Paul Nabil Matthis



I have an MFA in music composition and performance from California Institute of the Arts and BFA for the same from FSU. Many of my compositions have helped film, theater, and dance productions win awards, including two grand prizes and one "Best Score" award from Christopher Coppola's annual PAH Film Festival. I compose for both chamber ensembles and fixed media. I record a lot the instruments myself, including an array of beloved SWANA hand drums.


I'm a speculative fiction author and experienced technical copywriter. I'm represented by Speilburg Agency and my debut decolonial sci-fi noir is currently on submission with several publishers. The novel is set in an Arab-futurist Latakia, Syria because it's one of my favorite cities in the country, and maybe the world. It deals with the benefits and dangers of surveillance, automation, and A.I. from a technically informed perspective, with an inclusive, plot-relevant approach to Muslim Arab history.

Social Media

Over 15,000 followers on Instagram, and over 100,000 followers on TikTok focused largely on the music, history, and current events of the MENA/SWANA region. Among other amazing opportunities, it has contributed to my being interviewed by Al-Jazeera and invitations to appear on various podcasts. I have also had the unique opportunity to give educational workshops about the darbuka, the Arab hand drum, and SWANA rhythmic traditions around the country.


  • 2001-2004

    B.A. Music Composition & Vocal Performance at FSU

    After years of solo and collaborative music making for fun, I switched from biochemistry to music composition and vocal performance and have never looked back. During this time I sang, played clarinet, drums, concert percussion, jazz trumpet, and various electronics in multiple touring, marching, and concert bands. I scored 11 short films and 3 dance productions, including one master's thesis. Upon graduation, I packed all my belongings into a tiny Honda Civic and drove across the country to Los Angeles.

  • 2004-2009

    Indie Musician

    I worked many jobs both hourly and contracted, including as a runner and then data operator for feature post production at EFILM, and then as a recording engineer for the Boat Studio with the Dust Brothers. All the while, I was scoring films and performing live-looping original music, until eventually I hunkered down in my studio to do nothing but write.

  • 2009-2011

    Hermit Mode

    During this time I started my record label and released my first album on it. I wrote several novels, all of which got shelved, and finally a rock musical called Lunatic Sun. Using the materials produced during this time, I applied and was accepted to California Institute of the Arts.

  • 2011-2013

    M.F.A. Performer-Composer at CalArts

    I collaborated with over a hundred artists during my time at CalArts, and my scores for film, theater, and dance won several awards. Some awards include "Best Score" in Christopher Coppola's PAH Fest and Director's Choice at Santa Cruz Fringe, and the book based on my story for Lunatic Sun won the Paul Stephen Lim award thanks to a rewrite by Yichao Wang. I scored two films that have won Grand Prize in their competitions, and my music was featured in around 35 international festivals at such venues as the Lincoln Center, the Jacob Burns Film Center, the Getty Museum, the Alex Theater, REDCAT, and Sundance Shorts.

  • 2013-2018

    After Grad School

    I performed in, stage managed, and music directed works funded by a CEC ArtsLink grant, the Castaic Days Civic Association, the REDCAT Association, the American Conservatory Theater, and The Industry LA Opera Company. The Industry in particular has been an honor to work with on any level, a company that has been nominated for the Pulitzer prize and awarded a MacArthur genius grant. My YouTube channel features original and cover songs sung, looped, and beatboxed, often in a single take, which has garnered over 100,000 views. My essays and music reviews have been featured on eHow, the Louisville Music News, and Spectropol Records, and have appeared on the front page of reddit more than once.

  • Current

    I am composing a chamber opera based on the poetry and life of my Syrian grandfather, Ali al-Jundi. My last project was composed in 2019, the full score for the immersive play "On Death" by Wild Art Group. As of 2022, several literary agents are considering my debut decolonial speculative fiction novel, an Arab-futurist noir set in Latakia, Syria. In my spare time, I like hiking up mountains and drinking overpriced tea.

  • Get



Short films, concerts, and other performances.


Streaming tracks and playlists.


A collection of photo albums.


Get in touch!