Isolation Drills: Rozes

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Elizabeth Mencel (a.k.a. Rozes): This pandemic has been an interesting time for me. My life, which is usually lived out of suitcases and airplanes, is now something that consists of routine and, dare I say, normalcy. I heard someone say, “We are in the same storm but in different boats,” and I don’t think this pandemic could be put more perfectly than that. I miss touring, in-person writing sessions, traveling and going out, but in the grand scheme of things, I am quite lucky. I am able to work from home and still do what I love: write and play music, while not worrying about mine or my loved ones’ safety.

While Zoom sessions are the reality of right now, I have a growing affinity for them. Typically, when going into writing sessions, I am pulling up to a place I have never been before to share vulnerable pieces of myself to people I have never met. Now I get to do this from the comfort of my home, which I think has made my art even more honest. I am able to focus on my craft without the background noise and anxiety of the unknown. This has granted me more space to be myself and show up ready to create.

So, how have I been impacted by COVID-19? A little and a lot at the same time. I see my family more now than I have ever been able to while chasing my dream of music. This is the most consecutive time I have spent with my boyfriend in our home, and that gift is not lost on me. I’ve woken up in my bed every morning for the last six months. I have clothes in my drawers. I am home to make dinner and actually sit down and eat it. I have been able to work with people in other countries via Zoom instead of having to coordinate our trips to L.A. I feel I have been given the gift of time. 

However, I honestly feel uncomfortable talking about the gifts I am experiencing and how COVID-19 has impacted my life. The aftermath is surprisingly positive, when I know it hasn’t been for the majority. I am grounded in gratitude that such a tragic global crisis could positively affect my personal and professional life. This experience has highlighted the privileges I have always been aware of. I have never had to worry about losing my home, my job or my health.

This awareness is constantly on my mind, and it is influencing how I show up, as well as the focus of my art as I recognize the weight of my voice. I feel I have a responsibility to highlight the domestic and global differences of each of our stories right now. I am hopeful that as a society we do not continue to ignore the differences in each other’s “boats” but instead learn how to work together so we can close the gap so that these privileges become basic universal experiences.