“I know that you jumped out the window when you heard my car crash through the door” Harrison Cohen (aka Z) sings in the song “Boomerang.” That’s what you’d call a Z by Z entrance.
What happens when you throw a polished American Idol contestant into Philadelphia’s raunchy DIY music scene? You get the band Z by Z who has been turning heads with their cutting-edge brand of pop music that mixes elements of rock and soul. Formed by singer/songwriter and American Idol season XV contestant Harrison Cohen, Z by Z's catalog is akin to hearing the funk-pop sounds of Maroon 5 filtered through the slick bravado of Spoon and The Arctic Monkeys. In October 2017, Z by Z performed their song "No Time" on iHeartRadio’s Radio 104.5 FM, Philadelphia’s premier alternative rock station. Cohen’s songwriting has garnered praise from platinum recording artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban. After hearing “No Time” Lopez commented, “I really liked it, I felt like I could hear that song on the radio.”
Z by Z’s debut album, Escape Route will be released as three EP’s over the course of the fall and winter of 2018 and 2019. Escape Route asks the question, “How did we become prisoners to our minds and can we break free?” with each EP describing a different phase in the cycle. The project was recorded at Big Mama’s Studio in Old Kensington, Philadelphia with producer Chris Baglivo.
Miss Mystery, depicts the optimistic stage; that we can get out of our heads, go after what we want, and have wild fantasies. This leads us to No Time which is where reality catches up with us; we get our hearts broken, make reckless decisions and let our minds prevent us from living our best lives. Finally, Boomerang ties it all together. It talks about how we replay scenarios in our heads until we drive ourselves crazy and attempt to drown out what don’t want to think about. In the process, we realize that the only way to escape is to accept that these thoughts will never go away. We find out that the escape route is finding peace within yourself.
Cohen’s songwriting focuses on motifs of love, haunting emotions, and regret. Using music, Z by Z shares personal experiences that are sometimes channeled through mysterious metaphorical stories dreamt up in Cohen’s wild, spontaneous mind.
Z by Z began at Drexel University located in West Philadelphia playing upbeat, high energy DIY house shows for friends and college students looking to have a good time. The band members share a love of Wes Anderson movies, breakfast pizza, and music, with each member bringing their own influences to the table.
The name was created after Harrison Cohen was given the nickname Z (his middle name is Zachary). Initially, Z by Z was a fashion brand that Cohen made up as a joke while hanging with friends to create male onesies (OneZ’s) with his face on the back doing the infamous blue steel face from Zoolander. Other products and services sprouted up under the brand Z by Z such as Z Preach (motivational pep talks for when you’re feeling down), Sneeze by Z (allergy medication), Run by Z (fighting tactic), Lit by Z (candles), along with many more. When it came to picking a name for the project, it made sense to name the band Z by Z.