OTEP Covers BILLIE EILISH's 'You Should See Me In A Crown'
May 11, 2023
It's been nearly five years since the release of OTEP's last full-length album, the crushing "Kult 45", and since then the world has gone to complete…well, let's just say it's become the kind of world that desperately needs the band led by singer, poet, illustrator, author and activist Otep Shamaya. Not only is Shamaya a revered musical figure, known for her intrepid blending of metal genres and hip-hop, as exemplified on her notorious 2002 debut album "Sevas Tra", but she's also amassed an enormous following based on her fearless performances and confrontational, spiritually tinged lyrics. It's that combination of radical artistry and galvanizing message that the world desperately needs now more than ever, and OTEP is ready to answer the call.
Today marks the release of OTEP's first new recorded material since 2018, and it may come as a surprise. "You Should See Me In A Crown" was the lead single from the 2018 debut album of another controversial female figure who cut across musical and social norms to carve out an identity all her own. That artist is, of course, Billie Eilish, and OTEP's cover version is no mere homage to a young acolyte but rather a radical reimagining of the song that mines all of its dark sonic complexity as well as its bold lyrical message, transforming it into the kind of modern metal epic that nobody does better than OTEP.
As Shamaya herself puts it: "To me the song is a warning against cultural reduction, biased underestimation and the volatile anti-Newtonian reaction of judging someone before you know their true power."
Last September, Shamaya told the 96.7 KCAL-FM program "Wired In The Empire" that OTEP was putting the finishing touches on its ninth album for a tentative early 2023 release. "We've just finished mixing, and we're about to go into mastering," she said. "And then it's really up to the label to decide when they're gonna release it, what they're gonna release, which single they're gonna release. I have some say as to, you know, what I recommend, but ultimately it lies on them."
Regarding the songwriting process for OTEP's new album, Shamaya said: "This record actually was written with a couple of different songwriters, which I was really excited to work with. 'Kult 45' was my last album, which is four years old now. It's insane to believe that it's been four years, but it has. When I went back in the studio, the band had sort of dispersed at that point — everybody was trying to make a living and trying to find other jobs — and so I just went to the producer and we sat down and we found some really, really talented, creative people. And even though I've been doing this for a long time and have accomplished a lot — at least I think I have — I really work best with mentors. I like people that are, I feel, creatively better than I am so that I can have this sort of spiritual intercourse between all of us where we're sort of sharing ideas and I'm inspiring them and they're inspiring me."
Throughout the span of her career, Shamaya has been an undeniable force in bringing awareness via various acclaimed mediums to social and political injustices felt by various communities and subcultures. For years, publications such as Revolver magazine have lauded Shamaya for "following in the footsteps of outspoken musicians from folk singer Woody Guthrie to RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE's Zach de la Rocha, dubbing her "one of music's catalysts for social change".
OTEP's latest album, the aforementioned "Kult 45", was released in 2018. The LP was recorded at The Lair in Los Angeles, completely utilizing the same equipment used for OTEP's first album, "Sevas Tra" (down to Shamaya's vocal microphone, a SHURE Beta 58),in order to create a sound reminiscent of their roots. "Kult 45" was produced by the band, with assistant engineering from Larry Goetz, Nicolas Schilke and Lizzy Ostro.
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