Lavender-haired and spritely, Liz Mencel (better known by the name ROZES), looks as if she could be just another festival-goer when I meet up with her at Firefly Festival. With jean shorts, a summery tank and her hair tied up in bohemian braids, she could’ve been my neighbor over in RV Lot 9.
Soon enough, we’re gushing over how epic Twenty One Pilots was the night before, she’s telling me what shows she’s looking forward to and she’s confessing to me that at age three, she “aspired to be Paula Abdul.”
When ROZES starts to tell me about her collaboration with The Chainsmokers, I come back to reality. She’s not just your average 24-year-old with a knack for braiding hair and a love of live music. “Music has always been my reason for living. I was always the weird girl in school who would be like, writing on her converse and stuff,” ROZES reveals. “When I was 15 years old my parents supported me getting a fake ID so that I could play open mic nights in the local bars. I lived for the rush of getting up on stage,” she says.
By the tender age of 16, ROZES had opened for acts like Teddy Geiger and soon after, she landed a writing gig with Australian DJ Just a Gent which resulted in the song “Limelight.” What followed was the rest of her life.
“The Chainsmokers found me on Twitter, followed me and DM’ed me immediately,” ROZES says of her collaboration with the EDM sensation. “I knew them as the ‘selfie’ guys and I thought they were hitting on me! When they asked me to come for a writing session, I figured, ‘I’m an opportunist. Why not?’” She continues to describe the day she hung out in Drew Taggart’s apartment with the princes of electronic pop music as one of the most fun days of her life. “They’re such goobers and so funny. I totally pre-judged them and they proved me wrong and changed my entire life.”
The hit that catapulted The Chainsmokers into electronic music stardom and changed ROZES life completely was, of course, “Roses”—not coincidentally featuring ROZES.
As the two of us sit just a few steps away from the stage that ROZES will be performing on tomorrow for thousands of people, she shares with me some surprising self-doubt. “I was the one who sat alone at lunch. I had multiple ‘friend groups’ but never felt totally at home,” she says. “I want my music to be there for those girls. I want people to know that it’s okay to be emotional and to feel things. Even if you were the ‘popular girl,’ everyone has insecurities. I want mental health awareness to be recognized and normalized,” she concludes.
She admits to being shy and an introvert. So much so, even, that often if she’s met you before and sees you out in public, chances are she will walk right by you. “I don’t want people to think I’m rude. It’s just that I’m insecure!” she explains, admitting that she has to have an alter ego while on stage. “I become a whole different person on stage. I become this crazy-unicorn-butterfly baby and I don’t care what you think!”