Coming Up ROZES With Singer-Songwriter Liz Mencel

ROZES is the vocal powerhouse behind the Chainsmokers' hit of the same name, but she's also much more than that.

Who: Elizabeth Mencel, aka ROZES

Where: Philadelphia

By Day: Electronic pop vocalist and songwriter

By Night: Billboard Hot 100 chart topping powerhouse

Livingly: So to get us started, can you tell us about yourself and how you got your start in the dance music scene?

ROZES: I just started as an emotional writer, going through breakups and love and whatever, and I stumbled my way into the Chainsmokers’ path with my song Limelight. They ended up following me on Twitter, and it just kind of happened from there!

We met up in New York, and [at the time] I was falling in love with my boyfriend now. That’s what Roses is; it’s my journey of –– just taking it slow and not wanting to admit that you’re in love, but, “Don’t go anywhere,” kind of thing.

Well, that brings me to my next question: What was it like collaborating with the Chainsmokers?  

It was fun! I was nervous going into it, because I didn’t know what to expect –– all I had known of them was Selfie and Kanye, and you know, I wanted to be a part of their project. I just didn’t know how it was gonna work out. We just ended up hanging out and vibing and writing Roses, and it developed into this massive song that we had no idea was gonna happen.

Yeah, and I feel like it put you both on the map in many ways.

Definitely, I think so! I think it kickstarted both of our careers.

Liz with Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers  
Liz with Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers

What was one of the proudest moments you’ve had so far in your career?

Being on Jimmy Fallon. Growing up, I watched the late night shows and thought, Ugh, when I make it there, I know I’ve made it! I’ll know I’m on the right path, and I think doing that was really awesome. It was kind of like affirmation to myself that here I am, I’m doing it. This is what it’s like to be in the music industry.

Absolutely loved your music video for Under the Grave, it’s so soulful. Where do you find inspiration when it comes to writing your songs and creating music videos?

Thank you! I’m very about owning up to my emotions, and being okay with talking about them. I want to empower other women to be more open about their emotions. So with Under the Grave, I was going through a tough time, and I wasn’t there for my friend; and I wanted to own up to that. And say, like, I was an asshole, kind of thing.

So I wanted to portray that in a music video –– by showing different ways you can react to different situations, whether it’s emotional, physical, or not at all. And so that’s why the scenes cut the way they do, and I’m wearing different outfits, or I’m on a different background. I wanted to be able to convey [that I could be] by myself in a video and say that I’m strong enough to stand here and tell you I’m wrong.

I love that the visuals are kind of arresting, in that they’re super psychedelic and emotional. I think you did a really good job at expressing that vulnerable side, while still making it super artistic.

Thank you! Yeah, I wanted it to be moving –– with the song, but also captivating.

It seems like everywhere you look today, there are women breaking boundaries in typically male-dominated fields, and I think that couldn’t be more true when it comes to the music industry. Can you tell us about any significant setbacks you might have faced and how you overcame them?

I think that it’s a constant struggle being a woman in the industry. Especially as a featured artist, because with a lot of the featured artists, listeners think that “Oh, she just sang on the song.” But there was a lot more to it than that. I was in that room, I wrote those lyrics, I wrote that melody; you know, I was a big part of that song.

And it’s hard, because I’ll always be a step behind –– just because it says featured, or because I couldn’t go out with them and be best friends. In the industry it’s hard with blurring the lines between friendship and working. I know that a lot of the time, I could be a lot further ahead if I were a guy and I could just be best friends with somebody and hop on a tour bus with them. Whereas when you’re a girl, there’s lines that are drawn . . . [it’s] kind of strange because I can’t have that relationship, or they’re not opening themselves to that kind of relationship.

So you talk about lines being drawn, do you feel like there were any boundaries that you needed to set to protect yourself? I feel like we hear all these horror stories about the entertainment industry.

In the EDM genre in general, that is a very tough place to be as a girl. It’s portrayed as this party land, kind of, and there’s always those risks that you have as a girl, drinking too much or whatever, and especially as a performer. The audience is usually drinking a lot, and there’s lines you have to draw with your fans when you meet them [after the show]. I’m a friendly person, but there’s also those times when people are getting too close, and stuff like that.

What’s your advice for creatives looking to turn their passion into a profession, the way you did with singing and songwriting?

You have to be willing to admit to yourself as much as you are to other people that it’s your 100% dream.  A lot of people see music as just a hobby. Growing up, my friends’ parents, or my parents’ friends, [people] like that would be like, “Oh, what’s your back up plan?” But you have to be willing to be strong enough and confident enough that that is what you wanna do, and you’re gonna make it happen. And it’s gonna be your only option, because that’s the only way you really can make it in this industry. A “Plan B” is just gonna be the surest way to failure.

I think that’s really good advice! I know this is a different industry, but I’m a writer, and it’s not exactly easy either. I honestly landed in this position because I really wasn’t willing to take no for an answer, and I also knew it was something I had to do. I feel like if you feel that way, you have to go after it. You owe that to yourself.

Exactly. That’s exactly it.

At Livingly, we strive to “live life beautifully.” What does living beautifully mean to you?

I think living beautifully to me is being more confident in myself and patient with myself. Being more body-positive than I am. It’s hard in this industry, because I’m constantly comparing myself to what so-and-so looks like. Should I look like that? To me, living beautifully is allowing my body to be what it is.

Want more from ROZES? Follow her on Instagram here, and watch the full music video for Roses, her collab with the Chainsmokers, below.