Otep Shamaya Talks About Being Out in Metal


Since 2000, Otep Shamaya has been using her status as the out frontwoman of a popular metal band — aptly named OTEP — to stand up for the things she believes in. Songs like “Menocide” drew attention to the lyrical stand-outs that the band’s music has, but also created controversy as the song’s lyrics were feminist and called out the oppression women deal with (i.e. “Girls in the playroom, house-wives, servants in the workplace, slaves to lies.”)

She’s a master at getting attention and for all the right things.

Last week, the California-based quartet released their fourth full-length album, Smash the Control Machine, on indie label Victory Records. The label has been home to several rising emo/punk/hardcore bands over the past decade, but OTEP is an anomaly, as it’s one of the only bands with a female member to join the roster.

“I’ve never made a career decision based on my gender,” Otep told us about signing to Victory. “It plays no role in my decision making. I chose Victory because they are an incredible group of passionate people who love music and actively support the delicate mechanisms that reward and seduce audiences. ”

“Seduce” is a great word for what Otep and her bandmates do to an audience.

A blonde knock-out with a Joan Jett-esque growl made for rock, her stage presence as a frontwoman is just as futile to the band’s popularity as the lyrics she sings. Although she doesn’t think about being female when it comes to making plans for her band, it certainly reaches an audience of women who are looking for representation in the metal music scene.

“I have seen many more women at our shows,” Otep said of the band’s fan base. “I also get quite a bit more messages from gay and lesbian folks thanking me for the courage to be out. It’s an honor to be the beacon for those that are still searching for their way.”