With their common interests in music and art, University of Arizona alumni Sanaan Mohamed, Nathanie Ngu and Zach Cohan were destined to meet one day. In 2018, they did – and now, two and a half years later, the trio have released their debut EP under the name SZN.
SZN is an accumulation of the mutual creativity of Sanaan, Nathanie and Zach, and together the group has produced several popular songs that are broadcast around the world. The Daily Wild Cat recently spoke with the three via email to better understand what drives them to create music and everything on their latest EP.
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Daily wild cat: How did the three of you meet?
Nathanie Ngu: The three of us met during a talent competition. We all met separately but didn’t think too much about it. We started working together in weekly collaboration sessions at Zach and started to become closer friends.
DW: When did you become a band and why?
NN: When the pandemic started, only we were extremely careful, so we trusted each other enough to find ourselves at Zach’s. We ended up doing Time passes and Can’t you see tonight. I started joking that we should start a band because the acronym for our names, SZN, was catchy.
Sanaan Mohamed: Whenever there was a recording / jamming session in the Tucson music community, the three of us would often talk about forming a trio. We really liked what each person brought and so during the pandemic we decided to move in together and live in Palm Springs looking for work. It was around this time that we officially started making music for our project.
DW: Was it difficult at first to be heard in the music industry?
Zach Cohan: We never made music for the purpose of being ‘heard’ per se, but we had built an audience of over 20,000 people on TikTok on another group account with other friends and we thought that it might help us in terms of marketing. We finally got about 12k [followers] on an SZN account. Personally, I don’t think about what someone else is doing because it doesn’t help me or anyone, but I focus on improving myself and making the best music for me. If I like it, there is probably someone else who will like it too.
NN: We live in the attention economy, so it’s definitely a challenge to grab and hold people’s attention when there is so much going on in the world. However, our main goal was to make great music and have fun. When we started our promotion on social media, we took a more comedic path where our satire would be to exaggerate stereotypes of the music industry.
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DW: What do you each bring individually to SZN?
SM: I am originally an instrumentalist. I have been playing guitar for over 10 years now. All the string melodies and instruments you hear in SZN’s discography are played by me. I also brought my songwriting skills, vocals and bass melodies to our songs. I’m so grateful that I learned so much about songwriting from Zach and Nathanie during this time.
NN: I think we all bring such different sounds and talents to the table. Sanaan is like a wizard when it comes to finding catchy tunes and improvising on his guitar, while Zach has so much experience with production and rap that he can beat in 15 minutes and write. verses that correspond to different vibrations.
ZC: I have the experience of doing everything; write, produce, rap, mix, etc. Nathanie is a talented singer and songwriter and Sanaan is crazy about guitar and melodies. We all do everything in the sense that we all have our hands for writing, producing and singing / recording vocals.
DW: Regarding your last EP, what was the inspiration behind this track?
NL: This EP is mostly inspired by all the things we were going through in our personal lives and the global issues that were happening. Since the album design was at the start of the pandemic, we were afraid of what the virus would cause and what we would do after graduation, we were frustrated with the injustice and inequalities in the world. But it has also sparked reflection, gratitude and a better understanding of our individual responsibilities on Earth.
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SM: It’s a reflection of what was going on around us and how we felt at the time. It was a stressful time for all of us and it felt good to know that we had a creative outlet to express ourselves effectively. Some songs just reminded us of our childhood days, Time passes, and some were just us freestyle to do something that sounds cool, nothing more Orange view.
ZC: We were definitely inspired by the events that unfolded when we made the EP. The pandemic, mental health, goals / dreams, injustices, etc. I think it’s cool that we’ve all been through similar things but have different experiences and perspectives associated with it. I think the similarities and differences of experience and perspective played a role in the sound and content of the project.
SZN will continue to make music and their debut EP can be found on Spotify and all music streaming platforms as well as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter.
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