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Interview: Janet Devlin

8 min read

The distinctive and soothing vocals of Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin first caught our attention back in 2011 when the redheaded songbird appeared as a contestant on the eighth series of the UK’s X Factor. During her season she offered us some of the shows most memorable performances, with renditions of Under The Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers), MMMBop (Hanson) and Sweet Child o’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses) filling up her repertoire and carrying her through to fifth place.

3 years on, Devlin is preparing for the release of her long-awaited debut album, Running With Scissors. The record has already delivered a pair of hit singles in the shape of Wonderful and latest single cut, House of Cards.

In the lead up to the release of House of Cards on May 26th and the albums June 9th unveiling, we caught up with Janet to talk about her journey so far, writing with fellow singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner and what we can expect with the upcoming debut. Here is what Janet had to tell us:

Brendon Veevers: How are you Janet and where in the world does our interview find you?

Janet Devlin: I’m great thanks! I’m currently in London.

Janet Devlin Running with ScissorsBV: You are preparing for the release of your debut album, Running With Scissors which is released in June. Before that you will be releasing the new single House of Cards at the end of May. Can you tell us a little about the single and the inspiration behind the track?

JD: I wrote most of the song lyrically over a year ago, on the day I broke up with my ex boyfriend… I was the emotional version of myself to be honest.

BV: The album is set for release in June in the UK. How does it feel to be on your way toward the unveiling of Running With Scissors? Why has it taken so long to release a debut album?

JD: I was dedicated to finding my sound and unfortunately that took a while but on the up side I’ve got an album that I’m totally proud of. I’m obviously nervous as this is my first official album release so I’m learning as I go.

BV: What can you tell us about the new record – does the style to the singles released so far suggest a style that we might expect on the full length record?

JD: The style is quite hard to describe to be honest! But there’s definitely a lot more personal tracks on the full record. If you didn’t know much about me at the start then you’re definitely going to know me all to well by the end ! The singles so far have been upbeat but I can’t promise that throughout the album.

BV: What’s the meaning behind the title of the record – why Running with Scissors?

JD: I initially made an album called Hide and Seek. But as I’m writing all the time I realised that I’d written this one song House of Cards and it was something that I was super proud of and felt represented where I was at the time and I wanted to make the whole album more like that – which I did in 6 weeks! Remaking and rewriting a new album in 6 weeks is a dangerous thing to do and very ill advised in this industry. This concept reminded me of when my mother would warn me not to run with scissors – it’s obviously dangerous and terrible advice. But I believe rules are there to be broken hence why we’ve achieved it.

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BV: You became a household name after appearing on The X Factor in 2011 and you have since opened up about your time on the show, describing it as a ‘baptism of fire’. Can you tell us a little about your experience and would it be a path you would recommend for others?

JD: I believe if you know what you want to get out of the experience then you’ll be fine but if you’re on it seeking fame and things along those lines then it’s not going to end well. For me I wanted to get my name out there and make connections in the industry so I could eventually create an album and be an artist. I referred to it as being a baptism of fire because one moment you’re a complete no body and then you can’t even walk down the street.

BV: You turned down several major labels following your time on The X Factor, deciding to sign with Insomnia Music Records. What about Insomnia attracted you to sign with them and how are you finding your new home at the label?

JD: They have this incredible drive behind them and the people are just amazing! Each individual has a mass understanding about the music industry and how to manipulate it. They also don’t like to play by the rules like myself. But they always look after me as the artist and the band are well looked after too.

BV: What were the reasons for turning down these offers to sign with major record labels?

JD: At the time no one was really that interested in letting me be an artist or having any creative control, which is a no go for me to be honest. One label even suggested releasing the Elton John cover of Your Song I sang on The X Factor as an Xmas single …. umm nope. That’s the thing about Insomnia though, I’m given full creative control and respected as an artist not just a performer.

BV: What drives you the most as an artist – what is it about performing and recording music as a career that keeps the motivation and determination there for you?

JD: Lots and lots of things keep me here to be honest. One thing in particular is that after slaving away in the studio for months I get to hit the road to not only see the fans but to have them sing the songs back. It’s just a mind blowing thing! Also hearing people tell me about their own personal meanings behind songs I’ve written is an extraordinary thing because it somehow managed to touch them.

BV: You have been busy showcasing your new songs around the UK over the past few months. How have fans reacted to the new material?

JD: All great so far! A couple of people have been upset that some of the oldies aren’t on the new album, however I think the songs that replaced them are better, but oh well. I’m glad they liked them so much to not forget about them. Also I did a gig the other day and I saw a few tears in the audience due to a track called Whisky Lullabies, which is an odd achievement because it’s well … one of those Ben & Jerry’s songs.

BV: Where do you draw the most inspiration from when sitting down to write a new song?

JD: I carry around these leather bound journals everywhere, not so much for journal entries but poems. So I always have a full song book when I turn up for a session. I like to sit and listen to a couple of riffs and if one makes me feel something, I’ll have a search in the books and find a poem that suits the vibe. It makes for incredibly fast song writing as the only thing left really is to come up with a good vocal melody.

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BV: You worked with Newton Faulkner on your debut single, Wonderful. How did the collaboration come about and what was it like to write with him?

JD: To be honest, I’ve no idea where the colab came from as I was in shock when I was asked if I wanted to write with him! Obviously my response was ‘yes’ along with a fan girl moment in my bed room! I’ve been a huge fan of his for years so actually getting to work with him was a blessing. To work with him was great, terrifying but great! As soon as I got over the shock of meeting him it was straight to work.

BV: Can we expect a duet with Newton at some point?

JD: Well he does do backing vocals and some tasty guitar on the track Hide and Seek, which you can get right away if you preorder the album on iTunes, so you should check that out.

BV: If you could pick any 3 artists, dead or alive, to collaborate with in some way, who would they be and what type of collaboration would you like to see with each act?

City and Colour – I’d die to write a duet with this man. He’s unbelievably talented!

Nirvana – I’d even make the coffee just to be a part of anything with them!

Eddie Vedder – I’d just love to learn all the tricks of the trade from this man! I’d love to write a whole album with him just because you’d learn so much by the end.

BV: Will you be taking Running With Scissors out on the road at all throughout 2014?

JD: I will be! Album launch gig on June 11th in the Jazz Cafe in London which should be amazing. Next step is to figure out sonically what kind of tour I want, so I need to pick my musicians carefully. Then hit the road asap!

BV: With the festival season quickly approaching, are you planning on hitting any of the festival stages this year?

JD: Yes! I think it’s probably best to keep an eye on janetdevlin.com/live to get a full list.

BV: Thanks for your time Janet and all the best with the release of the record.

JD: Thank you!

Janet Devlin’s latest single House of Cards is out on 26th May and Running With Scissors is out on 9th June.

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2 thoughts on “Interview: Janet Devlin

  1. A very interesting interview! Janet’s a fantastic artist and her new music is very special. I wish her every success with her new album release and future career.

  2. I’ve been lucky enough to have followed Janet’s career for the last few years, so it’s no surprise to see her create such a brilliant album.

    The poetry shines through in every song she writes and she has a great ear for musical arrangements.

    Great to see an amazing artist do so well for herself while staying true to her own ideals.

    Good luck Janet! You are amazing!

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