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Othon Mataragas is an unconventional songwriter, a progressive producer, an unorthodox composer and an eccentric piano soloist. Born in Greece, he gave his first concert at the age of five and in the following years he won several national piano competitions and awards. During his adolescence and while enjoying a fair amount of publicity (he performed a number of times on the Greek TV and radio), Othon felt gradually more discontent with the conservative Athenian world of classical music. He became fascinated with UK movements such as new wave and gothic and he was soon to look unlike any other classical pianist in his country. This did not go down well; expected performances were postponed and a scheduled performance at the Pallas Theatre (one of Athens’ greatest) was cancelled as “his appearance was not exemplary enough”.
Othon’s passion for music brought him to London to study piano at the Royal College of Music and composition at Trinity College of Music, as a Leverhulme scholar. Though he enjoyed his formal studies, he still felt like an outsider both as a musician and a thinker. He realised that academic musical studies can be both a blessing and a curse and soon after graduating from Trinity, where he won the John Halford prize, he vowed to discard the intellectualism of many contemporary composers and follow his heart.
Othon’s creative journey has been extremely varied since. In 2006, he began a long-term collaboration with singer/actor Ernesto Tomasini. The groundbreaking duo Othon & Tomasini have performed in prestigious music venues in London, such as the Roundhouse, Queen Elizabeth Hall and St. Leonard’s Shoreditch Church, in addition to theatres, museums, art centres, clubs and major festivals all around Europe. Othon has composed for film and documentaries, including Bruce LaBruce’s shocker Otto; or, Up with Dead People and a new live version of Derek Jarman’s The Angelic Conversation, the latter a collaboration with one of the composers of the original Coil score, Peter Christopherson. Moreover, he performed a live soundtrack to cult film Nekromantic and wrote the music for the nominated for Bram Stoker award graphic novel The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone by Ravi Thornton and Andy Hixon. Othon has written and played for performance artists such as Franko B, Ron Athey and Dominic Johnson and was the first composer to conceive and write music for a pianist wearing boxing gloves. Othon’s music has been featured in fierce comedy shows such as Dave’s Drop In Centre by David Hoyle and art exhibitions such us Gay Icons (National Portrait Gallery), and his songs have been broadcast by radio stations in Europe and the US. Othon composed music for fashion films, performed at Nasir Mazhar’s catwalk installation at London Fashion Week and he collaborated with awarded knitwear designer Carlo Volpi. He has worked many distinguished musicians, including Martin Hall, Current 93 and the Elysian Quartet.
Othon’s debut album Digital Angel was released in December 2008 by cult label Durtro/Jnana. His second album Impermanence was released in November 2011 by Cherry Red Records/SFE. Impermanence features performances by Marc Almond, Camille O’Sullivan, Ernesto Tomasini and Justin Jones (And Also The Trees) and is the first official manifestation of Othon’s unique musical expression, which he calls PAN. Impermanence was voted the Best Greek Album for 2011 from Greek leading music site Postwave.gr whereas its track Mystery Star Dance reached number 2 on the Reverbnation UK charts.
His new ambitious album Pineal, in which he brings together his classical background with his love for fierce dance music and the sacred Ikaros (healing songs) of indigenous cultures, was released on June 23 by SFE/Cherry Red Records and its release was celebrated with a packed show at The Garage (London) featuring a choir and a number of special guests. He is currently completing the music for Against Nature, a semi-theatrical performance piece based on the 19th-century decadent bible by Huysmans. This is commissioned by Marc Almond and is in collaboration with poet Jeremy Reed.