San-Francisco-born Rozzi found musical inspiration through the climate tragedy of wildfires and hopes to use it for positive change. The powerhouse vocalist penned what became the haunting ballad “Orange Skies” back in 2019 as a reaction to the Southern California fires. Rozzi breathed in the thick smokey air that blanketed the region in the days that followed the blazes.
“It was very smokey and spooky and very clearly just not right, not like the way it should be,” said Rozzi, who’s real name is Rosalind Elizabeth Crane, in a recent call.
She quickly knew that she had words she wanted to get out in song about the state’s wildfires and the urgency of the climate crisis—now a regular occurrence.
“We felt pulled to write about it because it felt kind of ridiculous not to,” Rozzi said. “To literally have this extreme experience happening right outside of our door; it was just very hard to not be incredibly aware of the situation.”
The song remained unfinished for roughly a year until 2020’s round of wildfires, which spurred the most unusual environmental phenomenon. She came across a photo of the dark, apocalyptic orange skies over San Francisco—an atmospheric event caused in part by a combination of so many fires burning in the northern part of the state. That’s when Rozzi decided to complete the track. While the song comes from her own experience, it’s accessible for anyone experiencing similar circumstances, she said.
She took the project a step further by donating a portion of proceeds to Sonoma Family Meal and the American Red Cross for western wildfire relief. Rozzi said that beyond monetary relief, the track also helps raise awareness of an issue that can be fleeting once it leaves the news cycle.
“It can be this very distant, faraway thing, especially for those that aren’t experiencing it, and it can seem so surreal,” Rozzi said. “It’s almost easier to compartmentalize and push it out of your head because it’s just too terrifying to see things like that.”
For that reason, she wanted to make the track more intimate and personal. She wrote to broaden the issue and make the point that climate change doesn’t only impact wildlife or remote areas, but all of us collectively.
“Our lives are being affected, and the things that we stand to lose are everything we love,” Rozzi said. “It’s only a matter of time before everyone feels it in some way.”
The single artwork is ominous enough on its own: a photo that looks like a surely Photoshopped rendering of the San Francisco skyline under the dark orange skies. She came across the photo on Twitter and the photographer let her use it.
“It’s such a haunting photo; it’s kind of beautiful but in a really terrifying way,” Rozzi said. “There’s no filter, there’s no nothing—it’s just so apocalyptic and so extreme.”
Signed to S-Curve Records, Rozzi is in the process of writing material for an album, coming next year. As with many musicians, it was a process that was turned upside down by the pandemic. She misses the thrill of concerts and the hyper-awareness of a streaming performance sometimes makes them more trouble than they’re worth.
“I have to be aware of my microphone, and the lighting, and is the cord unplugged, and is the internet going to work?” she said, laughing.
One of the silver linings of the pandemic separation is her ability to dig deeper into the possibilities of digital and home recording. Before, her tech skills were limited, she said. But in the months since lockdown, she’s developed the skills to make music on her own.
“I recorded the vocal myself [after a Zoom writing session] and I actually think I might just want to keep it as the original vocal,” Rozzi said. “It really captures the moment.”
The singer-songwriter has been a working musician since 2012, when
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine signed her as the first artist on his label. She was opening for his band not long after. Rozzi was a college student at the time, and it brought an immediate shift to her life.
“That was very princess fairy tale energy, which was really fun and I learned a lot, but ultimately was a little bit fleeting,” she said. “I still had to do a lot of work to develop as an artist that I needed to find elsewhere and do on my own.”
She would go on to collaborate with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T, as well as produce her debut album. She signed her current deal with S-Curve after meeting label founder Steve Greenberg’s daughter at one of her shows. She sees the forthcoming album as a new start for herself.
“It’s kind of more like a sugar high,” Rozzi said of her initial success. “But I feel like this album I’m making now is really the beginning of my artistic journey; I’ve really found my voice in a way that I hadn’t before.”
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.