Pensacola, Florida
Saturday November 22nd 2014

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Kiss From a Rose

By Jennifer Leigh

Listening to Erin Jeffreys’ music is like getting to peek inside her journal.

“My songs are generally about my relationships or relations with people,” Jeffreys said. “I communicate and express myself in relationships, although I can find better ways to express emotions through song and performance. Sometimes it’s just easier to put it in a song than say it to the person’s face.”

The self-taught musician has been writing songs for more than a decade. Her songwriting developed from Jeffreys’ journal entries and love of writing poems and prose.

“I still have most of those journals, the content is quite funny,” she said.

After playing music in high school bands—even trumpet lessons in middle school—Jeffreys began putting her words to music. Eventually those efforts became Elyse Therose.

“There is so much more I want to do as far as songwriting goes and musical projects in general,” she said. “I’ve been in all types of bands, but I really love challenging myself and trying to get better and better.”

As with any band, an Elyse Therose show is never the same. Jeffreys regularly performs in the area, sometimes as a solo act and sometimes with her band, Jody Shaver on bass and John Mlynarczyk on drums.

“The solo act is definitely an acoustic thing for the most part and the band is more ‘rockin,’ in my opinion,” she said. “The full Elyse Therose is edgy, but mellow and more dynamic than just me singing with the acoustic guitar. I love the excitement of performing with a full band. It definitely fills a room with much more sound.”

As for her band mates, Shaver and Mlynarczyk are just as much fans as they are fellow musicians. Both also perform in a Destin cover band called Space Junkie.

“I stay true to what she writes, but I do find my way of putting my touch on songs,” Mlynarczyk said. “I appreciate Erin for the opportunity she has given me to play her music.”

Shaver’s favorite part about getting to play in Elyse Therose is being a part of the creative process with Jeffreys performing the songs that “Erin seems to effortlessly pour out.”

“My main concern is rocking hard with a deep groove while also trying to play the pretty notes,” Shaver added.

You have to wonder if performing songs that come from such personal experiences is ever kind of weird for Jeffreys.

“Sometimes I can relive the experiences—even the heartbreaking ones from long ago,” she said of her songs. “It’s a wonderful expression to feel. I don’t feel uncomfortable really. I honestly feel better. I think any band or artists who writes songs from the heart or with personal, genuine feelings can engage an audience a lot. People tend to relate more and can really feel what the artist feels.”

With 11 years of songwriting and two albums under Jeffreys’ belt, Elyse Therose has a repertoire of songs to choose from for their live shows. She likes to mix it up, and might even play a fun cover song, depending on the mood.

Describing the process of choosing songs, Jeffreys kind of sounds like Rob Gordon, John Cusack’s character in the 2000 film “High Fidelity.”

“I like to keep it dynamic,” she said. “Starting out strong or energetically, hitting some slower tunes toward the middle and ending with a bang. We won’t throw in a cover unless we think the audience would like it or they seem like they want to dance. Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing with Myself’ really gets the crowd going. It makes me laugh and smile.”

On the search for her next challenge, Jeffreys is looking to “step out of the box” with a new writing inspiration. Be on the lookout for new songs that explore a whole other side of Jeffreys at future shows.

“Up until now, I’ve been heavily influenced by my emotions and feelings when songwriting,” she said. “I’m a fairly emotional person—happy and sad. I feel a lot so I express it. Usually, relationships or romantic interests spur my inspirations for songs,” she added. “I’m currently working on a set of songs where I’m stepping outside of the box a little more and writing more creatively with not just how I’m feeling.”

Whether it’s writing a song or producing her own album or hitting the road for shows throughout the region, Jeffreys has an innate passion for music and it easily translates through her writing and performance.

“[At live shows] I hope people feel as though they’ve seen something new and different, something not so typical,” she said. “I get that feedback often, which is a super compliment as I’m just writing these simple songs within me. To me, it’s not rocket science, it’s just what I love to do and I hope it brings others joy to listen and feel.”

DRIVIN N’ CRYIN
WHAT:  Elyse Therose, Lowelectric and more
WHEN:  8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1
WHERE:  Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST:  $12-$17
DETAILS:  vinylmusichall.com or elysetherose.com