Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and producer Mati Gavriel is an artist that “find[s] great joy in being creative and productive.” From his own music to working with artists like Dolly Parton, Jon Batiste, The Pentatonix, and more, Mati explores sound and visuals in his art and has from a young age. We caught up with Mati to explore music with him and get an inside look at his new song “Someone to Somebody.”
Born in Israel, Mati grew up in Germany—starting his journey into music at 8 years old with an acoustic guitar his mother gifted him—and pursued his musical education in London. “I vividly remember recording covers of bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, and Muse on my Akai stereo system during my younger years,” Mati shared with us. “Additionally, my classical training in operatic singing played a significant role in shaping my musical sensibilities.” From pop to jazz to classical, Mati’s work is a collage of his personal taste and education.
Mati’s latest project is the single “Someone to Somebody” created in collaboration with songwriter Sheppard Solomon who has worked with icons like One Direction, Britney Spears, and Enrique Iglesias. A song that Mati said, “highlights the universal human longing for love, belonging, and companionship, even in the midst of heartbreak and uncertainty. It explores the internal conflict between holding onto the past and embracing change to discover a renewed sense of self. I hope that listeners find solace in the lyrics and connect with the emotions conveyed, knowing that their experiences and desires for connection are shared by many.”
The song, alongside Mati and Sheppard’s melodies and Mati’s vocals, also features a string quartet. Mati shared that this choice was made in homage to “the iconic ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by The Beatles.” The Beatles are one of Mati’s great musical loves, and he felt that “stringed instruments possess an incredible ability to convey rhythm, emotion, dynamics, and power all at once.”
That first version of “Someone to Somebody” was recorded in Mati’s dining room as part of NPR‘s Tiny Desk Contest this year. If you haven’t seen a string quarter play alongside a singer at a dining room table complete with chess set and gingham tablecloth, you’re going to want to see that, but while the original was right at home in Mati’s house, the latest version of the song is closer to the dance floor. Mati, a microphone, and a projected visual of two dancers are the elements of the official video for “Someone to Somebody.”
“Drawing on my background as a composer for film and TV, where I often have to imagine scenes while crafting scores, I aimed to create visually striking imagery that would resonate powerfully with the viewers,” Mati said of these visuals. No green screens, just Mati and a projector and footage that “perfectly complemented the mood and narrative of the song” and the help of friend and cinematographer Michael Pessah.
We had to know more about the dancers behind “Someone to Somebody,” and how they represent Mati’s vision for song. “The decision to include projected dancers in the music video was driven by a desire to infuse a timeless and classical element into the visual narrative,” he shared. “Ballet, with its graceful movements and expressive nature, seemed like the perfect art form to enhance the storytelling in ‘Someone to Somebody.’ The concept of being pulled back into each other’s hearts, despite the challenges and complexities of relationships, is a recurring theme in the song. The image of the dancers projected behind me represents this push and pull, symbolizing the struggle and longing that many people experience in their quest for connection and love. It adds a layer of emotional depth to the video, capturing the essence of vulnerability and the complexities of human relationships.”
From the dining room to the official music video, storytelling has been a major part of Mati’s creative process with “Someone to Somebody,” and it isn’t finished. He shared that a third version of the song will be coming soon. “This stripped-down rendition of the song offers a fresh perspective, showcasing the raw emotions and intimate nature of the lyrics,” Mati said. This acoustic version of “Someone to Somebody” will be released on July 26, 2023.
No matter what version you’re listening to, Mati left us his favorite line to contemplate while we listen. “One of my favorite lines from ‘Someone to Somebody’ is ‘Nights are long, cause we all wanna just belong, so you keep hanging on and on, oh yeah, just to be someone to somebody.’ This particular line encapsulates the yearning for love and the desire to be loved in return. It reflects the willingness to sacrifice parts of oneself for the sake of someone else. Relationships often involve phases where we’d rather be ‘Someone to Somebody’ than be alone. At times, we crave being someone to somebody to provide support and assistance. The song circles back to these various interpretations, offering multiple meanings for listeners to relate to.”
“Someone to Somebody” is available to stream now.