. We are at a difficult place in the world. We are either going to juggernaut into a bright future and sign doom to those that seek to destroy us or we will fall so far backward we may not ever get back up. That said, this album is a reflection of my own experiences and my personal observations. I don’t expect everyone to agree but I hope they respect the message.

In the same vein, with Generation Doom, what do you hope to gauge as a reaction from listeners?

Otep: I hope they react with “OMFG this album is AMAZING”

Can you tell us something about the idea for the album cover? It seems very symbolic.

Otep: We were inspired by MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – not only because a dystopian wasteland is a possible future but also the fight to make it right by Imperator Furiosa trying to find the Green Place. We must all fight for the Green Place.

In terms of making this album, was there anyone that you feel contributed to fully realising the album?

Otep: I worked with a lot of extremely talented people on this album. I think I’m at my best when collaborating with other artists who inspire and challenge me. I wrote a lot of this album with my guitarist and creative ally Aristotle. He is the first person I’ve worked with that really gets the message, the motivation and the intensity is takes to write an OTEP album. Aristotle and I entered the studio with producer Howard Benson and his team and together this album grew from an idea to a spiritual mutiny.

Your work is very much poetry in various vocalisations, how does that help with creating a sound for each song that also ties together collectively?

Otep: Thank you. I let the songs build themselves. Whatever the muse recites I will write.

With the theme and overall voice of GENERATION DOOM, you’ve chosen to cover Royals. What about that song has resonated with you?

Otep: First, LORDE is an incredible writer and I’m grateful for her voice. Second, I related to the song. I was a poor kid growing up and I never saw rock stars in flashy cars in my neighbourhood. No one gave us anything. We earned ours. And I’m proud of that. Royals masterfully celebrates the working class & the working poor. It was an easy choice.

Finally, what can we expect from shows, seeing this album in a more physical, even more visceral way perhaps?

Otep: We are playing 5 new songs from the new album and they are absolutely liberating!

Thank you very much for your time, all the best of luck from us with the album.

Otep: Thank you!

Generation Doom is out now via Napalm Records.

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