Northern Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin took five minutes out of her busy UK tour to talk to us about why she works so hard, her newly released EP, Little Lights, and her upcoming album.
Formerly of X-Factor fame, and now a rising star of her own making, Devlin’s unique voice will make you a fan, and her constant release of singles, EPs, albums, videos and tours will keep you hooked.
Since your first album, you’ve kept fans happy with very frequent releases of new material. Do you think the combination of having your debut album, Running With Scissors, crowdfunded by fans, and then having to work so hard to write and record it all within six weeks has affected your work ethic?
Definitely. It was such a baptism of fire into my career that it has left its mark on my methods of working. In the most positive of ways, of course. By making a record in such a short period of time, it showed me that anything is possible if you just work hard enough. It’s left me always hungry to create more and push myself further with every release.
On your new EP, Little Lights, you’ve taken a slightly darker look at Christmas. What made you want to make another Christmas record, and why the darker take this time?
After I released ‘December Daze’ last Christmas, I decided to have a listen when I got home for the holidays. As much as I loved the EP, I felt as though there were a few moods I had left out. As I was in full swing holiday mode, I realised there was more emotions to the holiday season than I thought. It’s not always mistletoe and mulled wine, there are feelings of loneliness, anticipation, gratitude etc that I’d overlooked. I wanted to encapsulate these feelings into songs, hence the title of this year’s release. Each song is its own little emotion.
You’ve nearly finished your My Opium tour – have there been any standout moments on the tour so far?
I would have to say my London show was a pretty big standout moment. I always stay around at the end of the show to say hello to everyone and thank them for coming down. I realised when doing this that people had come from all over the world to be at the show. My mind can’t seem to comprehend the fact that someone would travel thousands of miles to come see me play. It’s truly an honour to have such dedicated fans, it really is. Also just the experience itself of playing at the Union Chapel was pretty astounding! I’ve always wanted to do a show there, so I feel as though I’ve ticked something of my bucket list.
Are there any dream venues you’d like to perform at or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
One day I’d love to be big enough to play in Madison Square Garden, that would be a life goal fulfilled. I’d love to do a collab with Ed Sheeran, who doesn’t? His vocals and song writing are just godly.
Do you give yourself any tour treats to get you through all the travelling and long days?
I don’t have to fortunately. People tend to bring me lots of sweets and chocolates before the shows so this keeps me fuelled for the whole tour. I’ve basically lived on a diet of sugary treats now for a month, but I’m not complaining as I have the most incurable sweet tooth.
How does it feel to be finishing the tour back in Ireland?
It feels terrifying! For some reason I find it harder doing shows back home. I feel this inexplicable level of pressure to make everything perfect. I think it’s because I know people in the audience and that’s something that I’m unaccustomed to. It’s easier for me to perform in a room full of strangers rather than friends or family. But I’m a firm believer in pushing yourself and doing things that scare you. So what better way to do that than to end a tour on something you find challenging.Is there anywhere else in particular you’d like to build a strong following?
I’d love to develop a strong following in the USA. I absolutely love my time out there and I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve played there. It would be a dream to develop enough of a fanbase out in the states to do a tour out there.
Your new track, ‘Outernet Song’, was recently released and talks about taking a much-needed break from Internet. Do you think it’s important to unplug for a while every now and then?
Definitely. I’m not saying we should all throw our phones in a river and vacate to the other end of the world, but I think that by just unplugging for a few hours a day it can make the world of a difference. Just putting a brief pause on notifications and the endless scroll helps put my mind in a better place.
Your first album felt quite personal, like a catalogue of your experiences and emotions up to that point in time. Are you continuing this theme on the upcoming album?
I’d say the next album is actually even more personal. I’ve written about a few topics that I never wanted to approach, but I feel that by tackling it, it’ll help me put a lot of emotions to bed. I personally like to write about my life and how I’m feeling, so the next record will be diving into a few uncomfortable positions that I’ve found myself in/ It won’t be all dark though, my life has had so many highs that I can’t ignore and have to be recreated sonically.
Janet’s Little Lights EP is out now.