OTEP’s Message Is One That Needs To Be Heard

The members of OTEP. Submitted photo

OTEP’s new album, “Kult 45”, has a title that sounds like an indictment of the current resident of the Oval Office, as Shamaya says. It is much deeper, and, despite your political affiliations, the message is one that needs to be heard.

“Kult 45” touches on issues of gender roles, gun violence, misogyny, and, of course, President Trump. It also hits on the importance of being brave, being strong, and being who you are. It is a deep album. It makes no apologies, and that was the intent.

“All of my songs start as poems,” Shamaya said. Being a poet, a writer, she knows the power of words. “When we went into the studio to record, I brought about 10 books of poetry with me and the process began.”

The album has an organic feel compared to OTEP’s previous albums. That’s something Shamaya is proud of. The process was a bit different for the band this time around.

“We felt like this one belong to us,” she said. “We self-produce this one, Aristotle (Mihalopoulos, guitarist for the band) and I. We wanted it to be raw, like a live show but still a polished sound. This was an extremely personal album.”

The direction “Kult 45” takes brings many views that would be considered left of center. That being the case, OTEP still has a portion of the audience that identify as conservative. That doesn’t surprise Shamaya.

“I get messages all the time from conservatives that don’t agree with the content but are supportive of my right to speak it,” she said. “You have to remember that not all conservatives did not vote for him. As more and more policies fail, I think we will see more and more move to our lines.”

This album contains some gems of heavier notes and a couple that will surprise the listener. She does view three of the songs on the album as her favorites.

“First would have to be ‘Shelter in Place’,” she said. “It is a song about the school shooting epidemic we have in this country and the inaction involved. Once guy was caught with a bomb in his shoe on an airplane. Now we all have to take off our shoes. For some of us, that is not very comfortable, being a germophobe. But I am working on it,” she said with laughter.

“Seriously, we have checks in place now because one guy has a bomb in his shoe and not one thing has changed since Columbine,” she said.

The song also carries a second inspiration. Shamaya says the students that are working for changes in gun policy inspired her on this song as well.

The second song that holds favor for her is “Boss.” Pushing the borders of gender roles, she says the song relates to the to ways that even in the LGBTQ community.

Lastly, Shamaya says the song, “Be Brave,” holds the plea for OTEP’s listeners to do just that, be brave.

“I want them to remember that their life and not live up to someone else’s expectations,” she said. “It is about living up to who you are.

When it comes to her lyrics, Shamaya says that she is doing the patriotic thing and standing up for the promised capacity we have as a nation.

“James Baldwin once said, ‘I love this country more than any other country in the world and, for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.’ This is why I do what I do,” she says about her powerful and unapologetic lyrics.

“We are a very flawed people,” she continued. “We need to remember where we came from and were we are going.”

OTEP will bring their nu-metal brand of activism that will leave listeners at least thinking about what it is that they have heard, the words and the messages that have seeped into their minds.

One of the best things that can happen to beliefs is for them to be challenged. Sometimes, we need to think about those that are impacted through various means that are beyond their control. That may be what well.

OTEP will be live at Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St. in Buffalo, July 22. The show starts at 8 p.m. With Dropout Kings and Kore Rozaik opening. Tickets are $15 at the door.