Otep Shamaya Wants to Destroy the Control Machines
Otep Shamaya, the frontwoman of the band Otep, doesn’t know that her act’s latest album, ‘Smash the Control Machine,’ debuted at No. 47 on the Billboard 200 album chart — and she prefers to keep it that way.
“I ask my label and management to keep those numbers from me,” Shamaya told Noisecreep. “I don’t like those kinds of expectations. I don’t write or create records for that reason. It doesn’t matter to me. So I don’t care to know. My management and my lawyer know, and that’s all that needs to know.”
Shamaya might not care about album sales, but something about it does perplex her. “Some people want to know how many records they’ve sold and what they charge and all that. I don’t care to know. It doesn’t matter to me. From an artistic standpoint, it makes no sense why someone like a Britney Spears or someone who is of that two-dimensional subjectless, meaningless music sells so much and then other bands like that who are real musicians will go out every night, play their music and live for their music have to stand in the shadows.”
Calling from Delaware, where the band was performing, Shamaya went on to give her thoughts about another band that she thinks doesn’t deserve recognition. “What is that Brokencyde band?” she said rhetorically. “That’s garbage. I don’t know what they’re selling. I don’t go into that. I create music because I love creating music.”
A prolific poet, Shamaya named her album and the title track after a line in a poem from one of her favorite writers. “I’m a big William Burroughs fan,” Shamaya said. “I was reading, and that line caught my eye. It just struck me, about what was going on in the country at the time with the economy, the banks were tumbling down, people were losing their jobs, losing their homes.
“We’re still under this giant invisible thumb, some indescribable titan that we’re so accustomed to that we don’t even see it anymore. There are corporate interests that have just taken hold of this country, so I started out as writing a song about that. Also it affected my own family. I have family; they are professional people. They’ve lost their jobs. They’ve lost their homes. They have kids. It’s all due to this culture of corruption and greed that exists in this country. It’s perpetrated against the working class.”
As she was writing the song, it occurred to her that there were more than just economic, governmental and corporate control machines.
“There are control machines in every aspect of life, from alcoholism to addiction to abusive relationships and self-esteem issues,” Shamaya said. “We are all under the thumb of this multi-tentacled, indescribable, indefinable giant. In order to be free, we must destroy the things that keep us tethered. We must destroy the control machines.”