The only way to get any closer would be to eavesdrop…
Rozzi takes the stories and secrets typically reserved for conversations among confidants or lovers and turns them into songs. Not just any songs though, her bold delivery and skyscraper-size range amplify the meaning of each and every lyric with smoky soul spirit, engaging eloquence, and a pop punch. Acclaimed by everyone from Time to Teen Vogue, the San Francisco-born singer and songwriter invites listeners closer than ever on her debut for S-Curve Records—released in two halves over 2020.
“I hold my lyrics very tightly, because they’re so personal,” she admits. “It feels like you’re listening in to a conversation you’re not really supposed to hear. One of my rules is, ‘If I’m embarrassed to put it in a song, then I’m on the right track.’ These are my actual thoughts and feelings.”
She definitely earned the right to be so unfiltered. After collaborations with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T, a sold-out arena tour supporting Maroon 5 (during which she dueted nightly with the band on “Moves Like Jagger”), and a steady musical output, she delivered her first full-length album, Bad Together, in 2018. Gathering millions of streams, Time cited “Never Over You” among “5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week” as she made her late-night television debut with a performance of the single on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! Further acclaim followed from Rolling Stone, Who What Wear, Yahoo!, and On Air with Ryan Seacrest who claimed, “Rozzi has officially arrived.” Along the way, she even launched the “Ugh! You’re So Good!” podcast with co-host Scott Hoying of Pentatonix, which has continued to garner thousands of weekly fans since its recent release. After S-Curve Records Founder Steve Greenberg caught a live show in late 2019, he signed her to the label.
Simultaneously, she kept writing. Often holing up in the back of a local coffee shop, Rozzi reverted to a childhood creative tradition.
“When I was a kid, I used to write poems all the time,” she reveals. “I recently found a book of them I wrote when I was nine. As I got older, I got more insecure about my writing and didn’t trust my instincts as much. I felt more inclined to listen to everyone around me. My instinct was shut down. Over the past year, I started to get back in touch with myself as a writer and listen to the internal voice I used to rely upon all the time. I started to do what I did as a kid. So, almost every morning now, I sit down, get caffeinated, and write poems. It’s how I started all of these songs.”
With her ideas in place, she sought out British producer George Moore [YEBBA, Clean Bandit, Tor Miller] after becoming a big fan of his work (especially on YEBBA’s “Evergreen”). Following a coffee meeting with him in Los Angeles, she hopped a plane to the UK to record together.
Despite leaving the night Los Angeles locked down due to COVID-19, she captured the spirit of her latest evolution and brought it back to the States. Once home, she finished up the project working with collaborators such as GRAMMY® Award winners Steve Greenberg and Michael Mangini (Joss Stone, Diane Birch, Andy Grammer, Betty Wright), Jack and Ryan Metzger (AJR), Andrew Hollander [Carly Rae Jepsen, The Chainsmokers] Zak Waters [JoJo, Betty Who], Wendy Wang [The Bird & The Bee, The Sweet Hurt], and more.
“George helped set the tone,” she goes on. “I used what we did together for everything. I knew I wanted the whole album to be pretty sparse without a ton of other things going on. I have a big singing voice, so in the past, people I worked with tended to match it with big production. This time I realized I didn’t need or want to. That was the idea in all of the sessions to follow and with everybody else I got to work with. Now, you can really hear my voice and the lyrics.”
That holds true for the first single “Best Friend Song.” A collaboration with Greenberg, Michael Mangini, Jack and Ryan Metzger, and Zak Waters, loose guitar accompanies her vocals as she dedicates an anthem to her longtime best friend Tatti. Alternative production underscores her bluesy timbre backed by a shimmering beat and gospel-style harmonies. Over this unpredictable musical backdrop, she runs through all of these pledges to her BFF—“If I was ever gonna get a tattoo, I’d wanna get a half a heart to match you” and “If you say you want to do some mushrooms, I’d take what you give me ‘cause I trust you” before promising, “It’s you and me till the end, wrote a best friend song for my best friend.”
“It started as a joke to my best friend,” she laughs. “We lived together for so many years, through college and beyond, but she was moving in with her boyfriend, so I was sad. It was the end of an era. I didn’t want to write a weepy song though. I wanted to do something fun that would make us laugh. Every line is an inside joke. I didn’t think anyone else would hear it, which is when I often write my best songs. I sang it to embarrass her at a New York show. It’s probably the truest love song I’ve ever written. Tatti was like, ‘It’s gonna be your big hit, because I’m the only one you ever really loved!’ There might be some truth to the second part!”
Over stark piano, she begins “How’d You Learn To Lie Like That” with a stirring confession, “The last thing you said before you vanished was that this was so much more than the sex.”
She admits, “It’s one of the most aggressive things I’ve ever written. It’s very straightforward. I never would’ve said that line to someone, but I sang it.”
On the other end of the spectrum, dreamy keys and finger-snaps brush up against a plea for an endless summer on “June,” while “I Can’t Go To Party” literally chronicles her avoidance of an ex at a party.
Written “walking around the streets of Chicago listening to ‘Gives You Hell’ by All-American Rejects,” the emotionally charged “Rock Bottom” marks “the transition from grief to anger” after an intense phone call. Everything culminates on “Hymn For Tomorrow.” One particular line resonates the most for her: “Life is a record, play a new song.” “It actually came from Tatti’s dad,” she states. “To me, the whole first half of the album is about anger, pain, rejection, shame, and a lot of messy emotions. Then, there’s a moment on ‘Hymn For Tomorrow’ where I get to say to myself, ‘Thank you for the lesson. I’m going to let it go, and look to a new day. It’s time to go forward’.”
In the end, she lets everyone in on this conversation now.
“I’ve learned being so open and vulnerable about my life actually makes me feel very strong and powerful,” she leaves off. “Beyoncé gave me that on Lemonade. Alanis Morissette gave me that with Jagged Little Pill. Stevie Nicks wrote about Lindsey Buckingham and had him play guitar on the records! I’m inspired by that courage. I want to make people feel like they’re not alone. If I could get women to speak their minds more, say what they mean, and be brave with what they share, it would be a dream. For the first time, I really feel like this music is me.”