INTERVIEW: Janet Devlin

janetdevlinThe X-Factor graveyard of so many singers with aspirations of achieving stardom – and that’s just for the winners.

The reality show created purely to generate viewing ratings for the TV company behind it and put many more thousands in the pockets of its creator. The failures have far outweighed the successes, with many falling by the wayside in a short space of time.

However one exception to the norm is Northern Ireland’s Janet Devlin who has gone on to achieve much since her appearance on the show. Poised to release her debut album Running with Scissors on the back of a single called ‘Creatures of the Night’, Mark Dean recently caught up with Janet to discuss what she had been up to musically in the last couple of years.

I’ve just been listening to your album prior to the call. Its very impressive and that’s coming from someone who usually prefers rock music.

“Oh, thank you so much, that’s great.”

Can you clear up something for me at the outset. I have seen it promoted as your “debut release.” I actually thought that had been the “Hide and Seek” release?

“We never put Hide and Seek up for general release. I made that but didn’t want to release it. I wanted to make a new one. Technically it is my debut release as I hadn’t released the other to the general public.”

It had been a Pledge release I believe, is that correct?

“Anyone that pledged for it, got their copy of “Hide and Seek” digitally but they got “Running with Scissors” as a physical copy.”

The album is preceded by a single ‘Creatures of the Night’ which has a great animated video to accompany it? Did the inspiration and idea behind that come directly from your own personal interest in cartoons?

“Whenever I decided that I was going to release “Creatures”, obviously I needed to think about a music video. It was an option to do an animation and I got really excited. All the time when I was a kid I always wanted to be a cartoon character. I always wanted to have my own cartoon character. Obviously making that music video was really, really cool, to actually get to finally be a cartoon character.”

You made that video I think with the same director that you had worked on for “Wonderful” video?

“Yes it was the same guy. Obviously working with Gary [Dumbill] again was good. This time it was different because when we did ‘Wonderful’ we were at the Lake District and it was freezing. This time we did not have to go out in the rain [laughs].”

Returning to the album I note that you have a few co-writers on there. Doesn’t that detract from the personal connection to the songs?

“All the lyrics are mine – they come from my journal. As for co-writing I will come with lyrics and they will have a couple of ideas. If I hear a melody that I think relates to one of my lyrics from my journal I just kind of marry the two. Then just come up with the melody. It’s not that hard. I know what you mean by “it not being as personal” but  it still was. A lot of the time its easier to talk to a stranger than it is to talk to someone that you know. Its a bit like”I don’t really know them so……” – it was kind of pressure-free really.”

After the album is released you are embarking on the unusually named “My Delirium” tour in December. First off, where did that tour title originate from? It doesn’t directly link to any of the song titles on your album.

“No it doesn’t. I had a blog. My first blog was called ‘My Imaginarium.’ I went out on the road and that became my tour name.Then this time my blog is called ‘My Delirium’ and I thought…”

It follows on?

“It means like a permanent state of confusion, but I really like the meaning of the word as well. I think that it sounds pretty.”

The tour includes a couple of Northern Ireland shows. Belfast and a hometown show for you in Omagh? Is this second tour a more extensive one than the last tour?

“No, the last time we played Dublin as well. This is smaller than the last one, but I never did Omagh the last time. I have never played Omagh – ever! In the weirdest way I am going to be so nervous,”

My research has indicated that you are personally more of a rock fan than a pop fan. Obviously you played a cracking version of the Guns & Roses song on the show,as well as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. You are also reported as being a huge fan of bands like Foo Fighters and Nirvana.Which do you prefer then rock or pop?

“Gosh, my heart lies in rock. I grew up always into Kerrang, Scuzz and MTV2. That’s what I used to do before I went to school, when I would do my makeup I used to listen to Kerrang. My babysitter got me into the Foo Fighters, from when I was growing up. They were really into the Chillis I even got to go and see them at Slane Castle. I loved that. I don’t think that I would ever do rock. No, I don’t think that I will be doing that any time soon. I don’t want to ruin it [laughs].”

I understand you are happy and content in what you are doing right now.Your album includes a few surprises.There are collaborations and some co-writing with Newton Faulkner. How did that come about?

“I don’t know how exactly that came about, but it was the best thing ever. I was so excited. I remember flying over to London for it, and being so scared on the way there. I got there and he was his brothers house. He was outside and I was like “God,no…” and it was a bit awkward. As soon as you finally sit down with someone and we all went for a coffee first and hung out.He is such a lovely guy and it was so easy to work with him.”

There is also a cover song by The Cure on the album, ‘Friday I’m in Love.’ Was that a song that was suggested to you,or one that you had grown up with?

“That was a song that I’ve grown up with. The weird part about that song is ever since I put it on the album I have heard it  so many times. I hear it everywhere now, it’s always on the radio. Its a different interpretation of the song though, with the acoustic nearly rational Irish style-something similar to the Waterboys or Hothouse Flowers  I think in style.”

In your short career already you have had many high points .You have played for the Dali Lama, performed at both Croke Park and Casement Park. You have also received an honorary award at a civic reception in your own hometown of Omagh. If you could pick one standout moment and highlight for you personally what would that be?

“I think the Croke Park one,because I did the half-time show. Obviously Tyrone wasn’t in the final but Donegal were. I spent quite a lot of my childhood in Donegal going horse riding. My brother is a massive Gaelic fan and we got to sit in the press seats, right beside the pitch. That was pretty epic.
“To be able to sit there for an All-Ireland  final, and not only that but having performed at it was pretty mental. I didn’t realise that was a dream, a lot of the time you don’t realise. I think the Dali Lama was pretty cool, because I have read his books and I have obviously believed a lot in his teachings, so to do that was huge. Obviously that is not even something that you put on your bucket list because you don’t think that it will even contemplate.”

X-Factor – a blessing or a curse – obviously unlike many others you have moved on and still have a musical career. It got you into the public eye, but at the same time it destroys your  privacy and also leads to people labelling you as a direct result?

“Without it, I would not be able to be working with the people that I do today. I was still going to pursue music, that was always the plan to take a year out to do music anyway. It’s a very hard one. A lot of the time it is quite difficult because that’s all people want to talk about. It was a while ago, I’m an indie artist now with full control over my career. A lot of people don’t even want to realise that. It was barely a year of my life, that whole experience. It was only a couple of months really. To always be remembered for three months instead of three years of hard work…”

 10363843_457493387687362_4076860380818556931_nI read that you have your own followers who call themselves the Devlinators – is that inspiring or actually a wee bit scary?

“I don’t really think about it. Its the strangest thing, it’s so far off my personal life that its funny. If I post something on my official Facebook it will get thousands of likes, and if I post the same thing on my personal Facebook it will get two or three.”

Is social media a tool that you will embrace and engage frequently with fans?

“Yeah it is great, because without the access to social media I wouldn’t have been able to make my album.Well I wouldn’t have been able to do it through Pledge Music. For me it helped, you have always got that down side of all the negative comments that you get on line. I just dont get people being mean on the internet.”

What next for you? You have new video, album release and then the December tour. Have you made plans further ahead, I know many artists have a schedule planned nearly a year ahead…

“Its quite a lot at the minute.There are plans for something at Christmas time that I cant mention at the minute but its all exciting.”

Janet Devlin’s new single ‘Creatures of the Night’ is released today, 22nd September 2014. Janet will play Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast on 22nd December and Strule Arts Centre, Omagh on 23rd December 2014. Tickets available now.