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Interview: X Factor's Janet Devlin

GT chatted to singer-songwriter Janet Devlin on the release of her first album…

Talented Irish red head Janet Devlin’s new album is perhaps not what you’d expect from a former X Factor performer. She’s turned down major record labels to go for a more unique, indie sound. Running With Scissors was released on Monday 9th June, and we caught up with her today to find out more about it.

So last Wednesday you performed at the Jazz Café in Camden. Did you enjoy the gig?

Yeah it was pretty amazing to be honest, like. I didn’t really know what to expect, because I played there before and obviously there was a whole massive set up out there, a whole band and it’s pretty intense. And this time I was stood there like 'ooo I’m going to go out', and it was pretty stripped back and… Well yeah, we got to go out as well which is always a bonus. We had quite a night, so it was good.

Do you prefer performing live or recording?

Definitely not recording. I hate recording. There’s a lot of… You can hear your voice too much. I don’t really like my voice too much. And then you have to hear it back so many times. Whereas performing obviously it’s live, and you can’t really hear it back. When you’re recording you’re trying to capture an emotional thing, and having to redo it and do it again and do it again and do it again is quite tough. Performing live was great because people knew the songs. Even though they’d only been released for a few days, they knew the words off by heart, so that was really cool! It was like, the first time I played there they knew all the words to the old stuff, and I didn’t think they’d know some of the more recent songs, because they’ve only been out like two days, but they all did so it was great!

Your album debut’d at 18 in the charts, how did that feel?

I don’t really keep up with the charts, so I got a phone call from someone saying: “Oh you’re at number 18 in the charts!” and I was like 'Really? Wow. That’s really cool.' No, I was shocked but in a good way. It’s quite surreal, cause I mean, if someone had told me when I was twelve years old that I’d be in the charts beside the king of pop himself or whatever I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have told them to go away.

What were some of the inspirations behind the album?

Um, my life. Because I write a lot in journals, and leather-bound books. And yeah, my life, pretty much the whole album is like the diary of a teenage girl. And like, I was in a long term relationship when I was 16 or whatever, and that ended, so there’s some heartbreak songs, some grown up songs. Yeah, everything.

You turned down some major record labels for your album. Why did you decide to go with an indie label?

Well, they all had kind of ideas and things that are not really me. They wanted to release the album, and they were like, 'we want to put it out straight away, because you’re relevant, and someone else is going to be around soon'. And they were talking about my second album, and I was like: “People aren’t going to know me by the second album. I’ll be gone.” So yeah. I wanted to be creative with it, and that’s why I wanted to make an album, so I could try and get my creative ideas out there.

You first released your album a while ago for fans on PledgeMusic. Why did you decide to do that?

Because the fans, they wanted to hear my album as much as I wanted to make it, really. And obviously there were a lot of people out there who wanted me to make an album, and it did well because the fans are strong and they wanted to hear it, so yeah.It was great, but it was also kind of weird, because no one had heard my music before, and they were buying an album… They were buying into something they had no expectations of. They had no preconceived ideas of what my music was going to be like, and I didn’t really know what my music was going to be like, so it was really weird.

You grew up in Northern Ireland, and since then you’ve played G-A-Y, you’re talking to us, does anyone say anything about that, or is everyone pretty accepting?

I think… [sighs] A lot of people at home still sort of live in the past and things, you know. But I don’t really talk about that kind of stuff, because it’s so normal to me? Like it’s not even a thing in my head. I don’t want to bring it up and for it to be a conversation, and a lot of people don’t even want to talk about it. And like, I have a lot of gay friends, obviously, and yeah. I mean, I run a Tumblr blog, and I’m all about rights, I think. I’m all about that. I see a lot of fans who are like: “Thanks for being so supportive”. And I think, like the transgender community, they’re totally forgotten about at the minute, and and I try my best to like, support them, and sort of raise awareness about that.

X Factor 2014 just started, the auditions started a couple of days ago, will you be watching?

[Laughs] I don’t even have time to keep with my own TV series’ that I watch at the minute. Oh, actually, Orange is the New Black. Oh it’s so good. But yeah. I haven’t really watched television… I never really have and I probably never will. But like, my mum is a massive fan of you know like, X Factor, The Voice, any kind of TV talent show, my mum is on it. She’s like: “Have you seen this person? Guess who won this show!” And I’m like what?

So recently there’s been the whole James Arthur row. He said some homophobic stuff in a rap, and he’s been dropped by his record company. Do you have any reactions to that?

Ugh. I know he was quite rude to Lucy Spraggan and stuff. And yeah. I hate that and… I don’t- yeah. It just astonishes me. For someone who comes across as being quite an open minded kind of chap, on the show he’s kind of open minded and stuff. And to find out that he’s homophobic… I don’t know how anyone can be that age and be… I mean, I can understand some of the older generation and stuff, you know. They’ve grown up and that’s all they know really. But for someone who’s around my age… That’s absolutely wrong. Cause… Ugh. No. Never mind.

Do you have any plans for the future? What’s next?

I hope so! I mean, we’ve got the new single coming out in… I think August 3rd, and obviously that’s a summer song coming. And we’re touring hopefully soon, but I can’t really say when yet. I’ll say when I know, and usually I’m the last to find out. I’m sure the fans will probably know before I do! But yeah, obviously the band are some of my best friends and stuff, it’ll be almost a little holiday hitting the road. We’re going to meet loads of people. Sometimes it’s kind of weird but it’s always great fun and I’d love to.

Are you writing more songs at the moment?

Always! You know, always. Not really recording at the minute, I’m taking a wee break from that side of things, but I’m always writing.

Janet’s album Running With Scissors is available now, and you can watch the most recent music video for House of Cards here.

Words Philippa Peall

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