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Cherry Pop

'Looking On The Bright Side!'

OTEP is an art project/band/brainfusion/movement/process; breaking ground, breaking rules, breaking sound barriers. Aggressive. Pummeling. Assault. Pure Adrenaline. Death Metal at its EmoCore of Heavy Mental Rock.

OTEP is poetry.

OTEP is a beast reborn amongst a newly formed gang of four: Otep, the vocalist, Lee Rios on guitar, Doug Pellerin bangs the drums, and bassist eViL j are the newest heads of this ever growing Creative Hydra. Their second album, House of Secrets (Capitol Records), produced by Greg Wells in Los Angeles at Rocket Carousel Studios in late 2003, boasts a fertile evolution of artistry and venomous power.

Otep is herself, a poet, an artist, a conduit ... and I dared to sit down with the lady herself. For better or for worse, here's what transpired:

The band Otep claims - at its core - to be Death Metal, but what is the difference between that genre and, say Black Metal or Speed Metal? "We've never claimed our nucleus to be death metal, rather our creative atoms are composed of aggressive invention, creative violence, and focused emotional crafting of sonic disruption."

If Otep were not named as such, what would the bands name have been? "I have never thought of any other alternative."

Why House of Secrets for the new album title ... and please reveal one of your smallest, yet darkest secrets for the first time to us now!! "It refers to the deepest, darkest depths of the personality in which the true self lies hidden ... a dark secret about myself? I find fresh menstrual blood to be highly erotic during sapphic rituals of ceremonial sex."

Sharon Osbourne/Ozzfest 2001 was obviously a huge deal to you guys, but what path were you taking at that time to ensure stardom in your own rights? "I was never out to ensure my own stardom or celebrity or any sort of fame ... rather, I am seeking to become better at my creative obsessions."

With the out-and-out poetry of House of Secrets as evident as ever, does it ever cross your mind that musically your life could have been so much different? "No, this is my path."

Where did the conceptual ideas come from for the CD artwork to House of Secrets? "The creative magus PR Brown weaved his genius all over this and together we brought forth this sacred abomination."

Truthfully now, is Otep Shamaya really your birth name?! "Yes, this is my name, but I have also been known as Yesod, AGLA, Tetragrammaton, Bestarbeto, Hapsetshup, Zazas Nashtanada, OTZ, and Xile 9."

If we stripped away all your stage make-up and growling stage personas ... what would we be left with?"I don't wear much "make-up" ... and what I am onstage is the restoration of my true self that remains hidden in the deep abyss of my personality .... but offstage, I am just like anyone else .... I read, write, draw, laugh, fight, scream, love, cry, paint, I adore the moon, debate politics and philosophy. I am insecure, I love creating, I am still fighting the shadows and stains of my past. I have diminishing fits of angry depression until I discover my glowing soul which is completely hysterical and hungry to create, to learn, to evolve, to fall into a sunset, to discover itself again."

How do you musically compete with all the older, and indeed even the newer, up and coming Death Metal bands? "This isn't a competition ... we do what we do and remain completely focused on becoming better writers and performers ... onstage, our performance rituals are complete and total mutinies of the senses."

'Buried Alive' is my personal fav from the album - please tell me more about the songs concept and the making of the video! (Q - Is that REALLY your deep voice on the chorus lines, 'I hate my life' and 'Buried alive behind enemy lines'?!) "Yes, that is me .. I use no effects .. the song buried alive was the 1st song I wrote for the new album ... I was in a very desperate place and needed a song to help me scream the pain away ... a portion of it is also loosely based on the Greek mythology of Cassandra."

Finally, describe yourself in just three words! "Human hating specimen."

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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