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Interviewed by Mike Korn
Interview with Otep From August 2004
This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at

This is not your first go-round with Ozzfest. How would this edition compare to the others?
It's the strongest bill we've been on. It's really an honor. Slayer, Black Sabbath on the Main Stage...
MSJ: The giants.
Oh yeah. Slipknot, Hatebreed on the Second Stage. It's really amazing.
MSJ: Are the fans the most intense of all the times you've played Ozzfest?
The fans have been totally insane. It's been awesome.
MSJ: Your name Otep has kind of an Egyptian ring to it? How influenced are you by Egypt and other ancient cultures?
I've always been a student of ancient cultures. A part of me feels like I belong there.
MSJ: Like you don't belong in this time?
Yeah, I feel that way all the time. There's just something appealing about those times to me. Look at ancient Egypt...their language itself was art. Everything about them seems to draw me into their world.
MSJ: In a time before recording technology, stories and songs were much more important than they are today.
You know, the first recorded histories were spoken. They were handed down as oral traditions, and that's why it's very important to me to understand it.
MSJ: Your music has a very dream-like quality to some of it. Do dreams influence the way you write your music?
Sure. I think the subconscious has a big influence on me. I find reality to be a bit mundane. I think all art is ruled by the subconscious but my art maybe more than most.
MSJ: What's the symbolism behind the pig's head you use in your live show?
It's a symbol for women and it says "mankind" above it. It's also a literary device reminiscent of "Lord of the Flies". It's also a kind of symbol for the end of tyranny and ignorance.
MSJ: That's interesting, because I would have guessed there was a more political meaning to it.
You know, in some ways, I think it's best to use universal imagery that means something different to each person.
MSJ: Do you think modern technology has kept mankind from dreaming and imagining?
It's easier now to not pay attention to the imagination. TV and movies seem to do our dreaming for us. That's why I read a lot and have such an interest in the visual arts. Certain films are good. Television, though a great time killer, can also be a mind killer.
MSJ: Does music still retain the power to make a change in society or are people now into just purely for the sound?
I think art can change the world. It's up to the artist to focus on provoking that response. If they're going to get by on something two-dimensional, then the result can't help but be two-dimensional as well.
MSJ: Would you ever consider doing a musical project apart from Otep, maybe one that's not quite so brutal?
I think I'm open to any kind of creating. If something came up that would allow me to challenge myself again, I would do it. Sure.
MSJ: Does your live audience get the message of Otep or are they just into the anger and sound of it?
I think part of the message is anger. But I believe there are firm supporters of our message. They believe in what we stand for. Someone once described us as "folk heroes for the new counter culture" and I thought that was pretty remarkable, that such a label was placed on us.
MSJ: There are some bands on Ozzfest that probably aren't in agreement with your views. Has any type of conflict arisen on that score?
Everything's been pretty cool. Any time you get a group of bands together, there's gonna be some weirdness and some people won't understand what someone else is about. No one has actually directly confronted me. That wouldn't be a wise thing for anybody to do. I'm not really concerned about that. I'm not here strictly to be popular, I'm here to perform and be a part of this magnificent festival. I could care less about all the other high school bull.
MSJ: It's no longer an unusual thing to see a woman in a heavy metal band. Where would you place the state of women in metal today?
You know, I'm not really sure. It definitely feels like it's becoming more commonplace, it's not so rare any more to see a woman fronting an aggressive band with an aggressive message. For so long, people thought women weren't aggressive, they were docile creatures. I'm hoping it's becoming more accepted. I hope in general that we are inspiring some people to follow their dreams.
MSJ: Women in metal don't seem to be based as much on sex appeal any more.
I hope not! The women who participate in that sort of thing and become willing ornaments, they are partly to blame. I hold them eternally responsible for that, and not anybody else.
MSJ: How you do see Otep advancing in the future?
I just hope we keep following our instincts, I hope we keep making music that matters, and that's all that we can hope for.
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