Elizabeth Mencel, known professionally as ROZES, thought The Chainsmokers were hitting on her when they first messaged her on Twitter.
“I thought it was a fake account,” Mencel said. “They messaged me and said, ‘Hey, what’s up?’”
But the American EDM DJ duo was more interested in Mencel for her talent—they asked the 22-year-old singer-songwriter to write for them.
Mencel composed the song “Roses” with The Chainsmokers, and she said she didn’t think it was going to go anywhere—but it did.
The song reached No. 6 on the BillBoard Hot 100, and No. 1 on BillBoard’s Hot Dance/Electronic chart for the week of Jan. 9, 2016.
“It was such an organic process,” Mencel said. “It was easy only because we got along so well.”
Mencel’s career first started in 2014, when she was featured on Australian DJ Just A Gent’s song “Limelight,” which she also wrote.
“When you’re in the music industry, you make random connections,” Mencel said. “That’s how The Chainsmokers heard of my voice.”
The songwriter’s love of music emerged long before she found success with The Chainsmokers. At the young age of 3, she began singing in her church’s choir. At 6 years old, she started taking formal music lessons.
“Music was my second language, the only place where I belonged,” Mencel said. “It was my life.”
In 2015, Mencel attended Temple for one year as a journalism major, and she said it was the “best year” of her life. Mencel attended community college prior to Temple, so it was her first real college experience, she said.
The freedom of exploring the city without a curfew from anyone was a constant adventure, she said.
“We were freshmen as juniors in college,” she said. “I made so many friends who I still talk to this day. … It’s definitely a time in my life I’ll never forget.”
During this time, she was constantly missing school to travel for music. It started with just leaving Fridays open to commute to New York, but it ended up being so time consuming she needed to leave college altogether.
Being in the music industry at such a young age is strange for Mencel, because she deals with issues she wouldn’t have had to encounter if it wasn’t for her career.
“I deal with adult problems, but I’m still like a child,” she said. “I didn’t know music would take off this fast.”
When the hit song “Roses” came out, Mencel said she finally felt accepted within the music industry, and other artists started to look at her more seriously.
Mencel became a real musician, “not just an indie artist that would remain undercover,” she said. Still, it’s frustrating for Mencel that she received validation from the music industry only after she had a Billboard hit.
“It sucks I needed that kind of credit, because I always knew I had it in me,” Mencel said. “But it’s also amazing, because it’s opened a million doors of possibilities for me.”
Mencel recently visited Main Campus for an interview and performance with Temple Talk, a talk show hosted by Temple students.
Marissa Giletto, a junior journalism major and co-creator, executive producer and host of Temple Talk, was “looking for someone that could really bring in an audience,” Giletto said, so she reached out to Mencel’s manager.
People were lining up outside of Annenberg Hall’s Studio 1 before Mencel even arrived, Giletto said.
“She was very funny and captivated the audience,” Giletto said. “It was the loudest applause we’ve ever had.”
When the Temple Talk team was interviewing Mencel, Giletto said viewers “really see her personality.”
“She was our friend, not just a guest on our show,” she added.
Mencel said it was “weird” being back in the same building where she used to take classes.
“I walked there as a student, nervous for class,” she said. “Here I was walking the hallways as someone completely different.”
Mencel is currently working on another album and plans to sign for a record deal, as her immediate goal is to have her own song on the radio within a year.
As for long term goals, Mencel plans to eventually have multiple Grammys. But it’s “day to day in this industry,” she said.
Tsipora Hacker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.