By Alex Teitz

Otep, like the Egyptian god, Amon-Otep. God is right. This band is about the ritual of the music. The nuances of emotions that are usually hidden. The emotions of aggression, despair, pain and power.

Otep is also the miracle band. A band signed by live performance alone. A band who has been together less than a year and won’t have their debut CD, Sevas Tra, out until 2002. For now fans subsist on Jihad, the five song EP. Jihad is correct. This band will cause a revolution and the masses are building. For more information visit www.otepsaves.com

For now, Otep speaks:

FEMMUSIC: How did you get involved in music?

O: With the band…well with this style of music I wanted to do something different, I listened to music for a while, most of my inspirations as a writer come from literary sources not really from musical. I’m in to music and I like bands obviously but they’re not a big source of inspiration for me. I find that a lot of music is redundant and creatively constipated.

I was a visual artist first, then I got into writing poetry, and then I fell into the underground East Coast hip-hop scene. The content of my songs from a cultural perspective didn’t really fit because I wasn’t womanizing, I wasn’t speaking about making money, …my music was more about things that were personal to me, more of a sacred nature than anything else.

The format for this form of metal, this really powerful form of music to me, was very intriguing. It is the most aggressive music that you can find, I’m just not really sure I was turned on by the message. So I sought out to find people to sort of help me create something that was artistic and experimental and emotional and extremely aggressive and we’re trying to do that now. So we started searching for people who were looking to involve themselves in something that was challenging and something sort of new.  Evolution is key.  Creative Evolution.  Anything that becomes an obstacle to the creative evolution of this project will be removed.  We have to stay pure.  And that’s what we gave them. A dedication to something bigger than us.  And, ten months later, here we are, on Ozzfest. We were confirmed for Ozzfest before we even knew that we had a record deal. Sharon and Jack Osbourne saw us, fell in love with band, and wanted us on her fest. We got signed without a demo. We got signed strictly off of our live performances. There’s something to all this. We tapped into something dark and dangerous, but at the same time violent and beautiful. Something really nice is happening with all this.

Capitol is a great label for us to be on. They believe in us 100%. They stand behind every piece of work that we do. It’s nice to be appreciated for doing nothing more than following your artistic integrity. Where ever your music takes you.

…What I’ve tried to install is almost a religious feel to our shows. Where you fall victim to your art…. its an experience.

FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? Collaboration within the band?

O: I try to absorb myself with doing nothing else except writing and reading. I don’t limit myself to what I think will fit into this genre. That ’s ridiculous. That would be limiting myself and cheating my band as well as all of our fans and loyal disciples. I think the best way to describe or explain what we do is we try to inspire each other. If someone comes in with a riff, it not like we say, “Oh! We can’t do that.” We try it. We’re not afraid to fail.

“Possession” for example, if you listen to the version that’s on Napster right now, the original version that was on Napster, was from our demo that we did at Indigo Ranch in Malibu. Same place that Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot recorded their albums. That song has evolved so much. I wanted it to be something very ritualistic. It had to have a ceremonial feel to it so we went in, we tried to push ourselves into this really aggressive trancelike state and the guys and the producer came up with this ending after going into this sort of dervish, sufi swirling sound to this “Bum, Bum” This aggressive slow sludgy…The Gorgons are marching. You know what I mean? That was so powerful that I couldn’t write the words fast enough. They were just flowing out of my pen. I guess the easiest way to describe it would be a surrender to the subconscious. That’s what it is. Our writing style is very subconscious. If we try to write something it’s not going to be as fulfilling or sound as interesting as it would if we do it and it simply comes from someplace that we have no control over.

FEMMUSIC: You have the five song EP, Jihad, right now. The new album is due next year. Are you recording after the tour is done?

O: As soon as the tour is done we’re going to head out to some secret spot deep in the Los Angeles underground and start composing our Opus Magnum. We’re really going to try to write some good material. Then in October we’re going to head to another secret location for 2 months and record our album with Terry Date [Pantera, Deftones, Soundgarden, Limp Bizkit]. That’s something really amazing because he’s semi-retired right now. He’s coming out because he really wants to work with this band.   We are honored to be working with him.

FEMMUSIC: As the only female fronted act on Ozzfest how does it feel?

O: Strange. There’s a lot of emotions that come up. I am honored to be on this tour, but it’s difficult sometimes with all the misogyny and testosterone and negative comments.  For example, I respect Kittie a lot. I think they’re an amazing band, but people like to compare us – like its a competition, and I think that’s unfortunate. We’re really two different styles of music. It makes me extremely happy to see a band like Kittie get so much respect. It’s not all hype. They get respect for being a good band. I think at first, the same questions that you’re asking to me, were asked to them.

I don’t write songs, I think, that are specifically aimed at women although I’m sure women can find something meaningful and powerful in what I write about because they are experiences that are purely from my life and things like that…

The other thing is there’s a lot of sexism on this tour with the fans and a lot of the front people. With the way they address the crowd and the things that they say. Again asking women to bear their breasts…and of course, it’s not all their fault. People here like to wear their women like ornaments but these ornaments are very eager, and that’s unfortunate. It puts someone like me who is highly offended at words that are demeaning to anyone, whether it be homophobic or sexist, whatever, in a weird place…I find all those things ridiculous, and it shows who is mentally deficient and who isn’t. I can tell you that this tour is more about the mentally deficient than anything else.

But, saying that, it is good to have bands like Kittie, playing aggressive metal music. Yes, I’m the only female in my band. I’m the only woman but my guys don’t play music that they think would compliment me because I’m a girl. They play music that they feel inside themselves which is extremely aggressive. Some of the most aggressive music being made. You can put us up against anybody right now, for real.

But hopefully people will see with bands like myself and Kittie, and others…the names just don’t come to mind…they see that and maybe they’ll start respecting women for more than just a few anatomical places on their body. I hope so.

My greatest gift to anyone, whether it be a girl or guy, is to inspire them to do something magnificent. Don’t be me. Be better than me. That’s the beautiful thing about art. I hope I inspire you. If I do, then great! Go out and do something greater than I can ever do….

Being the only girl on this tour as far as being a performer…There’s other girls here. There’s people who help put together the sets, and things like that. As far as I can tell everyone’s treated fairly. They don’t make any sort of allowances for me, and I don’t want any. I don’t need any. No one needs to help me up into my bus. I’m capable of handling myself in all areas. Hopefully though, a lot of the women of this tour, maybe they’ll see what I’m doing and know it’s okay that they can do it too. Aggressive music isn’t owned by the male population.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?

O: Variety. I would like to see different types of music. That’s a really broad question…It depends. I’d like to see radio play more aggressive music. I’d like to see radio play more Slipknot. I’d like to see them play more Kittie. I’d like to see TRL either burn in hell or play some good videos. Play some Tool videos. Play some Radiohead videos. Stop spoonfeeding the masses all this boy band and girl band shit. It’s ridiculous.

Okay, the music awards. Best new artist goes to a singer who doesn’t write their own material. How is that an artist? That term is used so loosely it has no meaning anymore. How about giving best new artist to somebody who actually composes, and writes and performs their own music. How ‘bout that? That’s a novel idea.

I’d like to see A&R people stop searching for the next one hit record ticket and maybe start searching for something meaningful ..for something that could change the world … change lives, alter minds. Something important.

Bands. Front people. Read. Fill your head with words. Be original.  Write good material. Listen to different types of music. I don’t know. Those are just my opinions. I don’t want to come off as trying to tell people what they should do. That’s what I think should happen.

July 1st, 2001