Written by Eva Barragan
Photography by Ramsey Cheng
When we say farewell to our lovers, the affair doesn't end with one single phone call. Love lingers. It takes days, weeks, months, often years, to cleanse oneself entirely of the residue a broken romantic relationship leaves behind. No one understands this quite as well as singer-songwriter Rozzi.
“I wrote Never Over You when I was in a fight with my boyfriend at the time,” Rozzi tells me as we talk over the phone discussing love lost, love found and the strength it takes to walk away from a relationship that is no longer serving you, romantic or not.“I remember thinking about all our issues and all of the things that weren’t working but what I kept coming back to was, despite all the things I was ‘over,’ I still wasn’t over him.”
In Never Over You she sings “Am I keeping you or are you keeping me?” to describe the feeling you have when a relationship is over before you even declare it is. I tell her that for me, that lyric reminds of being with someone you’re so comfortable with that the thought of not having them in your life seems absurd, no matter how bad things get. But for Rozzi, both this song and this lyric continue to change meaning for her as she enters each new stage of her life. “I think when I was writing it; however, I just wanted answers. I didn’t understand, “how are we having all these shitty experiences and you’re still making me stay? How real was what we were feeling? How much of the ‘keeping each other’ was out of fear? and how much of it was out of love?’”
Fear of letting go or fear of the unknown is undoubtedly the number one driving force behind avoiding change even when you know it needs to happen. Fear cripples you, it stunts your growth. While Rozzi may not be immune to fear, she sure as hell knows how to move past it. Perhaps the reason why she was able to combat it in her romantic relationship, is because she’s done it professionally once before. When Rozzi was only 19 years old, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine heard a recording of Rozzi singing and approached her with a simple offer, “I don’t have a record label, but if you’ll sign with me, I’ll create one.”
Rozzi accepted Levine’s proposal and for the next couple of years, she embarked on a journey any new artist could only dream of. “ I went on a bunch of incredible tours with Maroon 5, opened up for Kelly Clarkson and had so many wonderful experiences with them, but unfortunately that wasn't the environment that most encouraged the artist in me,” she tells me looking back. “Being on tour did not necessarily lead me to find out who I was or what I wanted to say or even what I wanted to sound like. I could be playing at the Hollywood Bowl or Madison Square Garden, but there was always a little voice inside my head that kept telling me something wasn’t 100% right.” Rozzi tells me although she knew it was the right move, the moment she and Levine finally parted ways, she was devastated. “I didn’t want that to be how it happened. I was leaving a really incredible opportunity, I was really good friends with everybody, I loved the community I was in, and it was also just so disappointing to have gotten so close to everything I always wanted and then have it not pan out the way I planned. It was really heartbreaking.”
I confide in Rozzi that there are circumstances in my own life that have ended abruptly, and left me feeling distraught because like she explains, although these circumstances may seem close to “perfect,” I know deep down that “this isn't it.”
“That’s where the feeling of heartbreak comes in,” she tells me. “We’re not so much heartbroken because it's over, but more so your heart is breaking because you are finally acknowledging that this dynamic, romantic or professional, needs to come to an end in order for you to grow and move forward.”
Before Levine, Rozzi was attending classes at USC and working as a backup singer for Sergio Mendes. She didn’t leave Levine’s label with opportunities lined up for her, she left knowing she had nothing to fall back on. “I had no clue what was going to happen next or what I was going to do, but then I met my manager Ben Singer who’s also the president of Small/Giant records and he just got me very quickly and understood what I needed,” she tells me. Singer sent Rozzi on a path of writing and self-discovery and told her what she needed was not to be in the studio, but instead, she needed to find her voice, find herself. “I spent the next couple of years experiencing things I’ve never experienced before and feeling emotions I didn’t even know I could feel. Leaving Levine’s label was just one of those things in life where you’re terrified of allowing it to happen but in the end, it ends up being this incredible blessing that changes your life in the best way.”
She tells me even during the time she feared starting all over, there was never a moment when she considered giving up. “I mean, there have definitely been times where I’ve been incredibly exhausted from writing. I was feeling frustrated that I might not write “good enough” songs. That was a terrifying place to be, thinking about possibly never creating a song that people would relate to or enjoy listening to. Fortunately, I have a lot of wonderful people around me who can kind of remind me of why I’m doing this.”
Rozzi’s journey is the perfect example of how different artist define success. To the outside looking in, she had everything a girl could dream of. Money, connections, a platform. But for Rozzi, success has always meant being faithful to the creator within her. Producing music that’s authentic, real, raw and personal.
She tells me the best advice she’s received on her artistic journey, and advice she’d give to others is that, “as an artist, there’s so much you can't control, there's so little that's in your hands. You can’t control the speed of the journey, how long it'll take you to get where you want to be, the opinions of others, none of it. The only thing you can control is what you make, so make something you love, there's no point in making anything else.”