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How Three Friends from Different Countries Combined Forces to Release An EP

The collaborative project SZN includes musicians Sanaan Mohamed, Zach Cohan and Nathanie Ngu

David Britto Feb 10, 2021

Global collaborative project SZN. Photos: Courtesy of the artists

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When artists Sanaan Mohamed (from Chennai), Los Angeles-based Zach Cohan and Nathanie Ngu from the Malaysian city of Kuching first crossed paths, it was at a talent show in 2018 at the University of Arizona. However, it wasn’t until a year later that the trio got together to form their collaborative project called SZN (taking the first letter from their names for the group). “We all started working together at weekly collaboration sessions with other local musicians in Tucson, Arizona and got really close as friends,” says Mohamed.

In the midst of the pandemic, SZN began working on their own material which has shaped up to be their groovy, R&B induced and melodic six-track debut EP Sanaan, Zco & Nathanie Present… SZN.

By July of last year, the trio already had three songs in the bag and ended up finishing the rest of the record when they moved in together at Cohan’s grandmother’s house. “After leaving Zach’s grandma’s and setting in at a new job in San Francisco, I ultimately had to quit and head back to India due to immigration issues and it was a really emotional process,” says Mohamed.

On the bright side, SZN were able to complete the EP which according to them reflects a summery vibe owing to the time it was made. The record opens with the breezy “Time Goes By” before going into the head-bobbing “Can’t You See.” Next, we hear the moody “I’ve Been Busy,” the indie-pop offering “New Heights” and the groove-oriented “Orange View.” The EP closes with the saccharine “Lose Control.”

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Talking about the tracks, Ngu says, “Each song lyrically touches on a different subject and feeling.” Mohamed adds, “We were honestly just reflecting on how our lives were going during the pandemic. For instance, ‘Can’t You See’ was influenced by the injustices we were observing. ‘Time Goes By’ was inspired by reflecting on how perfect things were when we were kids.” While the record includes plenty of upbeat and positive moments sonically, Cohan says, “Lyrically, we wanted to share a message and substance in each song and overall make the songs cohesive as to work well on a project.”

While Mohamed admits that the recording process was a bit challenging at first, he tells us that it ended up turning into a fun activity. Ngu chimes in and explains that it was very natural to be writing music together. Sanaan, Zco & Nathanie Present… SZN is filled with beautiful vocal harmonies, runs and melodies against upbeat grooves and instrumentation as well as brisk rap sections.  

Currently, the project is on pause due to all three artists in different spaces in their personal lives as well as geographically. Each of them is now focusing on their own solo material. “We decided to go on hiatus until we can reunite in the same physical space after building our individual music careers further down the line,” says Ngu.

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Stream ‘Sanaan, Zco & Nathanie Present… SZN’ on Spotify below and on other platforms

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