Alumni Spotlight: ROZES – Liz Mencel, Class of 2011
Billboard Hot 100 Artist
Liz Mencel, Class of 2011
Liz Mencel, known professionally as ROZES, is an American singer and performer from North Wales, Pennsylvania. She is best known for her 2015 collaboration, “Roses,” with DJ duo, The Chainsmokers. Liz first started her musical career at North Penn High School. Soon after, she earned an associate’s degree from Montgomery County Community College and then transferred to Temple University. After one year at Temple, Liz chose to pursue music as a full-time career and left the university.
In October 2014 ROZES was featured on and wrote Just a Gent’s “Limelight,” reaching #1 on Hype Machine with over 2 million plays on SoundCloud. Liz composed “Roses” with Andrew Taggart of The Chainsmokers. Released in June 2015, the single placed at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as #1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance / Electronic chart for the week of January 9, 2016. On February 3, 2016 ROZES appeared on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with The Chainsmokers for a live performance of their hit song, “Roses.” ROZES’ debut EP, Burn Wild, was released on February 14, 2016.
North Penn High School Class of 2011 alumna, Liz Mencel (ROZES) recently met with Kaity Andrey, NP Alumni Relations Coordinator, for an exclusive interview with the Alumni Association. Liz discussed who she is as an artist and reflected on how North Penn helped shape her both musically and personally. Liz reminisced on her favorite memories at North Penn, her biggest influences throughout high school and gave advice to future North Penn grads.
North Penn Alumni Association: Tell me about yourself. Who is ROZES?
ROZES: In a nutshell, I’m an over-emotional 23-year-old. ROZES is the girl everyone can relate to– as far as breakups, falling in love, friendships, depression, anxiety and honestly whatever else you feel on a daily basis. I put aside self pity a while ago, and decided to turn my anxiety and depression into songs that people can escape to. ROZES is real.
NPAA: What is the significance of the name? What does it mean to you to be ROZES?
R: I’m the youngest in my family, so while everyone was at school or work, I would go to my Nanny Rose’s house. That’s where I learned the notes on the piano, and where I fell in love with music. My Nanny Rose is my biggest inspiration. She’s faced far more troubles than she ever deserved, but I never once saw her without a smile. So, I decided I wanted to pay her tribute, since she is the one who made me fall in love with it all, but I wanted to do it in my own way, and remain a bit of a mystery, so I decided to make it plural, “ROZES.”
There’s a lot more to being ROZES than just singing and writing songs. I stand for something. I stand for the people who are afraid to speak up, for the people who are tired of being in the background. I don’t want to just target girls, but it’s a girl’s struggle that I understand the most. To me, being ROZES is being the person we all once were or still are. Being ROZES is me being myself.
R: I have been performing since age 6, when I started piano and violin lessons. North Penn School District has always been one of my main outlets for music. I was in all the elementary school musicals, bands, orchestras and choirs. When I got to Pennbrook Middle School, I progressed with band and choir. Middle school is also where I met my absolute, hands-down favorite teachers, Mr. Neu and Mr. DiValentino. Some of my scariest auditions were conducted by them, but they taught me that hard work, practice and confidence will always pay off. I miss my Friday night Jazz Band Festivals, and my Monday night/Wednesday morning rehearsals. I lived for them.
My first “solo” performance was the 7th grade talent show. I continued with auditions all the way through my schooling. I remember going to see a musical at the high school and my mom turning to me saying, “You need to tryout for this next year!” So I did, and I not only joined the greatest theatre family in the world, but I met my closest friends, and I found my place.
So, you see, the district was a blessing to me, and I will always preach that. North Penn School District allowed me to become who I am today.
NPAA: What activities were you involved in during your time at NPHS?
R: At the High School I participated in track & field, NPHS theater (fall & spring shows), Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers.
R: Like I said before, North Penn School District allowed me to become who I am today. I know that a lot of outsiders see North Penn and think, “Wow that’s such a huge school,” and that it limits our opportunities. But it’s not true.
North Penn helped me break out of my shell. It lead me to make a path for myself. I found who I was and where I belonged.
I know that a lot of kids get lost trying to find themselves, and a lot of kids feel like they don’t belong. Trust me, I felt that way too. I was the kid with ADD who couldn’t and didn’t want to do my homework or study for tests, but with all the groups I was in, I was surrounded by other students who had the same teachers. We would study and do homework together. North Penn provides so many outlets for students to find friends and groups they can connect with.
NPAA: Did any teachers, coaches or directors have a special impact on you while attending North Penn?
R: Mr. Neu and Mr. DiValentino… I really can’t explain how much these two teachers mean to me. Although I came off as goofy and outgoing, I had a lot of insecurities. They helped me learn to release these feelings through music and use it as a coping mechanism – something I still do today. I am forever thankful for the lessons they taught me both inside and outside of rehearsals.
One teacher at the high school that had a huge impact was Mrs. Marino. She seemed to understand the mind of a student who didn’t want to focus, and would create a fun learning environment for us. The world needs more teachers like that… ones who understand that not every student is going to be able to solve an equation right away.
R: When I think back to high school, I always picture my two best friends, Diana Allen and Jess Arnold… so of course, my favorite memories are with them. One memory that stands out is when we were rehearsing the night of our Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids performance, and Diana and Jess realized I still hadn’t memorized my solo. For the record, I never sang it right, and to this day I still don’t know the words to that darn solo.
NPAA: If you could go back to North Penn High School for just a day, past or present, what would you do?
“R: I would go to theater practice. I would hang out with all my friends and not have to worry about when I’ll see them next, because we wouldn’t have the distance that we have now.”
R: The vast amount of opportunity and its preparation for the outside world. Yes, you can go to a private school with less students and make all the groups and sports teams you want to make, but at North Penn, since there are more students trying out for things, it prepares you to compete against the students you will compete against in college and in the “real world.”
NPAA: You recently returned to the high school for a concert. What was that like for you as such a recent alumna?
R: I don’t really know how to describe it. I walked the halls and remembered things that happened in those specific spots. I saw where I had my heart broken for the first time, I saw where me and my friends embarrassed ourselves after lunch once… I saw so many memories that it actually lead me to write a song when I got home.
“R: Don’t let your fears hold you back… try out for all of the groups you are dreaming to be in. If I let fear and anxiety win every time, I wouldn’t have found my best friends.”
NPAA: What are your plans for the future? Any big tours or album releases coming up?
R: I’m doing a lot of writing for artists in the industry as well as myself. I actually just released a single today “Hangin’ On,” which seems to be getting great feedback. A music video is in store and definitely touring!
NPAA: Anything else you’d like to add?
R: Just a thank you 🙂
Liz Mencel performing an original song at the 2011 North Penn High School talent show.
The North Penn Alumni Association would like to thank Liz Mencel for her time and efforts in conducting this interview… and for permission to publish her high school photos!