Michelle LaRose talks with Otep for Metal Masters
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Hi. You’re tuned in to Metal Masters. This is Michelle. Our next video tonight will be Otep’s Buried Alive but before we go into that, we are at Boomerz Boiler Room tonight and we have the chance to talk to Otep.
Otep: It’s on my birth certificate so what does that make it? Does that make it real?
MM: Where is the name Otep derived from? Is there any meaning for that name?
Otep: Sure. It’s ancient kinetic, which is Egyptian for those that aren’t hip in the ancient studies. Yeah. My mom was an archeology buff and was really into ancient history and that type of thing. It means Creative Offerings it also means That Which Brings Peace Into Chaos. And if you’re pretty clever you can use it as an anagram and it spells Poet as well.
MM: I heard that Sharon Osbourne was accredited with discovering you.
Otep: Yes. Sharon was instrumental in helping us gain some notoriety within the Los Angeles community. However we were already getting quite a bit of label interest at that time. We were a local band playing the scene in LA, you know digging it out, as many shows as we could. Playing wherever and whenever we could. One night we walked out at The Roxy on Sunset Boulevard and there was Jack Osbourne and Sharon sitting in the front row. After the show, she came up to us and said, “Hey we want you on Ozzfest.” And we said, “We don’t have a label.” She said, “I don’t care. Make it happen.” When Sharon says, “Make it happen,” you make it happen. After that we had several label showcases lined up. Capitol Records seemed to be the right fit for us and the rest is history.
MM: You’re out promoting your second album, House Of Secrets. Is there a third album in the works?
Otep: I hope so. Very soon actually. I would like to write as much as possible. That’s what I do. I’m a writer. Creating music is a very big thing for me. I would love to see a new record come out real soon. After this, we’re going out on tour with Slipknot for a little bit and doing some other dates with some other bands in April. After that I don’t know what to do. I would love to get back in the studio, yeah.
MM: You were saying you are a writer and I see you’ve listed The Doors as one of your influences. It’s kind of odd hearing your music and watching your videos, it’s like, “The Doors?” Is that because you are a poet and Jim Morrison was a poet also?
Otep: I don’t know if it’s that big of a leap in my opinion on what The Doors did and what we do. Maybe theirs is geared a little bit more towards the popular community and ours is still celebrating the underground. That might be the difference. But I think ours is the same, its similar. I mean as an apprentice you always want to give respect and honor due to the Master and definitely The Doors were a Master. I aspire to achieve those perfect moments of performance that they did, that I felt when listening to their old live recordings. That’s what I want. Those perfect moments of creativity.
MM: You also draw and paint and sculpt. Has there ever been a gallery showing of your work or are there any plans for that?
Otep: Not yet. I haven’t had the time to do it really. I haven’t asked. It’s difficult to do things like that for me because I never thought I’d have the opportunity. Like I never thought I’d be sitting here talking to you. I never thought I’d have a second record out. I wasn’t raised for any sense of notoriety. But hopefully one day. That’d be a dream come true to have some sort of gallery showing. I’m not sure its worthy but it still would be an honor.
MM: Rock-n-roll is pretty much over-run by men. This is exciting for me to actually sit here and interview a female. You’re my first female interview and I love this. Do you find you’re treated different when you’re out on the road?
Otep: Sure. I think any time you’re a minority against the majority. I don’t see many men screaming from the pits for the other male singers on the tour to expose their chest or anything like that. I get that sometimes. People have a different idea, sometimes I think they’re very closed minded about gender. And other things to, but in this specific case we are speaking about gender. I would rather be judged based on the quality of my work, the quality of my performance and not my biology. Then that’s sort of setting out limits of what I can be, what I can do, what I can say. No one’s really ever been able to tell me what I can and cannot do, and they never will.
MM: A lot of your fans are wondering, because you have such a range with your voice, you go really low a lot, they’re wondering if your voice has been processed or if it’s really you. So lets straighten this out here and now. Is this really you?
Otep: Oh it’s me. I absolutely do not use any effects on my microphone. I don’t even know if they make effects that allow voices to be processed in that manner. You can always add distortion or something like that. I purposely chose not to use anything on the records because it is very important for me for it to be authentic. What you hear and what you feel is real.
MM: The big news is, about a month ago your bassist, Evil J got his bass stolen. Has that been recovered yet?
Otep: No. No it hasn’t and it’s a shame because this community is known to preach unity and solidarity and then you have someone just come to a show and steal something that was a gift to him that he’s had for twelve years. It’s a little disheartening and a little disappointing. We get so many emails from people who say they think they know who has it and they’re going to drive 300 miles to the person’s house, take pictures… We have very dedicated loyal fans who feel the loss just as much as we do I suppose. But we will find you, we will.
MM: I’ve noticed with your music and your lyrics, you’re really trying to send a message out there to people. More than any other band I’ve ever interviewed before. You really have something you want to say. What is it you’re trying to tell people Otep?
Otep: That you matter. That pain is important. That survival is the best revenge. That art saves. I think we’re told too many times we’re not unique. I think we’re told too many times we’re not special if we don’t fit into the dominate paradigm, we’re not cut from the same mold as all these fashion magazines. Whatever some “Suit” in Hollywood is dictating as far as what is pretty, what is socially acceptable. Philosophically and so forth. I think it’s time that we fight back. I think religion has failed us, our leaders have failed us, our government has failed us and art and music is the only thing we have left.
MM: Hallelujah to that! For more information you can go to Otep.com. Right now she has a contest going on where if you design a t-shirt, you could win one of her awesome pieces of artwork. That’s really cool. I’m going to try for that! So just forget about going there! Here we go right now with Otep and Buried Alive, right here on Metal Masters.