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From The Desk Of Sally: Jersey Girl Makes Good
By John Foxworthy, Garage Radio
(more articles from this author)
2003-09-09
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The popular music realm has been dominated by the male factor for decades. Since the late 70s and early 80s, female-fronted bands have come to rise above that faction. Some have hit the big time while others passed through like a quiet breeze. The new millennium has seen more power in the mainstream branded by the women of Rock and Pop. The independent scene is no different, with a bigger voice for all girl bands and female-fronted acts.

Jeryl Orsino is no different than any girl, on any block, in any neighborhood, in any town except that she is the "frontman" for From The Desk of Sally, an Alternative Pop act from northern New Jersey, USA. Jeryl has added a whole new quality to a territory previously governed by men. The band's latest accomplishment comes in a form separate from their earlier creations. From The Desk Of Sally changed direction with their latest EP, I Told You So, appealing to a larger audience with the CD's title track and demonstrating their range and variable ability.

From The Desk Of Sally was formed in 1994, originally called Swirl. When they started gaining popularity they were contacted by the legal representation of a band called Swirl 360 and asked to cease using the name. After some consideration, the band decided on From The Desk Of Sally because Jeryl's grandmother was named Sally and, as she tells it, the rest is a short, boring story.

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Their connection with their audience shows in the praise their music gets from fans, old and new. The indie site www.GarageBand.com voted the newest single, "I Told You So," as one of their tracks of the day in March and the fan reviews on the band's web site show that From The Desk Of Sally are perpetually gaining the high ground on the independent music scene. The band also enjoys several endorsements from clothing manufacturers like Dirtbag Clothing and Way Cool Shoes.

Made up of Jeryl on guitar and lead vocals, Ejay on lead guitar, Gus on bass and vocals and Fred on drums, they are a culmination of many different influences from No Doubt to The Beatles to Ozzy Osbourne. The band attributes the quality of their music to the fact that they are all great friends. They also have a combined musical experience of nearly 70 years that enhances the band's chemistry and shines through in their work.

Jeryl has been playing since she was 15-years-old. She started out on a set of drums given to her by her best friend, Billy. She then moved on to a Gibson bass, which she now regrets selling.

"It had the SG body - DUH!" Jeryl says, " I really didn't play seriously until about 1994. I taught myself to play guitar with the Counting Crows, August and Everything After songbook, and then began writing my own songs and the rest is history. I started singing about 1996."

With their newest release, I Told You So, From The Desk Of Sally hope to make their mark in music. The band recently ran a poll on their web site to decide the upcoming EP's title. The title track, "I Told You So," was written by Butch Walker of The Marvelous 3, who also co-wrote SR71's hit "Right Now" and has several other credits to his name, including a Grammy nomination. The band has actually never met Butch Walker, but in the words of Jeryl:

"We did our last recording with producer Jim Ebert. Jim Produced The Marvelous 3. Butch wrote the song "I Told You So." Jim asked us if we wanted to record it. We totally said, 'Hell Yeah!' Butch is such a talented songwriter."

And, a new EP was born. The band feels they have come a long way since their first song, "The Blame," which was an acoustic piece. They have evolved beyond any one style and appreciate all styles of music.

"I always wanted to rock out. Now we are more poppy with lots of clean and distortion dynamics. Pretty straightforward songs with strong melodies and music you can grab on to. I do most of the actual writing for the band and we all work together on the arrangements. It's a huge help to have the guys to bounce stuff off of and polish everything up. We are always trying to make the songs sound better and tighter. I think the songs have more structure now and I have kind of developed a formula of my own or I guess a writing style."

Jeryl gives props to the rest of From The Desk Of Sally on a regular basis, noting that they have been the band's structure from the time they met.

"I met Ejay through an ad on the Internet looking for a guitar player. He showed up to the audition totally prepared and i knew he was the right dude for the job. It was great. Auditioning sucks! No one shows up prepared. It's such an awkward process. Fred i met through a friend. He was playing in a few other bands at the time and happened upon us. It was cool 'cause he fit right in with Ejay and I. Gus surfed onto the web site and saw we were looking for a bass player. He learned like 15 songs in three days and showed up to the audition and rocked. Ejay , Fred and I felt like we knew him already and he was in. Over the 9 years the band has been around there have been member changes but these guys are in it for the long haul. They all rock and are dedicated and we have a great time together too. It sounds corny but we are great friend also."

Raw emotion and love for the art drive From The Desk Of Sally to be their best at every show, but they're not without their agendas. Recently they have been performing at the NYC Hard Rock Cafe in the battle of the bands where the prize is to open for Sammy Hagar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

From The Desk Of Sally love what they do, and when asked, had a few words: Jeryl: "I really do love music. Id be lost without it. Its the only thing i have been consistent with for the past 10 years. And its evidence that i can leave behind that I existed on this big blue garbage ball!!

Gus: "I play music because it is my air and water."

Fred: "I play because I love the feeling I get when you play a show in NYC at 11:30 PM on a Tuesday night and have to get up at 6:30 AM for work the next day ...You just can't get that feeling doing anything else :)"

Ejay: "I DO IT TO BE A ROCK STAR!!! PLAIN AND SIMPLE...."

Faced with the issues of women in music today, Jeryl Orsino has a great attitude towards what really matters. She feels no special treatment is needed and wants the world to know that the music is the same whether you're a guy or a girl.

"I don't feel pressure to perform better. I think we actually get more shows because we are female fronted. What usually happens is we will go to a club, we will get our stuff on the stage and the sound guy never thinks I'm the lead singer, or that I play guitar. We kind of get thrown up there. What happens after is, after we play, we get the respect of the club owner and the sound guy. So its a little bit annoying to be one of the only girls on the block, but it just makes me want to kick ass even more. Not for them but for the band and me. Lots of time people are surprised to see a girl front person, especially one that plays guitar."

When asked what she would say to other "girl" bands who are struggling for a personality in a male dominated industry, Jeryl simply stated,

" I would say just kick ass like you know how. Play music cause you love it. Don't be discouraged or intimidated by anyone or anything. It's all about tenacity. If you rock and you know you rock you will stand out no matter who is dominating the music business."

When it all comes together, there is no difference between the guy bands and the girl bands. It's all just a matter of perception on the part of the listener. From The Desk Of Sally is one act that proves it's only an issue of semantics. Jeryl has the backing from the guys that are her band mates and friends, and they have her utter regard. The band has a great outlook on the music scene that will certainly take them all the way. More info on FTDOS can be found at: www.fromthedeskofsally.com.


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