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Ellervator Pitch inspires business students

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Nathanie Ngu, singer and UA finance major, performing at the first Engraves show.

At the University of Arizona, the phrase "elevator pitch" has a double meaning.

Ellervator Pitch is a music business club here at the UA that "bridges the gap between Eller and the music industry," according to the club's Facebook page.

Zach Cohan began to host creative collaboration sessions for Ellervator Pitch at his house, inviting nearly 100 musicians to create and work together on new music. These sessions have inspired business students to try their hand in a different kind of industry and even helped some to release their own work to the world.

“Just creative collaboration … it was a lot of trial and error,” Cohan said. "Looking back, it’s a lot that we learned from [trial and error] but there was a lot of dope stuff that came from that."

The people who attended these sessions were not only students, but also local artists. Saxophonists and violinists, rappers and singers, and graphic designers, videographers and photographers joined in the mix.

Among this mixed bag was finance major Nathanie Ngu.

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While balancing being a finance major at the Eller College of Management as well as a recording artist, Ngu is also the current president of Ellervator Pitch, where she met Cohan.

“We just kind of came together, really through the club … and started inviting a bunch of people into a space to make music together,” Cohan said.

Ngu showed up to the sessions Cohan hosted and was encouraged to write music. She then recorded some music of her own in January of 2019, and the first eight songs she recorded were released on Spotify.

“There were a lot of sessions where I didn’t record, I just sat there and listened to something else, like something someone else was working on,” Ngu said. "It was actually pretty cool because each time someone might bring something different to the table."

Ngu finally released her own self-made music project on Spotify, titled Food For Thought, on Nov. 7. Two singles on the album, “Paris” and “Grocery Store,” earned spots on Spotify’s New Music Friday Malaysia’s playlist, which has over 50,000 followers. That kind of early exposure for a new recording artist can be rare in the music industry.

Food For Thought covers a wide range of material spanning from love to climate change. The album’s general sound is lo-fi pop with vocals, however Ngu said it is also soulful.

“I would want to go for like a neo-soul sound eventually,” Ngu said, referring to the genre that is a blend of soul and R&B. Her favorite neo-soul bands she mentions include Moonchild and Hiatus Kaiyote.

Only two of her songs on the album were recorded during the collaborative sessions at Cohan’s house.  The rest of the songs were recorded back at her home in Malaysia. Her only recording equipment was a microphone, proving that it is possible to create music without a studio.

“It was pretty makeshift,” Ngu said.

Cohan would send her a beat, she would write the song, record it and then send it back to him.

“I’m a big fan of her writing style because she’s very deep and … into it,” Cohan said about Ngu’s music. "It’s unique."

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The release show for Food for Thought was organized and promoted in part by Alex Lopez on Nov. 12. The show was held at The O in Tucson, a new comedy club. The event also included a canned food drive.  

“It was just all around positivity. It’s always been her message, so that’s why we try to incorporate as much positivity as possible,” Lopez said.

Ngu explained she would still be making music after she graduates this May.

“I think I’ll always be doing it just because it’s my form of expression,” Ngu said.

You can listen to Ngu's music on Spotify and SoundCloud. For students interested in the UA Ellervator Pitch club, meetings are on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in McClelland Hall, room 123.


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