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Otep: Curtain Call

After more than 10 years in the game, Otep Shamaya is stepping down and letting her creativity take the reins. 

When we get a hold of Otep Shamaya, the tatted up frontwoman of the eponymous metal outfit Otep, she’s euphoric as it’s the release day for her latest album, Hydra. Though, this is hardly an ordinary addition to what’s an immense back catalogue – Otep has come out and said that this will be her final studio album with the band. Curious, we quizzed the staunch activist and renowned animal rights advocate on going out with a bang.

Have you had much feedback on the album as of yet?
So far, everyone’s been really excited and calling it their favourite record, and I’m really blown away by it. It was truly a labour of love; I came off the road and went right into the studio. We wrote, recorded and mixed the entire record in about five weeks, so it was just this nonstop ritual of creativity every single day. And it was a bit of a scorcher for me because it’s a concept album based on a graphic novel that I’ve been working on for the past two years. It’s a chronological story about this person named Hydra and each song is layered so that it reflects the song before it and can be tied to the song after it, so it’s just this constant back and forth where everything is tangled together.

You’re no stranger to broaching controversial topics. What made you want to bring these issues to light?
There are topics on there that I’ve addressed in the past that still seem relevant and I needed a different way to address them. There’s a song called “Voyeur”, which is kind of a spoken piece, and it’s a protest about animal cruelty. It came from me hearing about some vile fiend of a boy who was torturing and murdering animals and posting videos of it on the internet and at that moment, what I felt when I saw it, was that rage, that emotion, that reaction, that very primal, savage reaction to seeing someone pulling innocence out of this world. My reaction was to hurt him, but I think that by putting it into song, it certainly keeps that guy safe, and it also teaches people to see things a bit differently. On this record I wanted to speak about issues in a way that was a bit more artistic and a bit more dark and poetic than overtly political.

It seems like you’ve still got so much to say, but you’ve stated that Hydra will be your final album. What led to that decision?
I’ve done this for 10 years; it’s been a decade since my first album came out. Before this, I was just a lost soul bouncing around trying to find myself. I don’t really see Hydra as an ending; I more see it as a bridge to so much more. There are other creative endeavours that I’m interested in pursuing, but I just don’t have the time because music is a full-time job. I can move into graphic novels or I can move into writing books and people will actually buy them and you can make a living out of it. I’m still writing music, I’m not gonna go anywhere, it’s still a part of my artistic energy, but it just gets harder and harder to legitimise it. I want to give things a go and I’m hopeful that people will appreciate how hard we worked on Hydra. It was written for our core fans and no one else. In the past, I would have some people say to me, ‘You can’t put that song on the record. Let’s make it a B-side,’ but this time, as it is the final record, I said, ‘I’m gonna do what I wanna do’. Fuck it, this is my record, I do what the fuck I want. It’s the way I wanna be remembered and it’s the way I wanna go out.

Hydra is out now on Victory/Riot!

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