Janet Devlin

📷 : Emma-Jane Lewis

Having worked on her third album over a number of years, Janet Devlin released Confessional in 2020 alongside her autobiography, and she also duetted with Engelbert Humperdinck on Can’t Help Falling In Love, which appears on his EP, also released last year. Recently, Janet won Best Female Performer at the Stagie Awards and has been announced as a judge for this year’s Song Academy panel, and she is currently working on new music, which she will be releasing ahead of her Confessional Tour. Janet made her screen acting debut in the film Songbird as Jennifer, which she also wrote original music for including Chandeliers, with the song winning numerous awards, and she often uploads videos to her YouTube and TikTok. Speaking with Janet, she tells us about releasing her album and autobiography, duetting with Engelbert Humperdinck and working on the feature film Songbird.

Can you tell us about your album Confessional that you released last year and did the tracklist change over time?

The album is a concept album that took over five years to make. MENTAL. The album runs in chronological order to my life. As I had a really rough time with my mental health (especially in my teenage years), this record documents the ups and downs of that, along with just the general highs and lows that come along with life. The chronological element of the album meant that I couldn’t alter the tracklisting. I could instead write three/four songs for the topic I wanted to cover, so I just ended up with a bank of over fifty tracks for this record!

How did you find the experience working on your autobiography and what inspired you to release it alongside the album?

They both naturally go hand in hand. The album documents my life in a more metaphorical, artistic sense whereas the book is the true nitty gritty explanations of what I’ve been through. I wanted to release them side by side so that anyone who cared to know more, didn’t have to wait. That wasn’t what I’d wanted to do after waiting five years to release the record. The experience itself was difficult. There’s one thing going through hard times in life but it’s another having to relive every memory and write it down. I think the hardest part was just waiting for it to be read by the first person, because I knew I’d be free from my past the minute someone tweeted me saying “I’ve finished the book”. That’s when the reward came and I finally felt the great weight be lifted.

What was it like seeing the response to both the album release and book?

I was terrified to see the response. I don’t usually take criticism for my art badly, I’m very good at not taking it to heart. But this felt a little different. Knowing that it was my life that people were listening to and reading, felt altogether more personal and more petrifying! Luckily, the response was overwhelmingly positive. It was something that I can’t explain, something that I’ve never felt before – probably because I’ve never worked as hard at anything in my entire life than I did on this project!!

Where do you get the inspiration from for your music and what’s your writing process?

Usually anything at all! But in the majority I’d say: my life. I write a lot of my life down in diary form. Well, I say my life and what I should say is my over-emotional times! So usually I just write about all the times I cry. Not always bad though because I cry at the good things too! I really am a big baby, haha! So usually I take my journals, poems, phone notes and dictaphone notes into a writing session and make something out of my feelings’ jigsaw puzzle.

What’s it been like performing online during the pandemic?

It’s actually been incredibly normal for me! I’ve been doing online shows for over six years now, so that wasn’t a new thing for me! The only downside was that I was supposed to have done a lot of real life shows during the pandemic – which clearly didn’t happen! Minus one, as I did a socially distanced show in London!

You duetted with Engelbert Humperdinck on Can’t Help Falling In Love, how was this?

Absolutely surreal! It’s one of those things that I still can’t quite comprehend actually happened. I went to see him play in London a few years ago – never in a million years did I imagine ever singing with him! And potentially even singing with him on stage the next time he’s in town. It was a truly unbelievable experience in the best way possible.

What do you enjoy most about performing on your YouTube channel?

The freedom! There are no rules for me over there and I can just film whatever content I want, whenever I want to. Something I’m excited to get back into actually. I love that I can be a perfectionist too. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing live shows but I do hate that I can’t maybe always deliver my absolute BEST version of it. I love the fact I can go to the studio and do it ten times if I want to. It pacifies a part of my soul, haha!

What inspired you to start a TikTok account and can you say more about it?

I started one because I missed Vine!! I love watching silly online content for the mental buffer of it all. Whenever lockdown started though, I began posting my own videos. No one cared when I posted initially, all my videos flopped. So I stopped caring what I was posting and just made silly videos to send to my friends. As soon as I started doing that, that’s when it took off. It’s been refreshing to show people a different side to myself and allow them to really get to know me. It’s also been massively freeing as it’s been a great place to crack jokes about my mental health and my past.

📷 : Emma-Jane Lewis

Have you always had an interest in music and how did you start?

I’ve always had. From before I could speak my parents remember me in my onesie, dancing on the sofa, singing gibberish to the songs of Pinocchio. I joined a ceilidh band by the age of six playing the tin whistle and having my first band solo by seven. I also dabbled in a bit of fiddle too. My parents were incredibly supportive. From piano lessons to drum lessons, they let me try whichever I wanted because they knew how much I loved it. Then, funnily, that’s how I got into singing. I was entering local singing contests to earn enough money for a drum kit. I never came first but I somehow managed to save enough to buy one! But that lead to me finally starting to take my singing a little more seriously. I’d actually started writing songs from around age six/seven but I’d very rarely let anyone hear. It was almost painful to even imagine anyone hearing them!

You were previously a contestant on The X Factor, what do you feel you learnt from the experience?

It taught me that I’m the best version of myself when I have a musical goal to work towards. Before I went on the show I struggled a lot mentally but having the challenge of doing the show and learning the songs – it really kept me on track. It still applies to this day. I’m the happiest and most content when I’m busy working on my music and have a clear goal to work towards.

Who are some of your favourite music artists to listen to and who would you most like to collaborate with?

I hate to be “that person” but I’ll honestly listen to anything! From classical to screamo, pop to prog rock. If I had to pick someone to duet with though, that’s easy, it’d have to be Chris Stapleton! I’m just in constant awe of how much of a musical genius, vocal talent and down to earth man he is.

You’ve been announced to be a judge on this year’s Song Academy panel, can you say more about this?

So, I judged the Song Academy last year and the experience was just so rewarding that I wanted to do it again. Listening to all the music that the kids write is just so amazing and it really aligns me with my own desire to be a writer. It was just so heartening to hear such wonderful tracks from such talented children and teens. It makes me excited to hear where the future of the music industry is going.

We understand you are part of the film Songbird, what was this like and how was it writing original songs for the film and seeing your music win and be nominated for awards?

To be nominated for and win awards was absolutely mental! Again, another moment where I never in a million years could’ve seen that coming! The writing process was really fun actually because of how different it was. I wrote the songs in the character of Jennifer that I played in the movie. Surprisingly, it was much easier to do than you think! Also, so much easier because if someone didn’t like them… I could just blame the character, haha.

You have just been awarded Best Female Performer at the Stagie Awards, how did this feel?

That was nuts! Not just for me, I felt like winning it was a win for everyone in the Do-Crew (the name of the folks who attend my shows). Just such an awesome feeling after having played on the platform for so many years!

What are you looking forward to most for when the industry can return and you can start your Confessional Tour?

I just can’t wait for all of it – even the tour rehearsal – so I can hug the band again and have a laugh. To hit the road and play the shows and actually feel like I’m doing my job! But also I’m just so excited to see everyone who turns up. I stay behind at the end of every show so that I can thank everyone properly for coming out.

Apart from the tour, do you have any upcoming music plans you can share?

Yes! There will be new music dropping this year ahead of the tour and I genuinely can’t wait! I’m currently recording them at the minute but as soon as I can, I’ll have those music babies out in the ether for everyone to enjoy!

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