Google. Carnegie. Mortal Kombat. Mt. Pleasant.Musician Matheus Souza is no stranger to a variety of stages

In modern culture, music is nearly ubiquitous; music encounters few boundaries and even fewer objectors. The influence of music spans the gap between the explicit and the implicit margins of society and adds a spice and variety to life not found through any other medium. Musicians are masters of the enrichment and enhancement of many different sectors of life. One of the musicians responsible for this type of enrichment is Mt. Pleasant’s Matheus Souza. 

Souza, who began violin lessons at the age of four, has been heavily featured in the video game music industry. Souza has recorded pieces for major franchises such as Final Fantasy, Mortal Kombat, and several others—often featuring as a solo violinist. 

The initial seeds of Souza’s interest in video game music were planted at home in Brazil, where he developed an affinity for delving into what makes video game tracks so unique.

“I always had an interest in music from video games growing up. Back in Brazil, I would try to record myself playing different parts of a track and figure out what made certain tracks so remarkable,” says Souza. 

This interest carried over throughout Souza’s graduate school days in the U.S., where he met people with similar interests in video game music. 

“One day … [my co-worker] sat down at the piano and started playing a famous theme from Super Mario. I couldn't believe it. I grabbed my violin right away and we started playing together. He then asked me, ‘So, do you like video game music?’ To which I answered, ‘Yes!’" 

Matheus Souza chats with Epicenter at Central Michigan University's School of Music, located on CMU's campus at 162 Music Building. (Photo: Courtney Jerome/Epicenter)The pair then went to a video game music festival called MAGfest, where Souza made many of the connections that allowed him to get his start in the video game music industry. 

As with many artists, Souza’s was a winding path that was not without hardships and difficulties. Possessing the patience to navigate setbacks and rejections was a crucial part of Souza’s eventual success in his career. 

He says, “I think the challenges in music are very similar to other areas. Perhaps more noticeable in music, one typically experiences a lot of rejection. Usually, it takes a lot of auditions, job interviews, and competition attempts in order to win one of those, and sometimes the factors keeping you from winning are outside of your control. That's when you keep doing what moves you, always striving to be better.”

Souza’s passion has kept him on the path of forward progress, and much of his passion comes from his background. 

Souza had a childhood steeped in music and performing, with his mother—who plays piano—providing the spark in the early days of his childhood. By the age of seven, Souza was playing at festivals in Brazil. 

“In a way, the music world is very small,” says Souza of those early days. “After going to a few music festivals, you end up connected to most active musicians and, suddenly, musicians you really admire are now your friends or only one connection away.” 

These connections proved pivotal for Souza, as they allowed him to come to the U.S. on scholarship to pursue an undergraduate degree in music.

Now, Souza is paying it forward, as he is the director of music events within Central Michigan University’s School of Music department. Souza’s current job allows him to stay in one place more, as he can record from home—a welcome respite after years of travel for freelance recording and performances. 

Matheus Souza chats with Epicenter at Central Michigan University's School of Music, located on CMU's campus at 162 Music Building. (Photo: Courtney Jerome/Epicenter)The contrast between this season of Souza’s career and the rest provides him a platform to survey his achievements.

When asked which achievement he is most proud of, Souza refers to this very contrast, saying, “I am the most proud of being able to make music in many different areas at a very high level. Be it recording solo violin for Mortal Kombat 11, performing at Carnegie Hall, producing music for Google, or touring with different groups, I think the ability to navigate these different music worlds is what I am proudest of.” 

As Souza continues to make headway in the music industry, navigating the accompanying complexities all the while, he reflects on the connections he has made with other musicians. 

“I have been lucky to have met amazing musicians with whom I collaborate continuously,” he explains. “We lift each other up and push ourselves to always be better at our craft. All of this is very inspiring to me.”

Souza’s career has always been about forward progress, he says. 

“One analogy I like to make is your career being like a sailboat. The sail represents your strengths and your unique traits that will take you far. Your weaknesses are like small holes in your boat that you must tend to every once in a while, repair the ones you can, remove excess water. But, at the end of the day, it is your sail that will take you far, and so you should never lose focus on your sail.”
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Read more articles by Owen Howard.

Owen Howard is an Isabella County native with a deep appreciation for all it has to offer, in both people and places. He is a current graduate student at Central Michigan University, with a bachelor's degree in biology. He was a collegiate cross country athlete for CMU and currently assists the team as a volunteer coach. In his free time, Owen could be described as 'chronically outdoors.' Owen has a passion for telling stories and for listening to other people tell theirs. He loves getting the chance to allow people to share their passions and stories with a larger audience.