ROZES on her unique style and move toward the spotlight [Interview]

ROZES sat down with us to talk about her progression toward the spotlight, what fuels her work and how she views the creative process.

ROZES is a Philadelphia born and raised singer-songwriter. The artist’s debut single came out in September of 2014. Since then, the now 22-year old released several other singles and an EP. Additionally, she lent both her writing and her voice to The Chainsmokers’ track “Roses.”

The young artist is beginning to grow acquainted with the spotlight, as she continues to release new work. Her most recent single, “Under The Grave” came out this autumn. Featuring her jazz-infused pop vocals, the song and associated video have been well received.

ROZES sat down with’s Erin Huestis to talk about her progression toward center stage, what fuels her work and how she views the creative process.

ROZES Where did the name ROZES come from?

ROZES: When I was younger I went by – as a singer-songwriter – as Elizabeth Rose. And I wanted to incorporate Rose into my name because it’s my grandmother’s name. And she was kind of the person that always encouraged me to continue my music. Since I’m the youngest in my family, I would be babysat by her all the time. So she would make me practice my piano or we would sit down and sing together. So I kind of wanted to be her Rose the way she was mine.

TCC: Artists throughout time have expressed that by changing their name – or assigning a name to their artistry – there is some level of freedom. It separates the artist from the individual in a way. Do you find that ROZES the artist is different than Elizabeth the woman?

R: Oh yeah, completely. I mean, sometimes I call it my alter ego. The person I am on stage and who I am performing and writing is almost completely different from who I am when I’m sitting at home. If somebody were to meet me on the street they would probably think I’m this shy girl – who just talks a lot maybe. But as ROZES, it’s a whole different mantra that I have to myself. I’m this confident person and not very insecure at all. So it’s kind of nice to be able to be two different people I guess.

TCC: There is something interesting in your music and vocals – an old-school inclination, with hints of jazz. Are there specific styles or artists that influenced you to develop the sound you have? Or did you find it on your own?

R: I grew up in jazz band and my family is a big jazz family. So I grew up on Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. So my style kind of comes from there. And one of my hugest idols is Amy Winehouse. I like how emotional she is and how raw her voice comes across. And I always wanted to also portray that and be able to convey the realness that I have underneath my voice.

TCC: Taking your own personal style – What was it like bringing that to the table with The Chainsmokers and co-writing and performing “Roses” with them?

R: I was kind of nervous at first because I didn’t really know where I would fit in as far as their style went. Before I met them, I only knew “#SELFIE” and “Kanye.” I knew I didn’t have the typical pop vocal that a lot of other artists have. I think it just happened to be the perfect collision of two worlds. And they really opened me up to being in the pop world. You know, and brought me more to this “mainstream” vocal land.

TCC: You are saying they brought you into this pop sphere. Do you feel like that song accurately represents the kind of artist you are overall?

R: I think that it represents my writing and my vocals. But I think that also, it’s like peeling back an onion. There is so much more to me than what that is too, at the same time. So I guess in one part it does describe who I am as an artist and I love it and I love that it captured that. And at the other end I hope that people also look into it and realize there’s something deeper there.

TCC: Left to your own devices, would you continue on a synth-dance infused feel? Or would you take a different turn with your music?

R: I think that, with the music that I have for 2017, it has the elements of EDM and dance in there, but in my own emotional synth-pop way. I am a very emotional writer, but I don’t want to depress people with symphonies and violins and whatever. I want to be able to say deep lyrics, but I also want it to be fun.

TCC: It is our understanding that “Under The Grave” is no exception to that. Can you talk a little about the track and how it came into being?

R: I am a very emotional writer. And a lot of times – well actually, all the time – I draw from real life experiences. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, because I’ll dig into emotions that I haven’t felt since like high school or something. And my friends, or my mom, or my boyfriend will be like ‘Do you still love this person that you are talking about?’ You know, things like that. So I can get myself into trouble often times.

But, as far as “Under The Grave” goes, it was kind of adjusting to my life in the music industry. And I was out in LA and my friends back home got into a situation. And I wasn’t there the way I should have been. And I wanted as a writer to commit myself to being honest at that moment. And I was like ‘You know, if I’m willing to throw other people under the bus for the emotions they’ve cause me, I want to throw myself under the bus for emotions I’ve caused other people.’ And so I guess “Under The Grave” is my open apology to my friends saying ‘I am still here for you. And I will humiliate myself for you to show you that I am so sorry.’

TCC: Making that adjustment into the spotlight – how has that been?

R: It’s very hard and I think at the same time I’m lucky at the way that it’s going because with The Chainsmokers track I wasn’t really thrown into the celebrity world, but I was exposed to it. So there’s moments when I’m on stage where there’s the glimpse of that celebrity life. But I could also walk around my hometown, or where I live and people won’t come attacking me. So I’ve been lucky in the way that I’ve been gradually building up.

It’s also hard when I’m traveling by myself. It’s times like that when I find myself kind of insecure or losing my footing a little bit. Just trying to get my bearings straight. And I always feel like, oh, this is my life. I need to stay on top of it and still have a straight head.

TCC: How would you define yourself as an artist to somebody that doesn’t necessarily know what you sound like yet?

R: I guess I would say a raw, emotional, energetic pop singer. I guess what I really want people to take from me is that I want to represent feelings that people are afraid to talk about. And I want my story to be able to help people in a therapeutic way. Because sometimes music helps you, sometimes it hurts you. I just want to be there for people listening I guess.

TCC: As you are taking these steps toward the spotlight, what are some of your fears or insecurities?

R: I think that my fear would be getting lost in it all. And kind of getting caught up in writing music for the radio instead of writing it for my fans or my own therapy. I know that won’t happen just because I’m such a worrywart and I’m like OCD. I have a straight path as far as what I want to represent as an artist – and I’m very picky about it. But I think it’s a valid fear.

And also being forgotten, or not being relevant. I think that’s a huge fear of anyone in the industry. Because music is changing daily. You know, you have to be ahead of the game every step of the way.

TCC: What kind of advice would you give to other young music makers that are up and coming now?

R: I think to just know who you are and know that good art is good art. There is really no comparing. A good song is a good song. Nothing is better or nothing is worse. As long as it’s your art and it’s your honesty and you’re telling a story that you think people can understand. Then, just don’t give up on it.

TCC: What can fans expect to see from you in the next year?

R: Hopefully touring. I’ll be doing Firefly. I think I have a lot of big shows coming up – South by Southwest. So I think I’ll be working on my live show and putting out an EP hopefully.

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