By Calli Ferguson | August 9, 2022
With songs both playful and emotional, Rozzi’s pop sound is made totally unique through her warm, soulful, immaculate vocals. Her music invites listeners into her emotional world where anything is welcome, from the hope to the heartbreak. And in a way, her concerts provide a similar space.
Rozzi’s story is one of a person who was born to make music. Or–if you don’t believe in that sorta thing–a person who decided that’s what she was going to do from an extremely young age and never looked back. Regardless, her loyalty to her craft is tangible and inspiring
We were able to sit down with the singer/songwriter before she went on for her show at Elsewhere’s The Hall as a part of the “Women That Rock” bill this past August. She told us about her life long relationship with music and answered a few questions for the groovement:
How did you first fall in love with music?
Well, nobody in my family is a professional artist and no one’s a musician either. But my family loves music, so it was always on. And I would kind of just lose myself in music all the time. It was a very escapist experience. I would just get lost in my imagination with it.
And then I sang in the first grade talent show. I sang a Jewel song. That’s when I was like…I think I’m gonna be a singer forever. I kind of just made that decision. It just chose me, I would say.
Was it a feeling of the love of being up on stage and singing?
It’s kind of unexplainable. I think it’s a certain feeling. [To call it] a “calling” feels dramatic, but when something chooses you…I can’t even explain it. I just sat down, and I was 6 years old, and I was like, that’s what I’m supposed to do.
There’s never even been a moment where I considered anything else. Ever.
And when did you start writing music?
I think honestly, even before that. In preschool, I was always a bit of a loner–a bit of an introvert. And I would wander around making up songs instead of hanging out with people. I was probably supposed to be socializing, and I would just make up songs.
But I didn’t really take myself seriously. Frankly, probably not until I wrote my album “Bad Together.” The whole time I was writing songs, I didn’t really believe it–that I was a songwriter–whether because of external reactions to me as a young girl singer or my own whatever. But I didn’t really take myself seriously until my 20s.
Was there a particular moment where that changed? Or did it evolve?
I think it was just a ton of hours. I wrote a song every day for a year. And if you have to catch your mind up to something, sometimes if you just do it so much, you can’t even convince yourself it’s not true anymore. Even if I was creating a narrative from the get-go that I wasn’t a writer, I did it so much and got so much validation for it, that it was hard to convince myself that I wasn’t one.
How did performing become a part of the love of songwriting?
That was the first thing I really fell in love with. It was that feeling of connecting with people. It’s just my favorite feeling. The feeling of sharing something really, really personal and emotional and feeling total strangers connect to it…is my driving force. It’s the most addicting feeling ever.
It must have been a little scary, at least in the beginning?
It is. Yeah. But it’s also just so rewarding. Especially when it’s my own songs. ‘Cause even when it’s a cover, it’s rewarding. But when it’s my own song, to have that validation that they literally know exactly how I feel… It’s just very cozy. I feel connected. The same way I feel connected to artists I’ve never met through their music.
Cozy is a great word for that feeling! So if you could sit down with that first grade girl who sang Jewel at the talent show, what would you say to her? And what do you think she’d say to you if she saw you today?
Hmm, that’s a really interesting question. I feel like she’d say, “You didn’t give up, did you?” You know? She’d be like, “Promise me, we’re good.”
If I could say something to her…honestly, there’s nothing I could say that I would have listened to. I would say “Take your time. Slow down. And get to know yourself.” But there’s no chance I would’ve ever listened. Because people did tell me that as a kid. And I do respect the younger version of myself for not wanting to at the same time.
‘Cause when you’re little and nobody takes you seriously, it’s very frustrating when you know you’re right. I knew what I was supposed to do and everyone was like “Okay…” But I knew. And I understand why people would say, “Just live your life!” And I would be like, “No, I don’t have time! I have to go!”
But I kind of had to catch up later and take some time to just really live my life. If you’re a songwriter, or an artist of any kind, I think it’s very imperative that you live a rich life. The point of you is to express life for people who can’t express it the way you can. And so it’s necessary that you live it first.
And who influenced you? Are there specific artists?
Yeah. Endless people. Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Lauren Hill, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, The Beatles, Ariana Grande, Cheryl Crow… I mean, endless. I could go on. Alanis Morisette… on and on and on. The general, consistent rule is: A very emotional voice of some kind, and very personal and brave songwriters.
That braveness seems like it may have a lot to do with that ‘coziness’ too…
It’s true. “Cozy” sounds like it might be the opposite of “to be brave.” But I do think it takes courage to be that vulnerable.
Absolutely. And artists and audience members alike know that feeling…that magic of experiencing live music. There’s something unspoken about it, but if you could put your words to that magic, what would you say it is?
I think it’s connection. I think the human existence can be pretty lonely if you don’t take the steps to make it not. And I think one of the least lonely things we can do–the most connecting experience- is to witness somebody baring their soul in front of you in a beautiful way and to relate to it. I can’t really think of anything that makes me feel more connected than that.
And your latest EP, Berry is out. Is there anything that felt unique about writing that?
Yeah so Berry was like a Part 2; the Hymn For Tomorrow EP and Berry EP are coming out as one album at the end of this year, which has been a long time coming. I’m very excited about that.
But to me, Berry and Bad Together are very linked. In Berry, I think my production and my musical influences crystallize a lot more clearly than in Bad Together. But the running throughline that I take with me forever is the incredibly personal nature. And just the raw vocals. I always do single takes. Or for the most part, I like to record that way.
That’s amazing… It sounds so good!
Thank you, thank you! I just try and capture raw, almost live-sounding vocals. So that’s kind of a theme. I did that on both records. And I’ll probably do that forever. But I think the production is a little bit more what I’m meant to do with Berry. I just can see my growth, really. But I’m very excited for what I’ve started to create next. I don’t know what it is yet, but it’s starting to take shape.
Amazing, so we have your album coming up and something new after that. Anything else we can look forward to from you?
We’re doing four extra songs for deluxe. And the first single is a duet with my good friend, PJ Morton who’s amazing. He’s an incredible multi-Grammy winning Gospel/R&B guy. So I’m very excited about that.
Also, it looks like my song, “Best Friend Song” is going to have this really fun sink in this Netflix movie coming up in a couple weeks! It’s this movie called Me Time with Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg, which is hilarious to me. It’s gonna be an opening minute montage of them being best friends. Which I can’t wait to see cause it’s about my actual best friend.
Okay that’s awesome. Before we head out, we would love to know: If there is somebody in the audience tonight taking inspiration from your show and your music, what kind of feelings or ideas would you hope that they take with them?
I love that question. I would want them to feel powerful, especially through their vulnerability. I would like them to feel that their emotions are sexy and cool. And it’s not embarrassing to feel deeply. And I would like them to feel proud of the things they’ve been through. Just feel power in it, really. Because I think that it’s so much more interesting to have lived and to be open about it. I’d love to encourage people to feel strong in that.
Rozzi’s untouchable confidence on the stage at Elsewhere was contagious. And combined with her smooth-as-butter vocals, she had the whole audience groovin’. It’s as if we were all hanging out in her basement for a slumber party. Totally cozy. Sharing laughs and secrets. Singing our Best Friend Song for our best friends.
📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis