Few modern-day rock artists are as fearless at voicing their political views as Otep Shamaya. The video for “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts” from her group’s seventh studio album Generation Doom (2016) is proof enough with a strong focus on gay rights. “Fight for your right to exist,” Shamaya proclaims in the song.
Jack Osbourne discovered the openly gay singer after he stumbled upon her live performance in her hometown, Los Angeles. He told his mother about it and Otep was asked to play Ozzfest in 2001 prior to having a recording contract. This led to a deal with Capitol Records and the 2002 debut Sevas Tra.
The artist’s boldness has since taken her places. In 2010, GLAAD nominated Otep for the Outstanding Artist Award for the album Smash the Control Machine alongside winner Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert. Shamaya also spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 on behalf of Rock the Vote.
Shamaya dished more on politics and music before she and her group rock the Studio at Webster Hall on June 12 and Revolution Bar & Music Hall in Amityville on Tuesday, June 13.
You have been described as a GLAAD nominated, BAFTA, MTV award-winning activist/songstress.
I’m really proud of my pedigree. It was truly an honor to be nominated by GLAAD next to big, gigantic, mainstream names, like Lady Gaga…and a little underground activist named Otep [Laughs]. Being part of the BAFTA Awards was for my voiceover work for the PlayStation game The Last of Us. I do a lot of voiceover work now and it’s exciting. It’s a different type of creative activity, but it’s still something I’m pretty passionate about.
Do you think it’s easier or harder being an openly gay artist today than it was in the past?
It’s a little of both. When you start to see progress, you assume that it’s just going to keep moving forward. And then we have the current administration. [Donald Trump is] constantly contradicting himself on where he stands with LGBTQ rights. We’re starting to see governors across the nation legislating bathroom bills and all this nonsense…There is always that worry. [Progress has] slowed now in the last 200 days or 150 days or whatever it’s been since Trump took office. And that’s scary for a lot of us and the community because we’re not really sure what’s going to happen right now.
And Generation Doom has been out for about a year.
When I wrote the record, I realized the potential for it to be somewhat prophetic…because the Republican Party [was] trying to reclaim their conservative empire and limit equality for all people, not just straight, white, Christian, affluent males. Or I was hoping that it was going to be this sort of celebration of, “Wow, we defeated them again. We pushed them back into the stone age, where they belong.” Unfortunately, it’s become a bit more prophetic in the way that if Congress doesn’t act to stop a lot of what’s going on in the White House with the Russia collusion and the selling out of American democracy, is this going to be the doom generation, or will we be generation doom?
Luckily, [we’ve seen a] rise of the resistance. People who are just regular Americans, who decided they are not political, [but] decided to take a stand and show up to town halls and have their voices heard.
What can fans expect at the upcoming show at Revolution?
They should expect what everybody knows about an Otep show: a complete and total meeting of the senses. It’s part punk, rock, metal, poetry, political, passionate, spiritual intercourse, all wrapped up in a celebratory show of really great music. We’re really excited to come back and we really love the shows there. We have a lot of passionate fans that come out.