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