For the better half of the 21st Century, Montgomeryville/Philly native, vocalist and songwriter Elizabeth Mencel – you know her as R O Z E S – came with the association of her million-selling 2015 collaboration The Chainsmokers (“Roses), as well as being featured on Galantis’ “Girls on Boys.” Cash Cash, Big Gigantic, Logic, and Cheat Codes also helped R O Z E S get her name and her aim out to the buying public.
Before all that, however, she came with the gift of being a child prodigy, multi-instrumentalist starting at North Penn High School and Temple U before moving forward – not only through charting collaborations – but through soaring solo EPs, records such as “Burn Wild” (2016), “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going, But I’m On My Way” (2018), and “A Very Rozes Christmas” (also 2018).
This month sees the release of her newest EP, “Crazy,” which includes the 2019 track, “Halfway There,” previously used as the official anthem of last year’s Women’s March.
dosage MAGAZINE and I caught up with Lady R earlier this week for the R O Z E S rundown.
A.D. Amorosi: So, how did you get to be R O Z E S from being born Elizabeth Mencel?
R O Z E S: My grandmother’s name is Rose, and she is also my favorite human ever. She always surrounded me with music, so I guess it’s my tribute to her, in a way.
A.D. Amorosi: What can you say about how being R O Z E S inspired The Chainsmokers to call your collaborative hit by that same name? How did Chainsmoker Taggert get to you in the first place?
R O Z E S: I honestly don’t ever remember definitively choosing a name for our song together. It just kind of happened when they sent me the final version and had it named “Roses Ft. ROZES”. The Chainsmokers direct messaged me on twitter while I was roaming about Fresh Grocer on Temple University’s campus. It was all quite random. They had found me through a song I wrote for an Australian DJ called “Limelight.”
A.D. Amorosi: I want to discuss your Montgomeryville/Philadelphia experience – do you still live in the area? Do you have friends and fam here? What are you doing daily, even in C-19, that ties you to this town? I do know that Sam from Marian Hill performed with you on a version of “Halfway There.” Ae you guys buds?
R O Z E S: While my parents still reside in Montgomeryville, I am now a Fishtown local. Most of my friends still live in Philadelphia, though we’re all in different parts of the city. I have been working a lot from home doing zoom writing sessions. It’s quite funny, but typically how the music industry goes, I never knew Sam until we were on the same label! It’s weird how the world works.
A.D. Amorosi: I know you went to Temple U for a minute – did you hang out in the city? Anywhere special within Philly’s music scene? What did you like and dislike here?
R O Z E S: I did! I was always taking the subway into Center City for yoga and hung out in South Philly, where my brother lives, a lot. I was always seeing shows at World Cafe Live, Johnny Brenda’s, and Boot and Saddle. There honestly wasn’t anything I didn’t like about it. I loved the public transportation and how convenient it was to get anywhere. I also loved having so many things to do. It felt like the world was at my fingertips.
A.D. Amorosi: Considering any music you made pre-2015, what would you say was its connection to the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) scene you inadvertently became a part of – ala Chainsmokers and Galantis?
R O Z E S: Pre-2015 I was making soft, dramatic music, which, when you think about it, is a bit like EDM. I never really thought of it that way, but I guess as I do now it all makes sense.
A.D. Amorosi: How does EDM work for you? Is it an alternative vision or version of what R O Z E S’ real intentions are?
R O Z E S: That’s an interesting way to put it! I think that EDM has been an amazing gift to my career, and while it influences a lot of the music I write, it’s not what I would define my “genre” as or where I want it to be. I’d say it’s helped me in finding my sound, and has helped me blur the lines and break out of boxes it’s easy to be put in within the music industry.
A.D. Amorosi: How did collaborating with those cats in Chainsmokers and such differ say from your work with Logic?
R O Z E S: Collaboration is such an interesting thing, everyone brings a unique contribution to the table. When working with other vocalists/artists, the writing becomes more about the message, whereas when working with production-based writers, it becomes more about the energy and feel of the song. Both are equally as important.
A.D. Amorosi: What can you say or how can you track the emotional and musical complexity of each EP of yours, “Burn Wild,” then “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going, But I’m On My Way,” and now, “Crazy?” What is their trajectory? What journey is portrayed among them?
R O Z E S: I think the messages in both these EP’s are similar. I am on a constant journey to find and better myself. A lot of my music is about me discovering myself through friendships, hardships, breakups, and love. I always want to be honest with my music and I want to say things that have depth, and I think both of these EP’s are just that. I’m committed to vulnerability.
A.D. Amorosi: What do you want to say about “Halfway There” and its ties to the Women’s March, and all levels of ultimate female empowerment?
R O Z E S: “Halfway There” felt powerful from the moment I sat at the piano to write it. That’s the thing about my music, I never know where it will end up, but I do know I need to get it out of my head and into the world. “Halfway There” is about fighting for what’s next; fighting for the future, while also being unsure of what it holds. Much like Women’s Equality, life is a constant battle, for this song to be the Women’s March song, I felt like my message was being heard and understood.
A.D. Amorosi: What were the set of incidents that lead you to write, “All Up In My Head?”
R O Z E S: I wanted to talk about being loved while struggling to love myself. I feel like this is something many of us struggle with. I think we all sometimes wish we could see ourselves and love ourselves the way our friends and partners do. I wanted to share this nervous, self-conscious side of me.
A.D. Amorosi: Why “Crazy?” Why name it as such now? And what sort of portent is “Crazy” for R O Z E S’ future?
R O Z E S: I guess I chose this name sarcastically. Women are often labeled as “crazy” when revealing the depth of their emotions. I just want to be like “hey, here’s how I feel, go ahead and call me crazy”. I’m going to continue to talk about these raw and fragile things. “Crazy” is one chapter of many honest ones to come.