Pop and soul singer Rozzi just dropped a new album, Berry (Deluxe), which features collaborations with PJ Morton and Nile Rodgers and an incredible cover of Alanis Morissette’s “One Hand in My Pocket.”
I sat down to an interview with the very talented vocalist, songwriter, and producer to ask her questions about the new album and her creative process.
How was your show in LA? It was your first show for this new album?
Yes, it was really great. It was really fun. I get so nervous—always—but particularly for these headline shows, I’ve been really nervous. And I’m nervous for New York. But it felt really good to do the first one and it went really well.
How did it feel to play these songs live? Was it the first time you played some of those songs live?
Some of them. The thing that’s funny about this deluxe release is it’s very slowly been coming out for a while now. Like, the first half of the album came out in early 2021. The second half came out earlier this year. And so I am very aware that for many of my listeners, most of these songs are not new. There’s four new ones. But for me, it’s really the final culmination.
First of all, of the whole experience of releasing this very personal body of work of a certain era of my life, but also, finally all the songs will be together as I designed them to be. And in the order I designed them to be. And artistically it’s really satisfying for me to be officially released in the way I always wanted it to be from an artistic point of view rather than just a marketing point of view. So a lot of the songs, people know. But there are four new ones that have been really fun to start sharing and singing live.
I was going to ask how you order your songs. So instead of thinking of them as singles, it seems they’re all part of one piece.
It seems like there’s an overall story or theme. So how do you put them together?
The thing is, I write such dangerously personal lyrics. That’s the only way I know how. I’ve tried not to write that way and I have such a hard time. Like, the muses don’t listen to me, or I don’t listen to them, I guess, when it’s not very personal. So, for me, they’re always bodies of work.
The idea that I could release singles—it’s just very tricky for me emotionally because I feel like these songs are written from a phase in my life. There’s a clear connection from my point of view, and I think you can hear that as well. There’s a perspective shift from my last album Bad Together to this one. It shows the growth that we all go through. Mine just happens to be captured in these songs. It’s really coming from a personal place. It’s not like the album is a concept album. There’s multiple different relationships I’m talking about over a fairly long stretch of time, but it’s also the time I was producing them and working on them.
It’s a personal choice the way they all go together. And then the order is just vibe. You know, whatever feels best.
I read that during the pandemic you’re been writing more on the piano?
Is that your primary instrument to write songs on? What’s your songwriting process?
I write all my lyrics first. My morning routine is that I write poems or concepts or do some journaling. So the first thing is always the words. I have written songs at the piano, but I’m usually a collaborator. My preferred way to write is I bring in the lyrics, often finished lyrics, into a room with another writer, and then we’ll usually jam. They’ll play an instrument and I’ll start to sing my lyrics along to whatever they’re playing.
But since the pandemic, now I can play shows more comfortably on the piano. I used to feel really insecure about that. Covid really forced me to practice so much and now I’m more confident. I have written on the piano before, but for some reason, with another person playing an instrument, it really sparks new ideas for me and keeps it fresh, so I prefer to write that way.
How do you choose your collaborators? What makes a good musical partner?
That’s a great question. There’s an “it” factor. It’s kind of like dating, you know, like you can’t always explain it, like, why you click with someone. I think like a lot of artists, I have my specificities. I have a heavy dose of control freak. I like someone who lets me lead and lets me execute the vision that I have, but I’m really dependent and crave collaboration. So it’s kind of this healthy balance between someone who recognizes I have a vision and can understand where I need to take the lead, and kind of do exactly what I hear, while still having the confidence and the creativity on their own to bring something new to the table. That might sound like they’re contradicting each other, but I’ve happened to have met people like this.
I don’t have that many people who I have songwriting connections with, but the people I do, I write with over and over again because they have that balance. They can’t be afraid of me, but they also need to be very respectful of the fact that these songs are coming from such a personal place. I’ve been fortunate enough to get in a room with a lot of unbelievably talented people who know how to do that which is why I cling to them.
Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet you’d love to work with?
Yes! There’s this country writing trio. Lori McKenna, who’s a legendary country writer, and Liz Rose, and Hillary Lindsey.
I’ve written with Liz. I love Liz so much. She’s one of my favorite collaborators in Nashville. This trio of women are just really talented lyricists. Their melodies are beautiful. They have that thing like I was talking about where they have strong convictions, but they write deeply personal, intimate songs. I get the feeling that I’d be intimidated because they’re so cool, but I’d feel safe with them. That’s what my gut tells me.
Speaking of personal songs, the song “Mad Man” seems to be coming from some personal experiences. What is your relationship with anger as a woman and in the music industry and has it changed over time?
Great question. I wrote “Mad Man” with Liz Rose, by the way.
And with Jamie Kenney in Nashville.
I always call that my Aries rising song. [laughs] I’m an Aries rising. I think I have a healthy relationship with anger. I’m angry when it’s due. I assume that a lot of women in every field, but I know a lot of women in the music industry can relate to that frustration and are due that anger because like a lot of other places, we’re not always taken seriously.
I have this experience of being in the music industry where sometimes these very powerful men who seem to feel like their validation of me is everything I’ve been waiting for. And it’s not really. First of all, I’m an artist because I’m an artist. I make this music because I need to and a lot of my fans are women because I write about experiences from a female point of view.
It’s frustrating because I’ve worked with a lot of men who felt they had a sense of ownership over my artistry. While I’m not going to say that it didn’t sometimes serve me—I learned a lot and I grew a lot—ultimately, it wasn’t theirs to own. And I haven’t had that experience with working with women. And this is my personal experience.
I’m sure that can be frustrating.
So you’re releasing this album now. Are you going to tour?
I’m unclear, honestly. That’s why I wanted to do these big release shows. I’m going to be home for all of December, for the first time in a long time. And I’m going to be writing every single day. I already know what album I want to make next.
I’m sure I’ll be playing shows in the new year, but because of how slowly this entire album has been released, I’m already so ready for what’s next that I’m a little more excited about that at the moment.
How is your new stuff that you’re working on right now going to be different from this current album? Are there different styles you’d like to explore?
Yes! I haven’t talked about this yet. My whole life I’ve had people tell me when they see me live, they’ll say “I didn’t really get it until I saw you live.” Or “You’re so much better live.” I’ve heard that so many times. And it’s always a compliment and I appreciate it and I’m very proud of my live show. I get what people are saying.
I’ve kind of hit this wall where I want to make an album that sounds just like my live show. I want to see if I can create this experience people tell me they have at my live shows on the record. So I want to record…I’m writing a bunch of songs now and making demos. Once we go into record, my vision and my hope and my dream is to record virtually the whole thing live. Drums in one booth, bass in another booth, keys and whatever in another booth, and then me, so I can sing along with everybody singing at once. Like, you know, old school, like Aretha Franklin style. And if we want to add stuff in post to make it more modern sounding–cool—but we can capture the foundation of the song as if it was live.
That sounds really awesome. And that’d probably really serve your songs really well, like the ones that have the soul and R&B influence.
Yeah, for me, getting older feels a lot like getting closer and closer to my younger self. Like the more I mature and get comfortable with myself, the more I can get closer to my roots so I feel like that’s where I’m headed. I’m slowly making my way back to like when I was in high school and I was in a soul band playing Tower of Power songs. I want to make a true soul record next.
That sounds so cool. So you’ve been working professionally for a little more than a decade, right? How do you think the music industry’s changed in the past decade and how do you think you’ve changed?
In the industry… first of all…social media was there when I started but not like it is now. It’s noisier than ever but there’s more opportunities for good stuff to get heard. I think even when I was signed, the emphasis on radio was bigger than it is now, I think. Not that radio isn’t still a factor, but it’s not like it was. I think that’s interesting. Obviously, like playlisting is everything now.
I think I’ve changed a lot. Like I said, I just keep getting closer and closer to myself. I’ve always been very ambitious. I know what I wanted to be from a very young age. I have an amazing family but no one’s an artist so I didn’t have role models or people who understood how it worked so I really had to learn firsthand how to be an artist and how it works and how to be professional.
Early on in my career I might have let my ambition win, like, I’d try to get something or get somewhere no matter the cost. But now, for me, it’s all about the creativity and being authentic and true to myself. That’s all I really care about. And I find that it leads me to much more success anyway. That’s been happening for a while, but not I’m so solid on that that I feel really confident, like, I’m going to make a live sounding album, you know?
I feel like the only thing I have to listen to is my gut, really. And I know how to listen to my gut and that takes some time as a person. Once you cross thirty, it gets a little easier.
Excellent. And how do you feed your creativity?
I always say there are two things. I get up and try to write every day just to keep the muscle going, and like, really getting out of my comfort zone and doing stuff that scares the shit out of me. Whether that be some social thing where I don’t know anyone or taking an acting class. I try to find ways to stretch myself in my personal life because I write such personal songs.
Awesome, is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
Well, I’d like to talk about the Alanis cover, which is a single from this album, “Hand in My Pocket.” I’m obsessed with Alanis Morissette. If I think I write personal songs, I learned it from her. She’s one of my heroes.
My good friend Bryn Bliska, who’s the keyboardist for Jacob Collier, and they’re on tour right now—she played piano and produced it. India Carney, an amazing background vocalist, arranged the background vocals. I recorded it live with Bryn in my house a few months ago. It’s a very personal, organic, intimate take on one of my favorite, classic songs.