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Music & Brands with RA*W talent Denisa Matei

In each episode, we feature a different talent (from the RA*W community), focusing on their musical influences and connection to brands. How do young talents in the creative industry perceive music and sound in advertising and branding? Which brands do they admire? And, of course, we want to know who their favorite artist is.

In this episode: Denisa Matei, student at the University of Amsterdam.

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Denisa Matei, I am 20 years old, born and raised in Romania in a small city called Piatra Neamt. I moved to Amsterdam 2 years ago to pursue a degree in Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. Besides university I try to keep myself as busy as possible. For the past year I’ve been on the board of a student association called Mercurius and I did a 5 month internship with Spinnin’ Records as a Digital Marketing Intern. Now that my previous commitments have ended I got the opportunity to join WE ARE RA*W as an ambassador which is something that I wanted to do ever since I met and worked closely with some of their board members. While also continuing to work in the music industry, this time on the PR side for a publicity and communication agency called Cejlon, that is representing big artists/festivals such as: Mau P, Jengi, A State of Trance and many more.

Which brand do you admire and why?

One brand that I have admired for a long time is Gisou, a hair care brand founded by the Dutch-Persian influencer Negin Mirsalehi. The brand first came to my attention in 2018 when I saw Negin in Forbes Top 30 under 30. I was utterly impressed by the fact that her business was more than a means of making profit, it was an eulogy to her family’s heritage and a passion project. I was 15 years old at the time and it was the first time when I saw a young, driven, successful woman that took a chance on herself and her dream and I thought to myself that’s gonna be me. I think we could say Negin Mirsalehi was the first professional role model I had. Since then I have followed the evolution of the company and I am still impressed by how beautifully the brand has grown when it comes to the range of products they offer and the increased popularity they gained while at the same time remaining true to their original mission and vision.

When you think of your favorite brand – if it had a theme song, what would it be?

With the risk of sounding really gen Z, I need to say Peggy Gou – It goes like (nanana), and not just because this track has been living rent free in my mind for some time but because when I think of Gisou, I think of self care, of the small and quiet moments we take to recharge, of the childlike joy of observing life unfolding before your eyes. Gisou feels exactly like a sunny day in Amsterdam, and for all the people living here, you get what I mean, is a tacit shared experience when you can see everyone taking a moment to just enjoy life without doing anything special, and for a split second being is enough.

For me that is the definition of romanticizing life, and this is exactly the feeling I get from this song. It is hard to listen to this song and feel sad or not feel like the main character. That being said I think this would definitely be the best choice for the Gisou theme song, maybe this idea will spark a collab, who knows (haha).

Which brand (national or international) distinguishes itself by embracing the use of music? Do you have an example of a campaign that demonstrates this?

A brand that succeeds at distinguishing itself through music is definitely Kenzo, even though this is a very subjective opinion since a lot of fragrance brands use music in their commercials. I think Kenzo is a brand that wants to position itself on the market as being different and cater to an audience that is not afraid of being unapologetically true to who they are. I think the campaign that showcases this the best is the one for their perfume Kenzo World that came out in 2017, because it goes against the stereotypical scenario used in all perfume adverts, that showcase a beautiful woman or man that become more desirable by using the perfume, with the background of an aesthetic nature or city view.

However the focus of this campaign is the union between sound and movement but not in a conventional way because they use the song “Mutant Brain” by Sam i, Ape Drums & Agent Sasco (Assassin) that is a very peculiar and inharmonious sound that no one would expect in a perfume commercial, with a choreography that matches the vibe of the song and synchronized to the beat offering a weird but very memorable experience for the viewer. This campaign strengthens their position, appealing to people that want to be unique and not conform to the rules. I was never a Kenzo fan but after so many years I still remember that ad and I think I’m not the only one.

What is your favorite artist/band? Can you explain why?

It’s funny. Usually when I get this question I start with saying it’s complicated and the answer is “a bit of everything”. That is exactly why I find this question so difficult to answer. I like so many different genres such as R&B, EDM, House, Pop, Rap, Rock and I listen to so many great artists and bands such as Amy Winehouse, Rihanna, Connan Gray, Arctic Monkeys, all of them with such a different vibe. However if I really had to choose one artist I think it would be Martin Garrix, because I discovered him from the beginning of his career when “Animals” became a worldwide sensation and he really opened a whole world of music for me. That’s when I started listening to EDM, House & Techno. Throughout the years my preferences have changed a lot but I think his songs have constantly been in my playlist because they always put me in a good mood and take me back to when I first heard them.

My favorite song from him:

If you compared that artist or band to a brand, what brand would that be?

If I had to match Martin Garrix with a brand it would definitely be Redbull, and not because he’s Dutch and I am an F1 fan but because he is always so full of energy and has that childish excitement every time he’s playing a set. And even though I am not a fan of energy drinks, when I think of DJs, festivals and just dancing the night away the first thing that pops in my mind is Redbull. I think they would definitely make a good pair also because it’s impossible for a DJ to be that full of energy without some good old caffeine.

Which song takes you back to a certain moment in your life? What moment is that, and why is that song so connected?

A song that has a special place in my heart is “Free” by Ultra Nate because it takes me back to a specific moment 2 years ago, a few days before leaving Romania and moving to Amsterdam for uni. I was in the car with a friend, and we were driving on an empty bystreet. All the windows were rolled down and he played this song. I was listening to it for the first time and the lyrics just hit me so deeply because until that moment I was simultaneously anxious and excited about leaving the place that I called home for 18 years and starting a new life. But in that moment nothing mattered anymore, all the worries went away and I felt truly free. I will forever associate this song with living in the present and a carefree type of happiness. I don’t dwell much on the past but every time I hear this song I revisit this particular moment.


Maurice Paans

Client Director

Contact Maurice