Elizabeth Rose Mencel—Rozes—wrote her album on a broken heart. Her debut seven-song EP, Burn Wild, is an emotional journey through love and all of the emotional battles it brings. But work-wise, Rozes has had success; her collaboration with DJ duo The Chainsmokers, "Rozes," hit no 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. I talked to Rozes on the phone this week about love, her brand new EP, and her Top 40 hit with The Chainsmokers.
Tell me about how “Rozes” with The Chainsmokers happened.
They heard a song that I did with [the DJ] Just a Gent called “Limelight.” So they started following me on Twitter. I was just walking around my college campus grocery store and I get this notification that The Chainsmokers are following me. I was like “Oh My God, this is insane."
Then they direct message me, and I’m freaking out for like ten minutes before I even read the music. It was just like, “Hey, what’s up. We heard your music and would love to work with you.” I was literally about to faint. It was just crazy because the night before I was like “I’m not going to do any more collaborations unless it’s someone huge like the Chainsmokers.” I put that into the air and then it happened. They’ve been like my older brothers through this whole process and I couldn’t thank them enough.
The success of this song, though, is nothing I was prepared for. My team was freaking out. We were all like, “Wow this is happening a lot faster than we expected this too.” It’s kind of me trying to catch up to it all. It’s a good position to be in but at the same time I’m running around like headless chicken.
Are you worried that fans will have a hard time transitioning from this huge hit to your solo work?
I think the thing that people will [notice] is my voice. Throughout every song that I do is my voice, and that song is about my voice. I think it will be fine. I hope it will.
You're only 22! How did you get your start as a musician?
I’ve always been a musician. It’s just kind of in my blood. My parents are musicians and their parents are musicians. I grew up playing piano—at like six years old—and then violin, and then saxophone, and it just kind of snowballed.
It kind of became my escape and the only thing that saved me. I was a typical band geek in school, and found my comfort in the music room. I just started writing because I went through a terrible breakup.
It was just the perfect storm. It was horrible—he was my high school sweetheart. It put me in a dark place and music became the only thing that understood me. It came at the right time. Looking back at it, I’m so thankful it happened, but at the time, it was the worst thing in the world.
Your EP Burn Wild comes out on Valentine’s Day. Is that because it’s relationship focused?
It’s ironic. It was suggested [to me] and then I was like, that’s an amazing idea. There are so many people who hate Valentine’s Day, and this is an emotional EP.
The EP is an emotional journey. It’s developed over like a year and a half. and each song is like a different stage in my life, and a different person really. Looking back, it’s such a development of Rozes, who I was then and who I am now.
Let’s talk a little about the relationships that inspired a few of the songs on this album:
I had been dating a guy and it’s actually like so specifically about him that I would be surprised if he didn’t know it was about him. It was one of those stupid relationships that lasted maybe a month or two. It ended up being one of my favorite songs.
This came when I was seeing somebody else. I was in the phase where you're like, “I really want to know if I’m the only one on your mind… Am I the only one you think about?” So it goes from a breakup to this kind of obsession to confusion. The whole EP in whole is like a relationship. You’re broken hearted, your’re in and out, you’re confused again.
I was kind of in a dark place… I allowed myself to be vulnerable. People have been able to relate because they felt fragile before, and they fell into the arms of someone who made them feel comfortable, but in the end it was just full of shit.
Do you feel like you have to protect yourself to keep your vulnerability from taking away your privacy?
I don’t even try to protect myself. I’ve always vowed to be so honest through my music. I remember when I was younger and I watched an Adele documentary and she was like, “I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable. It’s like reading my diary to the world.” Amazing. Exactly what I want to do. I want people to see me in my rawest form.
One last question. Do your friends call you "Rozes"?
They call me Liz or Lizzie. I think when they talk to each other they call me Rozes. They've sent me screenshots where they call me Rozes and that is really strange because to me, I’m just “Liz."
Rozes EP Burn Wild comes out February 14th. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.