Otan Vargas
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Otan Vargas

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Rock Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Mistress of Otan Vargas"

A pen scratches in the corners of a darkened room. The yellow glow of a lamp reveals hands that time has not yet aged, but which the frequent brush of strings has, nevertheless, thickened. For now, they lie still in respectful anticipation, knowing that soon enough they will free the unseen beauty that comes in guises uncounted - a whimsical mistress, with form ever changing for each one who strokes her. Whether a melancholy melody of nostalgia or the hopeful harmony of the present, either can be found in the notes that form her features.

The songs that I write are reflections of my previous and present life...

She looks up from the pages and speaks the story for one whom, though few of word, is bountiful in discussion. Song is the speech of choice and once she is heard, none can begrudge her.

I’d rather sing for you for two hours than to talk to you for even just a half a minute.. .

But what is there to be said? It was first spoken in the spring of October, 1984, the cry of the beginning, coupled with the discord of many who were ending.

Tondo, is known to be the poorest and most notorious place in Manila, Philippines. It’s where you see 8 year old kids working in junk yards instead of playing and going to school, so that they can have something to eat for the day, because their parents didn’t care. I was friends with these kids and it’s amazing how they turned out now...

The music then takes a step and her stride stretches from past to present, from an island of starving souls to another of starving musicians. Experience has seeped into her eyes and her dance is now polished with grace.

I am currently working on new songs and planning to record and produce my first EP while at the same time doing shows locally here in Long Island, New York and all around the tri-state area. I think as a person I’m kind of starting to learn to accept and appreciate everything that comes my way, no matter what it is.

I have learned how to let go and just let it out through my music. I just want to continue writing music and share it to the people out there; whatever I get for what I am doing is not really my concern at the moment. It’s amazing how they would react and write to me to tell their own sad stories and how I have touched their lives. They would tell how they can relate to my music and how my music gave them hope and endurance to take another shot in life.

A shot in life, that is the greatest gift that can be given and Otan gives it freely just as it was given to him...

I was fortunate enough to have parents who sent me to school and tried to provide the things that I need. Everyone in the family sings for a living, or was a church choir member. I think it’s more of a communal thing because almost all of the people around me know how to sing. My father is a singer while my mother is a businesswoman. I’ve been singing since I was kid.

I learned to play the acoustic guitar when I was 17. That’s the only instrument I play. I tried to learn the piano but it didn’t really work for me. Again, that’s when it felt like I was the only one who didn’t know how to play it. Fortunately, it worked when I tried to do both singing and playing. I was lucky to be raised in such surroundings.

The pen pauses and the arms drop away. The music peers through her bars as a hand reaches for the guitar and she rejoices as she is freed to do her telling.

I can be your host or I can be your hostage, either way I appreciate it. God bless..

| written by Joshua Schrader

http://www.musicsrisingstarsmag.com - Music Rising Stars Magazine Online

"Otan Vargas Interview"

Every once in a while we stumble upon something special, So special that from the second we here one line of one song
we are consumed and want more. Not often does this happen but when it does it is one of the most magical feeling's in
music today. A feeding frenzy of the mind and listening pallet kick's into action like a craving for chocolate it no longer is
a want to listen to music it is a need. I know this for a fact because it recently engaged me when I heard a song from a
great acoustic artist and song writer named Otan Vargas. Like every musician Otan has a story that would intrigue the
deepest skeptics and if you listen closely to his lyrics you may pick up that story as words flow through his mind they are
scratched onto paper through these thought's come his powerful and meaningful lyrics that could have special meaning
to each and everyone of us.
Otan Vargas is a Filipino who moved to the United States in 2006. Born on October 4, 1984 to Romeo Vargas, a folk
singer himself and to Venus Vargas, a businesswoman.
He is proud to say that he was born and raised in Tondo, known to be the poorest place in Manila.
His honest music captivated fans from all over the world via the internet, giving testimonials of how its melancholy
touched them beautifully. His songs were inspired by his very own experiences, moods, and emotions. They are sung
diaries, so to speak.
Alone with his acoustic guitar and his indescribable dismal voice, Otan Vargas’ words and melody enigmatically brings
sanguinity despite of its evoking sadness that only a few can hold.

by Joshua Koloski

http://mouth4music.com/otanvargas - Mouth4Music.com



‘Selected Sorrow’ is a collection of songs which consider why things in the world are often so askew – how they might have gone wrong, and how we can make them better. “Maybe I” presents a challenge: “Can you change the way I’m living?” The steady punch of the instruments makes the personal restlessness more pronounced. Ultimately, Vargas realizes that perhaps the power for change has been in his hands all along. Rather than searching for someone to blame, he reflects on his own actions, admitting that he might have made a better effort – “Maybe I didn’t try to believe in me.”

Certainly we can choose our own paths in life by committing to healthy habits and positive attitude. Yet sometimes life throws tragedies our way which are completely beyond our control. Much like the petition of the Serenity Prayer, we can only ask to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. This is addressed in “Under the Rain,” a song Vargas released as a single shortly after his local area was hit by the October devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The chorus is powerful with the blast of alt grunge guitar accompanying the line, “So I open the windows in pain, and leave all the things I can’t change.”

A slow wandering takes place in the simplistic opening of “Hollow Destination.” The drums play in military march, as if for a soldier who has lost his purpose for battle. “Oh where do I go from this?” Vargas asks. The pace trudges along in despair, with Vargas saying, “I’m hoping for a light.” The pulsing darkness hints at an Alice in Chains influence.

Otan Vargas completes ‘Selected Sorrow’ by returning to his acoustic guitar in “The Truth in You,” an aching tale of what once was. The lonesome plucking of guitar strings accentuates the solitude stated in the lines, “I close my eyes and face the memories.” Those images are beautiful and good, yet the heartbreak of the present status proves too much. “I can’t accept this all must end, I have to leave. I don’t see the truth in you anymore.”

written by Myriah Christine | Resonance Indie Music Vibe

ALONE 2009

Otan Vargas’ melancholic voice is often compared to Staind’s Aaron Lewis. In fact, Aaron Lewis admitted, “He sounds better than I do most of the time.” This statement was made just as Lewis called Vargas on stage to play Staind’s hit single, “It’s Been Awhile.” The song, performed at a Valentine’s Day concert in 2009, was praised with a standing ovation at The Music Box Borgata Hotel and Casinos. It has been Vargas’ career highlight thus far.

Coming from humble beginnings, the Filipino musician was born in 1984 in Tondo, one of the poorest areas of Manila. The son of a folk singer, Otan grew up in a community where nearly everyone around him knew how to sing.

His acoustic career began in 2006, shortly after he moved to New York. Vargas sings about enduring suffering, battling the voices within, and trying to find a constant peace for his soul. Though many of his lyrics speak of being “down and forsaken,” his music rises above bitterness. Vargas’ gratitude comes through in all his writing. Really, when have you ever opened a rock album, acoustic or otherwise, to be greeted with the words,God bless all of you?

Alone is Otan Vargas’ full length debut album, released December 2009. The raw emotions which beautifully pour out through Vargas’ rhythmic guitar and powerful vocals bring to mind grunge band slow songs such as “Indifference” by Pearl Jam and “Down in a Hole” by Alice in Chains. The title track has you feeling like you’re in the room with your confidant who is silently mourning. The curtains are drawn and all else loses importance while you focus on the emotion steadily dripping into a pool of sorrow. Otan sings, “Alone deep in the dark, I hide all my sorrows from you.” The sadness refuses to be suppressed however, as it seeps through the music, so beautifully sung.

“Without You” ends the journey of Alone, as Vargas finally finds someone with whom to share his life. This final track captures the transformative revelation brought through love when singing, “Without you, I can’t see myself. Without you, I can’t feel. Without you, my life would still be the same.” This album will assure you that no one is ever alone in feeling alone. And there is always a ray of light even in the darkest night.

~Myriah Christine, Silvertongue Online



Otan Vargas’ honest lyrics and raw emotion, likened to such culturally defining artists as Staind, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains, has captivated fans from around the world via his personal YouTube videos.

This Filipino born New York based artist received due recognition in 2009 when Staind frontman, Aaron Lewis, discovered Vargas on video covering one of his songs. Lewis later invited Vargas onstage at The Music Box Borgata Hotel and Casinos to perform Staind’s “It’s Been Awhile,” his rendition eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd.

Shortly after, Otan Vargas released his full length debut album, ‘Alone,’ in which “Vargas sings about enduring suffering, battling the voices within, and trying to find a constant peace for his soul” ~ The Silver Tongue, Dec. 2009.

He has since played several New York venues, including The Bitter End, The Bowery Electric, and Gramercy Theater. Vargas also performed in Wantagh, NY at the Jones Beach Bandshell in 2010 and 2012 for crowds numbering up to 5000.

2011 had Vargas performing alongside Aaron Lewis, Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour, Tesla, and Lo-Pro at the It Takes A Community benefit show. This 2-night charity concert in Northampton, MA supported the non-profit organization founded by Aaron Lewis and his wife, Vanessa, in order to raise funds for reviving rural communities throughout the greater New England area.

Vargas also took his first cross country mini-tour in summer 2012, travelling as far as Houston (House of Blues) and Dallas (House of Blues) where he was again well received by audiences.

Otan Vargas’ appeal is found in his gravelly vocals backed by brooding acoustic strums, a powerfully simplistic combination supporting candid lyrics. This pensive melancholy is exemplified through the ‘Selected Sorrow’ single, “Maybe I”. The song is a ruminating tale centered in the ache for greater fulfillment. “Nothing has changed, I don’t know why,” sings Vargas. Rather than submitting his woes to societal factors, he considers his own concupiscence: “Maybe I didn’t try to believe in me… Maybe I didn’t see what was given to me.”

His lyrics confer self doubt, yet Vargas remains humbly grateful. In a 2011 Resonance interview he said of his fans, “The best thing you can have is someone who truly believes in you.”

Vargas’ tinges of sadness are overridden by the music’s profound sanguinity. Overall, the individual maintains the power to move beyond his plight and embrace a new destiny. Listeners will want to embrace the hope of Otan Vargas’ ‘Selected Sorrow.’


written by Myriah Christine | Resonance Indie Music Vibe